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A guide to rejecting candidates


31 March 2021 at 11:02 am
Maggie Coggan
Telling candidates they haven’t got the job is never great. Here’s how you can do it in the best way possible 


Maggie Coggan | 31 March 2021 at 11:02 am


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A guide to rejecting candidates
31 March 2021 at 11:02 am

Telling candidates they haven’t got the job is never great. Here’s how you can do it in the best way possible 

It’s safe to say that telling a candidate they haven’t got the job is one of the least enjoyable parts of a recruiter’s job. 

But, like anything difficult, there are ways you can handle it to not only soften the blow of bad news for the candidate, but to maintain a good relationship with them for future job opportunities. 

We asked Marilyn Jones from recruitment agency Mexec for some advice.

Don’t be a ghost 

It might be difficult if you’re dealing with a large pool of candidates, but it’s important (even if it is just a generic email) to let an unsuccessful candidate know that they weren’t the right person for the job. 

“It’s important that you see the candidate as a person and as an individual, rather than just a CV,” Jones said. 

“Letting them know, and even making it a little bit personal, is a good way to do that.” 

Let them know where they went wrong

While Jones notes that giving feedback to every candidate won’t be possible, for those that got through to the interview stage, taking the time to ask your client for feedback on why the candidate was not successful is a good way to help them set goals for future job applications.  

“I always ask my clients for feedback around why that person didn’t work out, and will often suggest a few things about what candidates should do in the future such as taking on a basic training course, or to come in a little more prepared for an interview,” she said. 

Don’t promise what you can’t deliver 

You might feel guilty about delivering bad news to a candidate, but promising to find them another job is not going to help. Instead, Jones suggests ways they can improve their job search, or ways to make themselves more attractive to prospective employers. 

“We do say to people we’re really happy to keep the details on file for the future, but really a lot of it is around your own job search and strategy,” she says. 


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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