How To Reject Job Candidates Without Tainting Your Reputation

On this Recruiter blog, we concentrate a lot on best recruitment practice and how to retain your best young talent once you’ve employed them. How to attract students to your roles, how to write killer job ads so that the best candidates apply, words and phrases to avoid in interview.

When you have vacancies and you are recruiting graduates, apprentices or students you are, in effect, branding yourself. You need to get a reputation for being a great place to work so that you get all those fantastic applicants chomping at the bit to come and work at your firm. And your recruitment process needs to match that image.

As mentioned in the past, you are assessing whether candidates are suitable to fill your vacancies but your candidates are also assessing you. They want to work out whether or not you are going to be a great company to work for? They want to know whether you are you a great company in general.

So, let’s say you’ve been through your recruitment process, carried out your interviews and you have offered positions to the candidates you think will benefit your company. Great! Congratulations! But what about all those other young people who put so much time and effort into their application only to get a rejection at the end of it all?

How you reject your candidates can have a positive or negative effect on your company’s reputation. Simply ignoring those candidates whose applications have been unsuccessful can leave young people with a bad taste in their mouth when they hear your company’s name in the future. So, how can you make sure that doesn’t happen? Let’s look at some tips for the best ways to reject candidates you feel are not suitable for your roles without tainting your company’s reputation.

Inform Your Applicants ASAP

Have you ever applied for something or been waiting around for something, not knowing if it is going to arrive? We all know that frustration and feeling of uncertainty. Do you move on and forget about it, do you make a phone call and ask when you can know anything, or do you just keep waiting and putting other projects off?

This is your candidate, waiting to find out if they have got the job. Depending on the size of your company, is it possible to have certain procedures in place. A system where, as soon as you know you aren’t going to take that candidate to the next stage of your application process, let them know. At least they know and they can move on to their next job applications and focus on those.

Lots of companies either leave it very late before they inform unsuccessful applicants or they don’t inform them, at all. Giving your unsuccessful applicants the information they need to know allows them to move on and it can also save you time – applicants who are uncertain might email or call to check the status of their application. If you are an employer in a larger company, this could be a lot of applicants.

This rejection process needn’t be time consuming. You can have a template email for candidates you are rejecting in the early stages. These can be personalised with the candidate’s name and perhaps a short sentence about them that you remember from interview. And, if you liked their attitude but you thought they just weren’t the right fit for that particular role, encourage them to keep in touch via LinkedIn.

Be Transparent About Your Time Frame

It depends on the jobs you are recruiting for, of course, but if you are recruiting graduates, for example, then chances are, there is going to be a number of stages to the application process.

Make sure candidates are fully aware of the dates of each process and when they will find out if they have reached the next stage or not. Again, as with the point above, this can save you time in the long run because candidates won’t need to keep sending emails or calling your company to find out what is going on.

A further benefit for you of keeping applicants informed of time frames is that you have less chance of losing out on top talent. Graduates will be applying for more than one position. If you don’t keep them up to date about the status of their application with your firm and another firm has been completely transparent with them, they are more likely to pursue that role.

Don’t Give False Hope

You might have seen a fantastic CV or cover letter or someone might have just interviewed really well and they are really standing out for you. It can be tempting to say to your candidate how well they are doing in the process or that they are top of your list so far. This can give the candidate the impression that the job is in the bag.

And then you find someone else who seems to be a perfect fit for your company and they get the role. This can knock your other candidate for six and they won’t be left feeling good about your firm or your recruitment process. If you do want to tell a candidate how impressed you are with them, be sure to follow it up with a statement where they are aware that you still have other applicants to interview.

Give Constructive Post-Interview Feedback

Candidates would like to see certain behaviours from you in interview. As well as being ‘an applicant,’ an ‘interviewee’ or a ‘candidate,’ also remember that the young person sat opposite you is a human being.

