NO MEANS NO! How to Take a Hint When You’ve Been Disqualified from the Hiring Process

September 25, 2012

eliminated from the hiring processIt’s been my experience in hiring for expansion stage companies that candidates often try to side-step my feedback. What we have here is an epidemic of applicants taking the rejection personally.

Well, I have news for them: this is business — it’s nothing personal.

Here is an example of the scenario I’m speaking of. An applicant submits his or her resume to me, and I reach out to schedule a phone interview. We go over the candidate’s understanding of the company and the position, as well as his or her qualifications. I apprise them that the next step will be for me to review their candidacy — sometimes this includes reviewing with the hiring manager, sometimes it does not — and let them know where they stand. I weigh each and every candidate I speak with against the portfolio company’s needs, as well as against the candidates who are already in process. If the applicant is qualified and stands out in both areas then I schedule them for a call with the hiring manager. If they fall short in any area or do not stack up well against the talent already in the pipeline I let them know we will not be pursuing their candidacy further. At this point one of three things typically happens:

Nothing: The candidate does not acknowledge he or she has been released from the running. There is no, “Thank you for your time,” or “Sorry to hear that — let me stay on your radar.” It is just radio silence, which leads me to believe maybe they were not too interested to begin with.

Acknowledgement: This couldn’t be simpler – write a two second email that says, “Thank you for your time, and please keep in touch.” How many eyes are rolling saying, “she will never keep in touch.” In fact, some of the best candidates I have had the pleasure to work with have kept in touch with me after they were not considered for a particular role. It pays to network.

Aggression/Questioning: If you were in process for a position (you didn’t just send in your resume, you actually had a conversation with someone in the hiring process) all the company and recruiters owe you is the courtesy of letting you know that you will not be considered further. Sometimes after I send out the email ending an applicant’s candidacy I get emails entailing why I have made a mistake by not considering them. This just proves my point that they are not a viable candidate. Some emails I received detail why they are a fit, and they usually reference how they can be an added value. I understand your work history — remember I read your resume and interviewed you — so I don’t need you to rehash your qualifications.

As a candidate you are not privy to how you stack up against other applicants. While you may think I randomly rejected you and did you an injustice, in reality I have compared your skills to the other applicants as well as the needs of the hiring manager and I thoughtfully declined your candidacy. It is never personal when I let a candidate go. I don’t even know them as a person — they are simply not what the company needs.

Ever heard about losing with dignity? If you do not make it through a hiring process I strongly suggest you keep your head high and you take the loss graciously. Who knows, perhaps you will be just what that hiring manager needs further down the road.

Senior Corporate Recruiter

<strong>Lindsey Gurian</strong> is the Senior Corporate Recruiter at <a href="">Acquia</a>. She was previously a Senior Talent Specialist at Sonian, responsible for recruiting initiatives at both the firm and its portfolio companies.