6 Polite Emails to Reject Unsuccessful Job Candidates

Rejecting candidates is part and parcel of the recruitment process. While it’s courteous to let all applicants know whether or not they have got the job, or whether or not they have even been invited for an interview, this doesn’t always happen. Most hiring managers don’t always let applicants know about their progress in the recruitment process. Some employers only contact candidates who are successful at interview, while others notify applicants who haven’t been invited for an interview.

However, it’s always a good idea to send rejection emails to candidates who have not been successful at interview. Not only does it speak volumes about your company and its culture, but it also helps you create a healthy talent pipeline and improve your employer branding. Here are six sample templates that show you how to tell a job applicant that they have been turned down.

Illustrations courtesy of Shutterstock.

Email Template 1 | “We Liked You, but Not This Time..”


Dear [Insert Name],
Thank you for taking the time to attend the interview for the [Job title]. Our team appreciates your interest in the role and in our organization.
Unfortunately, on this occasion, your application was not successful, and we have appointed an applicant who we believe more closely matches the skills required for the job position. We really appreciate you taking the time to attend the interview and hope that you will apply for other job openings at our organisation in the future.
Best regards,
Hiring Manager.

This sample letter politely notifies the applicant that they have been rejected and explains that another applicant whose skills were a better fit. Always encourage the rejected applicant to apply for other openings, if you think this is appropriate.

Email Template 2 | “Unfortunately, We Found Someone Else”


Dear [Applicant Name],
We appreciate you taking the time to meet me to discuss with us the [Job title] at [Company name]. Your interest in the position is much appreciated.
I am writing to inform you that we have now found an applicant for that particular position. However, I will stay in touch and contact you when a more suitable opening for you is available.
[Your Name]

Sometimes being clear and concise is the best option. The hiring manager explains in one sentence that they have declined the applicant. Considering rejected applicants for future openings is a great way to maintain a pool of applicants for the future.

Email Template 3 | “You’re Not Quite Ready for This Position”


Dear [Applicant Name],
This letter is to inform you that we have not selected you for the [Insert Job Title] position, which you recently applied for. We’d like to thank you for talking to our hiring team and giving them the opportunity to learn about your skills and accomplishments. At this time, the team felt that you were not quite ready for the responsibilities that this role requires. Please do keep in touch with us, and feel free to apply for future openings, when you have gained additional experience.
Again, thank you for taking the time to send us your credentials and application.
Best wishes,
[Your Name]
[Your Job Title]

While the opening of this letter may seem rude, it’s not really. The hiring manager is trying to be brief and honest. By explaining that the candidate isn’t quite ready for the role, it leaves a positive message for the future.

Email Template 4 | “Come Back to Us When You’ve Built Up More Experience”


Dear [Applicant Name],
I’d like to thank you for your interest in the [Job title] at [Company name] and for the time you’ve invested in the interview process. Unfortunately, we’ve decided to move forward with another applicant. While your qualifications are impressive, we needed an applicant with more hands-on experience. Should you wish to apply for similar roles in the future, when you have built up more direct experience, we would be very happy to offer you another interview.
On behalf of [Company name], I would like to thank you for your application and to wish you well in your future endeavours.
[Your Name]
[Your Job Title]

This is one of the politest rejection templates in this post. The hiring manager acknowledges that the applicant’s qualifications are great but still has to reject their application. The manager goes ahead and provides a genuine explanation for the decision. Additionally, he/she is willing to consider the applicant for future job opportunities at the company.

Illustrations courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Email Template 5 | “Unfortunately Your Credentials Don’t Fulfill What We’re Looking For”


Dear [Insert Name],
I am writing to let you know that your recent application for the position of [Insert Job Title] at [Insert Company Name] was not successful.
We interviewed a large number of applicants for the position, and several of those candidates had the experience that directly related to the role. Whilst your credentials and experience are impressive, they do not closely correlate with the requirements for this particular role. Thank you for taking the time to meet our interview team. We will, of course, keep your CV on file for future job openings that may be of interest to you.
Kind Regards,
[Your Name]

The hiring manager in this letter provides a clear explanation as to why the company didn’t hire the applicant. This helps rejected applicants understand the company’s needs and the type of applicants that best fulfill those needs.

Email Template 6 | “You’re More Suited to Another Vacancy We Have”


Dear [Insert Name],
Thank you for your recent application for the role of [Insert Job Title] at [Insert Company Name]. Whilst your application was not successful, the interviewing team was very impressed by you and felt that you might be more suited to another role that is currently available within the company. I have attached job description for the [Insert job title] role, for your consideration. If you’d like to arrange an interview for this role, please contact our HR team on [Insert telephone number].
I look forward to hearing from you and wish you well with your future endeavours.
Kind Regards,
[Your Name]
[Your Job Title]

Like most templates in this post, the HR manager is polite and starts by thanking the applicant for their interest in the company and applying for the job. Although the letter doesn’t provide insight into why the current application was unsuccessful, it acknowledges the applicant’s accomplishments and invites them to apply again for a more suitable role.

These six templates provide an insight into how to tell a job applicant that they have been turned down. You can just copy and paste them or use them as a starting point to develop your own letters or emails. Just make sure that the message is brief and clear about the rejection.

At Never the Right Word, our aim is to give you practical examples of how to handle life’s difficult conversations. If you have an awkward situation that you’d like example templates for, request a topic here.   

If you’re interested in further reading, we’ve also included links to our trusted resources and related posts below. To find out more about NTRW and our recommended tools, you can do that here.  

Lastly, if you found this content helpful or want to share your own examples, let us know in the comments. We’d also be delighted if you shared this article and joined us on social media too!

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Never the Right Word

Never the Right Word

Hi there! I’m Amy, and I’m the person behind Never the Right Word. I’m a designer-by-day who’s fascinated by human psychology; you’ll find me learning about what makes others tick through all types of media and good old-fashioned conversation. Learn more about me here.

In 2019 Never the Right Word was born to fill the gap of ‘how-to’ websites with copy and paste examples showing you EXACTLY what you need to say to steer difficult conversations into positive outcomes.

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