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5 Things to Remember When Sending Out Rejections

Veronica C. | March 21, 2011

A recruiter recently asked me an interesting question after a webinar I presented on conducting interviews. She wanted to know the preferred medium for sending a rejection letter. Should it be done by email, or with an old fashioned letter through the post? It’s certainly a great question to consider, as it’s a sensitive subject. What is the best way to deliver the bad news?

The most important thing to remember here is the people you interview are human, and regardless of how you choose to let them know, it needs to be done, and done in a timely fashion. One of the top complaints we hear from job hunters is the lack of common courtesy in letting them know if they’re still in the running for the job they’ve spent all kinds of time, money and nervous energy interviewing for. Whether you’re an entry level recent graduate, or a seasoned executive, trying to land a great job is stressful. The last thing anyone wants is to be kept on pins and needles, waiting for some kind of response that, in many cases, never even comes.

Email is a perfectly acceptable method by which to let someone down, and will save you time and expense. Regardless of how you send the letter, keep a few things in mind:

1) Commit to timely follow up by letting your candidates know when you will give them a decision, and stick to it. Don’t leave them hanging for weeks on end, but also make sure it doesn’t seem like you didn’t take the proper time to evaluate them. You probably don’t want a courier waiting on their doorstep to drop the bad news when they pull into their driveway. Whether you mail out rejections or email them, a week or 2 is a good rule of thumb.

2) Thank your applicants for coming in. Interviewing is stressful. Candidates miss work, spend money on transportation and use up their spare time prepping for your questions. Let them know you appreciate the effort, and their interest in your company.

3) Tell them why they didn’t get the position. A simple “the position has been filled” is plenty.

4) Feel free to tell them to apply to future openings, but only if you have a genuine interest. “We’ll keep your resume on file” sounds great, but no one believes you’ll be frantically searching for their resume next time you have an opening. If you have a position that will be coming available in the near future, let them know you think they might be a fit, and tell them to keep an eye out for it on your site.

5) Wish them luck in their search. A little courtesy goes a long way. Remember, if they’re interviewing for positions in your industry, you might end up working with them in the future!

Its always helpful to remember that anyone you interview could some day be a customer or colleague of yours.  Treat them the way you’d like to be treated, and you’ll create a lasting great impression of your company!  I’d love to hear any tips I may have missed.  Leave a comment, or email me at

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Category: Employers

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