This is the Right Way to Treat Candidates (Even Those You Reject)

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Most job-seekers share their candidate experiences, regardless of whether they are positive or negative. In other words, no matter what the outcome, a company’s hiring process will come to light in some fashion.

CareerArc’s 2016 The State of the Candidate Experience survey found that nearly 60 percent of its 826 respondents had had a poor candidate experience; 72 percent had shared that experience online or with someone directly.

Such publicity about your company can potentially be costly and damaging. A bad candidate experience can even hurt a company’s consumer brand. The upshot: When it comes time to deliver bad news to a candidate, employers need to be respectful.

Here are four ways to provide just that sort of positive experience, even one that ultimately ends with a rejection:

Implement video interviewing.

Pre-recorded screening is a fair method for screening applicants before the in-person interview. Video interviews provide the same questions to every candidate, ensuring a consistent experience. Use them to screen candidates and reduce the number of in-person interviews, which tend to take longer and cost more in time and resources.

With video interviewing, hiring professionals can access and share responses at any time. Not only is this convenient for the hiring team, but it also benefits candidates. They can conduct video interviews wherever they’d like, prepare their responses to best answer the questions posed and be their most authentic selves.

They can also get an idea of what the company is looking for: So, share information about your organization’s culture and history, and provide some footage or testimonials that offer a peek into their office world. Engage candidates with information they could benefit from during the in-person interview.

Help them prepare.

Candidates want to feel that they are given a proper shot at the position. Unfortunately, it’s common for a lot of them to walk in without much information or expectations.

Talent Board’s 2015 North American Candidate Experience Research Report found that 38 percent of candidates surveyed said the only preparation and communication they had received prior to an interview was the name of the interviewer and his or her background information. Additionally, 41 percent of candidates said they’d received no communication or information before the interview at all.

Give candidates details about what to expect, whom they’ll be speaking with, where to go and how to get where they need to be. Otherwise, they may feel they are being blindsided. When they leave the in-person interview, they want to feel that they gave the interviewer a good representation of their abilities and aspirations.

Ask the right questions to give them an opportunity to shed light on how they’re the best candidate and how they expect to grow. Gauge their sense of self awareness, their desire for growth and capabilities. When the time seems right, engage in some follow-ups. This second round of questioning will dig deeper into how they want to express themselves, especially if they have previously given you rehearsed responses.

Add ‘human-ness’ to rejection.

Despite a couple of positive interviews, you may find that the time has come to reject a candidate. Perhaps this person is not the right fit for the role or culture. Maybe he or she didn’t match the requirements, and another candidate was better equipped. Whatever the reason, rejections will certainly impact the candidate experience.

However, even if rejection is not the news candidates want to hear, they can still feel good about their interaction with the company. Focus on adding a human element to the hiring process. Send them a personalized message or call them directly.

When they are left in the dark, they may grow anxious and frustrated. Be open, and give them notice right away. Provide feedback and explain how they missed the mark.

CareerArc’s survey found that 60 percent of candidate participants said that better communication throughout and after the applicant process would make the most positive impact. If employers can impact their candidates in meaningful ways, they will be well equipped to build a strong rapport with them.

Maintain a relationship.

Rejection doesn’t have to be goodbye. If the candidate is high quality and might fit in for future job opportunities, focus on making the rejection a bridge to building and maintaining a relationship.

Creating a talent pipeline of passive candidates will be helpful for when jobs open up down the road. Stay in contact on social media, and personalize messages when an open role better suits them.

When organizations build a good reputation for their employer brand, they are expanding their reach and attracting more great talent. Building a pipeline of passive candidates is a great way to improve quality of hire. These candidates will feel engaged with the brand, informed about what works in the organizational culture and encouraged to consider pursuing future open roles.

The power of the positive candidate experience, in short, is unlimited. Take advantage of it.