Recruitment Strategy

When 'You've Been Unsuccessful' Doesn't Mean No: Best Practices For Considering An Applicant For Another Role

When 'You've Been Unsuccessful' Doesn't Mean No: Best Practices For Considering An Applicant For Another Role
HireHive Team

HireHive Team


On average, a job posting will attract roughly 250 applications, which employers will narrow down to a shortlist of around 10. Unsurprisingly, rejection is therefore a standard part of any recruitment drive. Sometimes, employers may even reject promising talent based on things like a highly competitive talent pool, or a lack of required skills. Typically, you’ll be able to move past those promising candidates by finding the best person for any given job. Sometimes, though, you may find that you can’t get a rejected candidate out of your mind. This can be frustrating, and it can even leave you doubting your overall decision. Yet, informed rejections are rarely wrong. Instead, continually thinking back to a spurned applicant might be a sign that, while they weren’t the right person for that particular role, they were a great fit for your company. And, when you realise that, you might want to reconsider them for an alternative position that’s better suited. But what are the best practices for successfully reapproaching a rejected candidate? Keep on reading to find out.

# 1 - Provide Feedback

94% of applicants want interview feedback, but just 41% receive it. If you don’t give a candidate any feedback before reapproaching them, you may find that they’re reluctant to attempt a role with you again. After all, you’ve given them no way to improve, so how do they know that this won’t also lead to rejection? 

Some rejected applicants may even harvest resentment, especially if they felt they were well-suited for a role. By explaining things, like the simple fact that you had more experienced applicants, you can get them back onside. 

Simply return to that candidate’s profile, and consider things like where in the employment journey you rejected them, and whether there are any actionable improvements that you can think of. Be sure to also include positive feedback, like what you loved about them, why you think they would be an asset, and even why they came to mind for the role you’re now offering. 

# 2 - Spark Interest

When an applicant has applied directly for a role, they’re already interested. But, if you’re approaching an unsuccessful candidate for an entirely different position, they’re unlikely to have that same initial spark. So, you need to create it. 

Of course, a great job listing plays a role here, but you may want to pair it with a custom application tailored towards that candidate’s applicable skills. You should also highlight things like potential for progression, and also benefits that are unique to this new role. 

If that person has already been on a walk around of your office, you could even use that as a selling point, focusing on your company culture, and what it has to offer them regardless of job specifics. 

# 3 - Make it Easy

Man in Blue Long Sleeve Shirt Gets the Job

The hiring process lasts between 3-6 weeks. That means this individual might have already spent six weeks waiting around for you. No matter how much they love your company, it’s unlikely they’ll be willing to start that process from scratch.

Luckily, you shouldn’t need them to. Of course, you’ll want to avoid rushing to hire that person upfront, especially if they’ll be working with a different team from the one they met before. But, considering that early interviews tend to assess things like personality and basic skills, you should find you can skip over them pretty easily.

Instead, pull up that person’s profile from your previous recruitment drive, and revisit things like their early interview answers so you can bring them in a lot later in this secondary recruitment drive. That will make this whole process far easier for them and make it more likely that they’ll get on board with a role that could be theirs in a week, rather than six. 

# 4 - Remain Realistic

Rejecting someone once is hard. Rejecting them again, especially after you’ve made lofty claims and gone after them, will mean that you’ll undeniably burn a professional bridge.

To avoid that, you must be realistic from the moment you reapproach them. Don’t make promises of a guaranteed role when you have a responsibility to also advertise that position elsewhere. 

Ultimately, all you can do when reapproaching a candidate is tell them why you love them, and why you think they stand a great shot. But, let them know straight off that you’ll also be interviewing other people, and that this position isn’t guaranteed. Even if they don’t choose to apply this time, this ensures an honest, open relationship that may see them considering you again at some stage in the future. 

# 5 - Be Prepared for a Blanket No

Rejection can be a difficult pill to swallow, especially if a candidate went far in your recruitment process, and completed things like whole-office walkarounds. That person will have imagined themselves working with you, and fitting into your company culture. If they’ve then had to let go of that dream, there’s every chance they’ll be unwilling to even discuss another role with you.

And that’s okay. Yes, it can be a blow to find that the person you keep thinking about is no longer an option, but at least you’ll know for sure this way. Just make sure that you don’t put all of your recruitment eggs in that basket by also creating job listings elsewhere, and arranging interviews with other promising candidates. That way, if that previous applicant rejects you, you can accept it as gracefully as they did when you initially said no to them. 

Get Rejected Candidates Back On-Side With HireHive

Reapproaching a rejected candidate can feel like a hard sale, but it can also be a great way to secure top talent with a specific role in mind. 

HireHive can help you attract rejected candidates thanks to complete candidate profiles that make it easier to revisit previous recruitment drives, thus speeding things up for a second time. HireHive also enables you to create custom job applications for familiar applicants, as well as providing you with the ability to revisit candidate feedback from across your entire team. This can help you to show rejected candidates why you can’t stop thinking about them, and why you think they’d be such a great fit for this new role.

No matter how hard they took your initial rejection, get rejected candidates back on-side by starting your free trial of HireHive today. 

Watch our demo

Hiring Pipeline

Arrange a product tour today and start using
recruiting software that helps you find and hire
the best candidates.

Read also

Company logo for Life Credit Union

“HireHive makes the team a lot more productive. We’d be lost without it. Team Leaders can do it all themselves if needed or jump in at the right time and know exactly where everything is and what’s happening.”

Profile of Hilary Dempsey

Hilary Dempsey Head of HR at Life Credit union

Join over 2,000 companies who streamlined their hiring process with HireHive