Rejecting Candidates: Give Simple, Honest, Positive Feedback

Rejection is an unfortunate part of the recruitment process. Sometimes there are literally hundreds of applications for a role and getting knocked back multiple times can take its toll. In particular, at the moment, so many of my clients including senior executives are struggling with either the complete lack of feedback on why their application is not progressing, a level of rudeness from the recruiter or HR Manager, a lack of compassion, too many stock-standard automatic replies, or the favored approach is the very subjective and possibly biased feedback such as “sorry you were not the right cultural fit for our company”. 

HR Directors can I please implore you to stop giving this type of feedback and response over and over again to candidates. Telling people that they don’t fit in with your culture is a lazy way to provide feedback that you think is designed not to offend, but the reality is it does just that. Imagine being a job seeker desperately looking for new work, only to be told over and over again, that you don’t fit into a new company. Unfortunately, I am aware of candidates who have committed suicide as a result of experiencing continual negative feedback during an arduous recruitment job seeker process. 

In my experience, taking the time to provide simple, honest, and positive feedback is greatly appreciated and will enhance your business’s brand.

Think about how many millions your company spends on managing and curating its brand, only to let it all down by being clumsy and lazy with feedback to candidates who genuinely wanted to work for your business. An example of quality feedback could be framed like this: 

“Dear Terry,

Thank you for taking the time to apply to join our company and for the effort that you demonstrated throughout the interview process. We were impressed with your work ethic, and positive attitude and you had many excellent skills and experiences including superior business development experience which positioned you strongly for the role. However, on this occasion, you have been unsuccessful because we ideally wanted to appoint a candidate who has managed a team of over 50 staff and have pursued a candidate who has sales leadership experience that we feel is best suited to this position. 

We would like to wish you well in your job search and again thank you for your interest in our business. With your permission, we would like to retain your details on file so that if a suitable opportunity arises with the business, we can be in touch with you. If you would like further feedback on your application, we can be contacted on Friday between the hours of 10am and 11am. 


Human Resources.”

Keep it simple, keep it positive, keep it honest. Candidates will respect an honest response about why they were unsuccessful and for you taking the time to provide genuine feedback. As a business, you will also preserve and enhance your business reputation. Treat candidates in the same way you would treat a customer or a valued business supplier. The world is a small place and a poor business reputation and a track record of treating prospective candidates badly will in the long run damage your business.