This person has made it as far as the interview so that means you are interested in them. You may even have built up a relationship from the earlier stages of the recruitment process. So, what happened that you decided to choose some candidates over the ones you rejected? Keep the good reputation of your company intact by letting your rejected candidates know why they missed out on this occasion. A good way to do this can be by telephone. This keeps the relationship more personal and shows you valued their time and effort. Sending a quick email or (especially) sending a text message does not demonstrate that your candidate’s time was valued.

Landing a job can be a difficult process for many young people. They might be inexperienced with the whole application process – especially in choosing the right things to say in interview. It doesn’t mean they can’t do the job – they just said didn’t fare so well against your other candidates who gave some winner answers to support their cover letter, for example.

Some constructive and positive feedback can keep their morale boosted and they can apply for future roles with a bit more confidence if they have taken your feedback onboard. Of course, don’t land yourself in hot water in saying something that could be deemed discriminatory. Just a few tips on how they might be able to expand on their answers more in the future.

They will also still have a good feeling about your company knowing you have valued their time and effort that they put in in trying to get a job with you. Thank them for their time and acknowledge that you appreciate how difficult it can be going through the recruitment process.

Were you impressed enough by them that you might employ them in the future? Keeping up a good relationship means this candidate would still jump at the chance of a graduate career, apprenticeship or other role with your company. You can invite them for an interview if and when other vacancies arise.

Ask For Feedback From Your Candidates

They know what you thought of them but do you know what your candidate thought of you and your recruitment process. No, we’re not talking about mudslinging or petty arguments. As with the constructive interview feedback you give to your candidates, ask them for some constructive feedback, too.

This process shows that you value their input and their opinion about your recruitment process. It also shows that you care about getting your recruitment process right because you are fully appreciative of the efforts young people are putting in to find a job. And it shows that you are willing to listen and take on board what others think. It makes you a company that cares about applicants for vacancies, whether they offered the role or not.

Keep In Touch With Rejected Candidates

Again, this depends on the nature of your business but, these days, online networking is all important. LinkedIn is perhaps the most obvious way of keeping in touch but Twitter is also a valuable tool, as are focussed Facebook groups.

If a candidate wasn’t successful on this occasion for your role, you might want to keep them in mind for future vacancies or you could also introduce them to other contacts in your field. This could help them secure a post in the future and your candidate will know you thought highly of them. This is all beneficial for the image of your company.

Why Go To All This Trouble?

So, why bother going to all this trouble? You found the right person or people for your job vacancies so why not just forget about all the other applicants?

Whether it is part time student jobs you are recruiting for, Apprenticeships or graduate programmes, your recruitment process is a part of your company branding. Your applicants are young people and, whatever service or product you are offering, these young people are more than just job applicants. They are the members of the general public who make up your customer base. If they feel you treated them badly, they are more likely to want to spend their money buying goods and services from a rival company.

What’s more, they are also likely to rant to family and friends about how badly treated they felt when they applied for your job. Those family and friends might then also choose to spend their money elsewhere.

And now let’s think about your future young job applicants. Students and graduates talk to each other, especially when it comes to applying for jobs, placements or Apprenticeships around key recruitment dates. Anyone who has had what they deemed to be a bad experience when they applied for a job with your company is going to pass that on to their friends. It could even be mentioned on social media.

If you get a reputation for not valuing your young job applicants, then those young job applicants are going to be thin on the ground when you advertise future vacancies. You will be significantly reducing your chances of attracting any top talent and this can have a negative effect, not just on the reputation of your company but also for future success.

Surely it is much better to have a reputation not just for being a great company for young people to work at but also for valuing any candidate who applies for your vacancies. People talk. Make sure the recruitment talk about your company amongst students and graduates is positive and boosting your reputation rather than negative and potentially damaging for the future.

Advertise With E4S

Have you got any current job vacancies that you need to fill or have you got vacancies coming up in the future? Whether you are looking to employ students in seasonal or part time roles, you are looking for young apprentices or you have graduate programmes available, why not advertise them with E4S.

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