How to Turn Down Candidates Without Hurting Referrals

You’re looking to fill a position. You know that referrals from people who know you and that job candidates are often the best resource when it comes to finding great talent.

And so you hear of the referral, he applies for the position, you see his resume and…he’s not a good fit!

Or she looks good on paper and you bring him in for an interview and you realize….she’s not a good fit.

Not every referral is going to work out

You know this, of course: even great people (like the person who gave you the referral) know duds. (Although it’s more likely that the candidate referred is a great person, just not suited for the open position.)

Yet you need to tell the person who gave the referral that the candidate he thought would be perfect for the position…isn’t.

Turning a referral down without burning bridges

Many things can pop into your mind when turning down a referral. You’re worried that:

* Your friend’s or colleague’s feelings will be hurt.
* You’ll be seen as ungrateful.
* Your friend/colleague will think you just haven’t seen the referral well enough “He’s really terrific; take a second look, please.”
* The person who gave you the referral won’t speak to you again (a particular sticky-wicket if the referrer is a close friend) or will think less highly of you (particularly worrisome if the person is someone you want to think well of you).

You have no problem telling the candidate, it’s the telling the referrer that makes you nervous.

Don’t worry; be honest

News flash! Chances are great that the person who referred the candidate…doesn’t care all that much! It’s true. He or she saw the opening, thought the referral would be a good fit and when you let your friend or colleague know that the referral was a no-go, there’s no histrionics, no frowns, no “leave and never darken my door again” statements.

Most likely the response will be a shrug. And a “thank you for letting me know.”

Working with referrals for success

The next time someone says he has the “perfect person” for the job, take some time to ask some questions; doing so will help nip a poor referral in the bud.

 Ask the person a bit about his or her referral:

* Experience and skills
* Why does the referrer think the person is a good fit? (How well does the referrer know the person)?
* Why does the referrer think the person is looking for a different job?
* If the referral is now unemployed, why, and how long did the referral work at the previous company?

If the answers leave you feeling that the referral may not be a good fit, say so. If you see disappointment on the referrer’s face, explain that while the referral is much appreciated, not everyone is a good fit. In fact, if the person referred sounds like a great employee otherwise, mention that the person could send in a resume and that you’d be happy to keep it and share it with others.

After all, great people are hard to find and a bad fit in one department could be a great fit in another.

We know the good ones

We can help you find great IT professionals and help you save time, stress and money in the process. Don’t be shy; we want to talk to you and see how we can take some of the sourcing, recruiting and vetting chores off your too-full plate. Schedule a call to learn more.

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