Rejecting job candidates is a part of any hiring process, and it’s essential to do it gracefully. A positive rejection helps maintain your company’s positive reputation and encourages candidates to recommend you to other job seekers.
BambooHR is an applicant tracking system (ATS) that helps you filter to find the best candidates. It allows you to create email templates to reject candidates who aren’t a good fit without sounding like just another form rejection letter. We’ll talk about how it can help your hiring process and recommend a few other ATS solutions that might work better in different situations.
Step-By-Step Guide to Rejecting Job Candidates
Step 1: Start with a Phone Call
As soon as you know a candidate isn’t the right fit, call them and tell them. Do that even before you send an email. And yes, you should do both.
Not all employers can call their candidates, but it sends the right message about your company if you do. It tells candidates that you value their time, and they’ll appreciate you letting them know promptly and personally so they can continue their job search without waiting to hear from you.
Calling your candidates is even more necessary if you’ve already spoken on the phone before or during the interview process.
When you call them, you’ll essentially tell them what you would in an email. Thank them for meeting with you and acknowledge the time they put into their application and the interviews. Be honest and let them know you’ve decided to go with another candidate. Give them specific feedback if you have any or if they ask for it. For example, if they were late to the interview without informing you or their resume doesn’t accurately reflect their experience.
But for the most part, the call should be succinct. With feedback, keep your response and your wording professional.
Step 2: Use an Applicant Tracking System
An ATS filters candidates so you can figure out who’s best qualified for your listed position and bring them in for interviews. It also helps you reject candidates when you need to.
BambooHR helps streamline your hiring process, including sending rejection emails. BambooHR is one of the best ATS solutions for organizing candidates and sending rejection letters.
It has automated email templates that let you create a form rejection letter with the right words and maintain enough personalization to not seem like a template. These letters maintain your company’s reputation, even when you have to give someone bad news.
Even if you reject a job candidate, a positive rejection letter may mean that the candidate speaks highly of you to others and refers people to your company who fit into the open role.
An ATS keeps you organized and allows you to find the right talent while collaborating with others in your company for tasks like:
- Contacting references
- Compiling hiring documentation
- Sending offer letters
- Sending rejection letters
BambooHR’s templates make sending rejection letters painless for everyone involved. It also gives you reporting and analytics to track your hiring metrics.
BambooHR doesn’t list its pricing on its website, but you can contact their sales team to discuss your options. They tailor your ATS package to you, so pricing varies based on your business and hiring process needs.
Step 3: Create A Rejection Email Template
Once you have an ATS set up and are using it to help your recruiting process, the next step is to create your rejection email template. You likely don’t have time to write a personal email to every candidate, but you don’t want your emails to sound cold or like you don’t respect your candidates’ time.
When creating your template, follow a general rejection letter format. That format ensures your rejections stay consistent depending on how far into the interview process the candidate went.
The BambooHR platform allows you to create this template in an accessible place, so all team members who need it can find it.
Use the letter to follow up after your phone call (if you have one). Your email confirms your conversation, and you and the candidate have a written record of your decision.
Step 4: Thank the Candidate
When opening your rejection letter, first thank the candidate for their time meeting with you and conducting the interview.
Thanking candidates even when you reject them shows that you appreciate their efforts, even if you didn’t choose them for the position.
It also starts it on a positive note, especially with a personalized letter. You can keep this portion of the letter the same on BambooHR’s templates, which also have an autofill feature.
Step 5: Get to the Point
Once you thank the candidate for their time, get to the meat of the letter. Tell the candidate that you went with another candidate, went in a different direction, etc. It is up to you to determine how and why you came to this decision.
This is often the most difficult section of the letter for a candidate to read, as it contains the actual rejection. For that reason, keep it short.
You don’t need to justify your decision, and you don’t need to give any specific details about the other person’s qualifications.
The rejection portion of the email will look fairly consistent between candidates, which is why the template you create with BambooHR will be beneficial.
Step 6: Offer Brief Feedback
Not all employers take this step, but offering brief feedback helps personalize the email and also gives them specific reasons to consider or actions to take for future positions.
You can reference a conversation or moment during the interview, especially if it was a positive one. Highlight the positives as well as any negative feedback to keep an encouraging tone.
You can tell them why they weren’t hired—for example, if they didn’t have enough experience in a specific area or if they were overqualified—but you don’t need to go overboard here. This can be just one sentence.
Be conscious of what you say and how you say it. Make sure you keep your rejection feedback to the candidate’s professional qualifications.
Step 7: Ask Them to Apply Again if Applicable
Sometimes a candidate is a good fit for your company but not a good fit for the role they applied for. If that’s the case, end the letter by asking them to apply again for future positions.
