How to deal with an aggressive candidate

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Any HR professional who has had the pleasure of recruiting new hires will know that there are plenty of articles out there dedicated to helping us attract the very best talent - but what about when you can’t get rid of that over-eager applicant?

 Believe it or not, it’s actually quite common for employers to encounter aggressive interviewees who just can’t take no for an answer. Here’s how to handle the hostile situation. 

“Be polite but firm,” says management consultant Alison Green. “If someone is calling you over and over or otherwise behaving inappropriately, don’t just ignore it and hope it will stop. Tell them, plainly, to stop.”

Green suggests having go-to phrases such as: “We will be in touch when we’ve made decisions on interviews or if we need additional information. We’re not taking calls about the position meanwhile.” Or even; “I’ve told you previously that we’re not taking calls about the position. Please do not call again.”

One anonymous HR professional suggested managers simple disengage. “Once you've notified them that they haven't been selected, you no longer have any immediate obligation to that applicant,” they said.  “You do need to be polite and civil, and you don't necessarily need to cut them off cold, but you are also not here to coach them through their job search, nor do they have any right to treat you as an inside recruiter.”

“Aside from not engaging, you might also frame your correspondence with these people in a manner which makes it clear that the matter is settled. Resist the urge to give each letter of rejection a personal touch: you want it to feel like you've Mail Merged their name into it. Don't be cruel, but do be brief, be firm, and make it clear that the competition has closed,” they continued.
  • Jeannie McQuaid on 2014-12-18 1:26:11 PM

    Rather than send a mail merge feeling notification to advise people that they were not selected, I usually provide them with their ranking in the candidates. I tell them that I will keep their information on file and notifiy them if a position more suitable to their skills becomes available (and I do). I have never had any problem with being pestered afterwards, usually just get a "thanks".

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