If you are questioning whether or not you should give rejection letters to unsuccessful applicants, the answer is always a resounding ‘Yes’.
We’ve all been there. You apply for a dream job, you’re convinced you’re the right fit, and then you never hear back. Radio silence.
Not only does it leave you wondering, but when you finally realize that you’ve been ghosted by your dream employer, you are left with a bad taste in your mouth.
The job search is already hard enough without adding extra stress and uncertainty to the interview process. Treat job seekers the way that you would want to be treated when you are undergoing a job search, with full transparency and respect.
By failing to offer an update to candidates, you will be causing damage to your corporate image as well as a negative candidate experience for that job applicant. Furthermore, it is quite unfair to keep an applicant waiting in the dark after they have devoted time and effort to apply for a position with your company.
When you successfully reject a job candidate, you will be able to preserve not only a favorable relationship for future opportunities but also a solid talent funnel where candidates will still be open to applying or referring others to your business's future openings.
Plus, you’re helping them by allowing them to pursue other opportunities that might be a better fit for them.
You can keep a resume on file for qualified candidates and if a future role is a good fit for them you can contact them to apply. Keeping them in mind for future job openings can be beneficial to both parties, as you will have candidates in mind that you have already vetted and they will be flattered to have been on your list.
Rejecting candidates with compassion is an important element of creating a positive recruiting process, and it can help to generate a favorable impression of your organization in the minds of potential employees and job applicants.
Thoughtlessly delivering negative news can leave candidates with an innate distrust of you and your organization. If you do it carefully, though, they may want to stay in touch for future opportunities or even suggest colleagues to your company.
On top of providing a positive experience, you can also consider giving constructive feedback to establish a positive relationship for future career endeavors. Even though hiring managers are not legally compelled to share feedback, applicants have the right to ask.
It has been found that the vast majority of candidates - as much as 94% - seek feedback after an interview and that prospects who receive detailed feedback are four times more likely to pursue a future opportunity with your organization.
If you’re in charge of sending out job rejection letters at your company, you have likely spent time fretting over what to say and how to avoid hurting feelings while remaining professional.
The emotions of this situation can leave you with writer's block. Don’t worry, we know the struggle. That’s why we’ve created these sample letters for you.
Of course, we don’t recommend that you simply copy + paste and hit send on your job rejection letter using these examples, instead use them as a tool to create your own. You can combine certain elements that you like, and customize them to suit your needs.
Dear [candidate's first name],
Thank you for your interest in [the position] at [company name]. We appreciate you taking the time to talk with us and learn more about the role. We sincerely enjoyed meeting you and learning about your impressive skills and accomplishments.
Unfortunately, you have not been selected for the role.
The competition for this position was strong, and though you showed great promise, we have decided to move forward with candidates who were a better fit for us at this time. It was a difficult decision to make with many impressive candidates in the running.
However, we will be sure to keep your resume on file and will contact you if we have any openings that fit your experience.
We are happy to answer any questions you might have or give more specific feedback on the interview if you are interested.
Thank you again for your time and good luck with your job search.
Hi [candidate first name],
Thank you for applying for the [position] at [company name].
We are writing to let you know that we are not moving you forward in our interview process.
However, we appreciate the time you took to apply for the position, and want to thank you for allowing us the opportunity to learn about your experience and skills. You were one of many qualified candidates for this competitive position.
We will be keeping your application on file for future consideration.
Wishing you the best of luck on your job search,
Dear [candidate first name],
I want to personally thank you for your interest and the time you spent applying for the [position] at [company name]. The time you put into the interview process is sincerely appreciated.
Unfortunately, we will not be offering the position to you at this time.
We had a large number of applications for this position, and though your qualifications are impressive, we have decided to move on with a candidate who has more applicable experience. Though your education in this area and your passion for the role were clear, we are in need of someone with more hands-on experience.
We were very impressed by you as a candidate and will be sure to keep your resume on file in case another position comes up that would better fit your experience level.
