How to Correctly Reject an Unsuccessful Candidate (Rejection Letter Templates Included)

How to Correctly Reject an Unsuccessful Candidate (Rejection Letter Templates included) - TalentVine

If you’re wondering whether you should provide a rejection letter to unsuccessful applicants, the answer should always be ‘Yes!’

The reason for this is that failing to provide updates to rejected candidates can damage your employer brand and lead to a poor candidate experience. Plus, it’s pretty unfair to leave a candidate in the dark when they have invested time and energy applying for a role, and even more so if they reached the interview stage. 

An effective candidate rejection letter will help you to maintain a positive relationship with rejected applicants, opening up opportunities for the future. It will also provide you with a strong talent pipeline, where these candidates would still feel open to reapplying or refer others in their network to you. 

This article will show you our top 5 tips on how to handle candidate rejection in the best way.

How to Reject Unsuccessful Candidates

Why Should I Provide Feedback to Rejected Candidates?

We’ve all been on the other side of the fence. You apply for a dream job, you’re confident that you are the perfect fit, and then… no response.

Not only does it leave you confused, but when you give up hope and realise you’ve been ghosted, it leaves you with a negative impression of the organisation.

According to a report by Seek, 66% of Australians who hadn’t heard back from employers grew negative feelings towards the hirer. As a result, 57% of them lost interest in applying for the future role from this hirer. 

This shows that the way you decline the candidates really affects their perceptions of the organisation and whether or not they would like to refer to others. It is crucial to provide feedback to rejected candidates. Ultimately, you will want these candidates to remain in your talent pipeline for future jobs and become a referral source. 

So, what is the best way to reject a candidate and maintain a positive relationship?

Top 5 Tips to Rejecting a Candidate

1. Prompt and Personalised Communication:

Timeliness and personalisation are key when it comes to rejection emails. As soon as you’ve made a decision, reach out to the unsuccessful candidate. Craft a personalised email or letter that acknowledges their effort, expresses gratitude for their interest, and briefly explains the decision. 

While this may not be possible depending on the volume of candidates, addressing the candidate by their name and mentioning specific elements from their application or interview can make the rejection more empathetic. You should, however, aim to provide this for all candidates who make it to the interview stage.

2. Offer helpful feedback

While not always necessary, offering constructive feedback can be invaluable for candidates’ professional growth. If the candidate is open to it and you have specific insights to share, include some constructive feedback in your rejection message. Be sure to frame it in a positive and helpful manner, focusing on areas where they can improve.

If you are rejecting a candidate after an interview stage, you can provide specific feedback about their skills and experiences that need improvement. Take notes during the interview or utilise the Applicant Tracking System so that you can personalise your feedback.

3. Be transparent but professional

Offering a genuine reason for the rejection can go a long way when it’s appropriate. Going beyond the standard ‘not the right fit’ and providing an actual reason provides closure that candidates will appreciate. For example, if you were looking for more experience in a particular skill, or thought your goals were misaligned, tell them!

Keep in mind that you should not say (or do) anything that could be considered discriminatory and focus instead on the skills, experience, and culture fit of the candidate.

4. Take their feedback

Getting candidates’ opinions will not only help improve your hiring process but also build trust with the candidate and enhance your employer brand. Many companies organise surveys or utilise candidate experience websites such as Glassdoor to collect and share their opinion.

Again, this shows you genuinely care about providing a positive candidate experience and leaves rejected applicants an opportunity to be heard.

5. Keep them in your talent pipeline

Even though you’ve chosen another candidate for the current position, it’s beneficial to leave the door open for potential future opportunities. Express your continued interest in the candidate and encourage them to apply for other positions within your organisation. 

Staying in touch with candidates helps keep them in your pipeline. For instance, you can add them to a newsletter relating to your current job openings or connect on social media to provide company updates. If you can maintain a positive relationship with them, they may even become a referral source for their network.

How to Write a Candidate Rejection Letter

Set the Right Tone

When declining a candidate, it’s crucial to maintain a compassionate and respectful tone. Therefore, choose your words carefully and be mindful of the language you use.

For example, consider using a phrase like “unsuccessful at this time.” This approach not only helps safeguard your employer brand but also keeps the door open for potential future opportunities within your organisation.

Be Informative

The information or feedback you provide to an unsuccessful applicant can vary depending on the type of position. One approach is to highlight the qualities and qualifications of the candidate you ultimately hired. This adds depth to the rejection letter.

Additionally, consider offering constructive advice for their professional growth while highlighting their strengths and commendable aspects of their application.

Leave a Positive Impression

While the primary purpose is to communicate their unsuccessful application, strive to create a positive experience. By doing so, you provide a pathway for future opportunities. Positive interactions can lead candidates to share their experiences with friends and colleagues, potentially opening doors to other roles within your organisation.

Job Rejection Letter Templates

Following is the rejection letter template introduced by Recruitment.com. When you need to dismiss multiple candidates at once, especially for the role you are volume hiring for, use a Mass-Email Job Rejection Letter template. If the candidate proceeded further in the process and you have had more time with them, you may want to choose a more personalised approach for rejecting them. In this case, refer to the Personalised Job Rejection Letter Template. 

Consider tailoring this template specifically to your conversation and include details that were mentioned during the interview. It’s essential to take detailed notes during an interview, especially if it’s a top candidate. This will help you make your decision based on facts rather than any biases that you may have.

Mass-Email Job Rejection Letter Template

Hello [first name],

We appreciate your enthusiasm for joining [company name]. We are writing to tell you that despite the fact that your resume and cover letter were extremely relevant to our needs, our management team assessed your application and did not choose it for further consideration.

Nonetheless, we will keep your resume in our database and connect with you about future job openings that may be a more suitable match for your abilities and work history.

We wish you the best in your search for a new position.


[Sender Name]


[Company Name]

Personalised Job Rejection Letter Template

Dear [candidate name],

Thank you for making the effort to meet with our group about the [position] at [company name]. It was a joy to become familiar with your achievements and work experiences.

However, the hiring team has decided not to move forward with your candidacy at this time.

As you may guess, the number of applicants at [company name] is constantly competitive and that we regularly need to decide between highly qualified people like yourself. Since we’ve had the opportunity to learn more about you, we will keep your resume in our database for any future open roles.

If you have any specific questions about the interview or our decision, do not hesitate to reach out.

Again, thank you for applying to [company name] and discussing this position. Good luck in all of your future endeavours.


[Sender Name]



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