persistent applicant

5 Tips for Turning Away an Overly Persistent Applicant

December 18, 2017 By: Dave Rietsema
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At some point in every recruiter and hiring manager’s career, he or she will deal with a candidate that’s overly persistent. As talent acquisition managers, we’re taught to be friendly and to try to see everyone’s strengths. It can be tough to turn down a candidate, especially one that’s so set on the job.

Turning down an overly persistent candidate may not be easy, but it can be a good learning experience for both the manager and the candidate. The following are a few tips for handling the situation.

Respond to the Candidate Quickly

It can be tempting to ignore a pushy candidate and hope they will go away, but that usually doesn’t fix the problem. The candidate is obviously anxious to find a job and to hear back about his or her application, so responding will help to ease the stress on the candidate. Some applicant tracking system software comes equipped with email responses that can be sent out to all candidates or customized for your overly pushy ones.

Decline the Candidate Directly

If you have decided not to hire this candidate, telling them at this stage may stop the calls and messages. You can decline the person directly when they call or send out an email. They will likely be disappointed, but you may be surprised to find that they are also relieved to stop the waiting game.

Provide Feedback

You don’t necessarily have to outline specific reasons for declining any candidate, but it can be helpful to the candidate to let them know why they were declined. If they are unqualified, the reason is straightforward and simple enough to convey. If their personality is what sealed the deal, however, tread lightly when voicing your reasons for declining them to avoid hurt feelings or even legal issues.

Consult Legal Counsel

If a candidate argues against your reasons for declining their application or continues to call about a job even after they have been declined, it may be in your best interest to seek legal counsel. A lawyer will be able to outline responses that won’t spark potential discrimination lawsuits. A lawyer may also be able to provide advice about what to say to get the candidate to stop calling or sending messages.

Clearly Outline Expectations

Clearly outlining expectations in your initial job advertisement may help you to avoid many issues with pushy candidates. If both personal and professional qualifications are stated in the job advertisement, you can simply cite one of the qualifications as not being met when declining a candidate. This gives you a legal leg to stand on and makes your company look consistent and professional, while also helping you to truly find what you are looking for in a candidate.

Declining overly persistent candidates can be uncomfortable and every situation is different. Candidates may handle the news in very different ways, so use your judgment to gauge the best way to respond and the proper amount of feedback to provide. Facing the situation head-on is usually the best way to stop the calls, but carefully review your responses to avoid insulting the candidate or causing legal troubles for your company.


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