FRIDAY HR FAQS – How do you turn down unsuccessful job applicants?

Date: Friday, 15th March, 2019

Rejecting candidates is never easy. When an applicant is passionate about a role but perhaps doesn’t have the correct experience or necessary skills, then the decision not to hire them can be a tricky one to communicate. After all we’re all human, so accepting criticism in any shape or form isn’t something that comes naturally to many of us.

There are also certain legalities that you need to be mindful of when informing a candidate that they have been unsuccessful, such as ensuring you are not deeming them unsuitable due to reasons outside of the capabilities that they need to effectively perform the role.

So, how can you soften the blow and ensure a candidate goes away from a job application feeling as though they have learnt something even if they haven’t been successful in being offered the job?

  1. Be clear from the outset: ensuring your job advert and description of the position is thorough and the requirements for experience and skills are clear are the first step towards protecting yourself as an employer who will inevitably have to reject applicants during the process. It will be difficult for a candidate to contest being unsuccessful in their application, if you can provide clear evidence of the skills you were searching for – and how they do not meet this profile – from the outset.
  2. Fair assessment: designing selection criteria for candidates and scoring each candidate against these, will facilitate consistency and fairness. This could include level of education, language skills or years of essential experience.
  3. Take clear notes: you may have a high volume of applicants for a position, so it is vital that you can distinguish between each applicant that you screen or interview, so you have a clear set of notes to refer to should they ask for feedback on their application.
  4. Keep up communication: once you have engaged with an applicant, it will improve their experience of the application process, if you keep up regular communication with them to advise on the status of their application. This will reassure them that you haven’t forgotten about them and give them confidence that you are seriously considering their suitability for the role, in a fair manner alongside other applicants.
  5. Provide feedback: once you have established that an applicant isn’t suitable for a role, we recommend providing them with a written notification of this and advising them that they have the right to request feedback should they wish. Ensure any subsequent feedback you provide is pertinent to their application and the skills required for the role, as opposed to any ‘feeling’ that they aren’t right for the role which isn’t based on evidence.
  6. Be constructive: it’s important to be mindful of the time and effort applicants put into their applications, so where possible, try to provide constructive feedback so that they can use this to improve any future applications they make.

Once you have parted ways with a candidate for a role, consider keeping in contact with them for any future opportunities that they may be suitable for. Remaining complaint in accordance with GDPR is vital, so ensure you have the applicants consent before retaining their details for this purpose.

If you would like any further help or advice on our talent services, get in touch with one of our team today.

HR Revolution; supporting you, your employees AND your business
the HR Blog

KEEPING YOU UP TO DATE WITH OUR
CUTTING EDGE INSIGHTS

contact us sign up

DON’T MISS THE REVOLUTION
SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER