How To Respond to a Rejection Email (With Example)

Updated 3 May 2023

When you're applying and interviewing for jobs, you're occasionally going to receive a rejection email. It can be tempting to simply read the message and then move on or delete it. However, writing an appropriate response is often the better alternative, as it may give you a chance to receive some feedback and understand how to improve for other interviews. In this article, we explain how to respond to a rejection email and why you might want to do so.

Related: Interview Rejection Email (Including Template and Tips)

Why respond to a rejection email?

Upon receiving a rejection email or message, many people simply move on without responding. They may feel that there's nothing to be gained from further communication, or perhaps they just want to forget about it. However, a response can open up opportunities for you. Your contact with a recruiter or potential employer, even if it didn't result in employment, is still a networking opportunity. A follow-up email has the potential to develop a positive relationship with another professional. This is because most people just move on after a rejection. If you respond, you're already going to stand out.

By politely responding and thanking them for their time, you may benefit in the future. For instance, if they're unhappy with the candidate they chose, they may reconsider other applications, and yours is going to be among the first they consider. The same applies if the candidate they accepted declines for some reason or if a similar position opens up at the company. If your response to the rejection ensures that they remember you, you could be the first person they contact later.

Related: 11 Things You Need To Know To Beat Applicant Tracking Systems

How to respond to a rejection email

If you've received a rejection, either by email or letter, you can follow the steps below to learn how to respond to a rejection email:

1. Address the recipient by name

At the start of your response letter, address the recipient by name. This ought to be either the person who interviewed you or the person that sent you the rejection letter. Addressing them by name shows that you took the time to write a specific letter rather than using a standard template for multiple rejections.

2. Thank them for their time

The first thing to do is show appreciation for the time the recruiter or employer took to interview you. Thank them for taking the time to meet you. You can mention how the interview was conducted, such as in person or over the phone. You also ought to thank them for taking the time to inform you of their decision. You can then talk about how you appreciated the opportunity to learn more about their company and how you enjoyed meeting certain people there. This first section of your response only needs to be a few lines in length.

3. Communicate your disappointment

After thanking them for meeting you, you can mention your disappointment at being rejected. This shows that you were genuinely interested in the position and the company. This part of your letter ought to be as brief as possible because the overall tone of your response needs to be positive. You can briefly say that you understand that they had many excellent candidates and wish them luck with their choice.

4. Express your ongoing interest

One of the most important things about a response like this is to remind the hiring manager or recruiter that you're still interested in working for the company. They might assume that you've accepted employment elsewhere unless you tell them this. By reiterating your interest in working for the company, the recruiter is also much more likely to think of you when another vacancy becomes available. This is also good for the company, as it allows them to immediately contact a genuinely interested candidate rather than searching for new ones.

Related: Follow-Up Email Examples For After the Interview

5. Request feedback

In addition to the potential for further employment opportunities, there are other things you can gain from a response. One of the more important of these is feedback. Ask your interviewer if they'd be willing to give you some feedback on how your interview went and where you could improve. This is generally more common and understandable if you're still early on in your career, such as if you're a recent graduate. If you're an experienced professional, it's best to avoid asking for this. The same applies if they already gave you some feedback relating to why you were rejected.

When you ask for feedback, ensure that you do so respectfully, as this is still a favour. Be as polite as you can and explain that you understand if it would be too time consuming. Remember that they may have rejected you for reasons other than your interview performance.

6. Close the letter politely

Once you've communicated all the above, you can thank them again for taking the time to read your response. You can also reiterate your continued interest in working for the company if you feel it's worth repeating, and then end the letter with an appropriate closing, such as 'Yours sincerely'. If the interview and culture at the company are more relaxed, you could also use 'Best regards'. Then leave your name and relevant contact details at the end.

Related: How To End a Letter

7. Proofread your letter

A response letter to rejection is a chance to make a final impression. It's therefore important to ensure that it's well-written and free of errors. Take some time to proofread your letter and address any spelling or grammar errors. Try to make sure that your letter is free of repetition and that your language is appropriate and respectful. If you feel it would help, ask a friend or family member to read the response. They can offer feedback on how you can improve it. When you're re-reading and fixing your response, ensure that it is:

  • Relevant**:** Your response ought to be clearly written for the rejection and job in question. This includes mentioning the position you were applying for, the name of your interviewer or the recipient and the company itself.

  • Concise**:** Be as brief as you can in your response letter while ensuring that your message and intentions are still clear to the reader. Keep your language neutral.

  • Professional**:** As you may still be interested in working for the company, your response ought to be professional. You need to show that you understand and respect their decision.

  • Polite**:** This is very important for your overall response, and particularly for when you ask for feedback. This would require time and effort from your interviewer, and they need to feel that you'd be grateful and understanding.

Related: Business Letter Format and Example

Example response letter

Below is an example of a well-written and polite response to a rejection email. You can use this as a general guide or template for when you write your own. Remember to adjust and tailor it to the position and company in question:

Dear Ms Webb,

Thank you for taking the time to inform me of your decision. While I am disappointed to hear that you won't be proceeding with my application for the position of sales assistant, I am very grateful for the opportunity and the time you took to interview me and answer my questions. It was quite enlightening to learn more about the organisation and meet members of the sales team.

Despite this, I am still very interested in working for your organisation and would greatly appreciate being considered for any future job openings that may become available. I understand that competition is high and wish you the best of luck with your chosen candidate.

If you have a minute to spare, I would like to ask: could you provide me with any feedback regarding my interview and application? I feel that your feedback would be very beneficial to me as I continue my job search.

Thank you again for considering me and taking the time to read this email. I hope you keep my details for any future job openings, and I wish you and everyone else at AppleTree Retail the best of luck going forward.


Andrew R Wilson
01111 222 333

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