How to Turn Down Internal Candidates Without Risking Them Leaving Their Position


As a manager, turning down job applicants is never an easy task, and it’s that much harder when you have to turn down an internal applicant that you see every day. So, how do you break the bad news to an employee that you already work closely with, without risking them getting upset and quitting? To help you soften the “blow” to your candidate’s ego, here are a few useful tips and tricks that have been gathered by others in your situation.

Email is a No-No

Most people can agree that emails make for more comfortable and quicker communication, but it’s not the right method for breaking the bad news to someone on your team. Unless you are in the Human Resources department and don’t work directly with the individual, you should make the time to sit with them one-on-one. Having that meeting gives you the opportunity to explain your decision, and your employee is going to see how considerate you are by taking the time to explain it to them properly.

Be Confident and Clear About Your Reasons

Having that one-on-one meeting is going to require some planning. You need to think about what you’re going to say, and how you’re going to say it. It might be useful for you to speak to your boss or human resources to get additional tips.

Not only is it essential that you’re clear about your decision, but also why you made it. The employee in question already understands the culture of the company, so your choices should focus on their experience, or lack of, regarding the position they applied for. Direct feedback is going to not only help them improve, but fuel them to develop the skills required so they can apply again once another position opens.

Ask About Their Goals

It’s not uncommon for internal employees to apply for transfers just to get out of the department that they’re in. They might feel stuck, unchallenged, or complacent. The position might not be a part of their career goals, and it might just be a way to leave the post they’re in now.

Having an open and honest discussion with your staff member regarding their goals is going to help open the lines of communication further. Ask them who they admire, what their ideal title is, what positions excite them, etc. Once you have a clear understanding of what they want, you can make a plan with them and encourage them to stick around, so you can find ways to those passions and develop that experience within the current department.

Find Other Ways for them to Grow

You’re a manager, so you know on a different level where the company is going and the opportunities that are realistically going to come with that growth. Consider sharing what information you can with the employee, and make a plan with them that helps groom them for further success. Let them know that their interest in growing with the company doesn’t go unnoticed.

Remember to Check In

Once your meeting is done, don’t forget to check in with the employee after a few days have passed. Ask them how they are doing, and ask if they’ve thought any more about the discussion that the two of you had. That shows them that you were listening and that you do care about their future with the company just as much as they do.

Your job as a manager is to nurture the spirit of your team and encourage the employees to develop the skills required to move to different positions; even if it means you lose a reliable worker. So, even if you have to turn them down for the job now, it’s still a good sign because it shows that they are interested, and it shows that you are doing your work as a manager.


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How to Turn Down Internal Candidates Without Risking Them Leaving Their Position

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