Money Matters

What to say to the people you don’t hire

In July I wrote a blog post about the job application black hole and how it’s important to keep applicants updated throughout the hiring process, including telling them they were not selected for a position. A reader of that post asked me if I had any suggestions on how to notify a person who was interviewed that he or she was not selected. Should you, for example, provide feedback on why the person didn’t get the job? I am not an HR expert so I turned to those who are to get their opinion on the subject. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Tell candidates they weren’t selected as soon as you know, says Social Talent in its blog post “How to reject a job applicant (without making an enemy!).” Too many times employers wait until after they have hired someone—even holding off until the new employee starts the job—before notifying other candidates. According to the article, this can cause “candidates to wait, worry, and feel as if their candidacy disappeared into a dark hole. And their feeling about you as an employer will go right down with it.”
  • Be honest. “If a candidate is someone you would consider hiring in the future, let the person know you’ve kept his or her name on file in your company’s employee management software and that the candidate should try again in the future. If the candidate lacked a specific skill, you can let the person know. This information will help candidates in the future and even turn the application process into a useful experience.”
  • Be human, says Liz Ryan in a Forbes article “How to tell a job candidate ‘we’re not hiring you.‘” She says to let those not selected down gently. “Your candidates require a careful touch and human empathy in the ‘letdown’ process.” Ryan also recommends making a call, not just sending a letter, to anyone who was interviewed to let them know about your decision.
  • Keep the conversation brief and positive. Recruiting experts advise that you start the conversation by thanking the job candidate for taking an interest in your company and the time they spent applying and interviewing for the position. Then provide brief and objective feedback about why you made your decision. Keep the conversation focused on a few useful pieces of information for the candidate you are talking with. Finally, avoid going into detail about the person you did hire.

Of course, before making any decisions on how you want your recruiters and managers to handle job applicants, always check with your company lawyer to assure you avoid any legal liability.

Especially with today’s shortage of skilled labor, it pays to improve the experience of all your job applicants. Taking the time to personally notify interviewees about your final hiring decision helps set you apart as an employer of choice.

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