Letting Candidates Down Easy: The Art of the Break Up Call

March 2, 2017 at 12:00 PM by William Clarke

BreakUpCall.pngThe worst part of a recruiter’s job is telling candidates you’re not moving forward with them. It’s understandable why many recruiters take the easy way out by sending generic rejection emails to candidates. But there’s a better way. Entelo senior business recruiter Amina Moinuddin endeavors to call every single candidate who makes it past the initial phone screen. These calls, even if they only last 45 seconds, are an integral part of the Entelo hiring process and go a long way towards ensuring that each and every candidate has a great experience, whether or not they get hired.

I spoke with Amina to get the download on how she lets candidates down easy, why it’s such an important part of the hiring process, and which calls are the hardest.

Will: Do you call everyone? Or just people who make it to a certain stage?

Amina: Every candidate who has met a member of the Entelo team, whether it’s me or a hiring manager, gets a call. If they’ve just done a recruiter phone screen with me, I email them.

Sometimes, if they made it to the final interview stage, our hiring manager will call them and then I’ll follow up. It’s really important that they know we appreciate how much time and energy they have committed to interviewing, and we do not take that for granted. Declining anybody is really hard, whether it’s via email or phone, so it’s important to give everyone the respect they deserve. 

Will: How long do the calls usually last?

Amina: Most are under a minute, but some candidates will ask for feedback or push back. Sometimes they ask why, and I’ll tell them if it came down to them and another candidate or if they were lacking in experience or whatever it might be. Sometimes they will thank me, sometimes they will be upset. You have to be honest, so I’ll usually have my feedback and an explanation figured out ahead of time just in case they ask.

Will: So some people push back against your decision?

Amina: Oh yeah. Every now and then people can be very upset, but sometimes their pushback is spot on. There have even been times when we’ve reconsidered and hired someone because of their pushback. They were able to make a really strong case for themselves, showed grit (which is one of Entelo’s values), and were able to change an executive's mind. Getting feedback during this part of the process has sometimes allowed us to re-evaluate our process and implement change during the interviews.

Will: So it’s also an opportunity for evaluating our own hiring process?

Amina: Absolutely. Before the call, I always review feedback and data from their interviews to make sure we made the right decision. I want to have tangible and precise feedback for them if and when they ask. We always want to ensure candidates are not declined because of bias or some other unfair criteria, so this is a big part of our process. There are times when I’ve spoken to hiring managers about concerns I had just to make sure our decision was fair. Saying we just didn’t like them or they weren’t a “culture fit” is never a good enough reason.

Will: What are the hardest calls?

Amina: Sometimes you develop really strong relationships with candidates who you ultimately don’t hire for one reason or another. At that point, it feels like you’re letting someone important down, even when it’s the correct decision for the business. Often I’ll try to refer them to other companies. Sometimes they come back in 6 months or a year and wind up being the perfect candidate, which is why it pays off to have a great candidate experience, no matter what.

For more on the “The Break Up Call”, tune in to Hiring on All Cylinders:

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