If you’ve ever hired someone, you’ve also probably sent out a rejection letter. A rejection letter lets job candidates know you’ve decided to hire someone else. It’s not fun to read or write, but it’s a necessary courtesy and also provides valuable feedback to candidates.
Does everyone get a rejection letter?
In an ideal world, you’d send a rejection letter to everyone who applied for the role and wasn’t selected. However, if you have a large number of applicants, that might not be feasible. At the minimum, you should send rejection letters to every person you interviewed on the phone or in person.
When should you send a rejection letter?
Some hiring managers send rejection letters as soon as they know someone isn’t a good fit—which could be the morning after, or even day of, their interview.
But, hiring expert Alison Green warns that this approach can make candidates think you never gave them a chance. “Because of that, I think you should avoid instant rejections,” she says. Green recommends sending rejection letters a few days to a week after the interview.
What should you write in a rejection letter?
For candidates that did not make it to the final stage, customize a template to make sending lots of letters much easier. The letter should thank them for applying and tell them that you’ve selected another candidate. If you were impressed by them and would like to interview them for a different position, say so. (Make sure you mean it—you won’t save their feelings by encouraging them to apply again if you’re going to reject them a second time.)
Here’s an example:
Dear John Smith,
Thank you for applying to the chief candlemaker position. I appreciate the time you put into the application process, as well as your interest in joining our team.
Unfortunately, we’ve chosen to move forward with a different candidate.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you again, and best of luck in the job search.
– Jane Doe
You should write personalized letters to candidates who made it to the final round. Putting in a little extra time in this stage will pay off—they’re likelier to have a good final impression of you and the organization, so you may be able to hire them in the future. It’s also worth keeping in mind that angry, rejected candidates sometimes post on review sites like Glassdoor, bringing down your ratings.
Because each letter should be unique to the person and situation, don’t create a template for candidates that make it to the final round. You should thank the candidate for applying because from the many opportunities out there, they chose your organization.
Next, explain (diplomatically, of course) why you’re not hiring them. Were they lacking an important skill? Did another candidate have more experience? This provides closure and gives the applicant something to work on in other interviews.
Make sure to mention a few of their strengths as well, such as, “We were impressed by your communication skills and strong recommendations from others.”
Finally, ask them to apply to another role or a similar open position in the future (if you want them to).
This formula will lessen the sting of rejection and give your applicants a positive final impression.