Rejecting a Candidate: How to Say ‘Sorry, you didn’t get the job’?

Guest Author | 3/26/2018 | Tutorials

Rejecting candidates is one of the biggest challenges for recruiters. In this blog post, you will learn how to say “Sorry, you didn’t get the job” in a way that will ensure that you maintain a strong Employer Brand, keep candidates in your talent pool and improve your candidate experience.

Rejecting a Candidate: How to Say ‘Sorry, you didn’t get the job’?

The importance of rejecting candidates in the right way

For some candidates, recruiters are builders of their future, but for others, they are dream crushers.
And who wants to be the dream crusher?

Probably no one. Telling someone that they didn’t get the job is a really uncomfortable experience, but also something you have to go through when searching for your ideal job candidate.

Besides being uncomfortable, the way you reject candidates can make or break your perfect recruiting recipe and have a serious impact on your company’s reputation.

Rejecting a candidate in the "best" possible way is crucial for maintaining a strong Employer Brand, keeping them in your talent pool and improving your candidate experience.

Here is why candidate experience is so important:

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Despite popular belief, a candidate’s experience doesn’t end when you decide not to hire them

Candidates that don’t make the cut for one particular position may be a perfect fit for some of your future job openings. Keeping high-quality candidates in your talent pool and maintaining relationships with them can significantly improve the most important hiring metrics: Time to hire, Cost per hire and Quality of hire.

Now that we concluded that injecting a human touch to the rejection process makes it better and more considerate for everyone involved, let’s proceed by exploring different ways it can be done.

Rejecting a candidate with an email

Email - the most common professional way of communicating may seem as a reasonable choice for delivering the news. It is easy, you can just use the candidate rejection email templates, which can be personalized and sent in bulks using your Applicant Tracking System. And that’s it - you are done. Piece of cake!

The problem is that sending a rejection email can be seen as impersonal and cold. Imagine disappointed faces on the other side of the screen when they read this type of email.

Even though it might seem like email is the easiest way to deliver bad news to your candidates, you should consider other options that are more in line with your Talent Acquisition strategy.

Rejecting a candidate over the phone

Many recruiters use phone calls to inform their candidates that were not selected for the specific job position. However, such phone calls have their pros and cons.

One of the biggest advantages is definitely that the recruiter can use his voice to soften the negative outcome this conversation is going to have. Make sure your candidates hear that you are considerate and thoughtful as much as you can.

Be sure they will appreciate you taking the time to explain them all the reasons why they didn’t get that job, but keep in mind that the absence of visual presentation is still creating a distance between you and your candidate.

Rejecting a candidate using a video

When you first think about it, recording videos can seem complicated. But with the right video emailing software, you can actually save time, add a personal touch and have better control over your recipient’s feedback.

Video brings thoughtfulness, simplicity and creativity into the recruitment process and this is exactly what recruiters need, especially in the last phase of the recruitment process.

Sending a video email to your candidates that didn’t get the job will make this situation a little bit easier for them as he will get the feeling that you truly appreciate their effort.

How to reject a candidate using a personalized video email message?

It is probably easy to say that video is the best way to deliver bad recruitment news, but how should that video look like? What should you say?

Step #1: Say ‘Thank you’

Firstly, it is important to say your candidate’s name and thank him/her for his/her time and willingness to participate in this process.

The old-fashioned Thank you for applying for the position at the company” can’t be referred to as affectionate anymore. You don’t want a copy/pasted email phrase to ruin your candidate’s perception of your Employer Brand.

Every candidate should be treated with an individualized approach.

Step #2: Deliver the bad news with an explanation

The next step is the hard part where you want to spit out the bad news, but then again, it doesn’t have to be as wrong as it feels.

Instead of saying “You are not a good fit for our company”, try to provide a satisfying explanation and identify your candidate’s strength.

According to LinkedIn research, talent is 4 times more likely to consider your company for a future opportunity when you offer them constructive feedback.

Step #3: Keep in touch

Last but not least, close your video with a line that will show your candidates you want to stay in touch: “Please give us your feedback on this selection process and we would love to see you apply for our open positions in the future.”

Make sure your candidates feel like you want them to reach out to you if they feel the need to say something. Keep in mind that delicate situations like these help you establish yourself as an expert that this candidate will trust in future with his job search.

Example of a candidate rejection video email message

Here is a great example of how such a personalized video email message for rejecting candidates should look like:

This video has been made with Covideo, an easy-to-use video email software that provides you with numerous options for recording and sending videos.

How do you reject your candidates?

The next time you start typing bad news to your dear candidates, imagine how much better they would take the news with a personalized video email message where the recruiter is talking directly to them.

Thinking of ways to deliver bad news to candidates is one of the biggest challenges for recruiters, but finding the best way to do so is what separates the average form the most successful recruiters!

About Covideo

Even though a lot of people think sending videos is time-consuming, there are a lot of cool video options that recruiters can use to communicate with their candidates. One of them is Covideo, an easy-to-use video email software that provides you with numerous options for recording and sending videos.

The next time you start typing bad news to your dear candidates, imagine how much better they would take the news with a personalized video email message where the recruiter is talking directly to them. Thinking of ways to deliver bad news to candidates is one of the biggest challenges for recruiters, but finding the best way to do so is what makes you great at your job!

About author

Lucija Grubisic is a last year student finishing her studies in marketing. She has been with Covideo for almost a year now, and she loves generating high-quality, inbound content!


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