How to Send a Polite Rejection to Candidates (Plus Free Rejection Letter Templates)

The ultimate goal of every hiring process is to find the right person for your team. In the best case scenario, you will have several candidates to choose from. Some people will only make it through the application stage, while others will make it to your very last interview. Through all the stages along the way, you’ll have applicants and candidates that aren’t the right fit for your team. 

A rejection letter or rejection email is how you let those job seekers know that they won’t be moving forward in the hiring process. This simple step is an important part of handling recruitment professionally. 

Let’s briefly touch on why you need to send all candidates a rejection letter. Then, we’ll share two rejection letter templates you can use for your job seekers in various stages of your hiring process. 

Why you should send a rejection letter 

On top of being the polite and professional thing to do, there are some other important reasons you should keep all candidates informed. 

Sending candidates you don’t want to hire a rejection letter improves the candidate experience. This helps you maintain a good relationship with all applicants and candidates, which is important because you never know when you might want to pursue someone in the future for another role within your company. 

Additionally, ghosting your candidates is not a great look, and many people are eager to share their experiences with potential employers online following a hiring process. We found that 37% of candidates have left a negative review online after a bad candidate experience, and over half of job seekers won’t apply to a company with negative reviews online. 

Not sending applicants and candidates a rejection letter or email can negatively affect your employer brand, which ultimately impacts your ability to make the right hires for your team. 

What your rejection letter should include 

A rejection notification doesn’t have to be complicated. You’ll want to include some basics like the name of your company and the job title. Show gratitude for the candidate’s time and interest and include some specific information that makes the message more personal.

For example, for applicants that won’t make it to the interview process, you might mention that you received their application and a detail about their resume that stood out. For candidates that have gone through an interview, recall that you enjoyed your conversation and hearing about their experience. If it makes sense for your business, encourage the candidate to apply again in the future. 

No one wants to receive a rejection letter, but a little positivity and personalization can go a long way in making a candidate feel appreciated instead of disheartened. 

Rejection letter templates

You may send candidates a rejection letter as an attachment to an email, or you can simply put the rejection in the body of the email, where the subject line can be your company name and the name of the position. 

Click the buttons below to download a PDF of two rejection letter templates that you can copy and paste into a word document or the body of an email. We have included both a rejection letter for applicants that you don’t plan to interview and a template for candidates that made it to the interview stage. Keep in mind, you will still want to customize your rejection letter further for each applicant or candidate. 

Rejection letter for applicants

Though you may receive a lot of resumes and applications for your open role, try to respond to all of them. Here’s a rejection letter you can send to applicants who won’t be invited to phone screen or interview. Send this to anyone who fills out an application or sends a resume.

Rejection letter for interviewees

Some applicants will make it to the next stage in your hiring process and become candidates for the role. Here is a rejection letter template that you can send to candidates that made it to a phone screen or interview with your company that you have since decided not to hire.

Final tips for sending your rejection 

We all know the feeling of being turned down for a job, but candidates still prefer the communication to being totally ghosted. Try to send all applicants that you won’t be pursuing a polite rejection in a timely manner so that you can both move on. 

Using an applicant tracking system (ATS) like CareerPlug can make it easier to know where candidates are in the various stages of your hiring process so that you can maintain good communication with all of them. We also have automations that will send a polite rejection to applicants that don’t check all your boxes as well as rejection email templates within our software. 

Though it takes a little more effort, sending a polite rejection can improve your candidate experience and have a positive effect on your employer brand. Using our simple templates will make it easier to communicate with all applicants and candidates faster.

Automate your communication with candidates

Don’t have time to email every applicant individually? We understand! That’s why CareerPlug makes it easy for you to automatically send interview invitations, offer letters, and rejection letters using our applicant tracking system.


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