How to Reject that Just-Not-Good-Enough Candidate



In reading Avoid Candidate Let Down amidst our current Resident Assistant application process it made me realize two things: one, you should always respond to a candidate unless you already indicated you would not in your original job posting. Secondly, the longer a candidate is in your application process the more respect deserved in his or her rejection.

As indicated in the article, there are at least three levels of professional rejection for candidates; each becoming more complex the later a candidate is dismissed from the applicant pool.

1.    Candidate applications that do not meet specified requirements.

  • Where I agree with the article. The article indicates that you should have very detailed requirements for your position. You absolutely should so people know that if they do not have five years of experience they will not be considered.
  • Where I disagree. While not directly stated by the article it gives the impression you should respond to every applicant. This is easy to do if you have 15 applications but if you have over 100, for example, you should indicate in your job listing that only qualified candidates will receive a response. You should be up front.

2.   Candidates who have completed the first interview and are not moved forward in the process.

  • Where I agree with the article. Any candidate who makes it to a personal interview should receive a personal rejection if they do not make the cut. It should not be a form rejection letter used for everyone.

3.  Candidates who have completed final rounds of interviews but are not selected.

  • Where I agree with the article. Depending on how comfortable with the person you are, the more I would encourage a personal phone call letting them know they were not selected. This will mean more to someone you connected with in an interview than an email.
  • Where I disagree with the article. I do think feedback is important when giving a rejection, however, I do not believe it is necessary as it can create a serious legal issue if done incorrectly. In such a legalistic society a person can never be too safe. If you are adamant about giving a candidate feedback, I fully support it but run it by your supervisor to make sure it is innocuous.

Jeff informal