Best Practices - Sample Rejection Emails

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

Remember that being clear 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 to do so will help the candidate know to 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, and it just 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 that 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, make sure that you have a candidate fully accepting your offer, before you reject your other potential choices. You may update the other candidates that you're continuing to work on the hiring process, and that you'll have an update for them soon - in lieu of a rejection, until you're certain that they're not the pick for you. 

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

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 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! Meaning 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. Meaning that 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 gotten you started with some samples below!

Sample Rejection Emails

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Dear {{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 also has made it very tough on 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 really appreciate you taking the time to apply and go through this process and wish you the best of luck finding your next role.

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Dear {{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 at this time.  
Best of luck in your search -

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Hi {{candidate-first-name}} -

Thank you for applying and speak 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 - 

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Hello {{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 in a different direction with the hire based on skill set and our need. 

We hope you understand and wish you the best of luck in your search.

Thanks again,

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Hello {{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 in a different direction with the hire based on skill set and our need. 

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

Best - 

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