Rejection Letters for Every Kind of Candidate

Samples for Every Stage of the Application Process

Want to professionally, thoughtfully, and kindly reject job applicants? Here is a general overview of different types of rejection letters, with sample letters as a guide. These will assist you to turn down job applicants at various stages in the process, whether when they apply or after the second interview.

You owe your job candidates professionally communicated rejections, no matter how soon they were screened out. Don't allow them to feel that their efforts have disappeared down a dark hole when they hear nothing from you for weeks. There is nothing more unkind than to leave a candidate waiting and wondering.

It's tempting to do, but don't use busyness as an excuse to fail to treat your job candidates with respect. Use these sample rejection letters as a guide while you develop the different employment letters that you use in your organization.

How to Write Rejection Letters

Wonder why you would send professional rejection letters to job applicants ​when so many employers don't? Sending rejection letters to job applicants who were not selected for the job is an extra—but positive—step your company can take to build goodwill with candidates.

Professional, thoughtful rejection letters help establish your organization as an employer of choice. Your reputation, even during the whole selection process, will get around. Learn how to write a professional rejection letter so you can ensure that reputation is a positive one.

When Not Selected for an Interview

It's a kindness on the part of the employer to communicate with job candidates at each step of the hiring process. Candidates invest incredible amounts of time in applying for jobs, and they deserve respectful communication.

Here's a sample rejection letter to let an applicant know that they were not selected for a job interview. In these cases, it's acceptable to use more of a form letter because you have not yet developed a relationship with the candidate. 

At this stage of the hiring process, you can save your staff time while still responding to every applicant by sending these rejection letters automatically and electronically. 

After a Job Interview

In many companies, a job applicant is invited for an initial interview during which a basic assessment of their skills, experience, and potential cultural fit occurs. Sometimes one individual conducts this interview, but more companies are recognizing the power of letting a candidate meeting more employees. Candidates who don't make it past this interview don't seem like a fit, whether culturally, experientially, or otherwise. Use this sample rejection letter to learn how to turn down a candidate who did not qualify for a second interview.

After Second Interview

The second interview round (and any subsequent round) consists of your top choices for the position. It is painful to send a job rejection letter to a candidate whom you found qualified enough to tap for a second interview. Nonetheless, you can only say "yes" to one person. Use this sample job rejection letter to tell second interview candidates—professionally and politely, with care and concern—that they did not get the job.

Candidates You Would Hire for the Right Job

Sometimes the interview process reveals some great candidates—just not for the opening you're trying to fill. You found someone else for that job, but you'd love to consider this person if the right position opens up in the future. It's a little easier to break the news when you're able to tell them that you'd like them to try again later, but it's still hard to turn down a good applicant. This sample rejection letter shows how to let down an applicant you’d hope to hire one day.