How to Give Rejection Feedback to Candidates?
Michelle P. 1134 Times 729 People

The lack of skilled IT workers is hurting the deployment of emerging technology, according to a new survey from Gartner. In areas from cloud to cybersecurity, this crisis is expected to last for years to come.

Once identified, the candidate is evaluated, interviewed, paperwork completed and presented to the client. Client interviews the candidate and both; the job seeker and more so the recruiter wait anxiously to hear back. If the response is positive then it is a win-win situation for all; if not then the cycle continues for the recruiter.

But it is here that the recruiters fail. They fail in meeting the candidate’s expectations. They fail in building a relationship. They fail in understanding why giving even negative feedback is important. They do not realize that just as they wait eagerly to hear back from the client so does the candidate. When there is no response, most interviewees do assume that they have not been selected but amongst them there are many who would like to understand the reasons so that they can improve in future.

“Candidates need to understand how they can improve,” says Laurie West, talent acquisition manager at Exchange Team. “People’s own ideas about how they think they are perceived and how they actually are perceived in interviews can differ greatly, and it’s all about closing that gap”.

Recruiters should realize that giving negative feedback to help candidates improve will work in their favor too. Apart from creating a positive impression about their company and building relationships, they will also have a better prepared applicant for the next interview should they present to another client.

So, why is it that recruiters do not give feedback? And how should they do it?

Recruiters don’t know how to give negative feedback

Every job applicant wants to hear good news about landing a job. But for some reason is not selected by the client. Don’t they need to know that? And don’t they need to know the reasons?

Giving bad news doesn’t come naturally to anyone. It requires effort. But recruiter-applicant relationship is not a personal one – it is professional so a recruiter is expected to exhibit professionalism in such situations. Yet, most of them are uncomfortable doing this task and that is understandable but it has to be done.

One way is by converting it to something positive. For example –“client felt you are strong in back-end web development but at this time they are looking for a strong UX developer/designer. I will continue to look for other opportunities for you and let’s keep in touch.”

Recruiters are uncertain of candidate’s reaction

Nobody likes to hear bad news and different people react differently to unfavorable outcomes.

Recruiters’ fear of the type of reaction they may get keeps them from even contacting the candidate. This definitely is a bad policy. Some applicants may not care about the feedback but some may and it is likely that they may be satisfied just hearing back. It is a kind of closure and end to wondering.

Granted, recruiters are busy and may not have time to call but sending an email will reap benefits in future. Create a template that can be customized easily.

Recruiters do not get feedback

Sometimes hiring managers do not provide enough information to recruiters. Sometimes, employers keep the decision pending for a long time due to various reasons but most of the time, reasons for not selecting an applicant are not given.

Despite efforts by the recruiter to understand the reasons for rejecting a candidate, the hiring manager provides a cryptic response. In such situations, a recruiter is not in a position to provide additional information to the job seeker.

Yet, it is recruiter’s responsibility to be honest and communicate what they have learned from the client.

Some recruiters do not understand the importance

There are some who just do not understand the importance of providing feedback to candidates. It is a matter of putting themselves in the shoes of the job seekers. As soon as they do that, they are bound to understand and contact their interviewees with whom they would have had several conversations before presenting to the hiring manager. It is the responsibility of the company to set policies regarding this because that will also speak to their professionalism as a company.

Timely feedback

Those who decide to contact candidates with unpleasant news should do so as soon they hear back from the client. Candidates are sure to appreciate that as they are not left in a limbo. Honesty is the best policy when providing additional information if asked by candidate. Thank the job seekers for their time and interest and do not elaborate on their weaknesses or shortcomings. Provide that feedback professionally and briefly. Most candidates are likely to understand without being told the details.

Don’t forget, recruiting is all about building relationships with both clients and candidates. In this time of referral recruiting, relationships and professionalism take on even more importance. Providing feedback is one more step towards building relationships.


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