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As employers and recruiters, informing candidates who are not selected for a role isn’t always pleasant. Rejection can feel personal, but tactful and empathetic delivery can ensure everyone walks away feeling respected. Your hiring process may be the first interaction someone has with your company. The experience will reflect your brand, and candidates who are not selected may still be part of your business as customers or future employees!

Here are some key points to keep in mind when going about the rejection process:


Job seekers spend a great deal of time researching, applying and preparing for your hiring process. Informing them of their unsuccessful application in a timely manner lets them move on to other opportunities, and lets you focus your attention on other candidates. Set aside specific time for sending rejection letters or making calls, so you can stick to the timelines you have communicated.


Simple templated rejection letters can come across as cold. In an article for ERE Media, Devon Miller recounted a response system implemented by a hiring manager, in which a single rejection letter template was split into several variations. Each of the new templates was tailored to a specific scenario, such as ‘Never Hire’, ‘Needs More Experience’, or ‘Doesn’t Meet Minimum Requirements’. The recruiting team then further customized each letter with content unique to each rejected candidate. The concise and personable language of these refined templates allowed them to maintain positive relationships with top talent for future roles, while politely but unambiguously rejecting others.

As outlined by Glassdoor, whether communicated by phone or email, the key components of an effective rejection are:

    • Acknowledging and thanking the candidate for their time spent
    • Appropriately iterating how competitive the position is
    • Concisely explaining they are not being further considered and why
    • Giving encouragement and best wishes for future applications
    • Contact information for staying in touch


The rapport you have built with candidates throughout the interview process doesn’t need to end unceremoniously after interviews are complete; it can be maintained through personalized and thoughtful responses. Whether candidates inquire or not, providing constructive feedback is always useful, as it bolsters your reasoning for not hiring them and gives them actionable advice for future job applications. If a candidate was strong, iterate opportunities to apply to your company again in the future. Keep in touch with these standout job seekers to make your next hiring process simpler and ensure your company is still viewed favourably by top talent.

Delivering and receiving rejections is hard, but it needn’t leave parties bitter towards one another. Your hiring process is experienced differently by job seekers who are rejected, and it is important to understand how this impacts your employer brand. A little tact and compassion can go a long way!