Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

How to Reject Job Candidates Who Aren’t the Right Fit

You finally found the perfect candidate for your open position, and they accepted your offer. It’s time to celebrate! But, before you break out the balloons, there’s one last thing you have to do — tell all of the other candidates the position has been filled.

Rejecting candidates isn’t fun and can be uncomfortable for everyone involved. When those candidates are close runner-ups, letting them down and letting them go hurts. Although you don’t want to reject anyone, you have to — there’s no way around it.

Fortunately, there are ways to make rejection easier for you and job candidates. Let candidates down the right way with these rejection tips:

1. Be helpful

Cheri-FarmerWhen following up with a candidate who doesn’t make the cut, the most generous thing a manager can do is offer solid feedback. Gently coaching the candidate on how they might approach the situation differently in the next interview is a thoughtful gesture on the part of the manager and has practical value for the candidate.

If the candidate is talented, but just not the right fit for the organization, it’s not uncommon for a good-hearted manager to offer to connect the candidate with other managers or organizations that might be a better fit.

Cheri Farmer, Principal Consultant, Grace Bay Group

2. Keep your brand in mind

Lela-ReynoldsA recruiter should consider a rejection letter to a job candidate an extension of the company’s brand and an example of the corporate culture. A rejection letter should show careful attention to language, ensuring it is straightforward, thanks to the candidate for their time and effort, and wishes them luck in their search.

There is no need for a harsh tone or for an explanation as to why they didn’t get the job. The letter should be timely, going out as soon as a decision is made not to go forward with the candidate.

When someone is a close second, it is acceptable to write that, although they weren’t a fit for the role, you enjoyed meeting them, thought highly of their work experience and background, and wish them well. A recruiter can say they will keep them in mind for future open positions, but only if they truly mean it. Don’t give a rejected candidate false hope, as it could engender a negative view of your brand.

Lela Reynolds, Senior Career Consultant​, Resume Strategists

3. Stay connected

Jennifer-Lee-MagasIn a situation where you see the candidate as an employee of yours in the future, you can let them know that they can be considered for future job openings if they’re interested.

Ask to connect with the candidate on LinkedIn, and say in your letter that you will keep them notified about future openings. If you already have an established relationship with this person whom you can see becoming a valuable employee in the future for a different position, the hiring process will be a lot easier.

Jennifer Lee Magas, Vice President, Magas Media Consultants, LLC

How do you let top candidates down easy? Let us know how you reject job candidates in the comments below!

Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 6,000+ customers in over 100 countries.