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5 Reasons Why Responding to Rejected Candidates is Crucial

employers conducting a job interview

The best advice any employer can get for hiring ideal candidates is to look at the recruitment process through the candidates’ eyes.
It’s natural for employers to not get back to candidates that haven’t been selected and solely focus on welcoming the selected candidates. But tell us, if you were a candidate who appeared for an interview at a company, wouldn’t you want to know the result as soon as possible? Wouldn’t you be frustrated wondering if they are still reviewing the applications or have already hired someone else for the position when they don’t get back to you for several days?
Of course, you would!
Only if you could receive a simple rejection email or phone call, you would know where you stand with your job search. This brings us to a few convincing reasons why responding to rejected candidates is so important.

Why Getting Back to Rejected Candidates is Important

Responding to rejected candidates after a performance test or interview is integral to the IT factor of the hiring process called ‘candidate experience’. 72% of candidates believe that they get a negative impression of the employer when they aren’t notified of the status or decision made on their job application.
Of course, they’re going to figure it out eventually when you don’t get back to them but why not be respectful and tell them straight away? Sure, they won’t be happy upon knowing that you’ve rejected them but ignoring them is even worse!
Now, you may choose to give a neutral, generic response to prevent applicants from opening any arguments. It allows you to be consistent without much effort, of course. On the other hand, you may like to give personalized feedback by sharing specific reasons for rejection with the candidates. While this approach seems to work well with fresh graduates who don’t have a significant amount of experience in appearing for interviews, it can actually backfire with some candidates who could try to change your mind by initiating a debate. This could waste your precious time as well.
No matter which approach you decide to take, responding to the rejected candidates is crucial.
We do understand that HR professionals don’t really enjoy or perhaps don’t have the time to respond to everyone. However, it is a great practice to improve your recruitment strategy as well as your company’s image in the eyes of potential employees.  
Here are a few convincing reasons for responding to rejected candidates:

1. Close the Loop

Following up with rejected candidates after an interview closes the loop. Ideally, the minute you decide to reject a candidate, they should know about it too. There just can’t be a feeling worse than uncertainty during the job application process. The more transparent you are, the better the candidate experience of your hiring process will be!
According to a survey, 52% of candidates expect employers to call back and tell where they stand in the hiring process. Moreover, 25% of them need to hear if they won’t be brought in for an interview. Candidates are likely to continue looking for jobs and even accept offers from other companies if they don’t hear back from your company. Whether you’re taking time in reviewing their application or have already rejected them, let them know.  

2. Show Respect

You must know that a candidate is likely to put in a lot of hope and effort when applying for a position they think they’re a perfect fit for. They make sure that their resume and cover letter is professional and convincing. While your job surely is challenging, responding to them if they don’t get the job will do you more good than harm. Even if it’s just an automated response, it goes a long way in communicating that you respect them and their efforts.
If your HR professionals don’t have the time to write personalized responses for each candidate, you should consider using an applicant tracking system to let the candidates know of their application status. An automated message saying ‘Sorry, you aren’t a good fit for the position’ or ‘This position has already been filled. We’ll keep your resume for future reference’ shows that you appreciate the candidates’ effort and time.
A recent study shows that only 2% of companies communicate the application’s status to candidates during the hiring process. This brings an excellent opportunity for you to gain brownie points in the candidate-focused market by making it mandatory for your HR professionals to respond to rejected candidates.  

3. Your Reputation is at Stake

When you encourage candidates to write reviews and leave comments on your company’s profile, you do realize that the pool includes rejected candidates as well, right?  
Always remember, candidates, both selected and rejected, are going to talk about your company. In the modern world where organizational transparency is valued, candidates will likely judge every move of your company. 
Word-of-mouth can damage your brand. A study involving over 4500 workers concluded that bad experiences with a company are likely to go viral, spreading through someone’s personal network. 78% of workers reported that they would talk about an unpleasant experience with a company to their friends and family while approximately a quarter said that they would share their negative experience on a blog or social media.  
Wouldn’t you want to go the extra mile to perfect your company’s impression?
One way to go about this is by responding to rejected candidates as soon as possible. It’ll push them to write a positive review despite them not landing the job. It’ll convey that you’re considerate and professional as a business. According to Forbes Magazine, 44% of candidates who didn’t hear back after applying for a job had a lower opinion of the company. So, if you continue the practice of leaving candidates on hold, your company’s reputation will soon go downhill.

4. Drive Better Talent

Have you ever thought that the candidate you’re rejecting today can become the ideal candidate tomorrow?
Companies who realize this are making it a point to get back to rejected candidates with not only a yes /no response but also proper feedback. It gives candidates a better idea of what they lacked and what the company was actually looking for in an ideal candidate. You should know that a whopping 94% of candidates want interview feedback when they’re rejected for a job. Only 41% of them, however, receive feedback. Needless to say that jumping on the bandwagon can bring you a major competitive advantage!
Whether you go for a neutral or personalized response, your goal should be to end it on a positive note with all candidates so that they remember you even after they’ve acquired a better skill set and have gained valuable experience. With a positive outlook of your company, they might be interested in applying for the same or a different position in the future. Hence, always keep the doors open with a consistent follow-up practice!   

5. Turn Rejected Candidates into Customers

We’ve made it clear how candidate experience shapes their opinion of your company. Oftentimes, this opinion extends to their attitude regarding the products and services you offer. You may be surprised to hear that almost 32% of job seekers agreed that they are less likely to buy a product from a company that didn’t get back to them during the job application process.
The Bottom Line
Overall, responding to rejected candidates doesn’t only work in job seekers’ benefits but also improves your company’s hiring strategy and reputation. Ideally, you should learn the art of saying ‘no’ to rejected candidates with a non-specific response while offering personalized responses for candidates who request it.

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