If the candidate is overall not a good fit for your business, you shouldn’t encourage them to apply again. In those cases, wish the candidate luck with their job search, but do not invite them to apply for other positions.
End the email with a salutation and sign off with your name and title.
3 Top Benefits to Using BambooHR to Reject Job Candidates
BambooHR can make your hiring process seamless. It allows you to connect with candidates quickly and facilitates hiring, even when rejecting candidates. Here are three ways it helps your business behind the scenes.
Speeds Up the Hiring Process
When you have a vacant position at your company, it can slow down projects, delay product releases, and make it harder to offer your services the same level of quality.
Hiring fast means you get a qualified person in the role as soon as possible. Less waiting means more innovation, ideas, and ultimately revenue for your business.
Accelerating the hiring process means you don’t have to adjust your quality or schedule because you’ll get the right people working for you sooner. BambooHR lets you send rejection letters more efficiently with less time spent on what to say and more time spent elsewhere.
Allows You to Focus on Qualified Candidates
You want to spend more time interviewing the right people rather than rejecting those who aren’t a good fit. BambooHR makes that possible.
When you save time on writing rejection emails, you can get to the job offer faster. BambooHR gives you features for every step of the hiring process, from finding the best candidates to sending the offer letter to onboarding your new employees.
Helps Find the Right Candidates
BambooHR lets you keep all your hiring information in one place so that you know who you’re looking for and who’s qualified. It sorts applications, prioritizes qualified candidates, and provides reporting and analytics to help you improve your candidate search.
Beyond finding candidates, BambooHR ensures that those candidates are the best fit for your business. Finding better candidates means you can grow your business faster instead of creating more problems for your business with people who don’t understand what the role requires.
3 Biggest Challenges with Rejecting Job Candidates & How to Troubleshoot Them
Many people struggle to find the right words for offering feedback and making a rejection positive and concise.
Giving Appropriate Feedback
Depending on how far the applicant makes it in the hiring process, it may be appropriate to give them specific feedback. However, the amount of feedback varies, and you want to make it genuine without getting too in-depth.
Some candidates will challenge your feedback, making it difficult to know how much is too much, especially when you want to personalize the letter without giving an overall negative impression.
Feedback doesn’t always mean pointing out what the candidate did wrong in the interview process. It can be related to being under- or overqualified, certifications, or another related thing. Try to remember to include positive feedback if you have it. Skip feedback altogether if you don’t have any, or it’s just a bad culture fit.
Positive feedback can encourage candidates and make them more willing to tell others about your business or apply again for a better fitting position in your company.
Filtering the Best Candidates
Filtering candidates speeds up hiring and ensures that you see the right people at the top of the list. However, when you have tons of applications coming in, it’s hard to tell at first glance who’s right for your business.
Recruiting software can make screening candidates easier. It usually can keep track of job postings, who has applied, qualifications, resumes, and more. It can also screen based on specific qualifications you choose to narrow the field further.
Some ATSs have artificial intelligence (AI) technology to screen based on more detailed criteria, even on mobile. It can go much further than just looking for specific keywords matching the job description.
You will lessen the need to reject candidates when your shortlist is only 2-4 highly qualified people.
Giving a Positive Rejection
No candidate looks forward to a rejection letter, which means making one positive can be difficult.
The best approach is to start with an encouraging tone, even if you’re using a template. Stick to the building blocks of a basic rejection letter. Thank them, let them know you did not choose them for the position, give applicable feedback, and encourage them to apply to another position if they’re a good fit.
An ATS helps you keep rejections positive and encouraging without any extra effort on your part. With customizable templates, you can put your company’s unique voice into the letter without rewriting it each time.
Plus, timing rejection calls and letters can get challenging. BambooHR helps you send them at the ideal time, so candidates aren’t just waiting around to hear from you. The templates also auto-populate when you need them to so that you keep a professional but sensitive tone.
Other Options for How to Reject Job Candidates
Despite its useful features, BambooHR won’t work for all businesses. Sometimes, you have more specific hiring requirements or need your software to work beyond offers and rejections. Check out these other ATS options:
- Manatal: Manatal uses AI and machine learning to find candidates across 90 countries. It offers recommendations and social media recruitment across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, GitHub, and other platforms. With daily recruitment processing, the software makes it easy to filter candidates no matter where you find them while facilitating hiring even for international candidates.
- SAP SuccessFactors: SAP SuccessFactors has candidate relationship management, making it easy to keep up your company’s reputation. It shows your recruiting metrics while helping staff prepare for other upcoming roles within your company. It works especially well for in-house hiring.
- Workday: Workday helps hire new talent and keeps candidates moving toward success after sending the offer letter. It shows where your team members need improvement and where they excel. It highlights employee onboarding progress, helps you plan training, and keeps all team members on track.