How To Write a Candidate Rejection Email After an Interview

While your first priority after a round of interviews may be emailing your lead candidate with a job offer, it’s important to notify other candidates that you aren’t offering them the position. This can show candidates you respect their time, value them as professionals, and help build your business’s reputation for honesty. Email is usually the best option to deliver this news since it’s efficient and allows you to phrase your message precisely. Writing an effective yet positive candidate rejection email can help to build your brand’s reputation in the business community.

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Why is writing a candidate rejection email important?

Writing a candidate rejection email is more a courtesy than an obligation, but it can have a significant impact on the company’s image. Waiting for a response after a job interview can be stressful for some people, and not receiving an answer can leave a negative impression on candidates. If you send a thoughtful candidate rejection email, your consideration and kindness can help build the company’s positive reputation. Doing a personal document for every candidate is a worthwhile investment of time, and you can streamline the process with an appropriate protocol. 


Here are some benefits of writing a candidate rejection email:


Recognize candidates’ abilities

In a candidate rejection email, you can recognize the specific abilities and skills of the candidates who applied for the position. Mentioning unique traits tells the candidate that you appreciated their effort during the interview. It can also help you build professional respect in case you want to interview the candidate later or they work for one of your vendors or partner companies.


Provide emotional closure

A candidate rejection email provides emotional closure for the candidate. By sending a notification of your decision, you let the candidate know it’s appropriate to resume sending out applications or accept an offer from another company. Being specific about your decision can also help the candidate understand why they weren’t the strongest option and improve their application for other positions.


Invite applying again

If the candidates impressed you with their abilities and skill sets, you can use the candidate rejection email to invite them to apply for other positions. Offering encouragement can make them aware of their own professional strengths, and showing them how they might fit in another position can make them more likely to apply in the future. This can be particularly helpful in larger organizations that hire frequently. 


What to include in a candidate rejection email

A candidate rejection email communicates a short and specific message. While a job offer email needs to include more information about the position, a candidate rejection email can be more efficient and is usually 50-100 words. Here are some things you might include in your candidate rejection email:

  • Professional thank you: This shows the candidate that you appreciate the time they took to interview with you.


  • The rejection: Be honest about why you’re not moving on with them, whether it’s that you have chosen a different candidate or that the position has closed.


  • Feedback: If the candidate is ineligible because of a specific reason or a specific action during the hiring process, include that information, gently but clearly.


  • Contact expectations: If you plan to ask the candidate to apply for an additional position, provide instructions on when they should contact you, where they might find job listings, or when it would be acceptable for them to apply again.


Tips for writing a candidate rejection email after an interview

Your phrasing and word choice are important to set a kind tone in your rejection email. Here are some tips on writing an appropriate candidate rejection email:


Wait for the lead candidate’s response

Wait until one of your top candidates accepts the offer. If something happens to the chosen candidate, then you have to communicate with others who may be a suitable replacement. If you send the rejection email too soon, there’s a chance they decide to move on with another organization.


Create a template

A template can help you maintain your brand’s tone and provide the candidates with the information they need to know. You might ask a coworker to proofread your rejection email template to make sure it’s appropriate. A template can also reduce the time you spend on this stage of the application process. If you decide to use a template, double and even triple-check that your email has the correct information for that specific candidate. 


Be genuine

When you thank the candidate, be honest and straightforward. Your tone can help make the rejection easier for the candidate and is a representation of your company’s attitude. It’s also important to tell the truth, so if you feel the reason for the rejection is inappropriate for the email, you may omit the reasoning rather than writing something that isn’t true.


Make each email personal

A personalized email shows that you value each professional candidate. Use the candidate’s name, and mention something you found impressive during the interview. Taking notes during the interview can help with this stage.


Add relevant feedback

Providing useful feedback can help candidates improve their interview performance for their next application. The feedback can also provide value to candidates, which can give them a more favourable impression of your company. Since a rejection email is brief, consider including only one or two important pieces of feedback.


Focus on the position’s requirements

When you provide a reason for the rejection, focus only on the position’s requirements, and don’t include comments about the candidate’s personality or presentation. These comments can be unnecessary or inappropriate and may distract the candidate from your more valuable content. Focusing on the position’s requirements can provide an objective standard to explain why you didn’t choose the candidate.


Send it soon

Sending a candidate rejection email as soon as you have filled the position can make the candidates’ wait less stressful. Candidates who don’t receive a prompt response may feel frustrated with your company, but a quick response can show them you value their time. Being prompt with this stage can also be useful for you as a hiring manager since you can move forward with the process more quickly.


End conversations

To avoid unnecessary back-and-forth conversations, be firm and polite. Candidates may reply to the rejection email, but you don’t need to continue responding to each of their emails unless you feel it’s valuable for your company or you’re providing specific information on their application for a different position. If the candidate has further questions, you might redirect them to the human resources department or another person who could answer their requests.


Examples of a candidate rejection email

Here you can find two examples of candidate rejection email:


Example of an email to a candidate who may fit a future opening


Dear Angelo,

On behalf of First Company Studios, I want to thank you for your interest and effort in applying for the Community Manager position. We appreciate the time you spent here with our team and enjoyed meeting and speaking with you during the interview.


At this time, we’ve decided to move on with another candidate who has more experience handling social media applications. However, we were very impressed with your interview performance. We believe you would be a great asset to our team.


Please check our list of vacancies next month, and I hope you consider applying for another position with us in the future. In the meantime, we wish you the best with your career and job search.


Best regards,
Carlos Ramirez
Hiring Manager


Example of a shorter email to a candidate who isn’t an organization fit


Dear Thomas,

On behalf of First Company Studios, I want to thank you for your interest in applying for the position of Community Manager and for taking the time to visit our campus for the interview.


We were very impressed with your community involvement programs, but we have decided to move forward with another candidate who has more experience handling social media applications. We appreciate your time and wish you the best in your job search and career.


Best regards,
Carlos Ramirez
Hiring Manager

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