6 min read

Why You May Need to 'Fire' a Candidate

By Elizabeth T. on Apr 8, 2020 3:15:34 PM

Candidates are the life-blood of recruiting strategies, big or small. Everything within a business is geared towards converting new customers, retaining a diverse talent pool, and creating strong candidate sourcing. In fact, Retorio supports companies in retaining their own best “customers”---their employees and candidates. We use video recruiting, artificial intelligence, and the Big 5 personality model to provide insights to employers about how to win and retain the best talent. 

With so much work in sourcing candidates, why would I ever “fire” an applicant?

Candidates may be the fuel that powers the strength of your database, but if candidates are not high-calibre, your  sourcing strategies are not what you need it to be.

Not all applicants and talent sourcing strategies are created equal.

This is one of the first amendments in business ownership, ahem effective business ownership. When you’re starting out, you need capable candidate sourcing. Skilled employees are priority number one.  You want to find the most skilled labored with your budget. Job boards, social media, resume databases, qualified candidates, passive candidates, active candidates, open roles, hiring managers, and sourcing strategies are the topics talent acquisition teams wrestle with. Understandable as it’s just the beginning, beggars can’t be choosers. Once you solidify your business, gained traction, and a steady stream of loyal customers, a business owner needs to optimize their talent strategy.

Why companies need to “fire” their candidates in sourcing talent

In a report from PWC Strategy&, “Optimizing Credit Decision Process: Boosting Profits in the SME Market”, it highlights how financial institutions can leaner to turn a profit in an era of decreasing margins. This is important given the era of the current health pandemic. 

What do financial institutions and their margins have to do with my candidate sourcing?

While your tech company or recruiting team may not be lending money, the key takeaway from this money-focused industry: customer segmentation. In the report, the authors explained how there are 4 key steps in figuring out whether someone is worth investing in or not. PWC’s recommendation for customer segmentation is the first and most relevant step for a small business owner.

The first step is particularly important, yet it is one that banks often somehow neglect: segmenting the customer base with specific product offerings. The objective is to break out customers of different sizes and needs, then build the loan approval process around those segments”. A company's recruiting strategy should take on a similar perspective.

Financial institutions segment customers based on the institution’s own capabilities and offerings. There may be a lesson for talent acquisition teams in sourcing candidates. As a hiring manager, you’ve probably done the same; you found that different candidates, even qualified candidates, have differing needs and desires and you’ve built services to accommodate those particular candidates. However with too many demands or too many features, you may not be hitting the target for your desired audience.

While the hiring and recruitment process is working, it may not be optimized to your key audience. Perhaps with fear of not finding enough candidates, your talent management team has no idea who the actual candidate is. Or maybe you’re personally burnt out at the end of the day because quite a few candidates are incredibly difficult to procure. If you’ve reached a point where you have candidate search fatigue, but you sense “something” is just not working. It may be time to fire candidates, or your method of search.

Entrepreneur and author of the “4 Hour Work Week”, Tim Ferriss, noticed when he began “firing” his customers, an improvement on his personal and professional life followed. He started implementing the Pareto Principle. The Pareto Principle stems from a business theory that 20 percent of your efforts leads to 80 percent of your results. Ferriss examined his own marketing and sales using this principle, theorizing that 80 percent of his sales actually came from 20 percent of his customer base---his best, most loyal customers. They not only gave him steady business, but they are easy to work with. 

Similarly, a hiring team needs to find the processes and candidates that are most useful and fire the rest. In short, candidates give you a “constant revenue stream”--- e g effective and easy experience-- without taking much of your time.

Think of the candidate segments that you’ve built your hiring and recruiting efforts around. Resume databases, social media, and other sourcing and recruiting processes may have worked to find people in the beginning. But now, with increased headcount, international locations, or remote recruiting adds complexity. It’s time to revamp a few things around candidate sourcing.

What’s important is to distinguish these types of candidates and add up the total contribution they give to your bottom line. If they take up much of your time, but contribute very little, it’s time to say goodbye. They take valuable energy and time away from the 20 percent of candidates that are easy to work and that give you revenue.

Make sure to cultivate better relationships with your best candidates

"My candidate sourcing strategy is already underway. How do I “fire” a candidate?"

Usually this is termed as a “rejection”. But perhaps it’s further down the hiring process, like a second technical interview. Be professional in how you approach this conversation. The candidate has invested time and energy in getting to know your company and the role itself. First recommendation would be a phone call. Over 82% of candidates that received a rejection via phone call would still recommend the company. If not phone call, a personalized email would be the second best. 

Highlight the values and skills that they bring to the table. Tell them how those were the qualities that made them stand out. Next, explain to them how you see that they would find a better fit elsewhere. If you have any leads or recommendations at similar companies, let them know. A word of caution: be careful when giving personal recommendations—you don’t want to give a friend a candidate that’s not suitable for their needs, budget, timeline etc.

If you anticipate a candidate being particularly difficult when explaining how they’re a better fit somewhere else, check your company’s guidelines beforehand. You may want to consult with your company lawyer if some candidates become confrontational. When speaking with the candidate, include payment information about traveling for an interview or and any other tidbits that need to be wrapped up. Be sure to send these loose ends in an email—always good to have terminations in writing.

It may seem like an uncommon move to make when firing a candidate, but you’re saving your team and project deadlines precious time in finding the right candidate. Employee morale, time, and energy are only a few things that are saved when a business owner stops catering to difficult or ill-fitting candidates. You’ll have more time and focus to cultivate better relationships with the best candidates, the 20 percent.

Any bank would call that an optimal investment.


Companies like BMW and Lufthansa, leverage Retorio's AI to support their own talent management teams. Our video-based AI was featured in TechCrunch and Süddeutsche Zeitung .

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Elizabeth T.

Written by Elizabeth T.

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