HR & People | 8Min Read

How to Reject a Job Applicant Politely?

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One of the toughest parts of the hiring process is telling job applicants that they didn't make it.

17.3% of  U.S. job offers—more than 1 in 6—are rejected. So, recruiters are finding creative and smooth ways to reject a job applicant without burning bridges. 

Even though it's not easy. It's crucial to handle it with respect and professionalism to create a good impression and keep a strong employer reputation. 

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This is especially important in fields where there aren't many professionals or where people leave their jobs frequently.

In this article, we'll provide a helpful guide on how to politely reject job applicants while making sure they feel respected and appreciated, no matter the result.

How to Build Positive Relationships with Rejected Candidates?

One of the simplest ways how to reject a job application politely or to reject candidates is by using a rejection email template that includes these points.

It's essential to show that you care and are thankful for their application while offering specific feedback and maintaining a positive tone.

Only a few candidates get responses for rejection 

1. Show Gratitude and Acknowledge Their Efforts

When politely declining a job applicant, it is crucial to continue expressing gratitude and acknowledging their positive candidate experience.

Begin your rejection email by genuinely thanking the applicant. Also, thank them for their application and their interest in the position.

Highlight specific strengths and qualifications they demonstrated during the selection process. 

This will let them know that their efforts were recognised and valued. Additionally, emphasise the positive aspects of their application and provide specific interview feedback where necessary to help them understand their strengths and areas for improvement.

Demonstrating gratitude and appreciation will leave a positive impression on the job applicants, encouraging candidates to remain engaged with your organisation and keeping the door open for potential future opportunities. 

It showcases that your company values all applicants and appreciates the time and effort invested in applying. Enhancing your employer brand.

2. Offer Supportive Guidance

When you have to let someone know they didn't get the job, it's important to offer them supportive guidance. Be kind and say encouraging things. Show gratitude for their effort and discuss their strengths, like their skills and talents.

Also, explain why they didn't get the job. It might be because many others wanted it, they need more experience or are lacking in some areas.  

  • Be considerate when delivering this news
  • Leave them feeling motivated
  • Provide guidance tips
  • Boost their self-confidence

3. Acknowledge Positive Attributes 

It's crucial to acknowledge the positive aspects the person showed.

Thank them and highlight their strengths, such as effective communication, relevant industry knowledge, or teamwork abilities. 

For example, if you were hiring for a letting agent, you may want to praise a candidate's good industry knowledge but explain their communication abilities may not be the best for charging letting agent fees to clients. Not making them an ideal fit for the role.

Explain why they didn't get the job, ensuring they understand. But maintain a positive and supportive tone. This way, they will not feel down and will remember the good things about your company.

4. Keep the Door for Opportunities Open

Even if they can't get the job now, reassure them that they might have other opportunities in the future. Express gratitude for their effort and inform them that you'll keep them in mind for other job openings later.

If you have a career page on your website, direct them to find out about new job postings and be considerate and wish them success in their job search. 

Being approachable and supportive leaves a positive impact, even if they weren't selected for the job this time.

Candidates wait for 2 weeks for a callback from recruiters

5. Respond to Questions Candidate Have 

When you need to respond to questions from job applicants who didn't get the job, it's crucial to do it politely and respectfully. 

Start your response by thanking the candidate for their interest and effort in applying. Be honest about the decision without being too critical. If possible, offer helpful advice to support them in their job search. 

End your response on a positive note, encouraging them to explore other opportunities in the company or stay connected for future job openings. This shows professionalism, empathy, and respect, leaving a lasting impression on candidates and possibly turning them into brand supporters.

6. Proofread and Review Your Rejection

To ensure a polite and professional response, proofreading and reviewing your rejection message are essential. Mistakes or errors in the message may make you appear careless and unprofessional, which can leave a negative impression on the candidate.

When declining a job applicant, take care to write the response with attention to detail, showing respect for the candidate and their efforts. Go through the message to identify and correct any typos, grammar mistakes, or unnecessary words. 

Make sure to spell the candidate's name correctly and maintain a polite and empathetic tone throughout the response. 

A well-written message reflects positively on your organisation. Showing professionalism and commitment to treating applicants with courtesy, even when the news is disappointing.

7. Be Transparent and Tactful Yet Polite

Honesty and politeness are essential when declining a job applicant to maintain a positive perception of your brand and leave the candidate with a good impression. 

Being honest helps the candidate understand the reasons behind the decision, which builds trust and credibility.

Begin your rejection message by genuinely thanking the candidate for their interest and effort.

Then, communicate with candidates about the decision honestly and clearly, focusing on specific requirements and qualifications needed for the role. Avoid harsh language or unnecessary criticism.

Instead, remain compassionate and understanding throughout the response. Offer encouragement and express confidence in the candidate's skills. And even if they weren't the best fit for the current position, remain courteous.

By leaving the door open for future opportunities and expressing gratitude once again for their application, you show respect and demonstrate your organisation's commitment to treating all applicants with courtesy. Ensuring candidates feel positive, regardless of the outcome, is essential.

Job Rejection Email Template

Sometimes, it is best to keep things simple and understand that there are quicker ways to do things. Consider the recruiting email templates below if you want to reject an applicant easily. Be sure to fill them out with your information. 

