A Rejected Candidate Asks for Feedback: Should You Provide It?

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A Rejected Candidate Asks for Feedback: Should You Provide It?

As an employer, it is your job to choose the top candidates for open positions within your organization. Part of this process is attracting the best possible applicant pool for the position. Although a favorable applicant pool could take some time to curate, you may find a way to expedite the process for the future in an unlikely place—your rejected candidates. Giving rejected candidates feedback (when they request it) after their interview process may be advantageous to your organization (and other organizations in their path) for multiple reasons.

Here are three reasons to give rejected candidates feedback:

1. Responding to a rejected candidate who requests feedback may encourage them to apply again in the future.

This will give them a better idea of what you are looking for in an applicant, and allow them to have an edge on their future competition. If you saw potential in this applicant but chose a more qualified individual, your constructive feedback increases the likelihood that they will improve their skillset and keep a positive outlook of your organization. By adding value to rejected candidates that have potential and true interest in your organization, you have just established a competitive advantage for your recruiting process

2. Providing feedback maintains the reputation of your organization.

Completing a rejected applicant’s request for feedback shows that your organization values the professional development of present and future employees. You will create goodwill between your organization and the applicant if you maintain a constructive relationship even after rejection. In addition, your applicants may be customers of your business, so this relationship should be treated exactly as you would treat an everyday consumer. Forbes Magazine weighs in on the topic, pulling statistics from applicants who did not receive feedback after their interviews. They state,

“Fifteen percent of job seekers reported having a lower opinion of the employer after they were contacted for an interview, and 44% of workers who didn’t hear back at all when they applied for a job said their opinion of the company worsened. Meanwhile, a separate CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,000 employers and 5,000 workers found that nearly one-third (32%) of job seekers reported they are less likely to purchase a product from a company who didn’t respond to their job application.”

As a result, your response can attract more applicants to upcoming positions, and potentially urge them to support your business and become new customers if they were not already.

3. Factual feedback can set the record straight to reduce risk of misinterpretation

A rejection response that is too vague or too off topic can leave plenty of room for assumption. If the feedback is not strictly skill-related, or not given at all, the risk becomes high for rejected candidates to create their own interpretation as to why they were turned away. Applicants can take your rejection message as harsh, biased, or discriminatory. A misconception could lead to legal ramifications if the rejected candidate feels mistreated. Word travels fast across social media platforms, and you do not want your name to come up in a negative manner.

With these advantages of giving feedback to a rejected candidate in mind, you may now be thinking of how to construct your feedback response.

  1. Begin with the positive. This will act as a buffer for any constructive criticism you may have. Let them know what you enjoyed about meeting with them including their professionalism, interests, or understanding of your organization. The initial respect you establish through your feedback will assist in determining your applicant’s reaction.
  2. Move on to constructive feedback after your affirmative portion of the message. As mentioned, keep this feedback factual and focus only on the aspects that your rejected applicant is able to change. If you feel as though the feedback you plan to give may be mistaken for bias or discrimination in any way, it is better to just avoid it all together. To keep your message clear and concise, provide them with one item that they can improve on. Compare this individual in your mind to the candidate that you chose; what set them apart? Be honest with your response. And remember, only give feedback to rejected candidates who request it.
  3. Thank them for their interest in your organization and encourage them to stay in touch if you feel as though they could potentially improve and land a position within your organization.

Many organizations avoid giving feedback to rejected applicants in fear that they will run into legal ramifications. Follow these steps to avoid misconstrued messages, create goodwill between your organization and rejected applicants, and build a better applicant pool for future job openings.

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