Declining unqualified or underqualified applicants is often one of the most difficult parts of recruiting. Ask any recruiter and they will tell you that this is their least favorite part of their job. Unfortunately, for every successful hire, there is a long trail of frustrated, sad, or disheartened applicants that weren’t selected. Although this is very challenging, there are a few steps you can take to ease the pain. Respect the job seekers time and give them a little dignity in their time of disappointment, all without spending an exorbitant amount of time.
All applicants deserve some level of response. The recruiting process is like a funnel, it starts wide, with many applicants and eventually narrows down to just one finalist who gets the offer. Every applicant through this funnel deserves some level of response. The further an applicant moves down the funnel, the harder it is to let them know they are no longer in consideration.
At each stage of the process, communications become more tailored and thoughtful. This process becomes more time consuming as the recruiting process moves forward. Therefore, it only makes sense to spend a little extra time creating knockout or screening questions up front to identify any gaps as early as possible, before they have gotten too far along in the process. Applicants rejected early in the process have very little time invested so can’t (and typically don’t) expect a great deal of feedback and appreciate any they do get. Those at the bottom of the pipeline, however, have invested significant time into the process and likely expect (and deserve) more detailed feedback and a more personalized response.
Knock Out Questions
Creating job specific knockout questions and then pairing those with reflective rejection email templates allows you to very quickly let the applicant know that they aren’t in consideration before they have time to get their hopes up.
Below is a list of sample knock out questions:
- How many years of experience do you have in the XYZ Industry?
- Do you require relocation assistance?
- How many years of experience do you have working with ABC?
- What is your minimum salary requirement?
- How many days per week are you willing to travel?
Now that you have created your knock out questions, it is time to build your reflective response templates. The goal is to receive a resume and application, along with the answers to the knock out questions at the beginning of the process, then quickly dismiss the applicants that don’t meet the minimum requirements and advance those that do have the requirements for a more in depth look and likely a phone screen. As you dismiss unqualified candidates, send a nice, thoughtful, but expedient email with a brief explanation for the rejection.
Do you require relocation assistance? YES
Thank you for your recent application for the accounting position here at ACME Company. We appreciate your interest and your resume was impressive. Unfortunately, we are focused on local candidates and are not providing any relocation assistance at this time.
I wish you the best of luck in your career journey!
Short and sweet, yet thoughtful and considerate. And, you didn’t leave them hanging; wondering why they never heard back from anyone. More importantly, you didn’t drag them through the process and get their hopes up, only to let them down later due to a lack of relocation assistance.
Once you have an email template paired with each knock out reason, this process becomes increasingly straightforward. After you set up rejection templates, you will see emails you can send in just a few clicks through mail merge functionality.
- Requires Relocation Assistance- Not offered
- Doesn’t meet the minimum Industry Experience Requirements
- Doesn’t meet the minimum key skills experience requirements
- Unwilling to travel more than 20% of the time
- Minimum Salary Requirement is above approved range
Look at screening questions first as you receive applications. If they don’t meet any of the minimum requirements, simply select the appropriate template. The form then populates the variable fields and all you have to do is give it a quick preview and hit send. Then on to the next candidate. Below is an example of an email for the previous example.
SUBJECT: Your recent application for the [job title] position at [Company Name
Hello [Applicant First Name],
Thank you for your recent application for the [job title] here at [Company Name]. We appreciate your interest and your resume was impressive. Unfortunately, we are focused on local candidates and are not providing any relocation assistance at this time.
I wish you the best of luck in your career journey!
[Recruiter First Name]
The Golden Rule
We say it all the time around here, but it is because we believe it and are passionate about it. ‘Treat applicants the way you would want to be treated if you were on the other side of the table’. You don’t have time to send a divine original, hand crafted letter to each rejected candidate, but you probably do have the time to review the knock out questions, identify if they pass or fail, and if they don’t meet the muster, to select the appropriate template and hit send.
Happy recruiting 🙂
Effective Screening Questions & Tailored Applicant Response Templates, the perfect pair!
Read more from Mark on how humanization factors into the hiring process.