5 Tips for Telling Internal Candidates They Didn’t Get the Job

What to do when the rejected job candidate already works for you.

It’s hard enough to inform a potential job candidate that someone else was chosen for a position. However, when the person applying for the position already works for the company, the situation can create a lot negative feelings that can affect the entire office if it’s not handled right. So, what is the best way to inform internal candidates they didn’t get the job they wanted?

We have 5 tips to help you break the news in a professional way, with the least amount of tension.

1. Give the news quickly and in person

It’s tempting to avoid an uncomfortable confrontation and just send an email, but that’s the easy way out. It’s also unprofessional. Tell the employee in person. An email might send a message that you don’t really care. Once the employee is in your office, don’t beat around the bush, either. Get to the point and inform them right away that they didn’t get the position. No one benefits by talking around the subject.

2. Show a little sympathy

Let the employee know that you understand he or she wanted the position and was excited about the opportunity. According to Small Business Chronicle, “Employees who don’t receive the promotions they were looking for often think that the employer doesn’t understand how much they wanted the job. By telling the employee that you understand his feelings, you lessen the chance of him becoming bitter over your decision.”

3. Explain why the job went to someone else

There is nothing more frustrating for an employee than not understanding why he or she wasn’t chosen. Take the time to review the selection process and explain the reasons why the other person got the job. According to Inc.com, “Tell her what her strengths are but also nicely let her know what would make her a stronger candidate in the future.”

4. Let them know this isn’t the only opportunity

Employees want to know there is a chance the next promotion will go their way. According to the Small Business Chronicle, “Offer guidance so that the employee can improve and increase his chances of getting promoted in the future. Expand on the areas that prevented the employee from receiving the promotion, and outline how he can improve.”

Above all, let the disappointed employee know that you want him or her to succeed in the future.

5. Conversely, don’t give him or her false hope

Don’t make any promises by saying things like, “Maybe in two years…” Let employees know that improved performance and acquiring new skills will help them in career advancement, but that there are no guarantees. Implying a promotion coming could get you in trouble down the line.

By being honest, open, and objective, you can help ease an awkward conversation and ensure those internal candidates understand they’re still a valuable part of your organization, even if they aren’t the right fit for the position they were looking for.


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