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What to Say to Employees You Don’t Hire

Over time, you learn to conduct better interviews, battle turnover and establish morale on a team or in a department. But what about the other side of the hiring process — what about the employees you don’t hire?


Here’s advice for informing both the successful applicant, those who didn’t get the job, and handling the necessary rejection of job candidates the best way possible.

Don’t Keep Them Waiting

Those who invest their time and energy in the interview process deserve a prompt answer about whether or not they are going to get a particular job. One of the best ways to soften the impact is to be quick with an answer to those candidates who are waiting for the call. When dealing with these sensitive calls, the old saying of ripping off the Band-Aid certainly applies, and those who err on the side of vagueness are doing job candidates a disservice.

Offer a Channel of Communication

When informing unsuccessful job candidates of the outcome, be sure to say that you’ll keep that person’s information on file for future use. In some cases, job candidates may even be more interested in a long-term conversation than a quick hire. This is especially true for people who are successfully freelancing, but may be playing the field for a salaried career role.

Staying in touch with unsuccessful applicants helps them, and you. It helps give them a confidence boost when they’ve been rejected, and helps you to build a better talent pool for when you need more people in the future.

Don’t Be Mean

Be sensitive about the language you use in rejecting applicants. For some managers, it’s tempting to tell job candidates bluntly that they lacked the qualifications or experience or, that someone else happened to be a ‘better fit.’ It’s not that you shouldn’t tell people these things, but the way in which you say it can have a big impact. Think about how you’d like to be approached when someone else has won out for a valuable career position.

It may take extra work to be more tactful, but it’s going to solidify your reputation as a company that’s fair and easy to work with.

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