How To Properly Reject Candidates (With Examples)

You’re hiring, and congratulations, you found the perfect candidate! You send them an offer letter, they accept, and you start the onboarding process. But hang on just a second; your job is not finished! There were dozens, maybe even hundreds, of other people who invested time and energy into your job posting. And you owe them an explanation. Unfortunately, “ghosting” candidates has become all too common practice. In fact, a whopping 65% of people said they have not heard back from a position they applied for recently. Leaving candidates ‘on read’ is not only just wrong, but it can also have a significant effect on your company’s reputation. So, here are the steps your hiring team should take to properly reject candidates to maintain your reputation and be respectful to everyone’s time.

Contact Everyone 

Yes, we mean every single person that applied. You have to consider that everyone who applied for your job took valuable time out of their day to do so. And many went to the lengths of customizing their resume, writing a cover letter or personalizing a submission email. The very least you can do is give them the courtesy of a response! If your hiring team did not have a conversation with a candidate or they didn’t make it to the initial interview round, a simple rejection template is acceptable. When you, unfortunately, have to reject candidates, keep it short and sweet:

Hi John, 

Thank you so much for taking the time to apply for the Account Executive position at ABC Company. We received numerous applications for this role, and at this time, we have decided not to move forward with other candidates. Please note that we have saved your application on file and will contact you regarding future positions that fit your skill sets!

We wish you the best in your current job search and future endeavors.


The Hiring Team at ABC Company 

Send Personalized Messages to Those You Interviewed 

While we recommend that you contact any rejected interviewees by phone, we understand that this is not always possible due to time constraints. If you must send an email, take the time to personalize it. Of course, it’s standard to start with a template, but there are opportunities to reference your interactions with the candidate throughout. Mention some of their qualifications that stood out, a question they answered particularly well, or even a hobby you might have had in common.

Hi Jane,

Thank you so much for taking the time to interview for our Account Executive position at ABC Company. We loved having the opportunity to get to know you and hear more about your experience in the field. I was especially impressed by your sales numbers from last year; you are certainly a go-getter! Unfortunately, we received dozens of qualified applications, and we have made the difficult decision to proceed with another candidate at this time.

Please note that we have saved your application on file and will contact you regarding any future positions that become available!

We wish you the best in your current job search and future endeavors.


The Hiring Team at ABC Company

86% of job seekers want constructive feedback about their performance, but only 57% receive any. Thus, as your reject candidates that didn’t quite fit the bill, you can set yourself apart by providing them with feedback.

Be Timely When You Reject Candidates

Most importantly, be timely in sending your rejections to candidates. As soon as you know you will not offer the position to someone, you should send the rejection. As mentioned above, these people have invested time and energy into applying with your company and should be given the opportunity to move on to their next application as soon as possible. We do not recommend waiting until your new employee starts or even until they have accepted the offer. If, by some chance, your primary choice ends up pulling out at some point, your backup candidates will have much more respect for you if you reach back out than if you left them hanging.

Need more hiring advice in this tight market?

So, that’s how your hiring team can properly reject candidates while maintaining your company’s reputation. Are you interested in stepping up your hiring game even further? Explore our client resources here and talk to one of our experienced team members about how we can carry the burden of candidate communication while you focus on what you do best.