Dumping Him, but Nicely
According to one study done in the U.S., the average number of people who apply for any given job is 118. Twenty-percent of those applicants get shortlisted for the interview. That means rejection letters are printed / emailed to around 100 people per job opening. That is a lot of rejection to handle!
No one likes rejection. The information related to rejection travels on the same pathways inside us as does pure, physical pain. That means that our brain reacts in the same way to rejection as it does to say, a chair dropping on our toes. Ouch!! That is why it hurts so much!
See, the roots are in our hunter/gatherer past. When we roamed around in our tribes eking out an existence, it was fatal to be ostracised. We could not survive alone. Hence, during evolution, our brain must have developed a mechanism to make us hypersensitive to rejection. It was like the brain trying to alert us to potential rejection so that we made necessary adjustments to avoid it.
Recruitment managers need to know this. Understand it deeply. Because once we know how painful rejection is, we will put an effort in humanising the rejection process even as we automate it.
Firstly, the beginning should be thankful. A genuine ‘thank you’ like its coming from a human who cares, not just as a customary line before you get down to the business of dumping him. Lever, for instance, thanks to the candidates for choosing to apply to them even as many other companies are hiring.
What comes next is telling the candidate that he is not hired but there may be position open in the future. Often, it sounds mechanical and fake. ‘Like there will be!’, you can almost hear them smirking. A better way to put it would be to possible share how many conversations were re-opened in the past. Or maybe, just one or two examples of how applicants who did not make the cut in the past were subsequently hired.
Usually, we give a stock reason for the rejection — ‘your profile did not meet our requirement’. Perhaps, we could have different reasons for rejection at different levels of the hiring process. Don’t you feel you need to be more sensitive to a person who got rejected after three rounds of interview compared to a person whose application itself got rejected? Even for early rejection, some companies share what kinds of jobs they are focusing on at the moment which is why the application was not immediately relevant.
To close, it would be wonderful if you could share a positive about the applicant: ‘The team was impressed with your experience in Domain A, however…’ The effort taken to do that would really wow the candidate — and help build a positive brand for you.