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Foolproof Guide to Rejecting Candidates Quickly and Professionally

by LinkedIn Marketing, Tash Tips

Rejections Play a Bigger Role Than You Think

Let’s be real here. Rejections are a part of the process. As you navigate through the hiring stages and find your dream candidates, that also means you have to say no to all the ones who didn’t make it. Now we know just how much you’re dreading this step (and understandably so), but it needs to be done…and it needs to be done now. The truth is, that rejections play a bigger role than you think. And here’s why.

Applying for a job is no walk in the park. We’ve all been there, and we all know how nerve-wracking it is to sit in anticipation of that one email. So yes, even though you’re going to be delivering bad news (unfortunately), it’s still important to provide your prospects with emotional closure. 

If they took the time to submit an application and/or come for an interview, the last thing you want to do is just leave them hanging. Not only will it have an awful effect on their mental health, but it’ll also ruin your company’s reputation as well.

candidate rejection

Image credits: Pixabay

Words get around. If prospects leave your hiring pipeline on a not-so-positive note, they’re more likely to tell others not to apply either. And that’s going to send all of your credibility down the drain in a jiffy. Candidate experience greatly impacts your company…so you want to leave a good impression at all costs. Show them how much you care. Your brand image pretty much depends on it.

As important as it is, sending rejections is also challenging to say the least. We get it — which is why we’re here to help. Allow us to walk you through the process of writing a rejection letter that is both personal and professional. The key here is to find the perfect balance between honesty and encouragement. 

Telling someone no is always hard, but it can be a little less hard if you follow these steps.

Be Straightforward and Deliver the Bad News 

It’s time to rip off the Band-Aid. And yes, this step is going to sting a little…but it’s very, very important that you follow it. So take a deep breath, and tell your candidate directly that they haven’t been selected. Don’t beat them around the bush or provide them with any false glimmers of hope. Your job is to be as clear and upfront as possible. But at the same time, your job is also to be polite, kind, and considerate. In short, get straight to the point while also choosing your words carefully. 

Thank the Applicant

A simple “thank you” goes a long way. At the beginning of your email, make sure you let your candidate know just how much you value their interest in your job position. Show them that the time they spent completing your application and showing up for interviews is greatly appreciated here. This gesture will not only enhance their experience and give them a confidence boost but also do wonders for your employer’s brand. 

Personalize the Rejection

Personalization makes all the difference in the world (and for good reason). It goes without saying that a cold, monotonous rejection letter isn’t going to leave the greatest impression. The candidate put a lot of time and effort into their applications…so the least they deserve in return is a heartfelt letter that is addressed to them specifically. Don’t just stick to the templates. Include little details that are unique to that particular client — perhaps a sentence or two about a particular attribute you appreciated. See the difference it makes.

Provide Feedback

Candidate feedback

Image credits: Pixabay

Constructive criticism is the way to go. As you deliver the bad news to your prospective candidates, remember that it doesn’t have to be all bad. Provide them with insight into any areas of improvement to help them perform better next time — and be sure to say it kindly. Applicants are always looking to improve, so they’ll really appreciate knowing what they lacked. Make sure you also compliment their most impressive qualities and bid goodbye on a positive note. Trust us on this one. It’ll make their entire day. 

Encourage Them to Apply Again

Just because it wasn’t meant to be this time doesn’t mean that’ll be the case forever. If you think a particular candidate aligns with your company culture, be sure to encourage them to apply for future opportunities at your company. This will be a good way for you to keep in touch and build a solid connection. And who knows? Maybe this rejection email will turn into an acceptance one someday. 

Here’s How You Should Reject a Candidate Depending on the Hiring Stage

So now the question is…what is the right time to send the rejection? The answer is…as soon as possible! Once you are 100% sure that the candidate isn’t a suitable match for the role, don’t hesitate to reach out to them and break the bad news. Keeping in the dark is a big no-no. 

Now the thing is, the structure of your rejection letter depends on where exactly the individual currently is in the candidate’s journey. Here’s what you need to do.

  • If you’re rejecting a candidate after the application…

Sometimes an applicant just doesn’t have what you’re looking for. Maybe they don’t have enough experience, or maybe they’re not permitted to work in the country. Either way, your job is to simply thank them for their time and send an automatic rejection email. Use templates and AI technology to make your life easier. And be sure to get this done within a couple of days. 

  • If you’re rejecting a candidate after the phone screening…

By this point, you’ve gotten to know the candidate a little more…so an automated message just isn’t going to do the trick anymore. Your task now is to reject the candidate by phone or email within a couple of days and offer to have a talk with them if they have any questions for you. Remember to remain open to discussing and offer pivotal feedback when necessary.

  • If you’re rejecting a candidate after the interview…

At this stage, you’ve developed a bond (to some extent) with your candidate…which means you need to be extra careful as you proceed. They deserve better than an automatic disqualification email, don’t you agree? This is why you just reach out to them over the phone to personally break the news. Make sure you provide constructive, actionable feedback every step of the way.


Image credits: Pixabay

And there you have it, recruiters. Now you have everything you need to send the best rejection letters of your entire career. Show the candidates how much you prioritize your obligations and how pure your intentions are. That’ll get your recruiting business up and running. That’s a promise.

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