How to write a candidate rejection email

A candidate rejection email can help you inform a candidate that they did not qualify for the job. This is a courteous action that can help you improve your company’s reputation and allow candidates to take the next step in their job search. When you send a candidate a rejection email, choose your words carefully to avoid appearing inconsiderate. In this article, we review what a rejection email is, the types available, how you should send one and a template and examples to guide you. 


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What is a candidate rejection email and why is it necessary?

A candidate rejection email is a message you send to candidates that you’ve decided cannot proceed to the next stage of your recruitment process. It’s a polite form of action to notify them that they are not getting the job they applied for. You can send a rejection email immediately after disqualifying a candidate or after the hiring process is complete. 

Here are the top reasons to send a candidate rejection email:

  • It’s a way of appreciating the effort and time that a candidate took to apply or interview at your company and also ensure you leave them on a positive note
  • It ensures that you don’t leave candidates waiting 
  • It’s a professional gesture that leaves candidates satisfied by the way your company handles its recruitment
  • It’s a way of informing a candidate who has impressed you and who can be a great fit for your company’s culture, but does not suit the role available about other vacancies in your company and encourage them to apply


Types of candidate rejection emails 

There are three main types of candidate rejection email you can send to candidates. These vary depending on how far in the application process a candidate has gone. They include:


Short rejection email

In a short rejection email, you get straight to the point and don’t provide specifics. This is ideal for a candidate who are in the early stages of the process e.g. someone who has just sent their application. You may choose to include additional information such as stating that you have had a high volume of candidates, or by encouraging them to apply for roles that may come up in the future. 


2. Extended rejection email

This form of rejection email is for candidates whom you’ve already interacted with via a phone or video interview. This type of rejection email is meant to thank the candidate for participating in the interview. Your goal for this email is to inform the candidate that they weren’t successful, while thanking them for their time. 


3. Personalised rejection email

This form of rejection email is ideal for a candidates that you have established a personal connection with, typically after they have attended one or several formal interviews. You,  may want to provide an explanation for why they will not be continuing with the hiring process.

The personalised rejection email lets you explain to the candidate why they were unsuccessful. It should also contain feedback on their application and any interviews they attended. For example, if a candidate for a sales position failed to offer sufficient job-related anecdotes as proof of their experience say, “We have decided to select a candidate with more field experience“.  


Sending a candidate rejection email 

When writing a candidate rejection email, it’s advisable to avoid statements that could be considered discriminatory. Focus only on the candidate’s credentials and how they relate to requirements for the role, not their personal characteristics. 

Below are several tips you can follow when writing a rejection email:

  • Wait until your ideal candidate has accepted the job offer. Your first choice could decline your offer and it’s best to have the runners up at your disposal.
  • Be clear when a candidate is no longer being considered for the position. This helps to clear up any doubts and ensures that they can get back to making other applications or accepting any other job offers they might have put on hold.
  • Acknowledge something that the candidate does well. Balance the email’s tone by talking about the things that the candidate did well alongside your feedback.
  • Make it easy for the candidate to apply in the future. When you have archived the contacts of your top candidates, it will be easier to contact them in the future for relevant job openings. If you have a specific role in mind that could fit them, you can tell them about it with directions for how they should proceed in terms of application.
  • Make the email final and not an opening for a conversation. At times, it’s ideal to let the candidate reply, but the discussion should be brief.


Job rejection email template

Here’s a job rejection email template that you can use: 


Hello [Name],


We were happy to speak to you about the [Job Title] position at [Company Name]. It’s our decision to go ahead with other candidates, but we thank you for taking the time to let us know about your credentials and experience. 


We wish you luck with your job search and future career endeavours,


Best regards,

[Your name]


Candidate rejection email example

Here’s an example of a job rejection email: 


Hello Mary,


We were happy to speak to you about the Junior Marketing Executive position at Jones Realtors. It’s our decision to go ahead with other candidates, but we thank you for taking the time to let us know about your credentials and experience. 


We wish you luck with your job search and future career endeavours. 


Best regards, 

Jane Williams,

HR manager

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