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Unfortunately, the accidental liability problem needs to be taken seriously -- mostly because of risk/reward. I try to write as nice and appreciative letter as possible.

1. I don't reject candidates -- I choose a different candidate.

2. The more they went through the process, the longer (and better) the letter. Rejected application, short thank you for applying. If you came for two interviews, but then we went with someone else -- I write a longer letter with references to the meetings.

3. Good candidates that we didn't hire (because another was better) are invited into my personal network. I recommend them to others, I invite them to dev events, etc. I give non-specific-to-our-interview job hunting advice. We'll have openings at some point.

4. I do the same for candidates that are just not a fit (they do X, we need Y). I might never hire them, but I have a personal goal to know every good developer within commute distance of my company (we live in a low population area).

I think 3 is a really great idea. Do you find that, in doing so, you get additional benefits yourself? I imagine you've already got places to look for new hires ect.

Absolutely. All of the benefits you'd get from knowing smart people. The biggest benefit has been recommending them to others.

Your approach sounds great!

If candidates know this is how you conduct the interview process, it seems very positive and always keeps the door open.

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