job rejection

Walking Your Candidate Through Job Rejection

Walking Your Candidate Through Job Rejection
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Nobody likes getting rejected, especially when a new job is on the line. As a recruiter, you can give it your best, be meticulous with your search, and find the ideal match for a job offer. Still, after you’ve coached both parties and set up the interview, the whole process is out of your hands and it can end with your candidate getting a “No, thanks”.

From time to time, dealing with job rejection is part of your job as a recruiter. So, do you know what to do when a candidate doesn’t make the cut? Here is some advice on how you can help your candidate navigate this bump in the road to their career change.

Explain the hiring process

Let’s take some preventive action. Before setting up the interview, walk your candidate through the company’s hiring process. Be as concise and clear as possible. Talk to them about the different stages they’ll go through or the average number of interviews and evaluations they’ll have to take.

Even if a hiring manager decides not to share that information with you, you can still talk from your own expertise and previous experience to prepare them. Make sure they know that the best resume, or the person with the most remarkable skills, is not always chosen for the job. Getting a job offer can also be about fitting in with the company culture. 

Get their feedback

In these scenarios it’s good to ask the hiring manager about why your candidate wasn’t selected. Avoid at all costs coming across as offended or angry about the outcome. The point here is to get their feedback for your candidate.

Knowing what might have gone wrong will give you clarity on how to raise your game for the next candidates you bring to them and future job orders that are similar. Was it your candidate’s lack of expertise in the field? Did they get the wrong impression about your candidate’s attitude? Or did they simply find a better candidate? This is all a learning opportunity for you and your candidate. Use it to your advantage!

Gently deliver the news

Remember, this is a people business, so treat it as such. From heartbroken to wildly offended, rejection doesn’t suit most of us, so it’s likely you’ll get a variety of reactions. This is why it is good to have a formula or script that will help you deliver the news as gently as possible. This way, you will avoid falling into an endless rant.

Here’s a brief structure you could use for your own script:

  • Start by delivering the news without hesitation.
  • Proceed to recognize and appreciate your candidate’s effort.
  • Let them know that you will keep working towards their next opportunity.
  • Lay down their next steps or options to move forward.

We are all grown-ups

Sure, you need to be careful with your approach and choose your words wisely when a candidate has been rejected. However, that by no means is the same as being condescending. That can be like pouring salt onto the wound and make them feel incapable or inadequate. We are all grown-ups, so we have to understand that we can’t always get everything our way. Just be polite, empathetic, and respectful.

Take a direct approach

A job rejection email is a very cold way to deliver the news. Giving them a call allows you to delve into the necessary details and you can answer your candidate’s questions in real-time. Moreover, this shows that you genuinely care for their goals. A disengaged message could lead to the candidate’s loss of interest or their attempt to look for another recruiter.

Avoid the word “rejected”

Yes, you have to be up-front with your candidate, but there are also better ways to deliver sour news. Instead of using the word “rejected”, which can be discouraging, try using one of the following examples:

  • “The company decided to go with another candidate.”
  • “The company decided to keep searching for other candidates.”
  • “The company was interested in your skills but believed that the cultural fit wasn’t the best.”
  • “You were close on the run but, in the end, another candidate took the position.”
  • “They considered that the other runner was a better match for what they are looking for.”
  • “The company decided not to interview more candidates.”

As stated in a previous point, we are grown-ups. Still, it is a sensitive subject. Being kind when explaining the rejection is essential.

What is next for them?

After delivering the news, be sure to ask, “what’s next?” This opens the possibility to turn a bad experience into a new beginning. Encourage your candidate to stay positive and interested in trying out the next job offer. 

In short:

  • Trust yourself and your candidate.
  • Remember that an interview doesn’t score an imminent placement.
  • Keep in mind the given feedback to better prepare for the next option you bring to the table for both your hiring authority and candidate.

Rejections will happen. Sometimes it is due to the cultural fit or specific skills. Try to do your best to keep going until you match the right person with the right job!

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