5 Must-use Tips for Rejecting a Job Applicant

Each candidate you source for a client has an opportunity to become a permanent addition in your candidate pool. But when your client decides against a candidate, it’s your job to let them know. Doing so jeopardizes your chances of working with them in the future … or does it? Find out how to reject a job applicant without severing your relationship.  

Tips on how to reject a job applicant

Declining a candidate might be your least favorite part of the end-to-end recruitment process, but it’s inevitable.

There might be dozens or hundreds of job applications, but you will only extend the job offer to one person. You need to learn how to reject the multitudes.

Job rejection is a delicate topic. Use these tips on how to turn down a candidate for a job.

1. Don’t ignore applicants you don’t plan to interview

When job applications start flooding in, it can be overwhelming. Narrowing down applicants is naturally the first step before you pass on candidates to your client. You can make this easier by using an applicant tracking system (ATS) to parse resumes and order applicants from most to least applicable.

For many hiring managers, their first hunch is to disregard the applicants that will not be good fits for their clients. However, it’s important that you respond to applicants to let them know you received their applications but they aren’t a good fit for the position. You can still add these individuals to your candidate database and develop a relationship with them.

2. Avoid overpromising

It can be easy to get carried away during resume screenings and interviews, especially if you think a candidate might be a good fit. But remember, the decision ultimately comes down to your client.

Do not tell a candidate that they are the top contender. It’s okay to tell them your client was impressed by them or that they had a good answer to an interview question. But, don’t make them think the job is a sure-fire thing.

Overpromising gives candidates a false sense of hope and can leave them blindsided if your client doesn’t pick them. Candidates might not want to work with you again in the future if they think that you aren’t a reliable source of information.

3. Follow-up with candidates throughout process

Don’t leave candidates dangling on a hook for weeks on end. Keep them up to date with where they are at in the hiring process.

If your client hasn’t made a decision yet, let the candidate know that they are still being considered for the position. And if your client has made a decision that isn’t in a candidate’s favor, let them know. Take a look at the next tip for help.

4. Decide between email and phone rejections

When the time comes to reject candidates, you need to decide how to approach them. Is rejecting a job applicant better to do over email or phone?

Calling a candidate over the phone comes across as more personal than typing out a standard email. But, 65% of professionals want to hear bad news by email.

Some experts agree that once you interview candidates, you should call them with the bad news. If the candidate doesn’t get to the interview stage, then you can email them.

If you call a candidate to let them know they did not get the job, get right to the point. Tell them that your client has decided to go with another candidate and you appreciate their time throughout the process. And, let them know that you would like to keep in touch.

Sending a job rejection email doesn’t have to be impersonal. Although you can send out mass rejection emails using your ATS software, you should personalize each to address the candidate by name. Don’t say “Dear Applicant” and call it a day. Again, you can let them know that you would like to keep in touch, but only if you mean it.

Candidates might ask you why they didn’t get the job. In fact, 94% of professionals want feedback, but only 41% of professionals get it. This is because some candidates may take the feedback as discrimination. It’s best if you don’t get into too much detail.

5. Maintain future communication

A candidate might not be right for the current position, but it doesn’t mean they are off limits for future job openings. Store their information in your ATS software for recruitment agencies and reach out to them if you think they’re a good fit for a future job.

You can also refer candidates in your candidate pool to other recruiters. If you are making split placements with other recruiters, send them the candidate’s information.

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