No one wants to hurt a job candidate. After all, the individual took the time to craft a cover letter and resume, arranged his job schedule to interview with you on a weekday afternoon, sent a thank-you letter, diligently followed up, and perhaps came in for a second or even third interview.
So, it’s only natural when sending a rejection letter to a candidate that you want to let them down “easy.” However, we feel it would be much more helpful if you told the truth about why you chose another candidate.
“Thank you for your interest in our company. While we appreciate the time you took with us, we have chosen a candidate who has more of the skills/background we need.” This is a typical response in a rejection letter and while it’s very “nice,” it does nothing to help a job candidate.
Receiving a rejection letter like this just brings up more questions in the candidate’s mind: “What do you mean by ‘more skills/background?”, “What was I missing exactly?”, “Are there other jobs in the company that may be a better fit for me?”, and so on.
Instead, you’d be doing the candidate a huge favor if you were more specific as to the reason why he wasn’t selected.
Here are examples of specificity you could include in the letter:
- “We were looking for someone with at least five years of experience in commercial lines customer service, and while you had the required experience, the candidate we selected had 10 years of experience.”
- “While your experience selling life insurance is very impressive, we decided we really needed someone with specific commercial lines experience.”
Being more specific in the reason for selecting someone else for the position does two things for the candidate:
- He will know that it wasn’t something he said or did (or didn’t say or do), and will understand that it was his skills/experience. He won’t take it personally because your reasons for not choosing him weren’t something he could have changed in time for the interview. Job applicants are fraught with fear that an employer just “won’t like me,” and a statement that the candidate wasn’t chosen due to skills/background can go a long way in assuaging anxiety.
- He can then decide whether to get more skills/experience to help his candidacy with another employer.
Too many employers never let job seekers they’ve interviewed know they’ve chosen another candidate. The professional hiring manager will make a point to send each and every person they interviewed a rejection letter and will answer questions truthfully and respectfully should they come up.
Talented insurance pros are hard to come by, and you never know when the person you just “rejected” may end up having the skills and experience you need down the road. Treating all candidates with the professional respect they deserve can go a long way to helping you find – and hire – the best and the brightest, both now and in the future.