I am a team lead at a large company, and our division is responsible for most steps of the hiring process - candidates are not prefiltered by HR. We recently published a job advertisement that lists me as the contact person. Per our process, all team leads in the division will vote on which candidates to invite, two of us will conduct interviews, and there will be a joint decision on whom to hire.
A couple of years ago, a person left my team to pursue a master's thesis. Now I got a mail from them that they are very interested in the advertised position. I would like them to apply, and I would be happy enough to work with them again, but the new position requires a somewhat different skillset than what they had back then, so I cannot recommend them without reservations. If we get applications from candidates with more experience in this exact area, we will prefer them.
Now I have to word a nice response conveying that we will be glad about an application, but that they shouldn't get their hopes too high just because we used to work together. Preferably also reassure them that I still remember that we worked well together, and that their resume won't get lost in the pile, but without giving the impression that there will be preferential treatment.
Since I started on that mail, I have been second guessing every sentence I write. So I thought to ask, in this situation, how do I recognize (in my own writing) signs that
- I sound too cold and dismissive (such that the candidate concludes applying will be futile)
- I sound too welcoming (such that the candidate concludes that they are on the fast track to being hired)
- I am saying something which might get me in hot water with HR (obviously, I cannot promise the candidate that they will get hired)? BTW, we are in Germany, and I wouldn't imagine this person the kind who starts a lawsuit out of a job rejection, but of course I don't want to go near such dangerous waters.
What can I do to be better at recognizing each of these dangers within my own writing, and avoid them?