3 Strategies to Keep in Touch With Previous Candidates

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Hiring season is just around the corner. While there likely will be many candidates who apply, not all suitable candidates will be chosen. A job candidate you turn down now may be a candidate who applies later.

Who’s to say the perfect role for them within your organization won’t arise in the future? On top of juggling everything: recruiting, hiring, and onboarding, keeping in touch with passed-over candidates is often put on the back burner. It happens. Because of this, it’s vital to remember best hiring etiquette and foster these budding candidate relationships even during a tumultuous hiring season. 

There are many ways to stay ahead of the game when it comes to maintaining a relationship with rejected candidates, such as facilitating an open and honest interviewing process, humanizing the recruitment experience, and establishing opportunities for ongoing connections. These activities reduce time spent combing through future candidates, as the perfect one might have been hidden in plain sight the entire time. 

Let’s discuss the benefits of keeping in touch with previous candidates and how HR pros can do so. 

Humanize the Interview Process 

Interviewing can be an incredibly draining process for candidates; we have all been there. Showing compassion within the interview process can go a long way in building deeper connections between the candidate and the interviewer.

At times, the interview process can be disheartening for candidates, especially if the rejection is apparent. However, HR can help make this process smooth and mindful.

While sending a personalized note to every candidate who applies is not feasible, expect to send a customized message to everyone who completes multiple interviews. This etiquette will ensure you and your organization stand out from the rest.

Re-affirm the candidate’s efforts have not gone unnoticed, and thank them for taking the time to interview with your organization. This thoughtful action may lead the candidate to re-apply to future positions. 

Upon rejecting a candidate, it can be beneficial to give them feedback. Make recommendations for improvement in future interviews. Note what they were missing compared to other applicants or how they can improve when answering specific questions.

Is there other preparation to consider benefitting future interviews? These are all areas HR professionals can address as feedback for rejected candidates. It increases their odds of being hired, and if they choose to apply to your organization again, they will know what is required to be the top candidate.

Be Candid With Candidates

Good interviews should be open conversations. They will lead to genuine connections and bolster trust in what the organization stands for while making the interviewee feel welcomed. 

So why aren’t more interviewers open with rejected candidates and providing reasons why an applicant wasn’t the best fit?

In telling a rejected candidate why they were not the right fit, you want to be as helpful and detailed as possible while keeping within legal parameters. Perhaps the candidate was not the best fit for a particular position, but a different role fitting their qualifications is open.In that case, tell them.

It would be a disservice to an organization not to consider a previously interviewed candidate. The interviewer is already familiar with the candidate’s responses and can gauge how they will fit within a role.

Stay in touch with that person either to provide updates for an upcoming vacancy or for the next steps in interviewing for a different position better suited for them. Do not let good talent go to waste!

Continue Connections

Should you continue reaching out to previous potential talent? If you have the resources. Continuing the connections made with rejected candidates can still be valuable.

Invite them to open house events, continue messaging and keep looking for organization opportunities to send them. Rejected candidates do not need to become strangers outside the organization’s network. If anything, keeping them in the loop if they are still interested will be an incredible resource.

If your organization compiles a shortlist of previously interviewed top candidates, reach out to those people when qualified opportunities become available. Creating a database can save recruiting time and give previous candidates a second chance. Reaching out to prior applicants personally via email or LinkedIn will be received positively.

LinkedIn and other social media platforms play a massive role in how hiring practices have transformed. In conjunction with job postings, create social media content stating your organization is hiring.

While previous candidates might not immediately see a job listing, they will likely see social media content around your organization hiring. Social recruiting is a powerful way to get eyes on your job listings when done right.

In the long run of hiring, deploying the right tools, and keeping a growth mindset toward rejected candidates will take your organization far. Being ahead of the curve of what other organizations aren’t doing in recruiting and hiring will be impactful.

Matt Thomas is president of WorkSmart Systems.


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By Matt Thomas