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How Do You Treat the Candidates You Don’t Hire?

Every candidate you interview is a walking advertisement for your company. Give them a negative interview experience and that’s what they’ll broadcast to their network. Treat them well and you’ll have an unlimited supply a great candidates to draw from.

HEY.pngYour company’s reputation is already known among sales associates, current clients, and the service you provide. But have you considered your reputation as a potential employer?



After an interview with your company, what do you think the candidate might say about your process?

“XYZ Company would be a great place to work! The hiring manager was down-to-earth and fair. He introduced me to the team and they we’re excited about the projects they were working on. I really hope I get an offer, because I’d take it immediately.”


“Not in a million years would I ever work for XYZ Company. When I interviewed with there, the hiring manager kept me waiting in the lobby for forty-five minutes. The receptionist didn’t acknowledge my presence. Three managers talked my ear off for an hour about how great they were and how hard I’d have to work to keep up. I can tell I’d burnout quickly there. Not to mention, I haven’t heard anything from them since the interview two months ago.”

We all hope it’s a positive interview experience for candidates. But sometimes it’s not. And when it isn’t, that candidate has the power to broadcast their feelings to their entire network and tarnish your reputation as a great potential employer.

How should you treat candidates you don’t hire?

  • Do unto others– Treat candidates the way you’d like to be treated. The person you reject today may be exactly who you need next year.
  • Give them something positive to talk about– Your goal should be to treat all candidates with the same level of respect, attention and enthusiasm so they’ll want to work for your company, even if they don’t get the job today.
  • Handle candidate referrals as though they were gold– You may not hire the first candidate from your source, but if you treat the referral badly, then the source won’t send more candidates your way. Why poison the well? 
  • Conduct interviews responsibly– Respect the candidate’s time. If they’re currently employeed, chances are they’re as busy as you. Also, let the candidate know how many people will be interviewing them ahead of time. Being surpised by a five-person panel is terrifying and likely to be the first thing they criticize once the interview is complete.
  • Give them your full attention– Now is not the time to take phone calls, read your email or allow for interruptions. This makes you appear rude, scattered and unfocused, which is exactly what they’ll post on their Facebook account when they get home.
  • Not going to hire them? Let them know ASAP– Call the candidate and say, “I want to thank you for taking the time to come interview with us. I (we) liked you very much. You have excellent knowledge and experience, but I don’t believe that this position is the best match for your skills. However, should I have a position come up in the future that would be a better fit for you, I’d like to be able to give you a call and discuss it with you, (candidate’s name). Would that be okay with you?”
  • Don’t leave them on infinite hold– If you’re having trouble getting approval for the candidate you’ve chosen, let them know what’s going on. Whether it’s a hiring freeze, or if someone is on vacation, communicate the hold up immediately. 


You may want to check out this blog post:

3 Rejection Letter Templates You’d be Happy to Receive

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