Bridge Insights

4 Techniques to Deliver Bad News to Candidates

Apr 13, 2020

As much as we want them all to be great fits, not every candidate who applies to an open position can be offered a job. Even if your business uses a staffing agency to do the heavy lifting, you will always interview more candidates than you have open positions.

For some candidates, they look perfect on paper, but they completely strike out in the interview process. Others ace their interview, but their reference check raised some red flags for your team. Whatever the reason your business decides to pass on an applicant, being the bearer of bad news is never easy.

Here are 4 techniques you can use when delivering bad news to ensure it’s taken well:

[blockquotes color=”accent” quote=”yes”]When you do have to deliver bad news, it doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationship with an applicant! [/blockquotes]

Building a Relationship With Your Applicant

Early in the recruiting process, be sure to solidify your relationship with your candidate(s). Understanding why they are looking for new opportunities, what brought them to the job market, what motivates them to make a change, etc. can be useful for you in framing any constructive feedback you have to give down the road.

Set and Manage Expectations

At every step in the interview process, make sure you clearly communicate candidate expectations, your organization’s hiring timeline, and when you expect to make a final decision.

Follow through on communication!

If something occurs that changes your hiring timeline, be sure you communicate this to all applicants. The worst thing you can do is only communicate with your top pick. If your #1 applicant decides to move forward with another offer, that will leave you and your business scrambling to salvage the relationship of your #2 and #3 candidates.

Separate Yourself From the Message

Part of the anxiety of delivering bad news is not knowing how it will be taken. We can make assumptions based on past behaviors, but, at the end of the day, it’s still an unknown.

Applicants can sometimes become defensive or confrontational –demanding you to rethink your decision. The best thing you can do in these situations is to not react to their energy, stick to the facts, and keep emotions out of your responses. By making the discussion about the position and not the person, it is much easier to diffuse any high-tension situations.

Offer Alternatives

Delivering bad news to applicants is inherent to the hiring process. At some point or another, it must be done. When you do have to deliver bad news, it doesn’t have to mean the end of your conversation or relationship with an applicant.

For strong candidates where situational circumstances caused you to pass on them, don’t be afraid to offer alternatives within other departments, or invite them to interview with you down the road when another opportunity becomes available.

Let them know you recognize the value they have as a member of your team and their hard work was not for nothing. Knowing that they are valued and there are alternatives helps ease their mind.

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Communicating to candidates that your business has moved on with other applicants is never easy, but it is a necessary evil of hiring. By using these above techniques to more effectively deliver bad news, you will sail through these tough conversations with ease.