Hiring managers and recruiters: Be gracious to your candidates


by Dana Manciagli, The Business Journals

graciousIf you are actively hiring someone right now, have a job posted, or are thinking about a future hire, do the employment world a big favor. Spend the next 30 minutes mapping out how you will deliver the most gracious recruiting experience ever. Ever!

Why? A number of reasons:

  1. You either have been or will be a job seeker within the next two to five years. It’s not a kind, warm, fuzzy experience, is it? And now you’re on the other side of the table. So “pay it forward” by being considerate when you’re on the buyer’s side.

  2. You represent your company’s brand. You may not recognize the fact that job candidates equate the way they are treated as a reflection of your company’s brand. Absolutely! Even for candidates who don’t get the job, if they are treated kindly, they will appreciate that and share their experience with others.

  3. It’s the right thing to do. We were all raised with values such as, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you,” and treat people with respect. However, somehow, the treatment of job applicants and job candidates has declined during the last 10-20 years. When I applied for my first career job post-MBA in 1984, I received formal rejection letters on official company stationery. At least I knew where I stood and I had the name of someone for future networking. Better yet, the on-campus pub had a great, ongoing promotion: Bring in 10 rejection letters and get a free pitcher of beer!

  4. It’s easy to be a kind, respectful hiring company. And that’s regardless if you are in human resources or recruiting, or you are the hiring manager.

Here are some examples of what you can do right now:

  • Send an acknowledgement to each job applicant that his or her application was received. Express appreciation for their interest in your company and how much you value the talent they have. In the letter, explain the process. I understand you may not be able to commit to a time frame, but share something.

  • If the applicant is in the “no” pile or will not get an interview for any reason, send them a short e-mail. Again, express great appreciation for their interest. No need to explain why they were not chosen, but a standard phrase such as, “We will be filling the position with another candidate,” is plenty. This step alone will make you stand out as a gracious company.

  • If a candidate has had a phone or face-to-face interview, a followup from you is absolutely required. They probably sent you a thank-you note, right? Did you write back a simple note that said, “You’re welcome and it was a pleasure meeting you, too”? Are you concerned about misleading them that they may get the job? You’re not! You’re being courteous and respectful.

  • Once you have made your hiring decision, send an email to or call those who were interviewed and advise them that you are going in another direction. And thank them for their time.

At one of the major corporations I worked for, I wanted to take the above steps but HR and recruiting said they didn’t because there were simply too many applicants. However, when I probed further, they said I was welcome to communicate directly with the candidates if I wanted to. So I did!

What’s your reason for not taking a few minutes to draft a few emails and ensure the right message gets to your candidates? Who knows? It may rub off on other hiring managers, recruiters, and HR staff around you! Won’t it be amazing some day when it’s actually a company policy to be polite to candidates?

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