Writing a rejection letter to a candidate (with samples)

Rejection letter samples

“I love writing rejection letters”, said no recruiter ever.

Although sending rejection letters is no fun, it is an essential part of the candidate experience and should be done thoughtfully. That being said, we understand that it can be difficult to find the right words to deliver bad news. If you often find yourself in this situation and struggle with checking off rejection letters/emails from your to-do list, then this article is meant for you.

How to write a rejection letter for each stage of the hiring process?

Since candidate expectations differ at each stage of the hiring process, we will take a look at how to send a rejection email for each step.

1. Rejection letter at the application stage

At this stage, you may not have had a lot of interaction with the candidate. So, it’s okay to keep the rejection email brief but considerate. For example:

Subject: Your application for <job title> at <your company name>

Hi <first name>,

We appreciate you taking the time to apply for <position name> at <company name>. At this moment, however, we have decided not to go ahead with your application.

The team was impressed with your skills in <> However, we are currently looking for someone with experience in <>.

We will keep your resume on file and we hope it’s okay to reach out to you if a suitable position is available in the near future. In the meantime, we encourage you to check our careers page for any future openings that might be the right fit for you.

Thank you again for your time and we wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

Regards,

<Your name>

If you do not plan on reaching out to the candidate in the future, make sure you don’t mention it just to ease the rejection blow.

If you have received a huge number of applications and can’t send a personalised rejection email to each candidate, then you could follow the rejection email template below.

Hi <first name>,

We appreciate you taking the time to apply for <position name> at <company name>. At this moment, however, we have decided not to go ahead with your application.

We will keep your resume on file and we hope it’s okay to reach out to you if a suitable position is available in the near future. In the meantime, we encourage you to check our careers page for any future openings that might be the right fit for you.

Thank you again for your time and we wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

Regards,

<Your name>

While the above rejection email may not be personalised, it can still make a good impression as the candidate wasn’t kept waiting endlessly and can now move on to other opportunities.

2. Rejection letter after shortlisting for assignment/phone interview

At this point in the selection process, you get a bit familiar with the candidate. So, the rejection letter should come with some specific feedback to help the candidate understand why you did not proceed with the application. Most candidates would also appreciate the feedback as it could help them prepare for the future job interviews.

Hi <first name>,

Thank you for taking the time to apply for <position name> at <company name>. The team has enjoyed learning more about you. However, unfortunately, we won’t be able to move ahead with your application.

The team was impressed with the UX-friendly wireframes that you created and your attention to detail in the assignment. At this moment, however, we are looking for someone with project management experience.

Although we were not able to proceed with your application, we will keep your resume on file and we hope it’s okay to reach out to you if a suitable position is available in the near future. In the meantime, we encourage you to check our careers page for any future openings that might be the right fit for you.

Thank you for your time again and we wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

Regards,

<Your name>

3. Rejection letter after the final interview 

If the candidate has made it to this stage, they have put in a lot of time and effort into the process and their expectations are high. So, this email should be personalised with concrete feedback. 

If you believe that the candidate can be a right fit further down the line, then you could go with the following format.

Hi <first name>,

We really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us on <date>. The team enjoyed learning more about your background and skills. However, unfortunately, we will be moving ahead with another candidate.

We received applications from many qualified candidates and it was difficult for the team to reach a decision. We were really impressed with your design skills and resilience in helping an organisation grow over three years. However, we felt you might be more inclined towards design than social media. We are looking for someone who is very quick with copywriting and passionate about social media, and we felt that was lacking during the interview. 

Hope this feedback helps. If you would like more feedback, I would be happy to get on a call with you to discuss it further.

Although we were not able to proceed with your application, we will keep your resume on file. If you are open to it, we would like to reach out to you if the right position is available in the near future.

Thank you again for your time and we wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

Regards,

<Your name>

The above rejection email template could help you in building your talent pipeline and acquiring talent down the line. On the other hand, if you are unsure about a future opening for the candidate, then you could send a personalised email and wish them luck in their future endeavours.

If there has been a lot of back and forth between the candidate and you, then the best way to deliver the news might be a phone call. In addition to a phone call, you could follow-up with an email.

Subject line: Thank you, <first name>. Hope to see you at <company name> in the near future

Hi <first name>,

We really appreciate you applying to the <job title> position at <company name>. The team has enjoyed learning about you over the past 3 weeks. Although we were not able to proceed with your application, we will keep your resume on file. If you are open to it, we would like to reach out to you if a suitable position is available in the near future.

Thank you again for your time and we wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

Regards,

<Your name>

Things to keep in mind while writing a rejection letter:

1. Don’t put it off

No one likes to be kept waiting for what seems to be infinity. Make sure that you let the candidate know as soon as the hiring committee has reached a decision.

2. Avoid sending generic emails

Even though you may be sending out 50 rejection emails for each position that you fill and it might be difficult to spend much time on each rejection letter, try to personalise them whenever possible. 

While rejecting a candidate might seem like an unpleasant experience, it can help you forge a strong employer brand and build a talent pipeline. So, make sure that you step into the candidate’s shoes and write a compassionate rejection letter. 

Now that you know how to write a more thoughtful rejection letter, are you ready to receive more applications for your job post?  Then, check out Fresher Jobs on Internshala where we send you an AI recommended list of right candidates for your opening so that you can hire the best fit for your company. 

Image credits: Photo by Ivan Samkov from Pexels

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