How To

How to Write Candidate Rejection Emails (with Templates)

How to Write Candidate Rejection Emails (with Templates)
HireHive Team

HireHive Team


It's a situation no hiring manager wants to be in, but with only one open job and several excellent candidates, writing a rejection email is just a part of the process. But how do you write a candidate rejection email that sends the right message, doesn't slam the door, and makes you and the candidate feel good about the overall experience? Here are some tips and templates to make this process easier.

What is a Rejection Email 

A rejection email is a note you send to a job candidate at any point in the process to let them know they are no longer being considered for the position. 

A study published by the BBC indicated that 75% of job seekers experienced employer ghosting in the job search process. Ghosting is a term that became popular with online dating and refers to ceasing all communication with no further explanation. While candidates are also guilty of ghosting employers, hiring companies must reverse the trend. Sending a rejection letter is essential to eliminate ghosting. 

Why You Need to Send a Rejection Email

Communicating with job seekers at every stage of the process creates a better application experience for everyone, including your organization. 

Positive Employer Brand

A rejection email is a part of building a positive employer brand. Word of mouth from applicants is critical in ensuring you continue receiving applications from qualified applicants. If someone had a negative experience, including ghosting, that can reflect poorly on your reputation. Of course, sending the rejection letter is just the first step, as your messaging needs to be true to your employer brand and empathetic to the job seeker's experience, but more on that later. 

Candidate Knowledge

Knowledge is power, and there is no benefit to keeping candidates in the dark about your recruitment process. Letting the candidate pool know they are not moving forward is an opportunity to provide information that can help them in their job search and your future hiring efforts. Some candidates will be rejected even as good prospects because there is only one job and several top applicants. Others can benefit from additional coaching, and you're in a perfect position to provide that. 

Building a Pipeline

A candidate rejection letter also has the opportunity to build your pipeline. Many candidates you cannot see through the process are still qualified and may be good potential employees in the future. But if you ghost them, you lose them forever. You can build a pipeline that will make hiring easier in the future just by providing people with a good experience even when they don't get the job. 

The Message You're Sending

Every aspect of your rejection letter needs to be consistent with your employer brand and reputation. Regardless of the stage at which you send the letter, it should always include certain aspects to ensure that you leave rejected candidates with a positive experience. Even for candidates who may not fit your company in the future, there is little to gain from not providing positivity in your letter. 

Rejection letter Must Haves

Here are the individual concepts that should be included in all rejection letters. 


Saying thank you can be one of your company's most potent tools of positivity. Share gratitude for their application, time, and expertise throughout the process. 


Never send a form rejection letter. Even at the early stage, every email should be personalized. You can do this using an automation tool through your applicant tracking software to streamline the process. 


Wherever possible, provide feedback that can help the applicant in the future. For example, if the candidate is rejected after the initial phone screen due to a misalignment of skills, share a short explanation and where they might focus for future applications. 

Well Wishes

Always wish the applicants well in their future job search. This lets them know that you're in their corner and, if possible, might consider them again in the future. 

Common Rejection Letter Scenarios

Knowing what to include in a rejection letter is just the start. Different stages of the job search will require other formats and information. Here are some of the most common rejection letter situations. 

Early-Stage Rejection Template

For applicants that won't make it to the initial screening phase, you should send out a quick and professional email letting them know you appreciate their application, but they won't be considered at this time. This can be done as a template through your ATS. 

Dear [applicant name],

Thank you for your application for the [job position or title] at [company name]. We appreciate your interest in joining our company and are glad you took this opportunity to apply. 

We carefully reviewed many applications, and at this time, we are unable to invite you to the next stage of the hiring process. Though your resume was impressive, we have decided to move forward with a candidate whose qualifications are better suited to this role.

We hope you'll apply again in the future if you see a job opening suited to your qualifications. 

We wish you success in your career endeavors.

Thank you for your interest in [company name]. 


[your first and last name]

[your job title or position]

[email signature]

Post-Screening Rejection 

The further someone gets in the process, the more personalized the email should be. After your initial screening, when you narrow candidates down to the top three or five, let the other candidates know. As always, thank them for their time, provide feedback that could help them in the future, and let them know you'll keep them in mind for other opportunities. 

Dear [applicant name],

Thank you for your interest in [job title or position] and the time you devoted to our screening process.

Although your [skills or qualifications] were impressive, we've chosen a candidate with more [qualifications or experience]. However, we'd like to keep your resume on file if a position better suited to your talents becomes available. You're welcome to reapply at that time.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at [phone number and/or email address].


[your first and last name]

[your job title or position]

Post-Interview Rejection 

Even after the interview process, you'll need to make some cuts. Since there are multiple candidates and only one job, several qualified candidates won't get the offer. This is also an excellent opportunity to provide valuable feedback. 

Dear [Applicant first name],

Thank you for meeting with our team about the [job title] position at [company name]. Unfortunately, after careful consideration, our team moved forward with another candidate.

Please know that [company names] receives multiple resumes for each position, and it's often difficult for us to choose between several high-calibre candidates. Now that we have learned more about your experience and accomplishments, we will keep your resume on file and contact you when a position that suits your profile opens up.

If you want specific feedback about your interview, please contact me directly. Thanks again for your interest in ABC Company, and I wish you good luck in all future endeavors.


[your name]

Let your ATS Make the Rejection Email Process Easier 

An applicant tracking system can provide additional insights as you search for candidates matching each job's skills and background. It can also automate aspects of the communication and feedback cycle, including rejection emails, to make the process run smoothly, so nothing falls through the cracks. 

With more competition for top talent, it pays for companies to consider all their advantages and the use of tools to assist in the quest to find talent. HireHive helps busy people hire great people. You can post jobs, streamline your online application process, improve the candidate experience, and tap into vast global networks by having your entire recruitment process in one place.

Set up a free trial account today. Contact HireHive to learn more.

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