Ed NewmanNovember 21, 2016
Topics: Candidate Experience

Candidate Experience Worst Practice Alert: How NOT to Reject Applicants!

As a founding member of the Talent Board, I have been very close to all things Candidate Experience. I have attended, facilitated, and sponsored many workshops where Talent Acquisition professionals gather to share information about how they are addressing the challenges of delivering a better experience to their job seekers.

One of the big pain points is how to reject applicants when there is such a high volume and so few resources. Not to mention, the compliance culture that limits what information can actually be shared, which prevents the ability to be transparent and authentic with the message. This is one of my pet peeves.

At one CandE event this year, I recall a conversation about a new innovative way of communicating the rejection via video. I remember thinking...wow, that's pretty cool, but as with any type of new approach, it is all about how it is executed. I have now seen first hand how a great idea can go terribly wrong.

I have recently been watching my four millennial children going through their first career experiences. My oldest daughter recently quit her full time job to go back to grad school, and in order to pay rent and cover school expenses, she applied to several part time jobs. After her first job interview, she was made an offer on the spot. But the second company did not go as well.

At the end of the interview on a Wednesday, she was told that she would definitely hear from them by Monday, either way. Monday came and went. On Wednesday she told me she was pretty sure she did not get the job. I explained to her how HR departments sometimes get busy and that 2 days late was not so bad.

On Friday she forwarded the email that she received from the company. The message was short and simple: "Please click here for information regarding your application/interview status." The link took me to a Vimeo video page with the following message (names have been changed to protect the innocent):

"Hi, My name is Suzie Recruiter and I am the Talent Acquisition specialist for <INSERT COMPANY NAME HERE>. Unfortunately I am reaching out to you today to let you know that you weren't selected for the position you applied for. However, you are always welcome to apply for any of our open positions. Thank you for your time during the selection process and I wish you the best of luck in your job search."


My daughter said it was the worst rejection she had ever received. A standard templated email from do_not_reply would have been better. After watching the video, I took a closer look and found a few blatant execution errors:

  1. There was absolutely nothing personalized in the video, not even a reference to the job title. This type of company probably has a total of 5 job titles; they could have at least recorded a different version for each job.
  2. Vimeo showed the video was created 6 months ago and that it has been viewed by more than 1,000 other poor candidates who received the same treatment. A simple configuration option could hide the video stats from view.
  3. There is a public comment on the page from one of these other poor candidates who thinks he should have been hired. Another simple configuration option could be switched to prevent comments.
  4. The name on the Vimeo account was different than the name of the person in the video. And when I searched the name of the person in the video on LinkedIn I discovered she no longer even works for the company. Now that's just lazy.

The impact here is not insignificant as I can assure you my daughter will no longer patronize this establishment and she will be sharing this experience with friends. While I applaud the company for trying new things, this highlights a very important lesson -- when you try to implement an idea that might be a best practice, make sure you test out the execution in order to prevent it from becoming your worst nightmare.

Get the latest talent experience insights delivered to your inbox.

Sign up to the Phenom email list for weekly updates!


© 2024 Phenom People, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

  • ANA
  • CSA logo
  • IAF
  • ISO
  • ISO
  • ISO
  • ISO
  • ANAB