Question from Jon C., Chandler, Arizona

“How do I let people know that I didn’t choose them for a job after I interview them?”

For the most part, recruiting and hiring is pretty fun. You get to meet a lot of cool people – and make connections that potentially improve people’s lives and help your company succeed.

More times than you get to offer a job though, owners, managers and HR professionals have to deliver a tough message:  you were not selected for the job.  Many organizations have a practice of notifying candidates, either verbally or in writing, that they were not selected for a position; others do not close that loop.  Telling a candidate “no” isn’t an easy job… but here are a few tips that’ll help take the edge off.

Let’s start at the beginning and actually talk about your hiring process:

1) Have a job description in place before you start recruiting.  It’s hard to tell someone they weren’t selected when you don’t have a standard set of job requirements, minimums for education and experience, etc. in place already.  Just having a job description/standard in place takes a lot of the pressure off when discussing internally (confidentially within your organization) why a particular candidate wasn’t selected.

2) Have a consistent set of interview questions that your interviewer or panel will use for each and every candidate until a selection if made (you can update the questions when you fill the position again in the future). This process makes comparing candidates’ answers easier.  Of course, you want your interviewing process to be flexible enough to delve into topics that come up naturally during the interview, but all candidates should be given a chance to answer the same set of standard questions.

3) Use a scoring scale.  Identify key attributes, skills, education minimums, and other characteristics and abilities that are most important to you and your team prior to beginning the process.  There are a variety of different tools that can be used to score interviews and having a scoring mechanism in place will make placing your candidates side-by-side and “ranking” them on a consistent set of attributes simple.

4) Have a script before you reach out.  Don’t call a candidate or sit down to type of an email to let them know they weren’t selected on the fly or without a plan.  You need to communicate consistently with each person who was not selected.  There are so many ways that you can tell someone that they weren’t chosen, make sure you have it planned out and practiced before you initiate the communication.

Going into detail about why a particular candidate wasn’t selected isn’t generally necessary, but in the event someone asks why {specifically} they weren’t chosen, you do need to be prepared to respond.  You may have a different practice in place for internal versus external candidates.  Either way, this is a delicate issue.  I would caution you that most managers are not prepared to tactfully have this conversation and it should be left to HR or the owner to handle.  Providing information the wrong way could turn an innocent answer into a lawsuit.  If you feel that you have a legitimate need to provide a candidate with details as to why the were not selected for a job, review the message with your manager or human resources prior to the conversation.

Are you ready to analyze your organization’s job descriptions, job design, recruitment, interviewing and hiring practices, etc.  Contact us and we’ll be in touch!