How To Tell A Job Candidate ‘We’re Not Hiring You’

Posted in: resume, staffing- Oct 20, 2014 Comments Off

by Liz Ryan

Managers have a lot on their plates. Goals and yardsticks and project plans get a lot of airtime. They get a lot of attention at work. Sticky human topics get the short end of the stick. They get swept under the rug.

When you post a job opening and you interview candidates, the conversations can be fun. They can be intellectually stimulating and give you lots of ideas as a hiring manager. You get good ideas even from the people you don’t end up hiring.

It’s easy to forget during the fizzy days of back-to-back interviews that most of the people you’re meeting will not get the job. You’re going to have to tell each of them “no thanks” before this process is over.

Way too many organizations do a horrible job of conveying the news “Thanks, but no thanks.”

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Compounding the problem is the fact that in the middle of a job interview, the manager can be over-excited. He or she can say things out of turn. I’ve seen it and heard about it countless times. The manager says things like “I don’t know why you couldn’t do this job” or “You’re one of my top candidates” or even “I can easily see you in this job.”

These are really bad things to say, unless there’s a commitment behind the statement. What job-seekers go through is bad enough without also having to hear false-hope-raising statements like “I can easily see you in this job.”

It’s much wiser as a hiring manager to keep quiet about the status of the candidate you’re speaking with. Wait until you’ve had plenty of time to mull things over and talk with other people about your hiring decision.

You have to get an acceptance of the offer you extend to the candidate you choose, before letting the other candidates down gently. If your first choice candidate declines your offer, you will go to your second-favorite candidate.

That being said, you must give your top candidate several days to consider your offer. I advise job-seekers to run away from employers who try to pressure them into accepting an offer in two or three days. That’s ridiculous. Why would you want a thoughtful and mature person to make a major life decision quickly, much less under pressure? That’s a strong-arm tactic employed by fearful weenies who want to wield their power. You wouldn’t stoop to that sort of bullying behavior.

The other candidates, the ones who aren’t getting a job offer, will have to wait a few days or up to a week to get their eventual “no thanks” message. On top of that, each one of them took the time to research your company, prepare for the interview, dress nicely, take time out of their day and expend considerable mental and emotional energy in you and your job opportunity.

Some of them may have sent you careful thank-you letters. All of them came on the interview with the expectation that the job might be a fit for them. If the conclusion is that no, this is not a great fit and the offer is going to someone else, your candidates require a careful touch and human empathy in the ‘letdown’ process.

You owe them that.

If you decline to interview a person after receiving a resume or job application, you can send that message via email. It’s horribly ill-bred and impolite to simply go silent.

You posted an ad. People responded to it. They deserve to have an answer from you, not a wimpy auto-response saying “Your materials have been received. If we want to interview you, we will. If not, go jump in a lake.”

That is beneath you. You were not raised to be rude and thoughtless. Everyone who responds to a posted job ad deserves a kind, human response like this:

Dear [mailmerge],

Thanks very much for the resume you sent us. We appreciate the time you invested in responding to our job ad. This job is not a good fit, but we’d love to stay in touch with you. If you’re interested in staying connected to Acme, I invite you to join our Facebook community at (xxx) . We wish you every success in your career and all of your adventures.

Best,

John Cena

Vice President, Human Resources

Acme Explosives

Where will you get the Facebook page I wrote about? That’s easy. A Facebook page or any kind of online fan club is the new way to recruit. It’s called a Talent Community.

Some employers have 75,000 people in their Talent Communities. They give them job-search tips and interesting content about the company and other topics to keep the Talent Community members interested.

They don’t need to recruit any other way, because the Talent Community fills their hiring needs, and there’s virtually no cost to communicate with its members.

If a person has an in-person job interview, you can’t weasel out and send them a letter. You have to call them on the phone. If you call them and they don’t pick up their phone, you can leave a message.

RRRRRRRING!

JANE: Jane Banks!

OLIVER: Hi Jane, this is Oliver Twist from Acme Explosives. Have you got a second?

JANE: Always, for you Oliver!

OLIVER: Thanks, Jane. I wanted to let you know that we were really glad to meet you the other day, and I appreciate your time a lot and enjoyed our conversation. We’re not going to make you an offer for this role, but I wanted to thank you personally and let you know that life is long, and perhaps our paths will cross again.

JANE: I’m so bummed Oliver – I was really excited about the job. But I very much appreciate the call.

OLIVER: Let’s connect on LinkedIn LNKD -1.22%, Jane. Please send me an invitation.

JANE: Thanks, Oliver. You’ve got a great company there.

OLIVER: Thanks Jane. Have a great weekend.

We can be human at work. It’s better for us, our employees, our customers, the job-seekers we meet, our shareholders and the planet if we keep our human qualities top of mind at work.

We can’t hide behind the impersonal and soul-crushing bureaucratic machine we call Godzilla. We all make the choice to bring ourselves to work or not, every day.

We can humanize our recruiting processes and grow our own flames in the process. As Oliver told Jane, life really IS long. Who knows how the energy will shift over time? Maybe Oliver’s kindness to Jane and the other “no thanks” candidates will pay off for him as the wheel of karma keeps turning. Oliver can feel the benefit of staying human already.

Article Source: Ryan, L. (2014). How to tell a job candidate ‘we’re not hiring you’. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2014/09/25/how-to-tell-a-job-candidate-were-not-hiring-you/