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Take a minute to think back to that first time you plucked up the courage to ask someone out on a date, or perhaps your first few applications to part-time jobs. It was nerve-wracking, maddening, and very easy to blame yourself for not being good enough, especially if you heard nothing back. You might have been young during those pivotal moments, but rejection doesn’t disappear, or hurt any less as an adult. But I think we can all agree that being rejected is better than being ignored.
Now, let’s get this straight: in terms of feedback, we mean for candidates who have at least reached the first stage of the recruitment process; not every single applicant (though in an ideal world, companies would find the time to eradicate automated messages, and give actual feedback).
As a recruiter, in-house or agency, one of the worst parts of the job can be rejecting unsuccessful candidates. Rejection is the type of task that you might dread and end up avoiding (they’ll just get the idea, right?), but do you realise how much is at stake when you don’t bother? Without properly dealing with the entire recruitment process, which includes rejection, you run the risk of tarnishing the reputation of both you and your company. Lizzi Hart of the Graduate Recruitment Bureau explains why effective candidate feedback should be compulsory in the recruitment process.
3 Reasons Why You NEED to Give Candidates Feedback
- They need and want closure
A candidate needs constructive feedback to be able to move forward, and move on. No matter how obvious it might seem to you that the process is not going forward, a candidate left in the dark might draw their own different conclusions. Just like being ‘ghosted’ by a partner, not knowing whether you’ll be able to pay your rent because you’re waiting on interview feedback is an incredibly stressful waiting game. Many will struggle to continue their job search whilst still waiting on news, so bear this in mind if you don’t think feedback is necessary.
- Your employer brand is on the line
Candidates can and will tell their peers about their treatment at the hands of your brand, especially if you are well-established. Not only through word of mouth, but candidates who feel ignored or mistreated can easily and visibly complain online. In addition, if you can’t even treat those who applying to your jobs properly, what does this say about how your company treats its employees?
- It’s respectful of their time and effort
You expect candidates to be on time to interviews and reply to your emails promptly, yet you don’t respect their time enough to reject them? Telling them the bad news is just the first step; you need to be able to provide feedback, with tangible reasons why they did not get the job. As an agency recruiter, it is your job to chase this feedback from the employer. Depending on how they word their thoughts, you might want to construct your rejection feedback with what is important for the candidate’s progression, and ignore the unnecessary (i.e. they had a coffee stain on their tie, or their hair was a little out of place).
So how should you properly construct your rejection, in order to convey everything important and constructive, but without leaving a sour taste in the candidate’s mouth?
3 Ways to Reject Candidates Properly
- Don’t leave them hanging
Once you know, tell them. Don’t wait around, or put it off. It’s an awkward thing to do, especially if you didn’t have any control over the decision. But it is up to you to do the dirty work, so do it well, and with the candidate in mind. Think about how they’ll be feeling: waiting for news about a job, and probably unable to concentrate on much else. Put them out of their misery as soon as possible, as they will be grateful for the timely response. If you’ve not heard back from the decision maker, chase them!
- Be truthful, but don’t twist the knife
Be honest with your feedback, but don’t point out their every little flaw. Your rejection probably boils down to one or two things, and these things are potentially out of the unsuccessful candidate’s control (e.g. a more qualified candidate applied). Think about what they would need to improve upon to have been considered for the role in question, such as a particular skill, improved communication, more evidence of their competencies, or perhaps they just wouldn’t fit in well with the office due to their personality (which would suit another workplace). Explain these things, and then positively wish them the best of luck. If there is no way that they would ever be considered for another role at your company, do not tell them that there is, simply to soften the blow. Be honest, but diplomatic.
- Choose the right channel
If you’ve only ever dealt with the candidate via email, you might opt to send them feedback through this medium. Generally, phone calls are best, but the downside is that they can be awkward and distressing if the candidate does not take the feedback well. Equally, emailing a candidate that you have always spoken to on the phone seems lazy and unprofessional, or could warrant an angry reply. Choose a way that suits you, and your relationship with the candidate best.
With the ever increasing importance of brand transparency, spearheaded by sites such as Glassdoor, there is no time greater than the present to start implementing proper rejection strategies into your recruitment process. It will be worth your while.