Turning Down the Job Candidate
By Cathy Fyock
Occasionally you are lucky enough to have more than one qualified individual applying for an open position with your organization. And, when you have more job candidates than open positions, you must tell those candidates who are not selected that the job has already been filled.
Not only is it good customer relations to keep turned-down candidates happy, but it makes good business sense, too. Often, when there are two strong candidates, you might want to offer a position to the second candidate at a later point in time, when another position is available. And sometimes, over a period of time, candidates who lack the qualifications for one position gain the necessary credentials, making them a top candidate at a future date.
How can organizations diplomatically say "no" to job candidates, and still keep them happy as customers and as prospective job candidates of the future? Consider these guidelines for improving the "turn-down" process.
Notify job candidates of your selection decision. I recommend that you use language such as, "We selected someone whose qualifications were a better match with the job." In this way you offend no one, and also protect yourself from any litigation.
Tell the candidate about all the positive features of their background and experience. Make them feel good about the interviewing experience with your organization.
Make your decision as quickly as possible. No one likes to be kept waiting for an answer. Candidates appreciate a timely response so that they can make other arrangements.
Establish a time that a decision will be made and stick to it. Inform candidates of your intended decision deadline, and call everyone once your decision is made.
If a decision hasn't been made, keep the candidate informed. Ask candidates to check back at a specific time and date for information on the decision.
Never tell candidates why they weren't selected (unless it is an objective, obvious reason). I've found that it never pays to be totally candid with candidates, unless it is on purely objective measures (such as inability to work the schedule, or lack of specific job-related experience). By providing too much information (“you lacked the necessary personal skills to work with our customers”) you open yourself up to defensive attacks against your decision.
If candidates may be qualified for other jobs in the future, let them know. Keep them posted on how your employment process works, and how they should keep in touch with you. Set up a check back time for those qualified for future jobs.
By using these guidelines, you'll be able to demonstrate courtesy to job candidates, which is a powerful way to keep good customers and to keep qualified applicants interested in future job opportunities.