Unsuccessful Feedback – Letting Them Down Easy

 In Business, CA News, Employer Branding

It’s the part of recruitment we all dread. Whether they were an initially very promising candidate, a difficult one or just someone who was not quite up to the requirements. Ensuring that we give effective and sensitive unsuccessful feedback to our candidates is vital in maintaining a strong Employer Brand and running an effective recruitment process.

The reality in the recruitment industry is that this is often an element of the recruitment process that slips. Especially when other priorities rise up and we need to focus on locking in that final candidate, or when we simply have very large pools of candidates who just seem too time-intensive to effectively manage out. Candidates are often left on the hook without an unsuccessful finalisation of their application but the impression they take from this is exceedingly damaging to your organisation’s perception within the candidate market.

Studies show that;

  • 78% of candidates who have had a bad application experience will relay that to their friends, family and network and;
  • over 80% of the reasons supplied from those candidates for their poor experience were based on poor communication from the recruiting organisation. Of those reasons, nonexistent or poorly delivered communication that they were not successful featured consistently.

But understanding the importance is just the first step. More importantly, is setting up best-practice, time-effective procedures and tools to best deliver that feedback and ensure that everyone that enters our recruitment process, exits it with a positive outlook. This will both improve our Brand in the candidate market, and, if the unsuccessful applicants are good cultural fits, increase their likelihood to apply for a more suitable position in the future.

To facilitate this, we have put together the following recommendations for delivering your unsuccessful feedback to candidates in a best-practice manner.

  • Be Timely – Not considering extraneous circumstances, move forward with unsuccessful feedback once your decision is made. Leaving candidates hanging once you are sure you will not progress with them is only creating a negative situation. This grows more critical the more time an applicant has been engaged with your process. Final top applicants who you have met face-to-face should be informed of the unsuccessful result of their application ideally 3-5 days maximum after that meeting.
  • Match Their Engagement – Consider the candidates time investment when delivering their feedback. An application you have considered unsuitable based on a first screen of the resume can be in the format of a polite bulk email, but an applicant who you have progressed through a face-to-face interview will be best served by the personal touch of a phone call. This also comes into play with the level of feedback you give to them.
  • Rip Off The Bandaid –  This will save both your time and that of the candidates. Make the nature of your decision apparent at the very start of the communication, whether it is over the phone or email, and don’t beat around the bush.
  • Never Apologise – Saying sorry opens a window for the candidate to question your decision and will only make the call more difficult for yourself.
  • Be Tactful – Constructive feedback is a very valuable tool in providing a high level of candidate care but make sure the feedback you give is information the candidate can use to improve their further application performance. Looking for deeper experience in a certain facet of the role or a preference for higher qualifications is feedback the applicant can action, but when it comes to personality quirks or fundamental behavioural attributes, they often cannot. In that case it is often best to simply state there were other applicants who were a closer organisational fit.

By following these guidelines and building a conscientious and professional procedure for exiting candidates from your recruitment process, you can ensure that even an experience which is fundamentally negative, becomes positive in the candidate’s perception of your organisation.

One thing we can be sure of is that people talk; and you want them to be talking positively about you.

For more information on candidate care, watch our webinar Candidate Care & Your Employer Brand, or download the slides for further reading.

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