How to Write a Candidate Rejection Letter (Incl. a Template)

Five easy-to-follow tips for writing candidate rejection letters.

Writing Candidate Rejection Letters

While HR professionals tend to avoid sending out rejection letters, most candidates would rather read through that ‘We regret to inform you’ line. It’s the price of knowing where they stand.

A Business LinkedIn survey found that job candidates don’t want the HR team to go quiet after the interview phase. 65% of candidates want to hear the bad news via email. They want that rejection letter!

For your company, writing this kind of letter builds your company’s reputation and establishes goodwill with candidates (even if you don’t hire them).

But how do you go about writing one?

Today, we’ll give you five practical tips to help you write candidate rejection letters. And we’ll give you a ready-to-use template to boot!

5 Tips To Help You Write Candidate Rejections

It’s very easy to come across as cold and almost robotic when writing any letter that bears bad news.

But (and you should put yourself in their shoes) which kind of letter do you think a candidate would prefer to receive? A cold, cookie-cutter rejection letter, or a humane, personalized, and compassionate one? Definitely the latter!

To achieve this, use the following tips.  

Tips To Write Compassionate Candidate Rejection Letters

Be Personable

Use the candidate’s first name in your letter and identify the position they applied for and your company name. Remember, the applicant has probably applied to quite a few job positions. Seeing the company and position title makes it easy for them to remember this specific application. It also shows that you care and don’t treat people as just another number.

Say Thank You

Start by thanking them for applying for the position. The key here is to not let it sound mechanical and run-of-the-mill. Be polite and try to convey appreciation that they chose to apply at your company.

Leave the Door Open

Use pointers like “we will keep your application on file” to inform the candidate that you’ll consider them for future positions. You may genuinely want to reach out to the applicant in the future, especially if they made it to the final rounds of your hiring process. So leave the door open and ask for the candidate’s permission to keep their information.

You can also invite the candidate to apply again in the future or invite them to your vacant jobs notice board.

Feedback & Communication

Provide Feedback

Don’t the infamous words, “you’re not a good fit at the moment”, just make you want to cringe? What about the application isn’t a good fit? The talent won’t understand because, according to them, they applied believing they meet all (or the majority) of the job requirements.

In this section of the letter, find one strength the candidate showed. Compliment the applicant on that and remind them of their worth. Then briefly dive into what you were looking for and how they failed to meet the criteria. You can also add that you may be open to having them on board in the future if their experience changes.

Remember Your Brand

Keep your brand in mind when writing the letter. If your company uses very formal communication, then write the email accordingly. However, remember to be personable and don’t sound like a robot.

Your company could also be super cool and hip. To keep the letter aligned with your brand image and reputation, be respectful and use that laid-back language.

Stick to your brand identity that when letting talent know that they didn’t make the cut.

Be Honest and Concise

Don’t wait weeks to send the “no thank you” letter. Ensure that you send the letter soon as you know the candidate won’t make it past the job interview round. Moreover, be honest and concise. The email shouldn’t be long-winded and you should keep it as simple as possible.

Candidate Letter Branding

Candidate Rejection Letter Template

Hey [insert candidate name],

Thank you for applying for the [role title] opening at [company name].

Unfortunately, we didn’t select you for further consideration. Your education qualifications are impressive; however, we chose someone who has more hands-on experience. In particular, we appreciated your [insert skill type or experience] but needed someone with a greater understanding of [insert skill types or experiences].

We appreciate your interest and would like to thank you for applying and coming in for the job interview.

[optional] We’ll soon be advertising more open positions at the company. We hope you will keep us in mind and apply when you see a role you are interested in.

If you have any questions, you are welcome to reach out at [email address] or [phone number].

Good luck with your job search.


[Sender Name]

Parting Thoughts

Writing a rejection letter to a candidate is a decent thing to do. And it is an important, although overlooked, part of the hiring process. However, most of the time, HR professionals send unoriginal letters that sound automated and contrived.

You should aim to make a good impression and uphold your company’s reputation by writing a personalized, honest, and genuine letter that aligns with your brand.