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How do I tell an applicant they didn’t get the job?

Recruitment Advice

Communicating with applicants is a crucial aspect of the recruitment process that is often overlooked. It is important not just to let successful applicants know but to also inform the unsuccessful ones. This is because they could be your customers or referees in the future.

In today’s technology world, the old excuse of “we have too many candidates to tell you if you are unsuccessful” no longer holds up. Alternatively, you can also outsource this task to a service like Flat Fee Recruiter.

To better understand the how of informing an applicant that they were unsuccessful, let’s look at the when, where and why of communication in the recruitment process.

When do we communicate in the recruitment process?

Effective communication throughout each stage of the recruitment process is essential. This can help improve your hiring efforts in several ways, including:

  • Keeping applicants engaged and interested.
  • Reducing the administrative burden of recruitment
  • Improving internal hiring processes.
  • Encouraging applicants to respond and engage.
  • Protecting your company’s image and reputation
  • Improving your company’s reputation as an employer.
  • Increasing referrals from applicants.
  • Improving customer loyalty.

For more information on ways to improve communication in your recruitment process, be sure to check out our previous article on communication tools.

Why should I communicate with unsuccessful applicants?

Communicating with applicants, even if it’s to deliver negative news or rejection, is beneficial for your company. Not only will it stop the job seeker from continuously following up with you, but it will also help to improve your company’s reputation and employer brand in many ways. This is especially important if you are engaged in a consistent recruitment process.

From the applicant’s perspective, nothing is worse than putting time and effort into an application form or interview, only to be ignored by the company. While the role of human resources is not necessarily to provide career advice, if you want to improve your employer brand, then it’s essential to make rejection part of the interview process.

How do I inform a candidate that they were unsuccessful?

There are two main points in the recruitment process where a job candidate is likely to be rejected:

  • At the initial CV or application form submission stage, and
  • After the interview stage.

Let’s examine each of these in turn.

First, consider the method you will use to inform the applicant – phone, email, or letter. The type of communication you choose will depend on the message and where you are in the recruitment process with that particular candidate.

Rejection following the initial application

A simple email response is typically sufficient in this case. Something along the lines of:

“Thank you for your recent application for our XX role. Unfortunately, on this occasion, there were other candidates who were better suited for the role, and I regret to inform you that we will not be proceeding with your application.
If you would like to discuss your feedback in more detail, I am happy to have that conversation with you.
Please feel free to contact me on XX.
We appreciate your interest in our company. Please keep an eye on our career site for future job opportunities.”

This is an excellent way to thank the applicant for their time and to inform them that their application has been reviewed and will not be proceeding. The second line of the email shows that you have carefully considered their application and that you are willing to discuss your decision over the phone.

Finally, it’s essential to end on a positive note. Mention that their application will be kept on record (if you have a talent pool system), or invite them to keep in touch on social media – this helps maintain a positive relationship and reinforces your brand image.

Rejection after interview

When rejecting a candidate after an interview, it’s important to be personal and considerate. The candidate has taken the time to attend the interview and prepare for it, so you should take the time to communicate your decision in a polite and professional manner. There are several key elements that should be included in your rejection message:

  1. Address the candidate by name: Start by addressing the candidate by name, rather than using a generic greeting. This shows that you remember the person and have established a connection, however brief.
  2. Thank the candidate for their time: Express gratitude for the candidate’s application and for their time attending the interview.
  3. Highlight what went well: Start with a positive, even if the candidate didn’t get the job. Mention any strengths or qualities that impressed you, and let the candidate know that their time wasn’t wasted.
  4. Explain the reason for your decision: Clearly state why the candidate was not selected for the role. Be honest and direct, but also respectful and considerate.
  5. End on a positive note: Close your message with a positive tone, wishing the candidate well in their job search. Encourage the candidate to keep your company in mind for future opportunities by directing them to your career site.

By following these steps, you can reject a candidate in a way that is polite, informative, and maintains a positive experience with your brand. It’s also important to train your hiring managers in providing feedback and communicating rejection or acceptance.

Consider using a recruitment tracking system, such as Flat Fee Recruiter’s Applicant Tracking System (FFATS), to streamline your email communications and ensure that all candidates receive a prompt and professional response.

More articles …
How can Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) help the SME? When and what do I need to say throughout the recruitment process? Where do I start with screening CVs? What candidate experience myths do I need to know about?

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