How to Send a Rejection Letter After an Interview (With 3 Samples)

Once you’ve selected the top candidates you want to move on to the next phase of the hiring process, there’s another important step you need to take: sending a rejection letter to the applicants who were not selected.
 

An interview rejection letter is a customary form of communication that informs job candidates they’re not moving forward in the hiring process. Rejection letters after interviews are generally sent within a two-week period, and they typically consist of one to two paragraphs that are concise and to the point.
 
If a candidate is highly skilled but not the best fit for the role you’re currently filling, a rejection letter is also an excellent opportunity to let them know you’re impressed with their background and would like them to apply in the future.

 

Read on to learn more about the process of sending rejection letters.
 

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Tips on how to write a job rejection letter after interview

 

1. Personalize your interview rejection letter

While you might use a standard template for all rejection letters, take time to tailor it to the candidate by including their name, the position and something you recall from your conversations. For example: “We were impressed with your experience launching your own business.” Or, “It’s always great to meet a fellow state university alum!”
 

Another way to personalize a candidate interview rejection letter is to offer constructive feedback about their interview performance. This can go a long way toward building a strong employer brand and making the experience worthwhile for candidates.

 

2. Keep the interview rejection letter concise

It’s essential to be concise. Don’t make the applicant read through several paragraphs of praise for their skills and experience only to discover they haven’t been selected to move forward. Be respectful of their time and share the news early in the letter.
 

3. Be professional and considerate in your rejection letter after the interview

While it’s likely the applicant will be disappointed no matter how you frame the interview rejection letter, using professionalism and consideration can diminish any negativity they may feel toward you or the company.
 
Consider using the “sandwich method” where you deliver less welcome news between two positive messages. For example, consider starting by letting the applicant know you’re impressed by a specific skill or experience. Next, tell them you’ve chosen to move forward with another candidate. Finally, finish by thanking them for their time and wishing them the best of luck in their future endeavors.
 

4. Send the interview rejection letter as soon as possible

According to an Indeed survey, there is a discrepancy between the average amount of time employers say it takes them to respond to candidates and the length of time applicants say they wait to hear back. For example, 68% of employers say they respond to candidates within a week, while 44% of job seekers say it takes up to two weeks—and another 15% reported waiting months.*
 
The bottom line: Send the interview rejection letter as soon as you’ve made the decision. Applicants are likely anxious to hear from you—especially if they’ve already come in for an interview. By quickly offering your response, you can end the uncomfortable waiting period and stand out as an organization that cares about the applicant experience.
 

52% are extremely likely to move forward in the interview process if they hear back within 48 hours
 

Often a rejection letter will give an applicant the nudge they need to explore other, better-suited opportunities.
 

5. Consider giving interview feedback

When sending an interview rejection email or letter, consider including feedback of the entire interview to show each candidate you took their interview seriously.
 

Providing positive feedback can help soften the blow of an interview rejection letter, and feedback that includes gentle constructive criticism helps the candidate learn what to avoid or change in subsequent interviews.
 
86% of job seekers want interview feedback but only 57% have ever received it
 

Some tips on providing good interview feedback include taking notes throughout the interview, focusing on an applicant’s strengths and avoiding comparison with other applicants.


Sample interview rejection letters

To help you put together your template, here are some sample rejection letters after interview using all of the tips mentioned above.
 

Standard sample of rejection letter after interview

August 1, 20XX
Cody Fredrickson
 
1234 Main Street
Seattle, WA 98101
 
Dear Cody,
 
Thank you so much for your interest in the Marketing Manager role here at ABC Company, and for taking the time to come in and meet with the team last week. It’s always great to meet a fellow Washington State University alum!
 
While we were all impressed with your skill set and knowledge, we’ve decided to move forward with another candidate who has more leadership experience. However, we feel you’re an excellent culture fit and encourage you to apply for other positions that will be available in the marketing department in the coming months.
 
