It can be difficult telling a candidate that they’re not the right fit for the position. It is an unfortunate part of the hiring process, but how you dismiss a candidate is very telling about your company. Your rejection practices can make or break your company’s reputation.

If you’re not able to hire a candidate, let them know as soon as possible. Many hiring managers will put this off as long as they can, but this is disrespectful to your candidate. They may be putting off applying to other companies or even turning down other jobs in hopes of getting a job with your company. The sooner you let your applicant know that you have made a decision, the sooner the applicant can pick themselves up and get back into the job market.

When you’ve previously spoken with the applicant on the phone, try to let them know you’re hiring someone else via phone call instead of over an email. Emails can seem cold, and the applicant will appreciate the time you took to speak with them personally. Personalize the phone call by using their name and mention some things that were talked about in the interview. This will let the applicant know that even if they weren’t the right fit, you respect them and are considerate of their time. Lastly, thank the candidate for the time they took on their application and their interview.

Explain briefly why you’re rejecting the applicant at this time. Telling them that you decided to go with someone who is more experienced in a certain field will give them an idea of what areas to work on without launching into a lengthy conversation. Try to point out a few good things they brought to the table. Without sugar coating, it is important to be fair with your applicants, and not appear overly negative. If you are genuinely interested in staying in touch with a candidate about future openings, let them know you’ll be saving their contact info for later use.

Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback on the hiring and interviewing process. You and your company can learn a lot from your applicants by asking what they felt during the process, and it shows that you care about the people trying to get a job with your company. Use feedback from your successful and unsuccessful candidates in order to structure your hiring process fairly for future use.

Letting applicants know that you are not hiring them at this time is never easy, but the process can be made more painless by being professional, kind, and respectful. Treating unsuccessful candidates the way you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes says a great deal about you and your company.