It is always tough to tell a candidate why they have been rejected. It gets tougher to decide what should be the mode of communication. In this digital era, emails have come in handy, which help to close a conversation with a sweeping line like ‘we have decided to explore other applications’ or ‘your skills don’t match our job requirements.’ What’s the best practice? The jury is still undecided on that. One of the basic questions here is, ‘Does an organisation need to inform a candidate that the person is rejected or should the person take a hint owing to no communication for weeks?’
Emmanuel David, director, Tata Management Training Centre
Ideally, organisations are not obliged to inform candidates about their profile not getting selected for the post they applied for. However, doing so anyway, puts the employer in good light. In fact, it is a very good employer-branding opportunity, as negative word of mouth can harm the possibility of getting better future hires. Should it be a mail or a phone call? There too, no consensus has been reached. While HR experts are united in their belief that the rejected candidates should also be informed about it, the mode of communication varies.
Irfan Shaikh, head – HR, Food Manufacturing Co., opines, “I think more than the communicator and the mode of communication, it is important that a communication of the outcome, post the interview, be shared with each and every candidate interviewed for a particular role. It helps close the dialogue appropriately and lifts the company’s brand image in the right spirit.” Shaikh strongly believes that courtesy plays a vital role here. “Any candidate interviewed, whether shortlisted for the next round or rejected, must be informed about his/her candidature with the associated reason for rejection,” Shaikh asserts. He would prefer an e-mail communication.
An automated response may work fine when the candidates are submitting their application on the company website. However, once the process begins, they deserve to be given a more humane response. It uplifts the brand image to varying degrees. Kamlesh Dangi, group head, human resources, InCred, believes every candidate deserves a feedback. Unfortunately, many of them don’t get one. “To me, the mode of feedback depends on the context. Often, it is the organisation’s inability to hire a brilliant candidate, as she/he may not fit into the job requirements. Reasons could be many — unfit for an organisation’s structure or culture, or even a timing issue.”
Irfan Shaikh, head – HR, Food Manufacturing Co.
Dangi clarifies that not everyone gets ‘rejected’. Sometimes, the organisation is just not ready to hire a person although they may be an ideal fit for the job. Also, the candidate may be overqualified. “Depending on the context, every candidate needs to be given feedback. ‘One size fits all’ does not work when it comes to reverting to candidates not selected. Organisations have to respect the fact that candidates invest their time by participating in the selection process,” he points out.
In case organisations decide to make a more personal connect with the candidates to inform them about their non-selection, they need to do so cautiously. Sending mails highlighting some flaws in their way of approaching the interview may seem like a constructive feedback, but it all depends on who the mail is addressed to. For a fresher, it can be a learning exercise, but someone with experience may become argumentative. Mode, therefore, is very important and Emmanuel David, director, Tata Management Training Centre (TMTC), advises against a phone call “unless one has the ability to communicate in a nice way”. It all depends on how savvy the hiring manager is in communicating the news on a call. “What happens in a call is, it becomes a dialogue. What if the candidate gets emotional? One will not know what to say,” David points out. That is why, he writes polite notes to candidates to tell them they have not been selected. He believes it builds a good rapport.
Kamlesh Dangi, group head – HR, InCred
“When I became a manager of a unit, I started sending letters to rejected candidates, telling them how sad we were at being unable to match their skills. Later, when we got more budget, I started sending them a book with a note saying ‘we loved to speak to you but we unfortunately won’t be able to match it. Here’s a book that I found very interesting, for your reading pleasure’. It’s just a letter of acknowledgement to the candidates who invested so much time and money. It also puts the organisation in a good light.” He admits it softens the blow. These candidates may get hired in the future and so, it is important to have a positive connection with them.
It is all about closure. Candidates wait in anticipation of a job offer and so, HR experts are of the opinion that organisations should make sure they revert even if it is to inform of a rejected.