Talent Acquisition

How to Write a Rejection Letter After an Interview (With Sample)

By Mike Baumgarten

Last updated: Mar 8, 2023

No one likes to send them, and no one likes to receive them. We are, of course, talking about post-interview rejection letters. In almost every hiring process, there’s only room for hiring one candidate. Even though you had great interviews with several candidates, you’ll have to turn some of them down — and we’re here to help you do that.

In this article, we’ll help you write your rejection letters. We’ll cover:

  • Why good rejection emails are important
  • Rejection letter after interview template / sample
  • The dos and don’ts of candidate rejection letters after interviews

Note: If you haven’t read our 10-step recruitment guide you can get a complete overview of the entire recruitment process here.

Let’s get into it.

Why good rejection emails are important

Writing a rejection email after the interview is never easy. It’s one thing to reject an anonymous email applicant — it’s another to reject real people full of great qualities and potential. This makes it even more important that you handle candidate rejection professionally.

There are several reasons for this:

  • Candidate relationships: Even if they didn’t get the job, you still want to maintain a good relationship with your candidates. You might end up working with them one day — after all, they made it to the interview for a reason.
  • Improvement: Part of maintaining a good relationship with candidates is giving them feedback after the interview. This can help candidates improve their skills and increase their chances of getting hired — and the more experience they get, the greater the likelihood of them making a great fit for your org in the future.
  • Reputation: You want your org to be known as the best place to work. Being professional, kind, and constructive towards candidates who didn’t make the cut is a crucial part of maintaining that reputation.

Now that we’ve established why good rejection emails are important, let’s take a look at our rejection letter template.

Rejection letter after interview template / sample

A rejection letter to a candidate whom you’ve interviewed should be a little more personal than your average rejection email. After all, you know who this person is and why they could’ve been a good fit for your org — and your rejection letter should reflect that.

Below, you’ll find our template for the post-interview rejection letter. You can use this sample as an outline for your candidate rejection email. It’s up to you to personalize the letter for each candidate. Include individual feedback, mention things you talked about in the interview, and encourage candidates to connect to your talent pipeline (if your org has one).

Turning down a candidate?

Rejection letter template

  • Download this rejection letter template
  • Make it personal and with your company's tone of voice
  • Leave a good impression

Download template

Dear Applicant,

Thank you for taking the time to meet with me about the Position role at Company. I very much enjoyed our talk and was impressed with your skills and experience, especially Individual skill or experience.

After careful consideration of your qualifications and experience, I regret to inform you that we have decided to move forward with another candidate who better fits our company's needs at this time.

Thank you again for your interest in Company, and hope you'll stay in touch. I’ll keep your resume on file and contact you when a position opens up that matches your profile.

I also encourage you to join our talent community and connect with us here Link to talent pipeline page.

If you have any questions or would like further feedback on your application, please don't hesitate to reach out to me.


The dos and don’ts of candidate rejection letters after interviews

Our template above should help you put together a good post-interview rejection letter. Despite having access to similar resources, however, many recruiters still make common mistakes when writing rejection letters after interviews.

To help you avoid making the same mistakes, we’ve compiled a list of dos and don’ts of candidate rejection letters. Let’s get into it.

The dos

1. Do keep the letter concise

Most candidates have received rejection letters before — they don’t need a lengthy explanation for the rejection. Keep the letter below 300 words, and stick to what’s relevant for the candidate to know.

2. Do thank the candidate for their time and effort

Applications, preparations, interviews — even though the candidate didn’t get the job, they still spent a lot of time on the hiring process. Make sure to let them know that you appreciate their efforts and interest in your org.

3. If applicable, do provide specific feedback on why the candidate was not selected

Knowing what to work on can help the candidate improve and increase their chances of getting hired in the future. Additionally, it shows that your org values growth and development — even when it doesn’t directly benefit you.

4. Do offer support and encouragement to the candidate

Rejection can be disheartening. Offering words of encouragement can go a long way towards maintaining a positive relationship with your candidates, as well as a good reputation for your org.

5. Do keep the tone of the letter positive and professional

Keeping a positive tone can help take the edge off the rejection. However, don’t get emotional. Remember, you’re not friends. In fact, there's a significant power imbalance in your relationship — so make sure to maintain a professional tone in your letter.

The don’ts

1. Don’t use email if the candidate has been to several interviews

Rejection letters should primarily be used for candidates who didn’t move on to the second interview. Candidates who made it to the second interview have invested a lot of time in the hiring process. Don’t just send them an email — pick up the phone and show them that you value and appreciate their time and efforts.

2. Don’t leave the candidate waiting for a response

Providing a good candidate experience is important — even when rejecting a candidate. Don’t leave candidates waiting for a response from you. They’re most likely engaged in other hiring processes simultaneously with yours, so make sure to contact them as soon as you’ve decided not to move forward with them.

3. Don’t use disrespectful language

It probably goes without saying: Don’t be rude. A rude or disrespectful response is not only disheartening for the candidate, but can also seriously damage your org’s reputation. Inappropriate rejection emails have a tendency to go viral — and that’s one thing you don’t want to be known for.

4. Don’t be vague about the reasons for rejection

While you should be professional in your response, it’s just as important to be honest and transparent. Give the applicant concrete feedback, and deliver it in a friendly manner.

5. Don’t give the candidate false hope

Make sure the candidate knows they were rejected — and don’t make promises you can’t keep. Giving the candidate false hope can hurt their chances of getting another job, as they may decline other offers in hopes of working for you.

6. Don’t burn any bridges

A candidate who isn’t the right fit now may turn out to be the perfect match in the future. Don’t make the rejection so final that candidates will be discouraged from ever applying again.

Key takeaways

Rejection letters after interviews are an unavoidable part of the hiring process. It’s important to handle them professionally — even when rejecting a candidate, you still want to provide a good candidate experience.

When writing a candidate rejection letter, make sure to:

  • Personalize the letter and provide concrete feedback on the interview.
  • Be positive and professional, and encourage the candidate in their job search.
  • Maintain a positive relationship with the candidate. You never know — somewhere down the line, they might turn out to be the perfect fit for your org.

Sending rejection letters is never fun — but we hope this article made it a little easier for you.

Note: Are you still looking for the perfect match for your org? Set up your company page and let The Org help you attract the best talent.

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