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Candidate Rejection: Here’s How to Break the News

It’s extremely difficult to reject a job candidate. This is even more true in the healthcare space where you’ve likely worked with the candidate for months. If you’ve worked with clinicians just imagine how a doctor takes rejection and the finesse it takes to let down these high-level knowledge workers. Plus, in the smaller FQHC community, word travels fast so you know you must reject every candidate carefully and respectfully so as not to damage your organization’s reputation.


UHC Solutions knows a lot about the clinical and operational healthcare candidate selection process. In this blog, we’ll share some tips for how to appropriately reject even the most high-level c-suite candidate so the relationship can be maintained and nurtured for the next job opportunity.

Rule #1 Do Not Reject Candidates by Email if You’ve Spoken with Them
Can you imagine your dismay if you spent time actually talking with an interviewer and you never hear from them beyond a rejection email? This impersonal approach can work if you have a pool of applicants that have applied with a resume but you haven’t actually met. But it’s a harsh approach if anyone from your organization met and spoke with the candidate at a more personal level. Also, don’t leave a voicemail with the news. It’s just not good form, even if you are pressed for time. Finally, don’t lead applicants on by inviting them to apply for the next job opening if they interviewed so poorly you know you’d never hire them.


What To Say When You Call to Reject a Healthcare Candidate
There are liability issues related to rejecting a candidate, so in these cases, choose your words carefully. If it helps to script out what you can and can’t say, do it. During this brief conversation you should:

  • Stay as positive as possible.
  • Point out that the competition for the role was strong.
  • Do say, “You weren’t selected this time but we will keep your application on file.”
  • Thank the candidate for the time and effort they put into the selection process.


Is It Okay to Share Why They Were Rejected?
There are different schools of thought on this because of potential liability. However, you don’t want the candidate to be left wondering about what they did wrong. It’s a better approach to say something like, “You didn’t do anything wrong, there was just a candidate with more managerial experience.” The point is that you are still being careful about what you say and basing the rejection reason on job-related facts-based criteria. Never say it’s because the candidate interviewed poorly (even if they did). After all, that is subjective. Certainly, don’t say they weren’t polished enough. Finally, and here’s an important point: If you don’t have a fact-based skills-related reason, stick to saying nothing or saying there was just a candidate that fit the role better.


How to Minimize Liability When Rejecting a Healthcare Candidate
While we are not labor lawyers, it makes sense to avoid any discussions of age, gender, origin, race, sexual orientation, or any of the other “hot button” issues that can lead to a discrimination complaint. While most HR teams understand this, sometimes hiring managers who have worked with candidates are given the responsibility of notifying candidates that they didn’t make the cut.


Healthcare hiring brings risks. UHC Solutions partners with our FQHC clients to handle the employment process. We source, screen, negotiate, and yes, reject healthcare job candidates. If you’re challenged to find healthcare talent, call on us.


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