Dealing with Unsuccessful Job Applicants

An important aspect of the recruitment process, which many recruiters are not prepared for, is handling unsuccessful applicants in an efficient, sympathetic and professional way. It is important to notify candidates who will not be progressing to the next interview stage as quickly as possible to avoid wasting the candidates’ time. For candidates that have reached the final interview stage and are not chosen for the job vacancy, it is essential that these candidates are handled in a professional manner and feedback is given as to why they have not been successful on this occasion.

For applicants that do not reach the initial interview stage, a standardized rejection letter can be sent out as the number of applications you receive may be high and individual responses will be impractical and very time consuming.

For each job seeker hoping to be successful in their interview, it is imperative for recruiters to show gratitude for the applicant’s time and effort put in at interview stage. It is typically a stressful time for job seekers and as such, writing an overly critical rejection letter could harm the job seekers confidence for future interviews. Instead, it is prudent to write a rejection letter and include constructive criticism where necessary. Many times, recruiters will simply have to choose one of many good candidates and it comes down to very small aspects of each candidate that will influence who will get the job. In these situations, it is important to inform the candidate that competition was particularly high and where appropriate, you should ask to keep their CV and details on your system for future reference.

When writing a rejection letter, it is important to consider the following:

  • Write the letter professionally and in a polite manner
  • Be quick in your responses
  • Be aware of cultural differences when writing the letter
  • Provide constructive feedback where necessary
  • Request permission to keep the CV on your files
  • Wish them luck with their future endeavors

Example rejection letter

Dear Mr Smith

Thank you for attending the interview on … (insert date) for the position of … (insert job title).

(Inform candidate straight away that they have been unsuccessful) … We regret to inform you that in this instance, you have been unsuccessful and we are therefore unable to offer you the job. (Provide reason as to why the applicant was unsuccessful) …. Due to high competition for this position, we felt another candidate was more suited to the role. Your skills would have added great value to the team, however, your lack of experience in management was a drawback.

(Request permission from the applicant to keep their CV and details on your system)…If you agree, we would like to retain your CV and contact details on our system should another job arise that you would be suited for.

Yours sincerely (Name of interviewer) (Job title of interviewer)




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