Best Practices for Ending the Interview Process

September 29, 2010

Many companies have a best practices process in place for hiring a candidate for an open position at their company.


But do you have similar best practices in place for ending an interview process with a candidate? If your answer is “No,” then you may not be projecting the right image of your company, which also may impede your future business growth strategies.

When it comes to the hiring process, it can be just as important to be considerate of the candidates you won’t be hiring as the one that you will. If you’ve interviewed a candidate and ultimately decided that they are not the right fit for the position, that person deserves a message informing them of your decision. It’s not only polite to let a candidate know when they are no longer being considered for a particular role, it’s good business practice.

There are a few important things to consider. Even if a candidate isn’t the right match for a current opening, they may be well-suited for another position in the future. They could even provide valuable referrals for your company, which I experienced with a candidate earlier this year who offered to put me in touch with the CEO of a local start-up to discuss a potential venture capital investment.

The lesson? Always communicate feedback to candidates with honesty and respect. It’s the right thing to do and you never know how it might pay off.

I came across that principle again recently while providing recruiting support to one of OpenView Venture Partners’ portfolio companies. I was copied on an e-mail that a hiring manager sent to a candidate informing them that the company had decided to go with a different candidate for the position.

I realized in reading the e-mail that, while the hiring manager’s intentions were good, they didn’t understand the importance of letting a candidate down the right way. Even if you don’t think you would ever hire that candidate for any future openings, you should spend the time to inform them appropriately.

Think about it this way: if a friend of the candidate you turned down told them that they were interviewing with your company, what would they have to say about their interview experience?

If it wasn’t a positive one, the current candidate may not receive the most glowing review and you may miss out on hiring the person that’s perfect for the position. Everyone who interacts with your company will have something to say about it. What would you want someone who once considered joining your team to say about it?

From my perspective, taking the time to offer a personal, honest response to every candidate you considered for a position is an easy way to ensure that most candidates will have only good things to say about your company.

Writing a short, personalized e-mail takes very little time, but it goes a long way.

At a minimum, you should:

  1. Thank them for their interest in your company.
  2. Thank them for their time throughout the interview process.
  3. Tell them that you have decided to move forward with another candidate whose background is more suited to the position.
  4. Inform them that you will keep their resume on file in the event that a more appropriate position opens up in the future.
  5. Wish them luck in their job search and future endeavors.

Of course, you can always say more than the above. But I try to cover all of these points when sending out an e-mail that will essentially terminate the interview process.

As my mother always said, treat others as you would like to be treated. It’s really that simple. No one wants to be turned down for a job they are interested in. But how would you like it to be handled if the roles were reversed?

VP, Human Capital

<strong>Diana Martz</strong> is Vice President, Human Capital at<a href="">TA Associates</a>. She was previously the Director of Talent at OpenView.