Dead-end interviews are not an ideal situation. You invited a candidate in, and after ten minutes (or maybe two), you know this person is not the right for the job. What should you do?
Don’t Drag Things Out
Most people would much rather not tell an applicant they didn’t get a position. In fact, many hiring managers are so eager to avoid this situation that they will push through the remainder of every interview no matter what. Unfortunately, this strategy wastes everyone’s time. Your best bet is to be honest and forthcoming early in the process. Some candidates may be upset (and this is what scares interviewers), but most will appreciate your prompt response. When someone understands they are no longer eligible for a job, they can put their energy into pursuing other opportunities. This a far better policy than forcing applicants to wait for weeks before they hear back from you, or worse yet, failing to follow up at all. Although it’s not easy, being straightforward will build your company’s reputation as a fair and honorable organization.
Thank Them for Their Time
Okay, so you have decided to tell candidates right away if they don’t qualify. But, how do you start this conversation? Begin by expressing your gratitude. This person spent time and energy crafting their resume, writing a cover letter and preparing for the interview. Plus, their application materials were strong enough to attract your attention. Even when candidates aren’t what you had in mind, they still can add value to your company. They may be (or become) brand ambassadors, dedicated customers or future employees. Genuinely thank them for their interest in your organization, and if appropriate, invite them to apply again somewhere down the line.
Provide a Basic Explanation
Feedback can be extremely valuable for job hunters. However, proceed with caution and choose your words carefully. You don’t want to spark a debate or say something an applicant might view as discriminatory. Instead of making vague statements such as, “You’re not a good fit,” offer a brief but clear explanation. Focus on quantifiable skills or criteria and not on personal characteristics. For example, “We are looking for someone with at least three years of project management experience and you don’t have the level expertise we feel is necessary for this position.” The candidate may take the rejection personally, so be empathetic but firm.
Finally, keep in mind, job seekers talk to their friends and write online reviews. If you treat applicants poorly, they will spread the word. This could scare others away and, ultimately, shrink your talent pool. It’s in your company’s best interest to treat everyone, those you hire and those you don’t, with respect.
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