Those you chose not to hire or even those you decided to fire,
can be an asset to you!

It took us several years to build an effective method for selecting new employees.

In the end, we built a session of about three hours that allowed us to identify with great precision with whom we have a match.

We had 4 basic guidelines and these, we eventually realized, made those candidates who were not chosen to work with us, an important asset to us. As you will see, they basically apply to fired employees, as well.

  1. The "match" needs to work both ways.
    We realized that it's not only important that we choose the candidates but that they choose us.  We had to find a way for them to get to know us, understand the job and our organization and feel that this is what they want to be part of.

    The way we saw it, it was a success having people say to me at the end of the session - "Unfortunately, I realize I'm not what you're looking for", or "it's good that we got a detailed explanation about... because it's really an element that doesn't suit me.

 This was part of our high ratio of "successful matches".  

2.     We respected their time and effort and wanted to give them something in return. We asked people for half of their day, they had to prepare for it at home and we knew that job seeking is time consuming.

That's why we consciously chose that they would gain something from this day. And what we had to offer was professional knowledge that would serve them. In our session they were asked to lead a segment of a workshop. So at the end of the session, we gave feedback on all segments. Not individually, not by name, but we talked about principles we could draw from watching them.  

It often happened that candidates said things like "Even though I wasn't accepted, I'm glad I came today. I had a nice time and I've learnt a lot, professionally and about myself. Thank you".

3. We wanted and needed them to feel relaxed.

We realized that if we truly want to learn about people, see them as they are, we had to create a safe space where they could be themselves. We also needed for them to not be on guard and conscious all the time.

So, a pleasant and enabling experience was to be created. Starting from the room we were in, through the refreshments, our informality, the way the session was built and the lack of judgment.

Once again, at the end of the day, people left smiling and often thanked us for a fun and educational morning. Even if they already knew that they would not continue with us.

4.  Be kind to those you let go.  

There are two components here.

The first is that we truly believe that some candidates may not be a match for us, but that doesn't necessarily mean they won't be a good or even excellent match for someone else.

The second thing is that no one likes to hear "no" as an answer. Especially if it's something we were enthusiastic about.  

Apart from the practical aspects of looking for a job, or the disappointment, it's always a blow to the ego and causes a feeling of rejection or failure. Even if we process it and reframe it and understand it's not all about us, even if we later find an even better job. The moment of rejection is painful.

That's why it was important for us to get back to everyone, support them, give them the chance to say whatever they needed to or ask what they wanted to.

I realize that in big companies with hundreds or thousands of candidates it may be more challenging, but I still think the principle stands.

Often, despite the disappointment, people expressed their appreciation and gratitude for the time and empathy we gave them.  

So how does it help us when people leave feeling good?

Apart from the moral value and just caring for other people's feelings.

  1. When people realize that there is no match here, it saved us mistakes we could have made, i.e time, financial costs, and emotional resources.
  2. We found that these candidates often put in a good word for us to their friends, those they now could identify as suitable. It not only helped us reach the right people but saved us time and costs.
  3. 3. Some will become customers or recommenders. These rejected but appreciating candidates will go on to work in other places. They may need, or hear about someone who is looking for, a service that we provide. They may be in a position to suggest some kind of cooperation. In any case, these are people that are out there in the market and will be happy to put in a good word for us.

Over the years we were happy to meet new candidates or new customers that were referred to us by those who were not accepted or even fired, yet left us feeling professional appreciation, and a warm place in their hearts for us. Sometimes they themselves became our customers.

The investing in the "sorting and rejecting" process created valuable secondary profits for us.