Don’t Hang Up! How to Receive a Rejection Call

Receive a Rejection call the right way!

If there’s one thing we all dread in the recruiting process, it’s the rejection call. It’s the phone call that no recruiter wants to make, and no candidate wants to receive. Because it’s so fraught with difficult emotions, both parties often rush through the unpleasantries in order to end the call as quickly as possible. But doing so can actually be a mistake! Did you know that a candidate’s response to rejection could potentially make or break future opportunities with the company?

That’s right! We are here to share a little-known fact: the rejection call can be a golden opportunity for candidates to shine. So don’t just hang up after uttering a forced “thank you” when you hear the bad news. Read on to learn how you can use this interaction with a recruiter to create future success by building a connection and gaining valuable feedback.

Recruiters, take note. The way your candidate responds to rejection may show them in a new and favourable light. You will want to keep them on your roster for upcoming positions.



The Truth About Rejection Calls – They Can Lead to More Opportunities


In the job seeking process, you never know what could lie ahead: another opening with the same company, or even another chance for the same position. Why not take the time to build a connection with a recruiter that could develop into something wonderful down the road?

To illustrate our point, let us tell you a story about our friend Andrea who recently got her dream job – after being cut from the competition – by impressing the recruiter with her response to the rejection call.  



How to Receive a Rejection Call Gracefully


When Andrea learned about a senior role at a major telecom company, she was beside herself with excitement. As an experienced executive with a passion for telecommunications, she knew this was the dream opportunity she’d been waiting for!  She had a great feeling about the company and the job, and she sensed that the company liked her too. Andrea was thrilled when she made it past the second interview stage. However, not long afterwards, the recruiter called to inform her that the selection committee had chosen another candidate. She was devasted.

Despite Andrea’s heartbreak, when the rejection call came she kept her composure. She thanked the recruiter for his time and told him how grateful she was to be considered for the role. She also took care to let him know what she appreciated about her experience with the company and asked if he would please keep her in mind should another opportunity come available. Andrea ended the call, took a deep breath, and reached out to her friends for some much-needed support.

The recruiter contacted Andrea again a week later. As chance would have it, the person hired for the role had to bow out. Andrea had impressed the recruiter so much with her tact and grace during the rejection call, she stood out in his mind as an even stronger candidate than the original hire. Andrea was offered the job which she happily accepted, and she started her dream job a couple of weeks later!



Top Five Ways to Handle a Rejection Call

As we saw in Andrea’s story, the right response to a rejection call can really set a candidate apart and make them shine. Let’s look at the top four ways job seekers can receive a rejection call – and an added tip for recruiters – that will improve recruiting experiences and outcomes:


1. Ask “How Can I Enhance My Chances For Success Next Time?”

As a candidate, you’ve likely invested a lot of time and energy to prepare for multiple interviews, research the company, and excitedly envision yourself in the role. You owe it to yourself to wrap up the process in a way that gives justice to your investment: gain feedback that will help you succeed next time.

Find out as much as you can about why you weren’t selected. Is it a case of not having the exact qualifications the company is seeking or was it down to you not performing your best during the interview? Here are some questions help you get started:

  1. How can I strengthen my application? Am I missing some necessary qualifications or experience that would put me further ahead?
  2. How can I improve my interviewing skills?
  3. Did you observe anything in my performance during the process that could be a hindrance to my success?


2. “I Would Love to Work For this Company, Please Keep Me In Mind”

Tell the recruiter how much you would like to work for the company and ask them to consider you for future opportunities. This signals a dedication to the company, as well as your flexibility in being considered for other roles.


3. Give Your Own Feedback

Recruiters remember what candidates say about their companies. Not only will the recruiter thank you, but you will also impress with your observation skills and attention to detail. You could end up looking like an even stronger candidate.

When giving feedback, focus on the positive: indicate only the good things you observed. For example, did you see staff being respectful to each other? Did you notice examples of the company acting in alignment with their values? Recruiters will be very happy that their companies are making such a great impression, and you will look intelligent and thoughtful for noticing.


4. Manage Your Disappointment – After The Call Is Over

It’s natural to feel disappointed when you aren’t selected for a job. We think it’s ok to tell the recruiter too – it underscores your interest and shows how much you care about the job. However, you should manage your emotions appropriately when speaking to them. Try not to dwell on any negativity. And whatever you do, do not argue back with any of their feedback. They are giving you a gift by sharing it with you, so act accordingly.

Remember Andrea in our story above. She held her composure long enough to have a productive call with the recruiter, and then she called her friends right after to get support. We can’t recommend this approach enough.  


5. Recruiters: Maintain a Candidate Database

We encourage recruiters and employers to keep a database of all candidates you are talking to. Make notes about your interactions, and record who you would consider in the future. This database will prove invaluable when hiring for other roles – you may already have the perfect candidate, screened and ready to go. This will save you time as you won’t have the start the recruiting process from scratch.

Don’t forget, the way a candidate manages themselves during a difficult moment like receiving a rejection call can be a good indicator of how they’d handle other tough situations as your employee.


We hope you enjoyed this post about receiving rejection calls. If you have any questions or would like to talk to us more about your recruiting process, please contact us today at or 604.916.9199.



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