The Importance of Declining Candidates

By: Theresa Hickey

Imagine you spent many hours researching a company, reviewing the job description, and preparing for an interview.  You are continuing to move through the process and the stars are aligning for you to get a job offer.  You wait and continue to wait only to never hear from that company or recruiter again. 

Yes, you can’t hire everyone, and some candidates are just not the right fit for your organization.  The important thing to remember is the experience the candidate has; no matter if they are getting the position or not.  The type of experience someone has can improve or hurt your brand and future talent pipeline.

Some things you can do to keep the experience positive are:

  • Decline candidates as soon as possible. You want to make sure they are not wondering where they stand in the interview process, especially if you know they are actively interviewing and considering other opportunities.  Candidates want to hear the result whether it’s positive or negative.

  • Personalize your communication. If a candidate reached the final stage in your process, it’s best to decline them over the phone; especially since you’ve had multiple communications with them up to this point.  If it was earlier in the process, an email is fine.

  • Give honest but useful feedback. If you know there is something that can help them in future interviews, it’s best to share that with them.  To avoid any legal risks, be tactful but stick to job-related criteria.  They will appreciate the extra step you took in helping them develop into a better candidate and, who knows, you might see them come through your process again.

  • Keep touchpoints with strong candidates. Staying in touch with top candidates is a key part of building a future talent pipeline.  This will allow you to engage throughout the year and keep a pulse on their interests.  You can do this via email, quarterly calls, inviting to networking events, and engaging on LinkedIn.

The way you turn down candidates makes a lasting impression on your company and talent pipeline.  Word of mouth travels fast and if someone has a bad experience, others will know about it too. Just remember you’d like to know where you stood in an interview process.