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No one wants to be the bearer of bad news, but sending a rejection email to a candidate, especially if he or she was a finalist, is an unavoidable part of the hiring manager’s duties. Even after your top candidate accepts your employment offer, it can still be difficult to inform the other candidates that they are no longer under consideration. 

Here are the steps you can take to write a positive rejection letter that will make candidates still feel valued and amenable to applying to your company in the future:

Personalize the Message

A one-line rejection letter to the tune of, “Thank you for applying, but we have selected another candidate to move forward at this time” simply will not do. Use the candidate’s name, the position he or she applied for, and when he or she came in for the interview. This is a simple, but powerful way to make the candidate feel respected.

  • Example: Dear Sam, Thank you for coming in last Thursday to speak with us about the Financial Manager position.

Say Thank You

Thank the candidate for their interest in the position and the time they put in for the interview process. Candidates have likely invested many hours perfecting their resumes, fine-tuning their portfolios, practicing how to respond to questions, and not to mention time spent attending the actual interviews. “Thank you” is two little words that can speak volumes.

  • Example: Thank you for interviewing with us. We appreciate your interest in the position and the time you spent meeting with us. 

Reject Kindly and Offer a Reason

There are many reasons a candidate could be rejected: a very competitive hiring pool, not enough experience, misaligned skills, etc. Whatever the reason may be, gently, but firmly explain the decision to move on with another candidate. 

  • Example: The candidate pool was highly competitive–we have never seen stronger finalists for this role. The committee has ultimately decided to move forward with another candidate who has more management experience at this time. 

Invite Candidate to Apply Again

If you are rejecting a high-quality candidate who just wasn’t a fit for the particular role, but would make an excellent addition to the company in another capacity, invite him or her to apply again in the future. If you already know of other opportunities on the horizon, share that information with them. However, feel free to skip this section if the candidate is not a cultural or functional fit at your organization.

  • Example: That being said, the committee was extremely impressed with your interview and your skill set. We just opened a Financial Analyst III position that we hope you would consider. Should that position work out, there would be future opportunities for leadership as our department continues to grow.  

Sign Off

Your sign off can be short and sweet. It doesn’t hurt to wish them luck in the future or reiterate your appreciation of his or her interest in the job.

  • Example: Once again, I’d like to thank you for your time and interest in the Financial Manager position. Please continue to think about our company as you consider future career options. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors. Sincerely, (Your Name)


A positively-written rejection email leaves candidates with a great lasting impression of you and your organization. The latter point is particularly poignant if you are rejecting a highly-talented individual who may be a fit for future openings. 


For more tips and advice on hiring quality talent, download our free WhitePaper on Perfecting The Perfect Hire.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

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