How to write a job rejection email (that improves your candidate experience)5 min read
A corporate job typically gets 250 applications. Of these applicants, about 2% to 6% are called in for an interview. Of course, the offer is made to just one. This means that there are about 249 candidates who get rejected each time you post an ad.
Now, no HR professional wants to break the bad news of rejection to the candidates. But informing them about their application status is important as it helps them to track it to closure. Otherwise, they might end up investing more time on your job listing with follow up emails or calls – only to learn that they aren’t being considered anymore. Bad candidate experiences like these can negatively impact your employer branding.
Here’s where job rejection emails come in handy. Job rejection emails are great tools to update your candidates’ on their application status. Let’s now look at the job rejection email templates you can send to your applicants (based on the different hiring stages where they end their application).
A job rejection email template (post application)
The application stage is quite an early stage in the hiring process.
At this point, all that the candidates have done is sent you their resume along with any other preliminary information you might have asked for.
Generally speaking, candidates aren’t very hopeful at this stage about getting hired nor do they invest a lot of time or effort into getting the job. This means a rejection at this point is usually not as discouraging as getting rejected in the more advanced hiring stages might feel like.
For these candidates, send a brief job rejection email such as:
Hello [first name],
Thanks so much for applying to be a [role] at [company name].
While we were really impressed by your resume and you clearly show the potential of doing some great [job core responsibility like customer service, writing, testing, etc.], we sadly can’t move forward with your application at this point.
But please feel free to re-apply when you see another relevant listing at [company name].
Thanks again for applying. We appreciate your effort.
Always use the candidate’s name when delivering the rejection news as this little trick personalizes the email and it doesn’t read like a robotic mass mail anymore.
Job rejection email template (post screening)
The screening stage is an intermediate stage in the hiring process.
Usually, at this point, you would have engaged the shortlisted candidates to work on some sample specs, had a phone call with them or gotten them to undertake a few pre-hiring assessment tests.
Candidates at this point feel that they’re in that zone where they have a good chance at the landing the job. So they’re somewhat hopeful and have also typically invested reasonable time and effort into getting closer to getting the job. This means a rejection at this point means more than what it does at the application stage.
To such candidates, send a more thoughtful job rejection email such as:
Hey [first name],
Thanks so much for [sending over the trial specs or taking up the assessments tests or for participating in the screening call] to be our next [role] at [company name].
We really enjoyed reviewing your performance, and while you certainly have the skills to make it big in a [marketing or writing or customer service] role and also carry a right attitude, we sadly can’t move forward with you at this point.
But please do re-apply when you see another relevant listing at company Y.
Thanks again for applying. We really appreciate your effort.
Job rejection email template (post interview)
The interviewing stage is the most advanced stage in the hiring process.
Usually, at this point, your candidates have already invested a lot of time and effort to get the job and will feel much more confident and closer to getting the job, which means getting rejected after the interview is very disheartening. Candidates don’t just lose all their time and effort, but they also experience discouragement of making it so far and still not getting hired.
To these candidates, it’s important to send a detailed job rejection email like:
Thanks so much for interviewing to be our next [role] at [company name].
We thoroughly enjoyed talking to you about your skills, experience, and job expectations.
What really stood out was your [one quality about the candidate or a complex project they might have handled or any constructive feedback they can use].
We can already tell that you have a great career ahead, but unfortunately, we can’t move forward with you this time.
We went with the candidate who [explain the criteria on which the candidate lost out, for example, going with a candidate who had more experience, an additional skill, or better cultural fit].
But we’d love to have you re-apply when you see another relevant listing at [company name].
Thanks again for applying at [company name]. We really appreciate your effort.
Notice that this email offers specific feedback to the candidate. Often, this is the only way to compensate these candidates for making it this far and to give them some value in return for the time and effort they invested throughout the hiring process. Besides, this also helps them with their future interviews, and they appreciate it.
Better job rejection emails, better candidate experience
When using these job rejection emails samples to write yours, always:
- Convey empathy: show the candidates that you know how it feels to be getting such an email.
- Show gratitude: thank the candidates for applying.
- Be personal: customize your emails, so they feel like one-on-one conversations rather than a bulk update.
And if it’s feasible, let the candidates know if they can ask you questions about the hiring process. Being transparent and accessible about your hiring process is a great way to build a solid employer brand. Also, to make sending these job rejection emails at scale easier, invest in a good ATS.
Looking for some sample email templates to use in your day-to-day recruiting? Check out our 12 most popular recruiting email templates, made just for you.