Honesty is the Best Policy: Tell Candidates Why They didn’t Get the Job

For better results, remember that honesty is always the best policy. Call or email candidates that didn’t get the job.

honesty concept

In the past, it was common practice to simply not call employee candidates if they didn’t get the job. In some cases, even when the more motivated employee candidates called the job to find out about their hiring status, the manager or HR professional on duty would give some sort of vague “We’re still reviewing your application,” type of answer. While this approach helps HR to avoid conflict, it certainly doesn’t do the candidate any favors and may present your company in poor light.

For better results, remember that honesty is always the best policy. Call or email candidates that didn’t get the job so that they are free to continue with their job search and let them know exactly why, so that they can use this knowledge to their advantage for future job applications and interviews. Here are a few tips that may help when you have to break the bad news to an employee candidate that wasn’t selected:

Be Honest and Specific

General statements like “We decided to go with another candidate,” are not helpful and can leave an employee candidate with a bad taste in their mouth. Instead, opt for statements that convey the real reasoning behind the decision not to hire them, such as “We decided to go with someone that had a little more experience in the sales industry,” or “We decided to go with someone that had a little more management experience,” so that they truly understand what you were looking for.

Stay Courteous and End Positively

Since you are breaking bad news, the conversation is bound to be a little awkward on both ends, but don’t forget that the employee candidate is the one that is truly being let down. Put yourself in their shoes and try to be as compassionate as possible. If applicable, compliment them on something in their background that is impressive so that they know the decision was not made lightly.

Allow the Employee Candidate to Ask Questions

After you have finished explaining why the employee candidate did not get the job, ask them if they have any questions. If they have specific, job-related questions that you can help them with, you may be creating an ally and boosting the appeal of your company by helping them. However, if the questions that they ask are not job related or are negative in any way, don’t get sucked into the negativity.

Keep the Conversation Succinct

Telling an employee that they didn’t get the job is something that shouldn’t take more than five minutes. There are likely to be a number of applicants that didn’t get selected, so the rejection process could become a serious boon on your labor if not handled quickly.

There is no need to go into elaborate detail and you shouldn’t feel compelled to console the candidate or speak to them at length. Simply give the employee candidate the reasons that they didn’t get hired, let them ask their questions, and wish them the best of luck in their job search.


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