How Handles Candidate Rejections

June 6, 2023
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If you searched the web for methods to manage candidate rejections, you’d read a ton of advice that isn’t practical for real life recruiters managing hundreds of inbound applications. The advice offered centers around unscalable (but great!) practices like sending personalized communication to each candidate or offering one-on-one feedback. These are all things we’re sure you’d love to do but are simply impossible for a recruiting team with the challenge of managing multiple job posts.

Here at we receive thousands of candidate applications every week. And we have the difficult task of denying the vast majority of them. We have our reasons for not sharing most candidate applications but at the core of it, we’re doing our job to make your (the recruiter’s) job easier. Higher quality candidates on the platform means less time spent sifting through hundreds of inbound applications.

We’ve developed a few processes that help us manage the thousands of rejections that we send out every month without hurting the candidate's experience or our reputation. We’re outlining’s processes for rejecting candidates with empathy in the hopes that it will help you reverse engineer better methods for managing your own process. What we do might not work for you but we hope you can steal an idea or two to build a kinder, more effective candidate experience. Let us know what you think!

Understanding the Challenges of Managing Candidate Rejections

When you have hundreds of candidates vying for a limited number of positions, offering personalized feedback to each individual becomes an overwhelming task. It requires significant time and resources to carefully review each application, identify specific strengths and weaknesses, and provide tailored feedback. In a fast-paced recruiting environment, where time is of the essence, dedicating such extensive resources to custom feedback can hinder the efficiency of the hiring process.

The sheer volume of inbound applications further complicates the situation. It's not uncommon for companies to receive thousands of candidate applications every week. Managing such a large influx of resumes, cover letters, and portfolios requires streamlined processes that prioritize efficiency without sacrificing the candidate's experience.

The Importance of Managing Candidate Rejections with Empathy

If you’re here, then you already understand the importance of managing candidate rejections with empathy so we won’t spend too much time here. However, it might be helpful to have some data to arm yourself with in your quest for better candidate processes. So feel free to share this with whoever is in charge of giving you what you need to implement recruitment processes that don’t suck.

Data Dump

  1. A recent study found that an overwhelming majority of candidates are more likely to buy from a company that treated them with respect throughout the recruiting process. 
  2. Conversely, 72% of candidates who have had a poor candidate experience report having shared that experience online, or directly with a professional or personal contact. 
  3. Studies have shown that candidates who have positive experiences, despite not securing a position, are more likely to recommend the company to others and maintain a favorable perception of the organization.
  4. 58% of candidates have turned down an offer because of poor Candidate Experience's Approach to Managing Candidate Rejections

Finally, what you’ve been waiting for — how does manage candidate rejections without ruining the candidate experience or hurting our reputation. 

Be Clear in Your Job Descriptions

First and foremost, we believe in being clear from the start. In our job descriptions, we outline the specific requirements and expectations for the role. By explicitly stating what we're looking for, we can attract candidates who closely match our criteria and filter out those who may not be the best fit. Additionally, we ask qualifying questions upfront to ensure that candidates are genuinely interested in the job and willing to invest a few extra minutes to provide us with important information.

Prioritize Timely Communication

Clear and timely communication is a key aspect of our rejection process. We understand the value of prompt feedback, so we automate initial confirmation emails to acknowledge each candidate's application. This ensures that candidates know their application has been received and gives them peace of mind. We also send rejection emails as soon as we have made a decision, setting realistic expectations for response times in the initial communication. This way, candidates are aware of the timeline and can plan accordingly.

Offer A Consolation Prize

In an effort to soften the blow of rejection, we offer candidates a consolation prize. We share relevant resources such as blog posts, webinars, and industry insights that we have already created. For example, since we work with many engineering candidates, we have developed a special resource to help them improve their skills. We encourage companies with the bandwidth to create similar resources that align with their industry and target candidates' interests.

Share What You Can

Transparency is important to us, so we strive to provide candidates with as much information as possible regarding their rejection. In our rejection email, we recently started including a list of our most common reasons for not moving forward with a candidate's application. This gives candidates a glimpse into our decision-making process without exposing us to any potential legal concerns. Alternatively, some companies choose to create a feedback form that allows candidates to share their thoughts and experiences. Analyzing feedback in aggregate helps us make macro-level decisions without sifting through hundreds of individual submissions.

Managing candidate rejections requires empathy, kindness, and a commitment to providing a positive candidate experience. One of the tenets of our mission is “being mindful of the emotional experience of our candidates” so we strive to treat candidates with respect throughout the hiring process, even when delivering disappointing news.

We encourage you to adapt the strategies we've shared to your own recruiting processes. We also value your thoughts and experiences on managing candidate rejections. Share with us your own strategies, challenges, and success stories. We’d love to hear from you.

Remember, behind every application is a person who has put time, effort, and hope into their job search. By prioritizing clear communication, setting realistic expectations, offering valuable resources, and providing insights into your decision-making, you can create a rejection process that leaves candidates feeling appreciated and respected.

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