Receiving a rejection letter is never easy for aspiring candidates. But a positive rejection email after an interview is better than not hearing from the hiring company. A candidate deserves to know that they didn't get the position they hoped for, allowing them to continue their job search.
You are likely to receive a sizeable number of applications for every job post you advertise. Responding to these applications can be an arduous task, but giving feedback to unsuccessful candidates after an interview makes you a desirable employer.
Today, we'll discuss the importance of writing a rejection letter, as well as how to write one, and why you should. We'll also give you sample rejection letters you can customize and use.
The importance of writing a rejection letter
Writing a post-interview rejection letter is a kind and professional way to address your job applicants. It helps you keep an open communication channel, and you can later reach out to them for future positions. A candidate feels valued and respected when they receive a well-thought-out rejection letter.
Every task you perform reflects back on the company and may affect your company's brand image. Sending a post-interview rejection letter is an excellent way to maintain your brand in a positive and influential way, just as writing a rejection letter before an interview gives a better impression of the company to the candidate, too.
Writing a rejection letter gives you an opportunity to add value to your candidates. You can give them tips on how to send their résumé or the best way to present themselves for an interview. For instance, you can highlight sections in their résumé they need to work on or refer them to online platforms that can help them improve how they answer interview questions.
Reasons to write a rejection letter
Writing a rejection letter to unsuccessful candidates after an interview takes time, and it may be the last thing on your to-do list. However, sending post-interview rejection letters after hiring the best candidate adds a unique personal touch to your hiring practices. Here are six reasons to write rejection letters to candidates.
- You get to give feedback. If possible, specify to each candidate why they did not succeed in the interview. Examples include poor time-keeping, wrong personality type, a disorganized résumé and poor presentation.
- You could win the candidates as customers. Sending a post-interview letter that explains the reasoning behind your decision shows that you're considerate and kind-hearted; this impression may influence the candidates to start or continue using your products or services.
- You stay connected with the applicants. A candidate that missed the position by a small margin can be the ideal person for another position. Sending a rejection letter gives you room to approach them again for an interview.
- It protects your company. Ignoring unsuccessful candidates after an interview can leave them thinking your company is unprofessional. A positive rejection email after an interview shows appreciation and helps maintain a good image.
- It promotes a friendly culture in your company. Research shows that employees emulate their leaders' actions. Sending a post-interview letter models respectful and courteous behavior, which employees often copy.
Recruiters who don't write rejection letters miss a golden opportunity to improve their company's brand and build strong connections with candidates.
What to include in the letter
A rejection letter must send a clear message to the candidate that they didn't get the job. It should also have a friendly and positive tone to reduce the disappointment that rejection causes. Here are six essential elements to include in your letter or email:
- The date you wrote the letter: Including a date helps you keep track of the communication process and manage your candidate profile. The candidate can also use the date to gauge a timeline to follow up with you for other opportunities.
- Candidate's name and address: This information clarifies that the rejection is directed to them. It also adds a personal touch to it, and the candidate feels valued that you took the time to include their name.
- Note of thanks: Appreciate the candidate's effort in applying and going through the hiring process. Mention that you didn't take it for granted that they considered working for your company.
- A sentence with the word declined: Be clear that you're not moving forward with the interview. The word declined lightens the weight of the bad news compared to using the word rejected.
- The reason behind the rejection: A candidate will appreciate feedback that helps them improve their résumé or interview skills. Add two to three concerns you noticed that caused you to disqualify them for the position.
- Your name and title: Conclude the letter with your credentials and company details; it sends a message that you are open to communication, and the candidate can contact you for other opportunities.
Taking time to draft a post-interview rejection letter prevents the candidate from feeling disregarded and increases their chances of applying again for a future position.
Steps to writing a rejection letter
A rejection letter can be a challenge to write because it bears bad news for a candidate who hopes to get the job. Learning how to write a rejection letter from experts will ease the burden and help you accomplish the task effectively. Here is a step-by-step process of how to write a compassionate post-interview rejection letter.
Step 1: Create a compelling subject line
A rejection letter sent by email needs to stand out from the rest of the candidate's mail. It must explicitly show that it's an email from your company. Including your company's name and the position they had applied for on the subject line will capture the candidate's attention.
- LeadEntertainment – Senior Customer Relations Position
- FurnitureDelight – Regional Procurement Officer Position
Step 2: Personalize the salutation
Starting the letter with the candidate's name shows them that you took your time to personalize the letter. It also makes it clear that they are the ones being addressed.
- Dear Ms Jenkins
- Dear Mr Alex
- Dear MX Jones
Step 3: Appreciate the candidate for applying
Thank the candidate for taking the time to apply for the position. Name the specific hiring process they went through — such as sending their résumé and coming for the interview. Use positive language that shows you valued their time even though you didn't pick them.
- Thank you for taking the time to send an application for our regional procurement office position.
- Thank you for sending your application and making yourself available for an interview for the senior customer relations position.
- Thank you for showing interest in our one-year nursing internship position at our center.
Step 4: Inform them they weren't successful
The most important part of the letter is informing the candidate that you're declining to move forward with their application, or their interview didn't meet your standards. Include this information at the beginning of the letter so that the candidate can know the results immediately. The statement needs to have a positive tone and show empathy, which assists the candidate in handling the news better.
- We have closely reviewed your application, and unfortunately, we have declined to move forward with your application.
- Unfortunately, we have offered the senior customer relations position to a different candidate.
- After careful consideration, we have decided to give the position to another candidate who closely matches the job requirement.
Step 5: Give the reasons you chose a different candidate
Providing the candidate with specific reasons for choosing someone else can help them pinpoint areas they need to improve on for future job applications. They can also discover additional skills they need to add to improve their chances next time. Giving reasons also leaves a positive impression about the company, and they may consider applying again.
- We were looking to hire a candidate with advanced coding skills.
- Our focus was on hiring a nurse with experience in caring for cancer patients.
- The candidate we wanted had to show excellent writing skills in their résumé.
Step 6: Encourage them to consider applying again
Sustain the connection by encouraging them to apply for more positions that come up in your company. Prompting them to apply again increases the candidate's confidence and pushes them to keep going.
- Please consider applying for any other job opening that suits your career path in our company.
- Don't hesitate to apply for future positions in our company that meet your standards.
Step 7: Close your letter with a positive statement
Your last statement needs to leave a positive impression on the candidate. Thank them for their time and wish them well in their subsequent job search.
- Thank you for your time and best of luck in your job search.
Rejection letter examples
Candidates long to receive communication on their status in the hiring process. The following sample letters will help you send a clear message to them in a polite and friendly manner. You can even tailor-make some sections to suit your company's brand.
After a phone interview
After a second interview
General rejection letter
Feedback rejection letter
A successful recruitment process should end by informing unsuccessful candidates after an interview that they haven't been picked. A rejection letter is hard for a candidate to receive and accept. However, you can make the experience less stressful by writing it using a positive tone and appreciating their effort of going through the hiring process. A well-written rejection letter passes on the information respectfully and energizes the candidate to continue their job search.
Join the conversation! Have you had to write a rejection email before? What information did you include? Let us know in the comments below!
This is an updated version of an article originally published on 18 June 2018.