Thank you again for the time you invested in applying and interviewing for this role. We wish you the best of luck in your job search and all future endeavors.
 
Sincerely,
 
Jill Flores
HR Director
 

Rejection email after interview sample

Interview rejection emails generally follow the same format as interview rejection letters. However, they may be a bit shorter and more concise. Here’s a good example of a rejection email sent following an interview:
 

Dear Cody,
 

Thank you for taking the time to meet with our team about the Marketing Manager position at ABC Company. Unfortunately, after careful consideration, our team chose to move forward with another candidate.
 

Please know that ABC Company receives multiple resumes for each position, and it’s often difficult for us to choose between several high-caliber 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 opens up that suits your profile.
 

If you would like specific feedback about your interview, feel free to reach out to me directly. Thanks again for your interest in ABC Company, and I wish you good luck in all future endeavors.
 

Regards,

Jill Flores
 

Interview rejection letter with interview feedback

Including interview feedback with a rejection letter isn’t a requirement, but it can be helpful to the applicant while allowing the employer to complete two tasks at once instead of waiting for a feedback request. Here is a good example of an interview rejection letter with the addition of interview feedback.
 

August 1, 20XX
Cody Fredrickson
 
1234 Main Street
Seattle, WA 98101
 
Dear Cody,
 

As mentioned during your initial interview, ABC Company interviewed multiple candidates for the Marketing Manager position. After careful review of your resume and consulting with our additional team members, we have decided to go another direction and offer the position to another candidate.
 

Please know that while we chose a different candidate for the Marketing Manager position, we were very impressed by your resume and interview. ABC Company has several departments, so we will keep your information on file in the event that another position opens up that matches your profile.   

Some positive points that caught my attention in your initial interview were your past experience in management, your education and your impeccable attention to detail. All of these aspects should serve you well in your job search.
 

Our team wishes you personal and professional success in your future endeavors.
 

Sincerely,
Jill Flores
 

A good rejection letter informs candidates that they will not be moving on to the next phase of the hiring process without giving a negative impression of your company. By keeping the letter or email personal and considerate and sending it as quickly as possible, the candidate may have a more positive experience.
 

Frequently asked questions about interview rejections

 

Should I reject job candidates by phone?

For candidates who undergo stringent interview proceedings that include first, second and third interviews, it’s important to provide rejections over the phone. This shows that you respect them and appreciate all the time they took to attend interviews on multiple occasions.
 

When a job only requires a single interview or the candidate has been advised that multiple people are up for the position, an interview rejection letter or email is a suitable choice. Additionally, you can include a line that the candidate can contact you directly for interview feedback if they choose to do so.
 

What do you say when you are rejecting an internal candidate?

When rejecting an internal candidate, it should not be done via an interview rejection letter or email. Instead, ask to meet with the candidate in person or schedule a phone conference.
 

During the conversation, let them know why they were passed on for the promotion and try to be as specific as possible. While it may feel slightly uncomfortable rejecting a candidate in person, in the long run this can help prevent complaints if the individual believes they were discriminated against.
 

If possible, provide interview feedback, let the candidate know if there are areas in their current position that can be improved upon and advise them to apply for the next internal opening. Also consider providing feedback on areas of the interview that stood out in a positive way.
 

How long should an interview rejection letter be?

In general, an interview rejection letter should be concise and no longer than a single page. When writing your first paragraph, it’s important to get right to the point in letting the candidate know they were not chosen for the position.
 

While it may seem nice to start off with positive feedback, this can give false hope of a job offer as the applicant scans the letter. A few paragraphs explaining that your company decided to go another way and that you appreciate their time is sufficient, and you may also include a paragraph of interview feedback.

*Decipher/FocusVision on behalf of Indeed

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*Indeed provides this information as a courtesy to users of this site. Please note that we are not your career or legal advisor, and none of the information provided herein guarantees a job offer.