Jacki Neal, Certified Staffaholic

Staffaholic, noun, [staff-a-haw-lik,]: a person addicted to staffing and pursuit of delivering magnificent people to growing companies.

Parrotthead, iPhone junkie, super hero wanna be, dances while driving.

How to deliver bad news.Your candidate was not hired

Wow! After months of interviewing you’ve found the perfect person to join your team.  They have accepted your office and the background checks have come back clean.  The hiring stars and planets are aligning perfectly.  Queue the Happy Dance Music.

Now comes the hard part.  How do you let the other candidates know that they were not selected?  Delivering bad news is hard and very easy to put off since there are so many other items that need your attention.  It’s especially difficult knowing that some of those candidates have good skills and would fit your culture will be disappointed.  It’s deflating to be in their shoes.

This is the “not fun” part of a hiring professionals job, but there are ways to soften the blow while also keeping candidate experience with your company positive.

Here are a few ideas to keep in mind when you have the “You’re not hired” news

The old adage “Honesty is the best policy” applies here, but you can’t cross the HR legal threshold either.  Telling a candidate why they weren’t selected if they were missing skills or experience is fairly easy. Coaching them a little on how to better present themselves during an interview can be very helpful as they pursue other opportunities. You can’t spend hours on this or go into lots of detail, but a few pointers are always helpful.
Follow up with candidates appropriately

You should be doing this at every stage if they are selected for an interview.  Keeping them updated on the timeline and processes of things is key. If the timeline is delayed, dropping a quick email to let them know, does wonders to keep them engaged and interested in your company’s opportunity. They are investing their time and energy too. 

Establishing good relationships with potential employees is always a good thing.  This is a person to person business. They may not fit your current position but could they fit a future one?  Good people know good people so they can be an ambassador for your brand and will refer other qualified candidates. It is much easier to deliver bad news when a relationship has already been established.

What do you stand for?  What does your company stand for?

Good news travels fast but Bad news travels faster.  This is especially true in the social media world.   Delivering bad news in a crappy way won’t be a secret long.  Kindness and professionalism rules.  Authentic communication with more of a human feel vs. a legal tone is needed here.  What does your company stand for?  How do you want to personally be remembered by this candidate?  How do you relay rejection information?

For resumes received or for candidates that don’t make it past the initial phone screen, an email is fine. Be sure that if you use an email or template, that it reflects well on both you and your company brand. 

 If a candidate has had multiple interviews and has invested time and energy into your company hiring processes, they deserve a more personal communication.  A call is best.  If you must send an email, make it personal.  A cookie cutter template with no modifications is just not cool.  They deserve more because they have invested more.

Overall, bad news is usually better than no news.  We have all heard candidates rightfully complain how they never hear back from that recruiter after the interview.  Sometimes they have made several attempts to get in touch to no avail.  Delivering an employment offer is a lot more fun than calling the 3 that we not selected, but putting the feelings of the candidates should be the main goal at this point.  We can happy dance about the new hired employee after.