How do I turn down a job candidate after an extended interview process?
March 4, 2014 6:36 PM Subscribe
I run a small organization, just a few employees, and I am close to filling one of our open positions. What is the etiquette for breaking the bad news to an unsuccessful job candidate who has patiently participated in a drawn-out interview process?
posted by inatizzy to Work & Money (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
One of the top candidates for the opening has been through three interviews with us over the last 6 weeks. She unsuccessfully applied to a position that was filled last month (Interview #1), but the interviewers were impressed and recommended her for this other opening. We thought we may not need to do another open hiring process, and could just directly hire her, so at their suggestion I met with her one-on-one, since I hadn't been at her first interview. (Interview #2) I felt positively about her - we had good rapport - and I would have happily hired her. (I kept that to myself, since we didn't yet have the OK to make a hire, but I would be shocked if she didn't assume what was going on, or at least pick up on part of what we were all thinking.) But then we learned that we did, in fact, have to go through a full hiring process to fill the position. So we advertised the position and a different set of interviewers just finished conducting in-person interviews with the top few candidates, including her. (Interview #3)
After all that - we are going to offer the position to another candidate, who is even better suited to the role than she is. Ugh. I had been fearing all along that this could be the outcome, just because I was afraid of how to handle it. I don't know what the business etiquette is here!
What is appropriate to say to her, and how do I keep some heart in it, too? I want to keep a good relationship with her because our field is small and we will see each other and work together in some other capacity, soon. I find myself wanting to acknowledge the time and emotional energy she must have put into this process that we asked her to participate in -- and even compensate her for it, somehow, rather than leave her empty handed, with nothing to show for all that work she put in. I wish I could recommend her for another position with us, but we don't have one opening up anytime soon. Is there anything I can do to soften the blow or recognize / compensate her for the effort that she put in? What am I able to say to be nice and understanding - and maybe even apologetic - without compromising my organization or overstepping my boundaries as a professional?
Thanks in advance.