Hiring means you get to add someone awesome to your team but it also means you have the unenviable task of telling everyone else who applied they are not getting the job. When you send a rejection letter, you want to provide clarity while also expressing empathy and encouragement.
Below 👇 we have 5 candidate rejection email templates that help you do just that. These templates will help you to share the reasoning behind your decision while giving candidates the encouragement and/or feedback they need to move forward and find the role that's right for them!
According to Homerun's People Ops Manager Sanne Leunissen, when sending a candidate rejection email, it's important "to get straight to the point (without being too harsh) so people know where they’re at. Start with the news and then give a short explanation of the ‘why’ – being direct, emphatic and keeping it relatively short." Here are some more best practices to go along with her advice:
🎯 Always express gratitude for the candidate's interest in the position and for taking the time to apply. It's thoughtful to acknowledge their efforts and highlight any positive aspects you noticed during the application or interview process.
🎯 Do what you can to personalize the rejection letter. If it's an immediate rejection of an application or you have a massive amount of candidates, it may be as simple as addressing everyone by name. If you have a smaller candidate pool and/or certain candidates have gotten farther along in the interview process, find ways to acknowledge individuals (and if possible, share constructive feedback) so that they feel valued and empowered.
🎯 Keep the message clear and concise. You don't want to go into excessive detail about why you're not hiring the candidate, which may end up overwhelming or confusing them. Just stick to the key points that help explain the decision – for example, the objective criteria that you used for the evaluation process like qualifications, experience, job requirements or value alignment.
🎯 Speak with empathy and encouragement. Not being selected for a job can be disheartening. Be sure to acknowledge the candidate's possible disappointment or any emotional investment they may have had during the hiring process. Encourage them to continue seeking opportunities that align with their strengths and goals, and if you see a possible future for them at your company, express that and invite them to apply again. You might also connect them to someone in your network who is hiring for a similar role.
🎯 Keep your inbox open. Let candidates know you're available to answer questions and that you welcome feedback on the hiring process. It's always good to know what you're doing right and where the process could be improved!
A final note from Sanne: “For a candidate that is further in the process and for example already has had one or more interviews, I find it a good courtesy to give them a call and explain why you’re not moving forward in that way. You can then follow up with an email confirming what you have said over the phone.” (See template #5 for an example of this!)
Although a rejection email could seem like a sure way to burn bridges with candidates, it's actually an opportunity to build them. When you present the information in a clear, tactful and encouraging way, you can help candidates move forward with valuable information and stay motivated in their job search. They may also end up reapplying one day!
Treating candidates with empathy and respect will not only soften the blow – it can also turn some of them into advocates for your company. Communicate with compassion and in a timely manner ⏰ and you'll be remembered as an organization that cares throughout the recruitment process.