Have you ever opened a personally addressed envelope to find a letter you had sent torn into tiny pieces? Perhaps you’ve had a letter you authored returned with the word “Ha!” or “You will live to regret this” scrawled in red marker through the body. Maybe you have placed a call only to have the person on the other end hang up before you had delivered your full message. Yes, the way candidates respond to messages of rejection can be quite startling.
While no one likes to be rejected for an employment opportunity, I am consistently stunned that candidates will destroy all future possibilities by acting petulant: “When I first received your letter, I was shocked, but now I am simply amused. Good luck; I’m sure you have hired what you deserve.” As startling and disconcerting as these displays of outrage can be, I actually find them quite comforting as they affirm that we made the right decision in selecting another candidate. It’s been said that one’s true character emerges during period of adversity, and I believe that.
I recall once having to choose among three very highly qualified candidates. The first person I called to deliver the bad news was somewhat snarky and unpleasant. The second was enormously gracious and said, “I have to admit that I am terribly disappointed because I was really excited about this position. If you ever have another opening, I’d really appreciate the opportunity to apply again.” And then he stayed in touch. Over the course of the next eight months, he sent two notes of congratulation and a few articles he thought I might find interesting. It was clear that he was following our organization and still interested in joining us. When candidate number one had to relocate unexpectedly for family reasons, guess who I called.
Have you ever had a candidate act out after being turned down for a position?