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For every candidate you offer happy news to, there are significantly more who will not make the cut. Candidates who are seriously considered are owed a more personal rejection than an automatically generated template. Although it may be awkward, it’s more professionally courteous. Plus, if candidates have a poor experience, they may tell others and negatively affect your company branding. Learn more about what to say to candidates you don’t hire with these tips:

  • Address Them by Name

When you’ve actually met a candidate, it can come across as rude if you don’t take the time to refer to him or her by name, especially when you’re delivering bad news. Whether you call, email, or send a letter, take a moment to remember the interactions you had with the candidate so you can have the conversation feel more personal.

  • Thank Them

The candidate was paying a compliment to your company by pursuing a position with you, so it’s the right thing to do to express your appreciation. Sincerely thank the candidate for their desire to work for you and for coming to meet with you. It may not make them feel better about being rejected, but not being thanked just adds more sting.

  • Acknowledge Their Investment

One of the main reasons rejections leave candidates feeling so upset is because hiring managers can seem so flippant about how much time and effort was devoted to applying for the position. A simple 20-minute interview likely required hours of preparation and taking time out of their schedules on the candidates’ end. Acknowledge you understand the effort put forth by the candidate.

  • Provide a Reason

If your company doesn’t permit you to provide actual feedback to candidates who weren’t hired, it may be helpful for your company’s branding to do so. Giving a reason, even if it’s a bit generic due to policy constraints, gives the candidate some closure and may alleviate the need for them to endlessly replay what they could have done differently.

  • Communicate Truthful Next Steps

Let the candidate know you’ll keep them in mind for future opportunities or that you’d like to keep in touch – but only if that is actually true. Don’t allow personal discomfort at delivering rejection cause you to be condescending and say things you don’t actually mean as this will be even more disheartening for the candidate down the road.

  • Wish Them Well

End on a pleasant, upbeat note. Tell the candidate that it was nice to meet them, wish them good luck on their job search, and once again, sincerely thank them for their interest and taking the time to apply.

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