Always Tell Your Candidates Why They Didn’t Get Hired

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teenage girl suffering with depression in a conversation with a therapist Looking for a job can be stressful, exciting and cumbersome.

Having been in the recruitment industry for 18 years, with over nine years on the sales side, I’ve seen applicants make some pretty bad moves that reduce their hiring appeal.

Bearer of Bad News

The hardest thing for job seekers is waiting around for that email or phone call to see where you stand – that validation of knowing if you got the job or not.  Then, as the bearer of bad news, we’ve got to be the ones to make the call. We use these gut-wrenching phrases, such as “We have decided to pursue other candidates”. There are consolation phrases to the effect of “We plan to keep your resume on file should any future needs arise”.  They are hard to deliver and hard to receive, but it’s part of our job.

Part Recruiter, Part Guidance Counselor

I’ve always looked at my job from the human perspective. Sure, I get compensated to help my company fill open positions, but if there’s a way that I can actually help a human being in the process, it’s an added bonus for me.

From a personal standpoint of self-improvement, as I’m delivering the bad news, I always try to add some value. Rather than just spouting off the cookie-cutter response that jobseekers are used to hearing, I try and make sure that my rejections feel just a little bit different: “I am sorry, but we feel that you did not perform well in your interview.  Here are examples…”.  This is a delicate tightrope, at best, but doing so speaks to the heart of being a recruiter.

In my recruiting process, I try my very hardest to tell candidates why they were not a fit for the position.  I have had many people thank me over the years for taking this approach. Part of recruiting is to not only find an individual that would be a great contributor to an organization, but to also coach him or her on aspects of perception and improvement that might offer a better outcome on future interviews.

Being Blunt Could Make the Difference

As a recruiter, it seems to me that there’s enough career advice out there that these basics should be a forgone conclusion, but yet, we still see the outliers who, no matter how good they look on paper, just don’t seem to understand the fundamentals when they walk through my door.

Several of those coaching aspects boil down to simple corrections or points of awareness the candidate should have in mind. Offer a firm handshake upon meeting. This is huge; it shows confidence. Maintain eye contact, bring work examples or evidence of success to the interview, and of course, dress to leave an impression. I’ve seen many candidates that seem to think it’s appropriate to wear a short sleeve shirt to an interview. Doing so is a quick first strike on my checklist.

Prove enthusiasm by demonstrating research on the company and asking relevant questions.Refrain from speaking badly of previous companies or individuals along the career path. Try to avoid utilizing the same word or phrase repetitively while talking, over and over and over and over (get it)?

That Rejected Candidate Could Be Your Next Boss

Part of being a recruiter is helping people within their careers. Instead of using the standard “ding letter”, how about a nice call that explains their skill sets “were not a fit and that we (the recruiter, the company) plan to continue our search—however I would like to give you a couple of pointers…”  You get the drift.

Over my many years of recruiting, I’ve had many candidates call me back to thank me for my candor. And a few of them actually took my advice and it helped them land a job.

Life is a funny thing. The person you help today could be your boss tomorrow.

By Candace Ferrell