Turning a Disappointed Candidate into a Supporter!

Want to promote your school or district’s brand?  Try starting with those candidates who didn’t get hired by you!

Each year, especially in May, June, and July, schools and districts interview and hire educators.  We’re talking about teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators and others.  It is not uncommon for a school to have 10 or more open positions from one school year to the next.  If that school interviews 5 people for each of those 10 positions, that’s 45 people who didn’t get the job.  Check that.  That’s 45 disappointed, possibly angry, frustrated, and salty people who didn’t get the job at your school.  The question is, how do they feel about their experience with your selection process?  I’m not talking about just the interview.  I’m talking about the initial call they receive letting them know you’re interested in an interview, how they are greeted and taken care of during the time they are with you, the actual interview itself,  who they meet while they are with you, and how you communicate with them following the interview.  Who makes the contact and shares the bad news?  Let’s look at each of these steps and work toward the goal that the candidate will walk away disappointed, not in the school or the process, but instead in the fact that they didn’t get a job at such an awesome institution.  Instead of leaving with the saltiness, the anger, and the ax to grind, let’s leave them impressed with the high level of professionalism and kindness that was exhibited.

Initial Call:  Typically, an administrative assistant makes the call informing candidates that they have made the cut through paper screening and you wish to interview them.  Whoever it is should be well informed about the position, enthusiastic and upbeat, and congratulatory that they will be coming in to interview.  The contact person should give clear directions as to where the interview will be held, who it will be with, how long it will likely last, and share relevant contact information in case the candidate should have any additional questions between the call and the actual interview.  Ideally, the candidate should hang up feeling important, appreciated, and valued.

In-Person Greeting:  When a candidate arrives, they should be formally and happily greeted by someone who is expecting them.  That person should explain what the process includes, show them where they will be waiting (which is never with other candidates), show them where the bathroom is located, offer a bottle of water, and make them feel comfortable.  Remember, they are likely nervous and anxious.  Anything the school or district can do to make them feel welcome and comfortable will be greatly appreciated.

Interview:  The lead of the interview team should meet the candidate wherever they are waiting and welcome the candidate, brief them on the size of the interviewing team, and give them a general overview of what to expect.  Once in the interviewing room, each interviewing team member should welcome the candidate and share who they are and their relationship to the school or district.  When the interview concludes, the same person who brought the candidate into the room should escort them out and, if not covered during or at the end of the interview, explain a timeline of next steps and who will be communicating with them regarding the decision. 

If indeed the next call is to inform the candidate that they are not moving on or being hired, it should be done by the highest level administrator involved in the process.  The message should be one of gratitude as well as empathy.  Being prepared when delivering bad news is essential.  If the candidate interviewed well and will be considered for a possible future position, they should be told so.  A strong closing comment such as, “I can’t thank you enough for considering our school and taking the time to meet with us and I wish you all the best.”  And/or, “I hope our path’s cross again in the future and that we have the opportunity to work together.”  The unsuccessful candidates will very likely talk to many people including potential future employees.  You want your brand to include an aspect of professionalism and kindness.  When people talk about your school and district they should immediately think of organization, class, and etiquette…a place where everyone would love to work!


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