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How to safely let down runner-up interviewees

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in Business Etiquette,Centerpiece,Workplace Communication

rejected job applicationEven in today’s relatively robust employment market, there is intense competition for the best jobs. You may be rejecting as many applicants as you were during the Great Recession. Don’t let clumsy messaging cause legal liability.

How you handle rejections can mean the difference between an applicant with a positive impression of your organization and one whose feelings are hurt—and who might decide to sue you.

Send a well-crafted rejection letter to candidates who were interviewed. It assures them that they were seriously considered and it keeps you from having to verbally explain, in detail, why you rejected them. Give a neutral, nonspecific reason for the rejection. No law requires you to tell applicants why they weren’t hired.

Sample language to consider:

Thank you for your interest in our organization. We have reviewed your background and experience, and although your qualifications are excellent, we have decided another candidate more closely fits the position’s requirements at this time.

It was a pleasure meeting you during your interview. We wish you the best of luck in your job search.

If you believe that the applicant could qualify for other positions in your company, you may encourage him to apply again in the future. (But only if you truly want him to do so!)

Try to personalize the rejection letter. Use the candidate’s name and refer to something you discussed during his interview. Never provide inaccurate, misleading or conflicting reasons for an applicant’s rejection.

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