How to Reject a Candidate Without Feeling Guilty

2020 has been sh*t for everyone, and your candidates are no exception. Whether they’ve been made redundant, taken pay cuts or had job offers rescinded – it’s been tough going.

This situation can make delivering a rejection to a hopeful candidate even harder than usual, but there are some things you can do to make it relatively painless for both parties.

Reject a candidate with respect and you’ll earn their loyalty for the long haul – read on to find out how to go about it.

Let the candidate know ASAP

recject-a-candidate-without-guilt-2We all know what it’s like to anxiously wait for news on whether you’ve got the job, so don’t keep putting off speaking to your candidates when you have bad news. The longer you delay, the more likely they’ll react badly.

If you tell your candidate as soon as you get the news yourself, you’ll show them they’re a priority, and this will strengthen your relationship. It will also make it easier for you to place them later on and increase the chance they’ll recommend you to other candidates.

And we’ve all seen candidates complaining online about recruiters ghosting them - they are right to be annoyed. Ignoring your candidate so you don’t have to deliver bad news will permanently ruin the relationship and damage your reputation as a recruiter.

Give candidates practical feedback

A detailed rejection call can be the catalyst that gets your candidate a job in the future, so use the call to give them feedback that will help them improve their interview skills

A great technique to use is the ‘compliment sandwich’: Start with some positive feedback, move onto any areas for improvement and then return to something they did well, so you end on a positive note.

Before the call, have a clear idea what feedback you’re going to give and jot down some ways that they can improve moving forward. This will keep the conversation concise and give them clear, actionable ways to improve.

Ask how you could do better for them

feedback clients business development speaking interviewAsking your candidate for feedback reminds them that you’re a team and that you care about providing a good service. It also softens the blow and shows you’re open to receiving feedback as well as dishing it out to them.

Ask something like, “I am sorry that we didn’t manage to land an offer this time. Do you have any feedback on that what it was like working with me or our process together?”.

This will also make your candidate feel better about the rejection as you’re sharing responsibility for the outcome and it also helps you to see any gaps in your game – so it’s a win, win!

And if the feedback is very positive ask them to leave you a review in the ‘recommendations’ section of your profile on LinkedIn – good reviews from rejected candidates are just as powerful as ones from successful applicants.

Turn a rejection into their next career opportunity

A great way to turn bad news into a positive conversation is to help the candidate get refocused on future opportunities.

Before you call, have a clear idea of what happens next for your candidate. Are there any other jobs they can be put forward for? If you’re an agency recruiter, could you spec out the candidate to drum up interest elsewhere in your niche?

If there’s a role that your candidate has a better chance of securing, be prepared to really sell the opportunity to them. Their confidence will have taken a bit of a hit, so clearly explain why they’re a better fit for this new job.

Just remember to manage your candidate’s expectations and don’t promise them anything you can’t deliver. There’s nothing worse than getting your candidate’s hopes up just for them to get shot down again.

Prepping your candidates to ace an interview can result in you making more offer calls and less rejection calls. Download the eBook below to learn how to prep a candidate for interview success.

How to Prep a Candidate for Guaranteed Interview Success

David Connolly

David is a Senior Growth Outreach Specialist at Firefish. After working as a 360 recruiter, he loves innovating recruitment with Firefish Software.

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