4 Ways Employers Can Ace their Candidate Rejection Emails

September 22, 2021 by Verified First

Back to School Blog Series 4 Ways Employers Can Ace their Candidate Rejection Emails

No one likes receiving a candidate rejection email, and if we’re really honest, no one likes writing them either. But unfortunately, they’re a part of the hiring process none of us can avoid.

The good news is, if you use your candidate rejection emails to offer genuinely helpful feedback to applicants, they can become a tool to help build bridges rather than burn them. In fact, candidates are 4X more likely to consider your company in the future if you offer constructive feedback.

But how do you write a candidate rejection email that applicants will actually appreciate?

In this article, we’ll explain how to craft candidate rejection emails that help build relationships, and share some pick-and-play samples and templates that you can easily personalize to help improve your candidate relationships — even when the person just isn’t a fit this time.

4 ways employers can ace candidate rejection emails

  1. Provide personalized feedback
  2. Don’t burn bridges
  3. Keep it empathetic
  4. Stay honest (but not too honest)

1. Provide personalized feedback

No one likes receiving a candidate rejection email — but one that’s clearly been mass-produced with zero care is guaranteed to add insult to injury.

Here’s how to keep your rejection emails thoughtful and avoid leaving a bitter taste in your candidates mouths:

  • Block out some zero-disturbance time and give your email the attention it deserves.
  • Offer feedback out of a true desire to help candidates grow and get better results as they continue their job search. Let them know why they weren’t successful and what they could do better next time.
  • Let unsuccessful candidates give you their own feedback by asking them to fill out a candidate experience survey. You never know what you might learn!

Candidate rejection email sample #1: 

We loved hearing about your background in HR but after reviewing all the candidates, we decided to go with someone with more Sapling experience since that’s our main HRIS platform. We were all impressed with your resume though and will let you know next time a relevant role crops up.

2. Don’t burn bridges

Bumping into ex-candidates in the workplace is an age-old story — so make sure you don’t burn any bridges.

A great candidate rejection email can prevent damage and help build relationships too. (All the more reason to get that email right. 😉) 

Here’s how to leave the door wide open with an empathy-first candidate rejection email:

  • Make sure candidates know there are always opportunities to apply again in the future.
  • Keep rejection emails warm and friendly, even if the application/interview didn’t go great.
  • Explain why candidates didn’t get the role and what your company would look for next time.

Candidate rejection email sample #2: 

For this current role, we’re looking for someone with a bit more practical experience, but we’ll definitely keep you in mind for future positions. In the meantime, feel free to follow us on social — we’d love to stay in touch!

3. Keep it empathetic

We know we don’t have to say this, but we can’t talk about great hiring and skip this one: your candidates are humans too. 

In the age of virtual hiring, it’s easy to forget the people behind the applications — but if you want to build a great employer brand (and sleep at night), it’s important to craft rejection emails that reflect your human side.

Here’s how to use your candidate rejection emails to keep the human in HR:

  • The past couple of years have been tough for everyone — and that includes your candidates — so keep all your communication compassionate.
  • Mention candidate strengths and ‘weaknesses’ equally to keep your email as balanced as possible.
  • Always keep a friendly, polite and tactful tone.

Candidate rejection email sample #3: 

Although we were very impressed with your skills, we’ve decided to go with someone who has a little more experience. Thanks for taking the time out to connect with us, we loved that you answered our questions so thoughtfully and felt that with the right role, you could be a great fit for our company. We get that it’s not an easy time for jobseekers right now, so let’s definitely stay connected for future opportunities.

4. Stay honest (but not too honest)

Sometimes lying is easier than telling the truth — but when it comes to dealing with candidates, honesty is always the best policy. 

Whether it’s a candidate you know won’t ever be a good fit, or you have another important reason for not hiring them, here are some simple tips to create a balanced, honest email: 

  • If you know a candidate will never be right for your company, don’t give false hope. Be clear about your decision and don’t offer to stay in touch.
  • Be honest, but don’t be too honest. There’s never a good reason to get too personal with feedback, so leave any personal feelings on the cutting room floor.
  • Keep your tone kind and constructive.

Candidate rejection email sample #4: 

We believe in sharing constructive feedback to help you grow as a candidate. For this role, although your technical skills were great, we felt your platform knowledge would hold you up in the role. Thanks for your application though, and best of luck in your job search!

The ultimate candidate rejection email template

When in doubt, use the following template as a guide to help you create job rejection emails with more care. Simply adapt each bracketed section to suit your situation.

Hi [candidate name],

Thank you for taking the time to apply to [company name].

Although your [skill] stood out, we’ve chosen another candidate this time. The reason for our decision was [constructive feedback]. 

We will 100% keep your resume on file and reach out about any future opportunities when they come up. 

In the meantime, feel free to follow us on [social media channels] to keep up to date on [the company’s] news and upcoming roles — we’d love to stay in touch!

Good luck with your job search and we hope we’ll have the chance to consider you for another role in the future.

Kind regards,

[Sender name] 

👉🏼 For more recruiting email templates, check out Breezy’s free resources.

Handle candidate rejection emails with care

If you’ve been in the HR game for long, it’s likely you’ve had to tackle the dreaded candidate rejection email — but whether you’re new to the game or an experienced recruiter, there’s always more to learn about handling candidate rejection with care. 

From offering constructive feedback, to getting your tone right, there are plenty of steps you can take to craft a human-first candidate rejection email.

Remember to keep it empathetic and offer tangible feedback, and you’re guaranteed to give candidate rejection emails (and your company) a name for building bridges rather than burning them.

Want to create a more seamless hiring experience? See how BreezyHR can help.


About Verified First
Verified First is known for delivering streamlined background screening backed by the best client support, and for developing the easiest, fastest HR system integrations, for free. Our client support team is U.S.-based, answers calls in seconds, resulting in hundreds of positive testimonials and a 96% customer satisfaction. Verified First's patent-pending, award-winning integrations include over 100 applicant tracking systems, and provide clients a turn-key experience.

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