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How can you tell an employee they were not selected for a new role?

A client recently had an open position that two employees were interested in. They made their selection and the chosen employee accepted the role. How do they tell the other employee they were not selected?
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We recommend having a face-to-face conversation with the employee who wasn’t selected to let them know that someone else was selected for the role. If you elaborate on your decision not to select this employee for the position, keep the feedback honest and factual. For example, you could let them know that you went with the candidate whose skills more closely match what you were looking for, specifying what those skills are so that the candidate knows what to work on in the future. Factual, job-related feedback like this helps set up the candidate for future success and encourages them to accept, rather than dispute, the decision. Overall, it creates a better experience for everyone.


Assuming you want to keep this employee, you may want to prepare to have a short conversation about their career trajectory, what they could apply for in the future, or how they can grow their skills. They will be understandably frustrated. The feedback will help to foster a more positive and productive conversation about their next career step with the organization.


This Q&A does not constitute legal advice and does not address state or local law.


Our HR Team members can help you navigate through any employee-related questions or issues you may have. To learn how to get started, or for any additional assistance, contact us!


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