Press & Media

The Right Ways to Tell Candidates When They Don’t Get the Job


None wants to be the one who delivers bad news. Not to say, it's probably not recruiter’s favourite thing to tell their candidates that their job application has been rejected. Nevertheless, it is not something you can avoid - because it’s part of a recruiter’s responsibility. You cannot ghost candidates just because you do not want to tell the bad news immediately. 

Ghosting can have worse effects than telling the truth to candidates. According to Shannon O’Keefe at Gallup, ghosting candidates can give a long-lasting negative impact on an organisation or in this case, your recruitment agency. When a candidate feels that they have been ghosted, they might share their experience on social media accounts, on the sidelines of soccer games, and it will be a highlight of the banal chatter with seatmates on aeroplanes everywhere. Eventually, your small mistake of ghosting candidate can lead to a lifetime company’s bad image. 

See also: What is the Best Social Media for Recruiting?

Therefore, take the step and tell your candidates even if it is a piece of bad news. After all, in the world of work, honesty is the biggest driver for cultivating a stronger relationship and reputation. Without more ado, here’s how to avoid being a dream crusher and straightly tell candidates they do not get the job. 

#1  Pick up the phone or just send an email? 

You might prefer email over a phone call or one-on-one meeting when it comes to delivering unpleasant news. However, is it really efficient to send an email over a call or a face-to-face conversation? TalentLyft in their survey said that it might not be. Why? Because email might not be equal to the time invested by the candidates. Besides, rejecting a candidate via an email can be perceived as impersonal and cold - thus affecting their candidate experience. 

So, it would be better to deliver the news based on the candidate’s position and interview process. As an example, your candidate has invested time to come in for an interview two times, so rejecting via phone call then offering in-person meeting might be the best option. If your candidate is unable to be reached by call, email is a fair next step. Yet, always offer help after the call or at the end of your email to show gratitude to candidates. 

#2  Tell the truth 

No one wants to be told no without any clear reason. That said, your candidate might demand a reason for why the company reject their job applications after going through all the processes. When giving explanation to talents, never ever give false hope or information. You might need to reduce the information but never give false information. The information you give will help them grow and possibly help candidates fix the mistake for their next job applications. 

#3  Offer feedback and further assistance 

To make it better for both of you, recruiter and the job applicant, it is better to say “Congratulations on making it into a really competitive group, however, we apologise that you do not pass the test.” - instead of “I am sorry, you do not pass the application process.”

The encouraging words above do not only show appreciation but also strengthen candidates’ will to not give up in their job search. You also need to offer further assistance and give feedback regarding the failure. Additionally, make it clear for the applicants if you want to consider them for future job openings or freelance opportunities. 

#4  Give them time to process 

After telling that you will consider them for future openings, do not bother to speak long. Unless the candidate asks questions, you should just end the conversation or call. This will avoid further disappointment or chance that you will reveal what you should not say. Then, give candidates some time to digest the information. None can ever feel okay after a rejection. However, as time goes by, your candidate might contact you again for further opportunity. Or, you can contact them first after one month or two when a better opportunity arises. 

Next read: Three Secret Ingredients to Successful Talent Sourcing

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