Reasons to Reject Candidates for Higher Education Jobs

Your search is over. You’ve selected your candidates and made offers for your vacant university jobs. Now you can focus on the rest of your overflowing Inbox.

Then you get a call from the Human Resources office. They need you identify the rejection reasons for your unsuccessful candidates. You groan. You know from experience that HR will not let you get away with stating, “Not qualified,” for each candidate. HR has to keep records of all applicants by sex, ethnicity, age, disability status and veteran’s status, and they have to be able to show that candidates were not rejected for illegal reasons.

Therefore you have to identify the legal reason why you decided not to interview or hire the unsuccessful candidates. Your HR department may have a list of possible rejection reasons from which to choose, but if they do not, here are some possible reasons you can use:

  1. Minimally qualified but not selected because candidate:
    1. Did not have the preferred qualification of experience in supervising others.
    2. Did not communicate effectively or show attention to detail.
    3. Did not have as much experience in compliance as other candidates.
    4. Interviewed but not selected because candidate:
      1. Did not demonstrate advanced skills in manipulating spreadsheet data.
      2. Did not demonstrate as many teaching skills as selected candidate.
      3. Did not express enthusiasm for the position and was openly critical of past employers.

Note that these reasons are specific and objective and tie to the posted job requirements. This is preferable to vague statements such as, “Rejected for poor attitude,” or “poor personality fit” or “seems immature.” If you keep the requirements of the job in mind and tie them to your rejection reasons, you will be in legal compliance and will keep your HR department happy.

Dindy Robinson is Director of Compensation at Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas.

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