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How to Write a Candidate Rejection Letter

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Before we explain how to reject a job candidate via email, we should first understand why it’s important to write and send rejection letters.

Applying to jobs can be a stressful experience, and some people may feel nervous after submitting a job application. For example, after applying, they may have to wait weeks, or even months, to hear back about their application. Also, whether they are rejected just after they applied, or after interviewing, they may have invested a significant amount of time and effort into the application process. Thus, a simple rejection email can help you create a positive application experience, and it will help you build your company’s reputation.

By keeping these things in mind, you can write a rejection email that provides feedback and helps people move on in their job search.

How to Send a Candidate’s Job Application Rejection Email: Be Considerate, Concise, and Supportive

When you send out a job rejection email to someone that you don’t decide to interview for the position, you should keep the rejection email brief, but be considerate. In addition, you should offer support and encourage them to apply for future opportunities at your company that they may be a better fit for.

Also, try to keep in mind the person’s excitement when applying to a new position, and their hope to receive a positive response. While every person can’t receive a positive response, negative news is better than no news. Thus, you should try to send rejection emails out sooner rather than later, but if you are delayed in sending an application rejection email, then you should make sure to appreciate them for their effort and thank them for their patience when you have a chance to notify them. Most candidates spend time researching and preparing before applying for a job, so you should convey your gratitude for their excitement to work in your company as much as possible, even when rejecting them.

You’ll also want to include a general reason why you are not moving forward with their application: maybe you had many qualified applicants to choose from, you have already secured another candidate for the role, or you are simply no longer looking to fill the role at this time. Whatever the reason is, the candidate will feel more relieved and comforted when a reason is given, rather than if the rejection is vague.

Sample: How To Reject a Job Application Politely

Below is a sample employment rejection letter. While the email is concise, it also provides the information the candidate needs in a polite manner.

Dear [Candidate Name],

Thank you for taking the time to apply for the [Role Title] role at our company. We are grateful that you chose to apply to our company.

Although we are impressed with your background and skills, we will not be moving forward with your application at this time. We had many qualified candidates, and we wanted to let you know that the position has been filled.

Although we were not able to learn more about you this time around, we hope you apply to us again, and we will keep your information on hand for future opportunities.

Thank you for your interest, and good luck with your search.

Best,

[Your Company]

How to Tell a Candidate They Were Not Selected After the Interview: Personalize It

While it’s tempting to copy and paste the same email for all of your rejected candidates, you should personalize your letters when sending out a rejection email after the interview.

Interviews require a commitment from your hiring team and the people applying to your job openings. Both sides put time and effort into the interviewing process, and the company has the opportunity to meet the candidate and get to know them at a deeper level. Hence, if you reject a job candidate after the interview via email, you should personalize it to appreciate their time in seeking a new opportunity at your company.

One way to personalize the rejection email after the interview is to acknowledge the time and energy they have put into the process, and highlight your gratitude for getting to know them. Another way to personalize it is to provide specific feedback or make yourself available in case the candidates want to reach out with questions.

Sample: How to Write a Personalized Rejection Letter or Email

Here’s a sample of a personalized job rejection email. Although it contains a layer of personalization, the email is about the same length.

Dear [Candidate Name],

Thank you for taking the time to interview for the [Role Title] role at our company. We are writing to inform you that we have offered the position to a different candidate at this time.

[Insert a specific piece of feedback or a strength exhibited by another candidate that tipped the scales in their favor.]

We are grateful that you chose to apply to this opportunity, and appreciate the time you invested in interviewing with our company. We enjoyed speaking with you and getting to know you throughout the process.

I hope we can stay in touch and that you reach out if future opportunities catch your eye. We wish you the best with your search.

Best,

[Your Company]

Key Takeaways: Be Professional And Personalize

Many rejection letters are professional, but shy away from connecting with candidates or personalizing the emails to make them feel supported. However, building connections and personalization are two of the most integral parts of the application and interview process that stick with candidates as they apply to jobs. No matter the outcome, and regardless of whether the candidate is a good fit, it is vital to empathize with anyone who expresses interest in joining your company and show them the same respect and commitment that they have shown you.

While it is not always possible to match their enthusiasm, as your company may be handling hundreds or thousands of applicants, you should try to relay some of it back to them. This can be done by expressing gratitude, through providing specific feedback to help the candidate grow, or through a phone call rejection after the interview, rather than just a job rejection email. There are many ways to respectfully reject applicants, and these simple steps help show your candidates that you value them.

If you’re currently hiring for roles in sales, marketing, or customer success, be sure to check out our new compensation guide to learn how much compensation you should be offering people in 2021. Also, if you have any hiring or recruiting questions, please feel free to reach out, and we’ll be happy to help.