Even though developers have a lot of job options, hearing that the company is going in another direction is never easy. If you’ve done a good job of selling your company, it’s even more difficult for them to hear the bad news. Still, the unfortunate reality of tech recruiting is that you won’t hire every developer you interview. That means you’ll have to have some tough conversations.
Could you rely on a one-size-fits-all rejection email or voicemail script? Technically, yes. But templated rejection messages are often more memorable than lousy recruitment emails—and for all of the wrong reasons. Chris Haseman, an engineering manager at Uber and panelist at our recent NYC Developer Ecosystem Report Launch event, said that he remembers every single time that he was rejected without some level of dignity.
There are some significant benefits to showing some empathy when you decide not to hire a programmer. Not only will they tell their friends about their positive candidate experience, but you never know when that person might be a fit for a future position. But how do you do it? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
65% of developers told us that email was their preferred method of communication. But even though that’s a staggering number, every candidate you interview has their personal preferences. Plenty of them probably prefer email, but others might want to get hiring updates over the phone. How can you be sure on a developer-by-developer basis? Keep detailed notes on each person, even if data entry isn’t your favorite part of your job.
If a candidate prefers receiving emails, craft a personalized note to deliver the bad news. If you think that he or she could be a fit for a future job, let that person know that you’ll be in touch when that search launches. For developers that you’ve mostly spoken to over the phone, prepare two or three specific bullet points about why you’ve decided to go in another direction before you start the conversation.
Want to destroy the relationships that you’ve built with developers? End the conversation abruptly after you’ve shared your hiring decision. But if you’d rather keep the line of communication open (and you should), set aside some time to chat with them about the news.
When you reject developer candidates over the phone, some of them will only have a couple of things to say before they hang up. But don’t be surprised if they have additional questions or need a few minutes to vent to you. If that’s the case, resist the urge to rush them off the phone. Address the things that you can answer, and do your best to follow up on any that you’re unsure of in the moment.
For the developer candidates that you reject over email, anticipate at least one follow-up message. They might ask for suggestions to help them improve for future interviews or provide feedback that could help you improve your hiring process. At the same time, use your best judgment to determine how much you engage with them over email after you decline them. If a candidate is looking to start an argument, feel free to end the back and forth respectfully.