Recruiting: Rejecting Internal Candidates

Hiring the right person is difficult, no questions asked. But it can get a tad easier when you see the resume of one of your outstanding internal candidates on your desk. Maybe the decision is a no-brainer for you; after all, they know the organization, its culture and quirks, and usually require less handholding to get up to speed. 

But what if you have to reject the internal candidate for an external one? Or you have to choose between numerous internal candidates? How do you, as a manager, reject a candidate you know and have a close relationship with?

Buying or Building?

The main advantages to hiring external candidates are that they can introduce new ideas and skill sets to the company. It also gives recruiters and managers a larger selection of candidates to choose from. 

But internal hires are typically favored for numerous reasons. Internal candidates have a strong knowledge of the company culture, processes and methodologies. They also have well-built relationships with others in the organization. And of the greatest benefits is that they’re typically less expensive to train, which in the long run, can help reduce turnover. It works as a signal to other employees that they too have a future in the organization. This reduces turnover as they’ll be more likely to look internally when considering their next career move. 

Walking Out the Door

For every open job, managers can expect to receive an average of 10 internal applications. That means if there’s only one position to be filled, at least 9 existing employees and all external candidates will receive a “no” for each job posting. 

Most internal candidates will respond poorly. Rejected internal candidates are almost twice as likely to leave their jobs and companies relative to those who were either hired or had not applied. And depending on how the rejection was delivered,  it raises the risk that other employees will become disheartened and disengaged. Worse, they may want to continue their careers in other organizations or competitors, feeling that their opportunities for advancement are nonexistent. The lost productivity combined with the costs of finding and training replacements can be time-consuming and expensive

Managing Your Talent

Rejection is inevitable, but turnover doesn’t have to be. While it’s highly unlikely that your company will only hire internal candidates, managing your talent wisely can help prevent your star players from leaving. 

Managers should ensure that their management tools can identify talents they want to retain, and develop coaching plans that can help them redirect workers to other jobs within the firm for which they might be better suited for. Don’t string employees along with false expectations and be forthright about how they can improve and better themselves in the future with proper developmental goals. It can be a fine line to balance between rejection and retention, but strategically managing your internal talent market gives you better positioning to help you keep rejected employees.