Q: I’ve been in management positions on and off for 10 years. I’m currently hiring a new staff, and I’m not sure of a polite and legal way to tell applicants I’ve interviewed that I’m not offering them the job. I feel I should let them know, but I haven’t found the right words to use. I’ve asked friends and co-workers how they handle this situation, and they’ve all said they simply blow off the unwanted applicants. I don’t feel this is appropriate behavior. Any suggestions?
A: Besides firing someone, one of the hardest things in business is to let someone know they haven’t been chosen for a job or promotion. The other person has put himself on the line in applying, and now you have to tell him he didn’t make the grade. It’s tough. But it’s also incumbent on you to inform all applicants promptly if they didn’t get the job in person or on the phone, if possible. You should be direct but polite. Come to the point right away: “Bill, thank you for applying. I really appreciate it. We had several very qualified candidates, and the decision was difficult. I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but we won’t be offering you the job. We made an offer to another candidate, who accepted.” Then thank the applicant for his time and wish him success in his job search. You don’t need to go into specifics about why you turned him down.