Telling candidates they didn’t get the job is just common courtesy and essential for a positive candidate experience.

Sending a ‘reject’ email is normally the end of hearing from those candidates, but how do you tell a candidate they didn’t get the job when they reach out to you personally for feedback?

Using the sandwich effect

Start with a positive, give them the negatives and end with a positive.

Be truthful, telling them that their interview was perfect doesn’t give them the feedback they require. They want to learn from their mistakes so they know what to do the next time around.

Start by being positive, let them know their strengths, this includes their skills, qualifications, and experience they may have.

After that be honest, let them know where they went wrong (Wrong body language, too nervous for the intended role etc.). You don’t have to be too honest as you don’t want to offend them or invite litigation, especially when providing written feedback.

End on a high, let them know that just because they didn’t get the job this time it shouldn’t mean they are not to apply again. You could let them know of when you intended of hiring again but if you don’t intend of hiring them because they are not the right fit for your company don’t give them false hope. Just let them know you will keep their CV on file.

Be helpful

Think specifically of areas where they went wrong and offer them some advice about how they can change their approach.

Instead of just saying “You didn’t ask any questions” you could give them a few examples of what questions they could have asked.

Provide them with positive feedback also candidates want to know where they went well so they can keep doing it.