We encourage you to reach out to us once you gain more experience in this field, and we hope that someday you will re-apply at [company name].
On behalf of our team, I want to thank you for your time and effort and wish you all the best in your job search.
If you have any further questions, please contact me directly at [your phone number].
Each letter above serves a different purpose. The generic, longer letter is for candidates who you spent more time talking with. We encourage you to add personal details when possible to these types of rejection letters.
The quick letter is best for candidates who you might not have moved forward in the interview process and haven’t talked to or learned as much about. In this case, you’re giving them a heads up that they haven’t been selected as quickly and concisely as possible.
Finally, the last of the three sample letters is for a candidate who moved onto the second stage of interviews or who specifically asked for further feedback about why they weren’t selected for the position.
Depending on the relationship you developed with an applicant and your company policy, you may want to make a phone call rather than send out an email. In that case, you can use these templates as a way to guide your conversation or help you if you get stuck and don’t know what to say.
Now that you have an idea of what these rejection letters should look like, let’s answer some of the questions that are commonly asked about job rejection letters.
First and foremost, every candidate should receive an email confirmation of their application, even if it is an automatic response. This lets them know that there have been no glitches and their application has been received.
This can be as simple as an email like the following:
“Thank you for applying for a position with [company name]. We have received your application, and our HR team will be reviewing all applications. We will contact you regarding your application status once we are ready to move to the next step.”
If you can, give the applicant a deadline, especially if you know when you will be holding interviews. This will help them plan their other applications and interviews accordingly.
Organizations set the stage for what job searchers should expect to see during the remainder of the recruiting process, even at this early stage. Even if the candidate is not the right fit for this particular position, they may know someone else who could be or may apply again in the future.
You always want to ensure that all candidates are left with a good impression of your company and your hiring process.
You should send out job rejection letters as soon as possible, but not too quickly. Avoid issuing rejections on the same day they are received, as this may raise the suspicion that not enough time was spent assessing the applications.
In the same way, job offer confirmation emails may be automated and standardized, applicant rejection letters or rejection emails can be automated and uniform for a faster hiring process.
If a candidate has attended a job interview and you have determined they are not the right person for the job, human resources should aim to send them a job rejection letter within 48 hours of the interview.
At the interview stage, candidates must be rejected with great care. Be sympathetic while also providing actionable advice to assist an applicant in their future endeavors.
Begin with an email, and then offer to speak with the unsuccessful candidate over the phone to address further feedback. Avoid sending a nonspecific email, since this would give the impression of false optimism.
Be clear but considerate when stating that they have not been selected for the job, leaving no question in their mind.
You should use your judgment based on your relationship with the unsuccessful candidate as well as the company's recommended method of delivering the rejection. A phone call or email is standard procedure.
There are many things to consider when sending out a formal rejection letter. We have some tips that can help make this process easier for the hiring team.
You will need strong communication skills, leadership skills, and a lot of tact to write the perfect employment rejection letter.
When it comes to shortlisting individuals, it is critical for the interview team to be consistent with their assessment procedures. Candidates should be evaluated using the same set of requirements, with their abilities and experience being compared to the essential needs of the position.
By adhering to this policy, you may ensure that your recruitment process is fair, non-discriminatory, and in compliance with applicable legislation. Create your Equal Opportunity Policy in order to remain in compliance with the law and to demonstrate that you have a fair hiring procedure.
It is advisable not to say anything about other qualified candidates or their previous work experience unless absolutely necessary. For example, statements such as "we have decided to hire another person who is more qualified" should be avoided.
Regardless of what the unsuccessful candidates ask about the successful candidate, you should avoid giving any details. By discussing other applicants' details on file, you may be in violation of data protection regulations.
All employers, including applicants and prospective employees, have a legal obligation to maintain the confidentiality of all personal information they collect.
