One of the last steps when hiring new teammates is sending the offers and rejections to the candidates. This step might seem like a “well, duh” step in the process, but I assure you, these are both too important to get wrong. Let’s jump in, and talk about the rejection part first.
Communication, as with most things, is the key. A candidate should not be surprised at a rejection and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a poor reflection on them. It could be just that they are not the one this time, but perhaps in the future, they would be. If you correctly set expectations in the interview process, the candidate knows that they may or may not get the offer.
When a candidate is not a fit early on, don’t make them wait until the whole process is over. Often, companies are afraid of rejecting a candidate just in case they don’t find someone who is a good fit. Don’t do this to yourself, or the candidate, because retaining the applicant tempts you to settle. If they aren’t the right fit, keep looking. You can even say “we wanted to let you know as soon as possible so we are not keeping you from other opportunities.” This helps the candidate feel goodwill toward your company and keeps them interested as a potential brand ambassador. Be as straightforward as you can be about why they are not the right fit. However, you must be careful here. Honesty and clarity are the key to leaving them with a good impression. You do not have to expose “the worst” but being truthful about, for example, that another candidate was a better fit for this position, or if it is a particular skill set that they are missing that is needed for the opening. This gives them the chance to learn the skills needed for a potential fit in the future.
Many of us have not gotten a job we wanted and could never find out why. Don’t be that company. If they need to add a skill, they should at least understand it isn’t appropriate to apply again until they have added that skill. If you don’t handle this rejection piece correctly, it alters your reputation via word of mouth or on Glassdoor, which in turn affects your ability to bring in potential referrals from this very candidate. I have had candidates say no to interviewing because they have heard a particular company’s interview process was bad or that they knew other people who didn’t get that job and no one knows why.
Whether they’re the fit or not, appropriate communication is still key. If they are still in the running, you need to let them know, especially if the process is taking longer than you had hoped. Keeping them in the loop and managing expectations is what is going to keep your sphere of influence and brand ambassadors positive about your company.
The bottom line: leave the candidate with a happy and positive impression of your company, so that they may apply again when the fit is better.
Congrats you have found your new employee (assuming they accept the offer)! Your job doesn’t stop at the offer and acceptance. This is not the time to stop providing clear communication and expectation setting. The offer should be clear and concise and it should have your plan of onboarding. Those might be additional steps that need to be taken such as background checks or referral screens, along with a timeline that includes initial start days. Your offer should also include benefits information, 401K and PTO. You may have given some of this info in a synopsis during the hiring process, but now they need the nitty gritty details. Your new employee should not have to beg for info or drive the process. Don’t skimp on details, they want them! Even if it seems redundant or too much. Also, include contact information for the appropriate personnel the new hire can reach out to with questions.
Speaking of other personnel, don’t forget to loop in other people who need to be informed about the new hire, such as the IT department so that your new employee has a laptop and network credentials and whatever else they need before they step foot in the door. This first day is a critical part of retaining your employee, so don’t screw it up. It is so critical, in fact, that I’ll cover this exact topic in a future blog. Stay tuned!