Best Practices - Sample Rejection Emails

Candidate communication throughout the entire hiring process is critical - and this includes rejecting a candidate when it is time to part ways. 

Remember that being transparent with your intentions is the kind thing to do, so making sure that you send a rejection notice, even if it doesn't feel nice, will help the candidate move on and look for other opportunities. 

When should I send the rejection message? 

It is best to mark a candidate as rejected and inform them as soon as you know they're no longer being considered in the hiring process. Sometimes this may mean that you've just walked out of their interview, which isn't a fit. If this is the case, it may be kind to schedule the message to send a few hours later or the next day so it doesn't seem so sudden right after the interview. 

If you have a few candidates you're picking between at the end of the hiring process, ensure that you have a candidate fully accepting your offer before rejecting your other potential choices. You may update the other candidates that you're continuing to work on the hiring process and have an update for them soon - instead of rejecting them until you're confident they're not the pick for you. 

You can also consider your future hiring needs when sending a rejection message. If you consider this candidate in the future, make that clear in the rejection message. 

Does Hire have automatic email rejections?

Besides the auto-response - which can be sent when a candidate applies - Hire does not have automatic or automated emails.  But there's a big reason why!  We value a human touch when it comes to hiring and know-how. Frustrating, it can be for candidates to receive endlessly canned or saved responses that aren't tailored to their situation. 

Imagine this: your ATS sends automatic rejection emails when you close the job opening.  This is a reasonably common ATS feature!   It's possible that you hired for this position months ago but just forgot to close it - or didn't need to.  All the candidates will receive an email from an opening they applied to ages ago.  This doesn't look great for your company.  It looks like you've drawn the hiring process on for ages.

Or what if you had an auto-email set up when you move a candidate into a specific stage - and accidentally move a candidate in there, triggering an email to them?

A timely, custom response is respectful to your candidates.

What should I say? 

What you should say in your rejection message depends on a few factors:

  • How far did they go in your hiring process? Candidates who completed the interview(s) may deserve more information or explanation than a candidate you reject in the screening process.
  • What is your company's culture? Some companies communicate with all candidates, and some only if there is a fit - so they may not send a rejection message unless they further engage with the candidate. When setting up your opening, it's ideal to set these expectations in your automated response, which goes to the candidate after they apply. Some great examples of language to include in your automated responses are:

We'll be in touch if there is a fit! This means that you would only reach out about their application if you are moving forward 

Our team replies to all applicants within (x) amount of time. They'd expect to hear from you either way - even if they're not a fit. 

Based on these expectations, you can then formulate a rejection message. We've got you started with some samples below - these are ready to go as templates in your Hire account, complete with fillable fields that will customize the text to your candidate.  Learn more about creating email templates here.

Sample Rejection Emails

Hi {{candidate-first-name}},  

We regret to inform you that we've decided not to take you through to the next phase.

We are seriously privileged with how many people have applied for this role, but that has also made it tough for those applying to be successful. We know we're missing out on plenty of good people that would have done great in our company but have needed to make some tough calls.

I appreciate you taking the time to apply and go through this process, and I wish you the best of luck finding your next role.

Hi {{candidate-first-name}},  

Thank you for applying to the {{opening-name}} position at (your company name).  

Upon review of your application, we will not be able to move forward.  

Best of luck in your search,

Hi {{candidate-first-name}} -

Thank you for applying and speaking to us about the {{opening-name}} position at (your company name).  

At this time, we've decided to move forward with a different candidate.

Best of luck in your search ,

Hey {{candidate-first-name}},

We want to thank you for the time you took to apply to work with us - We genuinely appreciate your interest!

We're going differently with the hire based on our skillset and needs. We hope you understand and wish you the best of luck in your search.

Thanks again,

Hey {{candidate-first-name}},

We want to thank you for the time you took to apply to our {{opening-name}} role. 

We genuinely appreciate your interest. We're going differently with the hire based on our skillset and needs. 

We think there may be a potential fit for you on our teams in the future. If so, are you okay with us reaching out again? 


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