recruiting process

Keep Calm or Carry on: Letting Go of a Candidate

Keep Calm or Carry on: Letting Go of a Candidate
Reading Time: 2 minutes

The recruitment process of qualifying a candidate can be daunting. There’s a lot of information to be sussed out from an initial phone call, and let’s be honest, getting them on the phone is a mission in itself. But what happens if once you’ve done your best at finding top talent, you find out, that is not the right candidate?

The qualifying rounds of job seekers include looking out for red flags and making notes of potential hick-ups in the future. A candidate who isn’t perfect for a specific client could be the ideal fit for a new client down the line. However, a candidate with poor habits and a questionable history will be difficult to place no matter the circumstances. 

Without sugarcoating the inevitable, how do you, as a recruiter, let go of a candidate?

Matchmaker problems

There’s no point in beating around the bush with candidates. Interested candidates are willing to spend some time with you on the phone, chatting about their skills and experience as well as their career goals. So, take the initiative to know which questions will give you the information you need for moving forward.

Easy questions will give you the answers to how you might help as a recruiter:

  • Are they looking for a change of scenery? Either in their work environment or in their personal life?
  • Are they looking for more room to grow and like-minded people to grow with?

Difficult questions will let you know if your time would be better spent elsewhere:

  • What are some ways they’ve handled disputes with teammates?
  • What is a challenge they’re struggling to overcome?
  • How has their ego helped/hurt their success?

Moving forward with a candidate and then finding out they’re unreliable, have poor time management skills, or their attitude is a real workplace drain, could be a considerable risk for your reputation with current and future clients and candidates.

Recommended actions to reject kindly

It’s important to know when and how to inform a candidate that you won’t be working directly with them so that a poor candidate experience doesn’t negatively impact you or your business. Be timely, communicative, and compassionate when sharing news that’s all but pleasant. 

Don’t wait

Though a candidate may not be hanging on your every word, waiting for you to drop them a line about potential job offers, it is courteous to give them the scoop as soon as you’ve made the decision.

Be honest

The concerns you have about moving forward with a potential candidate may be issues they’re unaware of. Explaining why you don’t think you’re a good fit for them or vice versa and giving constructive feedback, can turn an undesirable outcome into professional or personal seeds for growth.

Stay in touch

Letting a candidate go doesn’t have to mean goodbye forever. In fact, managing to let go of a candidate while maintaining a relationship with them could lead to references later on.

Try to come out of every candidate experience knowing a little bit more about yourself and the recruiting process. No need to be discouraged by the elusive “perfect” candidate or the difficult-to-please client, this is a people business and some friction should be expected.

Taking the time to carefully identify who you can and can’t help will put you in a better position to be successful in the recruitment industry.

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