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How To Give Feedback to an Unsuccessful Candidate (Template and Sample Included)

Informing unsuccessful candidates after an interview may make you feel uncomfortable and stressed because no one likes to be the bearer of bad news. By providing feedback using an unsuccessful candidate template and sample script, you can make the difficult conversation easier and more productive for you both.

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Tips for informing unsuccessful candidates after an interview

Giving feedback to unsuccessful candidates isn’t mandatory, and many companies choose not to provide it. However, offering it when informing unsuccessful candidates after an interview may make a big impact and help the bad news be better received. Follow these tips to give constructive feedback:

1. Don’t put it off

The longer a candidate has to wait to receive the news, the more difficult it may be for them to accept a rejection and be receptive to your feedback. Prompt feedback lets unsuccessful candidates know they should continue their job search and may provide them with valuable information to improve the outcome of subsequent interviews.

2. Soften the negative with the positive

You’ve likely heard that accentuating the positive is beneficial when giving feedback to employees, and the same is true with unsuccessful candidates. Starting off by naming one strength a candidate has and then pointing out the weakness or area of concern that led you to select another candidate can make the information easier to process and keep negative emotions in check.

3. Stay focused on the present to keep the future open

A candidate who isn’t the ideal fit today may become one tomorrow. After all, your hiring needs change, and people grow and acquire skills and experience over time. Using the words at this time keeps the conversation focused on the present. It suggests that there may be future opportunities for the candidate with your company.

4. Suggest other areas of opportunity where appropriate

If you believe the candidate could be a good fit for a position that may open in the future or would be a better-quality applicant after some work experience or education, feel free to mention the potential for future opportunities. Just avoid making promises or guarantees. For example, you might say, I believe we may have a technician position opening in the next few weeks that might be a better fit for you.

5. Be as specific as possible without compromising privacy

Let the candidate know what the main deciding factor was in your decision. You could say you chose someone with a more advanced degree, or you hired an internal candidate who was already familiar with your systems and processes. Provide specific details without giving out personal information, such as where the successful candidate went to school or worked previously.

Providing feedback in writing

If you decide to communicate the outcome of the interview process by email, choosing your words carefully can help you part ways with the candidate on a more positive note. Generally, an email should include:

  • Words of thanks: The candidate took time to prepare for and attend the interview, and saying thank you shows you recognized and appreciated their efforts.
  • Feedback: By briefly summarizing why the candidate was unsuccessful, you can give them areas of improvement to focus on in the future or take the mystery out of your decision-making.
  • Well wishes: Let the candidate know that you hope they’re successful in the future to make a personal connection.

Unsuccessful candidate template for emails

Dear [candidate name],

Thank you for your interest in the [Job Title] position with [Company Name]. We enjoyed getting to know you and appreciate you taking the time to speak with us and visit our office.

Although we were impressed with your [name one of the candidate’s strengths], ultimately, we are unable to offer you the position. At this time, we have chosen to go with another candidate who [briefly name the advantage the other candidate had].

Again, thank you for attending the interview. We wish you the best in your future endeavors.


[Your name]

[Your position]

Unsuccessful candidate email sample

Dear Steven,

Thank you for your interest in the Customer Service Representative position with 123 Call Center. We enjoyed getting to know you and appreciate you taking the time to speak with us and visit our office.

Although we were impressed with your communication skills, we were ultimately unable to offer you the position. At this time, we have decided to go with another candidate who has more experience working in a call center environment.

Again, thank you for attending the interview. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.


Jane Smith

Call Center Manager

Related: How to Write a Candidate Rejection Email (With 2 Samples)

Providing verbal feedback

When calling an applicant by phone to inform them of your hiring decision, having a script to rely on can ensure that the conversation starts smoothly. It also allows you to leave a professional-sounding voicemail if the candidate doesn’t answer your call. The basic components of verbal feedback are largely the same as the key parts of the unsuccessful candidate template, and include:

  • Greeting and thank you
  • Feedback
  • Well wishes and closing

Verbal interview feedback sample script

Hello, Steven. This is Jane Smith, Call Center Manager at 123 Call Center. I’d like to personally thank you for your interest in the Customer Service Representative position and for taking the time to meet with us. We enjoyed getting to know you and were impressed with your communication skills. However, at this time, we’ve opted to go with a candidate with more experience. Again, thank you for attending the interview. Best wishes to you in your future endeavors.

Unsuccessful candidate template FAQs

How do you tell someone they were unsuccessful in an interview?

Generally, a phone call is a more personable way to communicate feedback to an unsuccessful candidate. If your schedule doesn’t allow time for a phone call, an email is an acceptable substitute. Due to the potential for a slow delivery time frame, avoid sending a letter in the mail.

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

Why is it important to deal positively with an unsuccessful candidate?

Naturally, candidates experience negative emotions when they don’t receive a job offer after an interview. By dealing with them courteously and taking the time to provide constructive feedback, you may help ease their stress and disappointment. The candidate is then more likely to describe your company positively to others, benefiting your brand image and potentially helping you attract quality candidates in the future.

How do you respond to a candidate asking for more feedback?

Even if you use the unsuccessful candidate template above to communicate feedback in writing, you may get additional questions or feedback requests. Be courteous, and answer any follow-up questions using the same approach you took when writing the initial feedback. In some cases, candidates may even request a meeting to discuss feedback further. Depending on your company’s policies, you may need to decline this request and instead offer to answer their questions by phone or in writing.

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