By Brian Kreissl
Lately I’ve noticed a lot of people aren’t too happy with the way they’re being rejected for jobs.
The overwhelming consensus on the forums I follow is employers are being rude and inconsiderate in the way they’re communicating (or not communicating) the “thanks but no thanks” message to candidates.
In some cases, organizations are being downright rude and inconsiderate even to candidates who have had one or more face-to-face interviews with them.
While the job market is still pretty bad, and recruiters are often inundated with applications (many from candidates who are totally unqualified for the jobs in question), that’s no excuse for rudeness or lack of respect on the part of employers. This reflects poorly on an organization and can have a negative impact on a company’s employer brand.
While an unsuccessful candidate might not be a fit for a job with the company at the time, there’s no guarantee that will always be the case. I’ve even seen situations where an organization’s first choice candidate didn’t work out, and they went to their second choice, so it makes sense to be respectful to unsuccessful candidates. Rejected candidates also know other people, so the message about poor treatment by a prospective employer can pretty quickly “go viral” — especially in this age of blogging and social media.
Candidates for jobs are potential customers for an organization’s products and services, if not today, at some point in the future. I don’t know about other people, but I’m much less likely to want to buy from a company that treated me poorly in the past — even if that treatment had nothing to do with their actual goods or services, but instead related to the way they treated me as a candidate for a job.
Best practices in rejecting candidates
If so many companies are treating unsuccessful candidates poorly, what are employers of choice doing when they reject candidates? What are some best practices when it comes to turning off individuals who aren’t a fit for whatever reason?
While best practices are highly dependent on the organization, culture and industry in question, and some are subject to debate, as a former recruiter the following are a few best practices I’ve identified with respect to the rejection of unsuccessful candidates.
•Every candidate who has applied for a position deserves some kind of communication when they’re being rejected. While this can consist of a simple form e-mail in the case of someone who simply applied online or had a very brief telephone prescreen, candidates who have had some type of formal interview deserve more.
•No candidate who has come in for a face-to-face interview or has had a lengthy telephone interview should be rejected by e-mail or voicemail. They deserve a telephone conversation with a recruiter or preferably the hiring manager if at least one interview was with the hiring manager. On the other hand, it’s probably best to send a respectful e-mail after several unsuccessful attempts to contact a candidate by phone. My feeling is it’s better than keeping the candidate in suspense and keeping his hopes up.
•Mailing hard copy rejection letters is no longer considered a best practice, other than perhaps in some public sector organizations. However, if other efforts to contact a candidate have been unsuccessful, mailing a rejection letter may be the best option.
•If the recruitment process is dragging on, it’s important to keep candidates in the loop. If someone has already had an interview with the organization, he should be contacted at least every two weeks, even if nothing is happening with the vacancy.
•When rejecting candidates, it’s important to be truthful and transparent. If you hired a candidate with more experience, then say so. And if you filled the job internally, contact any external candidates who applied for the position and explain it’s been filled in a timely manner.
•It’s important not to get into arguments or debates with rejected candidates, or to provide them with too much information about other candidates. Be firm but fair and show some empathy when rejecting candidates. After all, you’re dealing with human beings with feelings, worries, dreams and desires. Candidates deserve to be treated with compassion and respect.
Brian Kreissl is the managing editor of Consult Carswell. He can be reached at email@example.com. For more information, visit www.consultcarswell.com.