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Crafting A Compassionate Candidate Rejection Email

When you need to make a new hire, unfortunately, there will always be candidates that you don’t hire, and so you’ll need to tell them that they aren’t successful. Rejection emails are an example of the way a company communicates with its candidates. Crafting a compassionate candidate rejection email is not just about being professional; it’s about nurturing a positive brand image and ensuring a respectful candidate experience. 

This post delves into the art of composing rejection emails that are considerate and professional, ensuring that candidates feel valued, even when they’re not selected. Balancing honesty with empathy is key in these communications, as they can significantly impact your company’s reputation and potentially affect future interactions with talented individuals.

Why You Should Send Candidate Rejection Emails

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When a candidate applies for a job, they invest time, effort, and emotion in the process. A rejection email is not just a notification of their application’s outcome; it’s a reflection of your company’s values and approach towards people. Well-written candidate rejection emails can turn a potentially negative experience into a positive interaction, leaving candidates with a favourable impression of your organisation.

This is particularly important when you consider how company reviews on platforms like Glassdoor significantly influence employer branding and how easy you will find it to recruit for upcoming hires. Furthermore, a compassionate rejection email keeps the door open for talented candidates to reapply in the future.

Crafting a Candidate Rejection Email: Step-by-Step Guide

Crafting a compassionate candidate rejection email involves several steps, each aimed at ensuring clarity, respect, and a positive tone.

1. Subject Line:

Start with a clear and respectful subject line. It should set the right expectation without being too blunt. For example, “Regarding Your Application for [Position Name]”.

2. Opening Line:

The opening line should be polite and direct, and you should begin by thanking the candidate for their interest in the role and your company.

3. Main Body:

  • Personalisation: Use the candidate’s name to personalise the email.
  • Appreciation: Express gratitude for the time and effort they invested.
  • Specificity: Briefly explain the reason for the decision in a way that is honest yet considerate.
  • Encouragement: Include a positive note or feedback, if possible.

4. Closing Remarks:

Conclude the email on a positive note. You might express hope to keep their application for future consideration or wish them well in their job search.

Using this structure ensures the candidate is clear about their application being unsuccessful, and allows them closure so they can move on.  

Examples of Candidate Rejection Emails

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Interview Rejection Letter for Pre-Interview Stages


Application Status – [Position Name]


Dear [Candidate’s Name], We are writing to inform you about your application for [Position Name]. After careful consideration, we have decided not to proceed with your application at this stage. We had many qualified applicants, and this decision was not easy. Thank you for considering [Company Name] as a potential employer, and we encourage you to apply for future positions that fit your qualifications.

Job Rejection Email for Post-Interview Stage


Outcome of Your Application for [Position Name]


Hello [Candidate’s Name], Thank you for the effort and enthusiasm you showed during the interview process for [Position Name]. We have completed our evaluation and, unfortunately, will not be proceeding with your application. This decision was challenging due to the high calibre of candidates. We hope you will not be disheartened and will consider applying for future positions with us. If you would like some more specific feedback then we’re happy to arrange a short call with [hiring manager name]. Best wishes for your ongoing job search.

Unsuccessful Interview Email


Your Interview for [Position Name]


Dear [Candidate’s Name], Thank you for taking the time to interview with us for [Position Name]. We wanted to let you know that we have chosen to move forward with another candidate who matches our current needs more closely. Your skills and experience were impressive, and we will keep your resume on file for future openings that align with your qualifications. If you would like some more specific feedback then we’re happy to arrange a short call with [hiring manager name]. We appreciate your interest in [Company Name] and wish you all the best in your career endeavours.

Best Practices for Sending Rejection Emails

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Sending rejection emails is a necessary part of recruiting for your business, but there are ways to do it well. Here are three things you should aim to do correctly, every time.

  • Nobody likes waiting when they’ve had an interview, so send the rejection email promptly after the decision has been made to avoid anxiety and frustration for the candidate.
  • Ensure the tone is professional, empathetic, and respectful, and avoid overly casual language or jargon.
  • Keep the content general enough to respect the privacy of the candidate and the recruitment process.

Is it Best to Send a Rejection Email or Call an Unsuccessful Candidate?

Deciding between sending a rejection email and making a phone call to a candidate can often be a nuanced decision. Sometimes, individuals may not be prepared to receive feedback or learn that they have been unsuccessful over the phone, as it can be a difficult conversation. So opting to send an email first allows the recipient some time to process the information on their own terms.

This method can be particularly beneficial later in a process when candidates have invested their time in multiple interview stages. An email serves as a gentle preliminary step, provided the rationale for the decisions is communicated in a clear and thoughtful manner. Offering the candidate the opportunity to follow up with a phone call allows them to decide if they feel it is necessary to seek feedback on their interview/application.

Our Final Thoughts

Crafting a compassionate candidate rejection email is a crucial aspect of the recruitment process since it demonstrates respect for the candidate’s efforts. Not only that, but it also enhances your company’s reputation as an empathetic and professional employer that candidates might still be interested in working with. By sending a kindly worded rejection email, you can ensure that candidates receive the news with dignity and a positive impression of your organisation, potentially leading to future engagements with talented professionals.

Ensure that rejection emails go out when they should by automating your recruitment processes with Get Staffed. Sign up to get started, or get in touch to discuss your recruitment needs further.