Writing a candidate rejection email is never going to rate as one of the most fun tasks in your schedule.But if you’re working in HR or recruitment, it’s an inevitable part of your job. (Luckily, you also get the happier mission of writing offer emails, too!)
The plain fact is, it’s essential to let unsuccessful candidates know that they won’t be continuing with the application process. The time and effort they’ve put into applying deserves to be acknowledged. And once they’ve received your email they can dust themselves off and carry on with their job search.
Plus, a well-crafted rejection email has hidden advantages for your business. It can:
- Build your brand as an organization that cares about people and gives candidates a positive experience
- Grow your talent pool, as you can encourage strong candidates to reapply for other roles in the future
And more good news? You don’t have to start a rejection email to a candidate from scratch every time. Using a template (and an app like Magical) means you won’t have to agonize over your word choice again and again.
Here, we’ve got tips for developing your own templates, as well as example templates for you to adapt.
How to reject a candidate via email: key tips
What do you say in a job rejection email, then? And how do you give polite rejection?
It’s likely that you’ll want to develop specific rejection email templates for candidates who reach different stages of the hiring process (see our examples below). But there are certain key elements that all your templates should include.
So, let’s look at how to write a job rejection email that’s honest, encouraging, and, above all, human.
- Say “thank you”
Start by thanking the candidate for submitting their application or coming for interview. Make it clear that you value the time and effort they’ve put in while going through the recruitment process.
If this is an email template for a later stage candidate, you might like to include a line about how you enjoyed meeting them or hearing their ideas about the company.
- Be upfront about the bad news
Get to the rejection part quickly so you’re not keeping the candidate in suspense. After all, this is the main reason for your email.
Be clear that you aren’t taking the candidate’s application any further—there shouldn’t be any ambiguity that could give them false hope.
While you might want to acknowledge the disappointment your email will cause, you don’t need to apologize. This is the right decision for your business.
- Give a reason
It’s important to give a reason for the rejection, to help give the candidate closure. Of course, this is a section of your template that will need some personalization, but there are some generic sentences you could include:
- We received a large number of applications for this role.
- While we were impressed by your [presentation/coding skills/card tricks], we didn’t feel you had quite enough experience for the position.
- You are clearly a very experienced [HR officer/sales rep/magician], but you don’t have the exact skillset we were looking for.
You can also offer to provide more feedback if the candidate requests it. But only do this if you have the time and resources to follow through on your offer.
- End on a positive note
This could be as simple as wishing the candidate “good luck” as they continue their job search. Or you could include a few lines encouraging the candidate to reapply—either in the future when they have more experience or for a different position that might suit their skills better.
Of course, there will also be some candidates who just aren’t a good fit for your organization. In that case, you won’t want to raise their hopes by mentioning reapplying. Just wish them well and make a clean break.
Then your last task is to…
- Add a personal touch
Once you’ve got your template, you’ll need to personalize it for each candidate.
For an email that’s going out to a large number of applicants at the pre-interview stage, you may not need to worry about tailoring it too much. But as a bare minimum, make sure you address the applicant by name and mention the position they were applying for. It’s just a quick adjustment, but it can help the applicant feel that you’re treating them as an individual.
For candidates who make it further through the recruitment process, it’s important to tailor the email more closely to them as a person. You might want to include details such as:
- Something they said during an interview that you found interesting
- More specific feedback about why you didn’t choose them for the role
- Suggestions of other roles within your company that they could apply for
- Contact details of colleagues they could get in touch with about other roles
Ultimately, an email template is a really useful starting point, but the way you tailor it will have a big impact on the candidate, too. Show them that they are valued as an individual and they’ll walk away with a more positive impression of your organization.
3 candidate rejection email templates
Here are three sample rejection email templates that you can adapt to suit the needs of your business. We’ve focused them on candidates at different stages in the application process.
To make using your templates even easier, you could try a text expander app like Magical. Simply create a keyboard shortcut for each template (e.g. //reject1, //reject2) and then you can add the text to your email without having to leave the window.
After that, you can either make your own changes or use further shortcuts to enhance the text with particular words or phrases.
Template 1: Declining an application (pre-interview)
Template 2: Rejecting a candidate after the team interview
Template 3: Rejecting a candidate after the final interview
We hope these tips and templates take the stress out of writing rejection emails.
If you’re in recruitment or HR, Magical will help you automate a lot of the more mundane manual tasks that waste your time. From outreach to data entry, Magical works like a charm anywhere on the web to make your tasks disappear. Try it for free today.