1. Post-application Job Rejection Email Template

Subject: Job Application Update - [Position Title]

Dear [Candidate's Name],

I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to express our appreciation for your interest in the [Position Title] role at [Company Name].

After a thorough review of all applications received, we have decided to move forward with candidates whose qualifications closely match our current requirements. While your skills and experience are commendable, we have limited openings and must make difficult decisions.

We understand that receiving this news can be disappointing, but we encourage you to persist in your job search and consider other opportunities with our company in the future.

Your application will remain in our database, and we will reach out if a suitable position becomes available.

Thank you once again for considering [Company Name] as part of your career journey. We wish you success in all your future endeavours.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

[Your Title/Position]

[Company Name]

[Contact Information]

2. Post-screening Job Rejection Email Template

Subject: Job Application Update - [Position Title]

Dear [Candidate's Name],

Thank you for taking the time to apply for the [Position Title] role at [Company Name]. We sincerely appreciate your interest in joining our team.

After carefully reviewing your application, we have decided to proceed with candidates whose qualifications more closely match our current requirements.

We understand that job searching can be challenging, and we genuinely value the effort you put into applying for the position. Please know that your application remains in our database, and we will consider it for any relevant openings in the future.

We encourage you to stay updated on our job postings and consider applying again should a suitable opportunity arise.

Thank you once again for your interest in [Company Name]. We wish you all the best in your career endeavours.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

[Your Title/Position]

[Company Name]

[Contact Information]

3. Post-interview Job Rejection Email Template 

Subject: Job Application Update - [Position Title]

Dear [Candidate's Name],

I hope this email finds you well. We would like to express our gratitude for your interest in the [Position Title] role at [Company Name]. We appreciate the time and effort you invested in the interview process.

After careful consideration and reviewing all the candidates, we have decided to move forward with another applicant whose qualifications more closely align with our current needs.

Please know that our decision was not easy, as we recognise the skills and experience you bring to the table. We encourage you to continue pursuing opportunities that match your expertise, as we believe you have valuable qualities that will benefit other organisations.

We will keep your application on file for future reference, and if a suitable opportunity arises in the future, we may reach out to you. Meanwhile, we wish you the best in your job search and professional endeavours.

Thank you once again for your interest in [Company Name]. We hope our paths may cross again in the future.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

[Your Title/Position]

[Company Name]

[Contact Information]

Benefits of Informing Rejected Candidates Quickly

Rejecting candidates promptly is better for both the candidates and the employers in the long run. Many job applicants in high-demand jobs will turn down offers anyway, so it's essential to source new candidates quickly. The time to find the right talent is increasing, taking around 44 days on average in 2023.

Also, half of job applicants will reject their job offers in some industries.

So, by rejecting candidates promptly, the company shows professionalism, efficiency, and respect for their time and effort. 

It also helps maintain a strong pool of potential talent, as rejected candidates might consider the company for future opportunities or refer other qualified candidates.

Additionally, informing candidates promptly helps the company adhere to legal requirements and avoid potential legal issues. It also allows for data collection to analyse the hiring process and make improvements to address any biases.

How to Stay in Touch with Rejected Candidates? 

Maintaining a positive employer brand and fostering future opportunities require creating a long-term relationship with rejected candidates. Provide personalised feedback to highlight their strengths and areas for improvement. 

Invite them to join your talent community or subscribe to company updates. Connect with them on professional platforms like LinkedIn, and periodically reach out with relevant content or opportunities.

Final Thoughts on How to Reject a Job Applicant Politely

In summary, the importance of being transparent and tactful when rejecting a job applicant lies in maintaining a positive employer brand and leaving a respectful impression.

Transparency builds trust and credibility by ensuring the candidate understands the reason for the decision. 

To achieve this, start with genuine gratitude for their interest and effort. Communicate the decision honestly, focusing on specific requirements for the role without using harsh language or unnecessary criticism.

Adopting a compassionate and empathetic tone throughout the response is crucial. Offer encouragement and express confidence in their skills, even if they aren't the best fit. 

Leaving the door open for future opportunities demonstrates respect and professionalism. Treating all applicants courteously creates a positive experience and boosts the company's reputation. 

The key takeaway is that thoughtful and considerate communication during the rejection process can foster goodwill and enhance the employer's image in the eyes of candidates.

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FAQs on How to Reject a Job Application Politely

Here are some frequently asked questions on the topic of politely rejecting a job applicant.

1. Can I inform a candidate over the phone about a job rejection?

Yes, informing a candidate over the phone about a job rejection is a considerate and professional approach. It allows for direct communication and shows respect for their time and effort.

2. Should I ask for candidate feedback through a rejection email?

Asking for candidate feedback through a rejection email is a great practice that shows you value their input and are committed to continuous improvement.

3. How do you notify unsuccessful applicants?

To notify unsuccessful applicants, send a timely and polite rejection email expressing appreciation for their interest and offering encouragement. Optionally, it provides the opportunity for feedback to maintain a positive employer brand.

4. How can I ensure the rejection message is respectful yet straightforward?

You should use positive language, express gratitude for the interest candidate shown in your company, and be direct yet gentle in conveying your decision.

5. Should I personalize each rejection letter?

Yes, personalising the rejection letter shows respect for the effort the candidate put into their application and helps maintain a positive relationship with them for future openings. 




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