Imagine this scenario: You post a position, get several qualified candidates and start making lists and calling potentials to set up interviews. It used to be you only owed the desired candidates a call or even a call back. But in these days of candidate experience the question begs asking: Do you owe bad candidates a call back?

In a perfect world, all candidates would get the best treatment, regardless of where they drop off in the process. Candidate experience isn’t just a buzz word stuck in the middle of blog posts, to advocates it’s a noble cause that should move forward faster than it has. Busy or not, the argument goes, practitioners should go the extra miles to keep candidates and potential consumers feeling valued, appreciated or at least acknowledged.

Even going beyond the candidate experience, the case to call so-called “bad candidates” back is a strong one. After all, what does it say about your recruitment process, recruitment marketing, and screening operations when you have that many bad candidates to call back? Hireducated sums it up succinctly:

Unsuitable candidates are not to blame for their presence. They are there because they were told to be there…

The case to call back regardless of fit is a strong one but it doesn’t hold a candle to a busy recruiter’s day. Most recruiting departments and HR professionals spend their days trying to do much more with much less, handling far more than talent acquisition and candidate experience. So in between calling successful candidates, arranging assessments, scheduling digital or in-person interviews, and handling administration work, HR pros can be forgiven for wanting to forgo calls that are not only time consuming but even under the best circumstances, not very fun.

Perhaps the debate shouldn’t just be about calling, but about notification. Calling, while ideal, is time consuming, and candidates in this economy can find themselves as busy jobseeking as the human resources practitioners interviewing them, so an email notification can be just as valuable. After all, the real goal of a notification to a “bad candidate” is to allow them to seek out other opportunities, thank them for their time and perhaps even suggest other opportunities within your organization which may be a fit. And email, even though it used to be a second-tier contact channel, is far more acceptable these days.

No matter your stance on calling or notifying candidates who aren’t the right fit, it does need to be done. With marketing automation simple and relatively cheap, there is no reason not to let candidates know where they are in the process, even if they’re at the end. And Susan M. Heathfield from About.com talks about the right time to notify a candidate:

I know that many employers disagree with me, but I also believe you should call a candidate as soon as you determine that he or she is not the right person for the job. Many employers wait until the end, even as long as it takes for a new employee to start the job, before they notify unsuccessful candidates.

Final word? Candidates, regardless of fit, need to be notified and they need to be notified as soon as the HR pro can do so. Whether you actually call them or not? That’s up to you.



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