What Does Candidate Disposition Mean?

A candidate’s disposition is the real-time status of an applicant as they move through the screening, evaluating, and interviewing processes. Typically this consists of terms such as accepted, rejected, in process, waitlisted, etc.

The dispositioning process ends when a person being considered for a position is offered the position or removed from being considered. A rejected candidate’s disposition identifies why they were rejected. Dispositioning as a verb is the process of informing a candidate that they will not be filling the position they applied for.

Why is Candidate Disposition Important?

Having a structured candidate disposition process written out and in place is important for many reasons. Aside from preventing perceived discrimination bias, it’s also beneficial for:

  • Data. Having a quality candidate dispositioning recording process in place is an absolute data goldmine. This data can be used to streamline, improve upon and make adjustments to the hiring process.
  • Real-time feedback. For the applicant, it is valuable to understand an organization’s hiring process and what to expect. Having this real-time feedback can make the difference between a candidate being hired or withdrawing their application to accept another job offer due to unclear expectations.
  • Organization. Particularly in larger organizations, this record keeping is crucial to efficiently and accurately move an applicant through the hiring process.
  • Defining best practices. As a verb, properly dispositioning a candidate requires uniformity, clarity, and tact. All of this is encompassed in having a clearly defined best practice for how to inform the applicant they are no longer being considered.

Statuses and Stages of Candidate Disposition

To clarify and define the disposition process, statuses (applicant facing) and stages (employer facing) help to quickly identify the candidate’s current position. Some commonly used terms include:

Received: Application Screening

This part of the candidate journey is normally carried out through automation. If the applicant does not fill the base criteria required for the position, they will receive an automatic rejection. Below are some examples of common stages and statuses an applicant would move through during the dispositioning process.

In Process: Review

This status means the application has been received and is undergoing virtual or manual screening, often both.

Interview Scheduled: Interview(s)

If the application fits the required qualifications, they will be invited to interview with the company, sometimes more than once. When an organization practices meticulous hiring, this status can be specified further by stating which interview is scheduled if they are scheduled separately (for example, “first interview scheduled,” “second interview,” etc.).

Pending Background Check/References: Background and References Check

When this step occurs varies from business to business, but it typically takes place before or after the candidate is run through the interview process, during which the applicant is run through standard background checks and references are checked.

Dispositioned or Hired

The “dispositioned” status can occur at any point in the process for a number of reasons (see below), whereas the “hired” status occurs at the completion of the hiring process when a candidate is selected for the position.

Candidate Dispositioning Reasons

Dispositioning data is extremely valuable for an organization. When a problem arises, this data can help troubleshoot the overall hiring protocol as well as provide the necessary information to review and improve it. This is also important to your applicants as dispositioning at any stage is difficult for a job seeker. With this in mind, the more specific reasons you can give to the eliminated applicant, the better. This information can assist them as they continue their job hunt. Here are some examples of specific dispositioning reasons:

Dispositioning Reasons for an Unqualified Applicant

When an under or over-qualified applicant’s application has been reviewed, there are a number of common reasons for them to be unselected. For example:

  • Did not hold the required degree or degree was in the wrong field
  • Did not attain minimum education requirements
  • Did not possess stated credentials
  • Did not meet specific requirements in:
    • Clinical
    • Research
    • Service
    • Teaching
    • Experience

Dispositioning Reasons for a Qualified Applicant

There are a number of reasons why an applicant who meets all the qualifications could be eliminated from the hiring process. Some reasons can be easily rectified while others may be considered intrinsic qualities that are not suited for the position. These include:

  • Position had been filled
  • Candidate withdrew application
  • Information was incomplete or incorrect materials were submitted
  • Deficiencies found during the interview
  • Lacked sufficient potential for leadership
  • Lacked specific needs
    • Teaching, team, research, multitasking, management, etc.
  • Too few references provided or references were too weak
  • Required specialized experience or knowledge is deficient
  • Personality differs from the expectation for the position
  • Isn’t a fit for the culture

How To Disposition a Candidate

Once an applicant has been eliminated, a company should have a uniform rejection or “dispositioning” process to avoid ambiguity or the appearance of favoritism/discrimination.

Step 1: Provide Real-time Status

Many job sites have this feature built-in. This allows the candidate to track the hiring process in real time, thus enabling them to receive notice of their elimination before being personally notified by the employer (which can soften the blow).

Step 2: Provide a Clear Reason

The more specific you can be explaining why they have been rejected, the better for your data and the job seeker. Naturally, do all this while maintaining maximum professionalism.

Step 3: Offer Clarification

In your personal notification of the applicant’s disqualification (usually a formal letter, email or phone call), offer clarification if they have any questions.

Step 4: Ask for Their Input Regarding Next Steps

Not every rejected candidate is a bad fit for your company. Today’s candidate that you turn down may be tomorrow’s candidate or maybe tomorrow’s client or some other connection, Jay Meschke, president of CBIZ Talent & Compensation Solutions told SHRM in this article. The article encourages HR professionals to keep in touch with rejected candidates by offering notifications for similar positions when they open up.

If there is another position available that better fits their qualifications, you can point them in that direction. If they were denied the position for lack of a certain educational requirement or certification, you can recommend they obtain the required qualifications and to reapply at a later date.