Tell Applicants Why You Are Not Considering Them

I am in the process of applying for a new position in administration at an international school.  Which one? Well, that is the joy of applying for a new job isn’t it.  You apply at several that you hope you are a good fit for and, following the interview process, find the perfect fit for a lifetime, or at least for the next few years.  If I am honest, I detest interviewing and the whole process.

Today, I received a response to one of my applications.  It was the standard, “thank you for applying but we won’t be interviewing you for this position” responses that schools with many applicants send out.  Honestly, I was surprised to get that much of a response.  Some schools do not even bother to respond, and one simply learns that the position has been filled without any other reason.

In fairness to large schools, they get a fair number of applicants for positions.  The person or people making the decisions must decide which people to interview from a pool of qualified candidates.  The process is not simple if done well.  If not done well, the reasoning is not sound.

I have been involved in many discussions about hiring practices over the years.  The ways in which schools manage the candidates is varied and sometimes, over-simplistic.  I recall one discussion about a hiring process at a university for a dean position where the first level of evaluation was simple did the person have a master’s degree or not?  That process eliminated over half the candidates straight away as the minimum requirement was a masters’ degree.  I recall another process where there were over 400 hundred candidates for a single teaching position.  The first level of evaluation was, does the teacher have any experience?  The school eliminated everyone with less than four years’ experience before hitting a manageable number of candidates to evaluate.  These are real scenarios if you have a large candidate pool.

If that is the case, it would be ideal to respond to the pool with a notice stating that there is a candidate pool and an evaluation process which would eliminate candidates.  Some schools do state up front that, if you do not hear from them within a period of time, to consider yourself not a candidate.  Yes, it is a tough message but a realistic one for teachers or future administrators.  It is a necessary message of fairness to candidates.

I did not like getting the response today for this position I applied for.  Frankly, I didn’t agree with it as I felt that I had the qualifications that they expected.  It was a bit of a let down as well to not be considered for the position.  These are all normal feelings and experiences in this process.

As administrators, sharing the message of why one is not being considered, where possible, is a powerful statement to send.  I have been rejected from positions for many reasons, but rarely been told why.  Those who did tell me the reasons, I respected that much more and have recommended people to consider working with those schools.  I personally improved from those conversations or responses and strived to make the changes necessary to improve for the next interview process.  Sometimes the answer was simply that another person was a better fit. 

As we are entering a stressful year and hiring process for many people, we need to remember to be kind and responsive as we are able.  Right now, educators are stressed about the world conditions and the additional stress of hiring during this time.  The more we can ease people’s minds the better.

There is a reason I am not upset at the school that sent me the message today.  Even though I thought I had the qualifications for the position, the response clarified why I was not a candidate.  I did not have the exact experience in the position that they wanted.  The school was looking for a candidate with experience at the exact level in the exact role and at least three years of it.  Fair enough.  I don’t have that.  But, now I know and I move on with a clear reason why I am not a candidate.

What is it that you are doing right now to support educators and future administrators in the hiring process?  How will your school’s hiring process support people like me when we do not fit the mold for your school?  How will you let me know the reason that I am not a candidate?  I encourage you to consider your rejection process in this season as you look for the next educators at your school.

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