How to manage rejected candidates

Over the years, recruiters have become more candidate-centric, striving to maintain positive relationships regardless of circumstances. Considering recruiters reject 99 percent of candidates before finding the perfect fit for their clients, knowing how to communicate less than desirable news is vital! Here, we list our 5 steps to managing rejected candidates:

1. Prioritise continuous feedback

Any responsible recruiter knows that continuous feedback should play a central role throughout the screening and interview process. Steps should be taken right at the very beginning of the process to prepare candidates for any rejections that may follow down the line. You should do your best to keep yourself informed of the client’s timelines at all times, including how long it might take to receive feedback from them regarding their first impressions of the candidate and their thoughts on the interviews. Knowing this information will help you manage the expectations of your candidates better, and they will value the transparency, even if the news isn’t what they want to hear. Remember that it is simply not an option to interview the candidate, promise feedback and then forget to call them. That’s the behaviour of a sloppy date, not a professional recruiter.

2. Get a clear understanding of your clients' expectations from the outset

Proactivity is essential for an efficient and seamless recruitment process. It’s important to communicate with your client to determine what their expectations are before you begin screening candidates. This will minimise the amount of rejections the recruitment process is likely to generate. By obtaining an early understanding of the essential skills and experience required, you can communicate expectations to your candidate about their likelihood of landing the role.

3. Remember that the 'what' must be accompanied by the 'why'

Any job-seeker wants to know how they are performing, and rejection should always be accompanied by additional information. For example, let’s say you’ve applied to become an air hostess, and receive an email inviting you to the assessment day. You follow the written instructions to the letter, taking extra care to wear the appropriate attire and leave your house extra early in order to make it to the location on time. After participating in the first round of interviews, you are promptly handed a note informing you that you have not progressed to the next round, but there is no indication as to why you have been rejected. Sounds frustrating right?

Good candidates invest their time and effort into researching job roles and attempting to make a good impression, so it’s simply not enough to notify them that have not been selected for the role because the client preferred someone else. Many recruiters make the mistake of communicating a negative outcome without specifying the motivation behind it, and this only succeeds in frustrating candidates. Alternatively, a candidate will be more receptive and appreciative of constructive feedback that will help them in the future, even if it is accompanied by less palatable news in the present.

4. Be genuine and transparent

Ideally, recruiters should be transparent and genuine. Giving candidates false hope in the form of dishonest feedback is both unfair and callous. Of course, this isn’t to say that you should go all in guns blazing and offer up every criticism the client has levelled you, but rather that you should aim to strike a happy medium. It’s ideal to be open, honest and prompt when delivering feedback, whilst courteous and respectful of the fact that you are delivering bad news. Remember that any interaction is an opportunity to strengthen a relationship, and can either have a positive or negative impact on your reputation.

5. Keep in touch with your candidates

This is perhaps the most important step of all, and should go without saying. Even if a candidate is rejected for one particular role, they are likely to be suited for a vacancy in the future. Be sure to demonstrate that you are invested in their professional prospects by keeping touch with them, alerting them to upcoming positions that may be suitable for them, and starting the recruitment process all over again, whereby you continue to provide frequent and informative feedback.

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