rejecting job candidates

In a post today, Penelope Trunk talks about the advantages of rejecting bad candidates on the spot — for instance, telling them at the end of the phone interview that they’re not among the strongest candidates and you’re going to be focusing on others.

I will occasionally do this, but more often than not, even if I know during the phone interview that the candidate isn’t right for the position, I won’t reject them then and there. Instead, they’ll receive a (very nice) rejection email within a few days. My reason for this is that some candidates will try to argue with you, continue trying to sell themselves, or try to talk you into reversing your decision and, frankly, it’s not up for debate (if I’m rejecting a candidate on the spot, it’s because there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind). This is the same reason why I never do rejections by phone.

{ 4 comments… read them below }

  1. The Happy Employee*

    As always, excellent post and lots of food for thought!
    Regardless of whether you should call personally after the candidate made the effort to meet you in person or whether you’d rather avoid being confronted to one or several of the 5 stages of grief, here’s one good reason for me to use the phone: it teaches me to say no, which is something I’m still in the process of learning.

  2. Founder: Lea Setegn*

    I wish that you had done my phone screenings when I was job-hunting earlier this year. I can’t tell you how many potential employers didn’t bother to send a rejection e-mail after the phone interview.

  3. Class factotum*

    Amen! I had a phone interview with a company, then they flew me up for a day of interviews — and I never heard from them again. Emails are free.

    If someone called to tell me I wasn’t a fit, I don’t think I’d argue — I’d ask for specifics so I could know if it was a competency issue or if I did not represent myself well. I do not interview well and have asked for feedback before on what I could do to improve. Alas, I have never found anyone willing to give it. (Yes, I know this means I need to practice! But it would be nice to know something like, “We hired the guy with the PhD in physics instead of you because we really needed a strong technical aptitude for this job” or “I hated your suit. You dress like crap.”)

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