How to Write a Candidate Rejection Letter

A regrettable but nevertheless essential part of being a recruiter is writing the candidate rejection letter. It is completely dependent on the volume of responses you have and type of job you are recruiting for when deciding whether to send out a generic rejection letter, or to customize each response according to the candidate.

The most professional candidate rejection letters are those which are customized and which identify the reasons that specific candidate was not successful in getting the job.

Here is a step by step guide on writing a professional candidate rejection letter:

  1. You must address the letter to the candidate using their full name
  2. Open the letter by saying that you ‘regret to inform them that on this occasion, they have not been successful in getting the job’
  3. You need to state that they were unsuccessful early on in the letter so as not to give them false hope. You must also provide a reason as to why they were unsuccessful; usually the following statement will suffice - “although your skills match our requirements for this job, the competition for this position was particularly high and we found another candidate who’s experience better matched our needs at this time”.
  4. Your next paragraph should be a summary of the candidate’s positive points. You should pick out particular examples the candidate used in their interview, such as mentioning their impressive 2 year work experience as an executive manager.
  5. After you have given a summary of the candidate’s strengths, you can then go on to inform them of any areas they could improve on so as to enable them to be successful in their next interview.
  6. You should request permission to keep the candidate’s details and resume on record for future use; this will also make the candidate feel better about their rejection if they believe they are good enough to be contacted for future positions.
  7. You must always end a rejection letter by thanking the candidate for their time in coming to meet with you, and state that you will be in contact in the future should another available position arise.


Rejection letters are never easy to write and it takes time to prepare tailored responses, however, the higher the position, the better it is to write a professional and tailored response to a candidate – especially if they have had several interviews with you! 




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