You’ve interviewed a strong shortlist of potential candidates for your role but you can only offer one of them the job. How do you ensure a positive outcome for everyone who was in the running, once the position has been filled?

The fair way to treat all contenders is to stay in touch, either directly or through your recruitment partner. Deliver feedback to the unsuccessful interviewees as soon as you have decided they are not right for the role. Keeping them waiting, or not notifying them at all reflects badly on your organisation, and there’s a chance it may put them off wanting to apply for your future roles.

Word spreads fast

With the rise and power of social media, businesses need to be careful about leaving a bad impression on anyone, as it can become common knowledge in a matter of moments.

Your reputation as an employer of choice can be easily tarnished by negative comments posted on a blog or social networking site by a candidate that feels slighted at not receiving adequate feedback following their interview.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that just because they are unsuccessful candidates for your role, they might not be for someone else and could potentially be key decision makers in your market in the future.

Those candidates who didn’t get offered the job (particularly those who reached the final interview stage) need to be thanked and provided with constructive feedback if they are to walk away with a lasting good impression from their dealings with your business.

Handle with care

Contacting unsuccessful candidates takes little time on your part but can amount to a positive, lasting impression for individuals concerned and, potentially, a much wider audience.

Interview feedback is a great way of employer/company branding. Build on your name’s reputation by leaving candidates certain that you value them and will keep them in mind for future opportunities.

Additional feedback

Most people going through the interview process will appreciate constructive criticism, so any effort that you make to maintain open communications is likely to be met with positive regard and a lasting impression of your organisation. Remember, negative impressions last a lot longer than positive ones.

Ensure you impart only feedback that is useful – there’s no point in a character assassination – it’s not going to win you any fans.

To make things easier…

…here’s a step-by-step guide to leaving candidates with a good impression:

1. If you interview someone and know they’re not right for the role, let them know as soon as possible. Don’t keep them hanging on because you dread making the rejection phone call.

2. If you interview someone and think they’re a good candidate for your role but have other interviews to conduct, contact them and let them know they’re still in the running. If they haven’t heard from you they might accept an offer elsewhere.

3. Keep all candidates updated on the interview process – when each round will take place/how many rounds there will be.

4. When you make the hire, inform the other candidates at the same time; it’s bad form to wait until the successful person starts the job.

5. If additional feedback is requested from unsuccessful candidates; provide it. Be constructive in your criticism and if you thought they performed well, tell them.