Additionally, if you provide information on other candidates without their permission, you are in violation of data protection laws, and your company could face serious consequences.
It is best to say as little as possible about other candidates to avoid this issue.
Once you make a hiring decision, inform your candidate of your decision as soon as possible. Timing is everything here because the candidate may have other offers or interviews scheduled.
Despite the fact that there are occasions when you want to keep your options open, you should reject candidates early on if they are not a good fit for the position. Don’t string them along if you know they aren’t the right person for the job.
Explaining why you are rejecting candidates demonstrates that you value the time and effort they put into applying for your position and that you will not leave them in the dark about your decision.
After an interview, if you decide to reject an applicant, you can provide them precise but constructive criticism on the abilities and experiences that they need to improve on.
It’s always a good idea to take notes during the interview to personalize your input so that you can better serve your interviewees.
Start by mentioning the candidate's name and signing the message with your own name at the end of the message. Make a point of taking responsibility for the rejection rather than simply hiding behind your company's name.
If you have had a chat with them or if they have gone through the process, try to incorporate anything from your conversation into your letter. Providing personal information makes the candidate feel like they are more than a number in your eyes, which can assist in lessening the pain of being rejected.
However, it is understandable if you can’t give individualized feedback because the candidate did not advance to the interview stage.
People do not want to spend their time reading a novel about why they are not the best pick for a job. Keep your response concise and to the point, and gently but clearly tell them that they were not selected.
It is sufficient to write one or two paragraphs that contain all of the important information. Inform them that they will not be proceeding further, express your appreciation for their time, provide any more information that you believe is required, and then get on with your work.
If they contact you again for additional information, make every effort to respond as quickly and succinctly as possible.
One of the most essential aspects of the hiring process is open communication. Candidates are typically very invested and interested in receiving information from you regarding the next steps and current updates.
You can inform candidates about the length of time you expect your hiring process to take. You can even inform them of the number of applicants who are currently in the running.
As long as you don’t give personal information about other candidates, any updates and information you can give during this process will be appreciated.
Obtaining candidates' feedback will not only assist you in improving your hiring process but will also help you create trust with the candidate and strengthen your corporate image.
A large number of organizations conduct surveys or make use of applicant experience websites such as Glassdoor to gather and share their employees' opinions.
In the same way that they are curious about what may have gone better, you should be curious as well. Ask people who have gone through your job interview process questions to find out what worked and what didn’t.
Discuss with them about what they found awkward or if there was anything you might have done better.
When you ask for their ideas, you not only demonstrate to them that you value their knowledge and expertise, but you also have the opportunity to learn about diverse viewpoints on how you may enhance the interview process.
It is important to maintain contact with candidates in order to retain them in your pool. Maintaining a positive relationship with them will increase the likelihood that they will apply for other job openings or perhaps serve as a referral source for their network.
For example, you could send them a newsletter relevant to your current job openings or connect with them on social media to provide corporate news and information.
At the risk of sounding like a mom here…it is important to treat people the way you would like to be treated. We all learned this lesson as a kid, and it is still true now.
This is especially true when you reject candidates in a tough job market. Candidates may be getting a lot of job rejections, and you should let them know kindly but firmly that they have not been selected at your company.
Provide them with their responses as promptly as possible, and keep them brief and to the point. If they ask for suggestions on what they could have done better or how they could improve their resume, provide them with as much information as you can about the situation.
In a similar vein, inquire about their opinions on what you could have done better. It never hurts to improve your procedures, even if you are not planning to use them in the future.
Treat your candidates like real people and understand that feelings are involved in this process. Provide some personalization to the templates you utilize when possible, and strive to be as open and receptive as possible.
The ability to build relationships rather than destroy them is one of the most effective methods of ensuring your company's long-term health and stability.
Keep in mind that one of your now-rejected prospects may turn out to be a fantastic fit for one of your future positions. You never know when you will see this candidate again or who they might know.
Always leave the door open for future conversations.