A consummate recruiter is one who not only finds the right people but builds a strong pipeline for future recruitment by keeping the unsuccessful applicant informed of their status as well. Over the years, a recruiter’s role has evolved, from just finding and recruiting the right candidates to create a good interview experience for them. A good experience involves consistent integrity from approaching the candidate to seamless coordinating between interview rounds and finally, informing the candidate of their application’s status – whether successful or not. Candidates only expect better communication from recruiters. The key to better communication is to stay in touch with candidates during every step of the interview process. Ensuring that it happens though it is time-consuming can be done effectively by having a set of templates ready for each situation. We will present Rejection Email Templates in this article here.
Why is it important to send a status of an application to a candidate who does not make it?
Going through platforms like Glassdoor, one can see that the reviews for most of the companies involve candidates waiting indefinitely for an update and not being informed of their status during interviews. Bad interview experiences severely affect a company’s brand value, thereby affecting the talent attraction for future recruitments. That is why, if only to make recruiting marginally easier, it is crucial to send emails to unsuccessful candidates as well.
Most often, recruiters deal with a high volume of applications for any given position, and they are hard-pressed for time. Granted that creating the right experience is tedious and time-consuming, it is said that “Time spent on hiring is time well spent” (source) as teams and companies grow when the right people are on board. To help save some of that crucial time, having a set of handy email templates, especially for candidates who do not make it through an interview, is important.
When rejection is done right, it helps recruiters by:
- Enabling candidates to consider reapplying to future job roles
- Paving the way to the candidate becoming a future customer or vendor or recommend products/services that the company has on offer
- Spreading the word about the company’s culture of how a candidate is treated
Email Template Rules:
Irrespective of the type of email template, here are a few general rules to follow.
- Being Polite & Courteous: It is the foundation rule that applies to all formal communications but is especially important when sending a rejection email. Drafting an email with disappointing information can cause a range of emotions to flicker through an applicant’s mind. If the recruiter can help alleviate this by being respectful and politely conveying that they could not cut, the candidate is left feeling comforted that the employer cares.
- Sending Timely Emails: A good rule of thumb to follow is ‘to respond within 24 hours of receiving an application or conducting an interview. The longer the wait time, the longer a candidate is left feeling anxious. If a candidate has to follow up after having attended an interview, following a 1-2 day gap means you have waited too long.
- Following the Employer Brand: The voice or tone of the email sent should align with the employer’s brand. The tone of the emails needs to fit the target audience. Addressing a senior applicant is different compared to how communication would go to a fresh graduate. In case the employer is an exciting start-up, emails can reflect a slightly informal or a conversational style of communication. It’s not just about finding and recruiting employees. It translates to sowing seeds of the employer’s culture and reputation.
- Email Personalization: Albeit maintaining overall formality, each message can be tailored to the specific candidate persona, if possible. Based on previous conversations with a candidate, information specific to their profile can be referenced while sharing an email. Including constructive feedback or including links to blogs or study material for specific skills after the end of an interview goes a long way to help a candidate prepare better for future interviews.
- Brief: Regardless of the recruiting process stage, email templates should be kept short and concise. Only the most essential information is to be included. Emails sent to candidates to let them know their status of application do not need a lengthy description. Whether or not they are selected, the reason for rejection should always be honest and to the point, while reflecting the employer culture.
- Always Proofread: While using email templates, always ensure there are no typos. It is easy for mistakes to creep in if not checked properly. Always double-check that the candidate’s personal details are correct — the name at the top of each email should correspond to the email address being used. It does not reflect well on the employer’s brand if a candidate’s name is misspelled or the name is confused with another applicant entirely. Email communication going out should always be error-free and reflect that the employer respects and appreciates an applicant’s time and interest.
What are the points to keep in mind while sending an email to an unsuccessful candidate?
These emails have only one clear purpose: to let a candidate know that they were unable to get shortlisted or could not move past the initial screening process for a given open position. It is a delicate matter, and it needs to be dealt with with complete professionalism and a touch of compassion, if possible. Also, the emails should always be honest and to the point. Beating around the bush does not convey what the recruiter wants to mention and seems unnecessarily cruel to the candidate.
Points to keep in mind while writing in an email to an unsuccessful candidate:
- If a candidate’s application is screened out, being quick about informing them is highly important
- The job title and company name are to be mentioned
- Thanking candidate for their time and/or interest is essential
- Encouraging the applicant to apply at a future time by sharing Careers Page link, if needed
- These emails can be impersonal, especially when dealing with a huge volume of applications.
- Citing the reason for rejection (like lacking any of the must-have skills for a job)
After Interview (any round of interview):
- Addressing the candidate’s name makes them slightly more personal.
- Again, thanking the candidate for taking out their time to attend the interview process, be it short or extensive.
- Including the Job Title, Job Number if they applied through a portal, the Date of application, etc., to make it easier to judge the time lapsed from time to apply to the final revert.
- A short and clear statement mentioning that they were not shortlisted
- Providing a reason for not being shortlisted, if available
- Sharing technical feedback from a hiring manager
- Sharing resource references to prepare, or job references, if others are available that match the candidate’s application, if feasible.
Points that should NOT be included:
- A professional rejection email need not include detailed reasons for why an applicant did not make it.
- Any personal comments or information should be avoided as well.
- Any abusive language or graphics should be avoided at all costs.
- Any information or statement that may be construed as offensive to one’s beliefs or thoughts is a definite no.
- As with any communication, it is the safest and best course to write less when there isn’t anything positive to mention regarding any candidate’s interview or application.
- Using slang, abbreviations, vernacular/local language
- Making inappropriate jokes
- Including comments about an applicant’s appearance or race, or color
- Including reasons for rejection for any disability they may have
Below are a few sample Rejection Email Templates that should be included in every high-volume recruiter’s tool-kit:
Thank you for your interest in applying to the ABC position with our Company. We regret to inform you that your application has not been shortlisted for further process. Please note that our initial screening process has been made rigorous due to the huge volume of applications received. Hence, our basic criteria set for this role are not met with your profile.
We appreciate your time and invite you to check out our Careers page for future job openings and apply again.
AAA Talent Acquisition Team
The above template is most suitable for an ATS Generated emailer to be sent to applicants who were screened out before the interview itself. While this seems impersonal, it is effective to let the candidate know of their status fairly quickly. Variations of this template could be set in the ATS based on the volume of applications received, must-have skills for a required job role, etc.
Dear [Applicant First Name],
Thank you very much for your interest in a career at [Company Name]. We have received your application for the following position:
Job Number: 123456
Job Title: [Title of the position]
Application Date: [Date of receiving application]
We have received a huge volume of applications for this role and after careful review of your profile, give your experience; unfortunately, we have decided to go ahead with another applicant whose profile closely matches the need of this role currently.
Competition for roles at [Company Name] is always strong, and we have to make difficult decisions to ensure the criticality and urgency for any role is met at all times. Now that your information is with us in the database, we shall certainly reach out to you in the future for a role suitable for your specific profile.
We hope that you would consider applying again.
[Company Recruiting Team]
This template is an alternative to the first template. Again it indicates impersonality but addresses the reason for rejection. It emphasizes that the applicant’s profile has been given due consideration for the role applied and mentions that there is a definite possibility that the profile can be considered for a future requirement. This certainly leaves the applicant feeling better about applying again.
Dear [Applicant First Name],
We thank you for taking out time for our Telephonic discussion recently. While it was good to understand more about your work experience, we would not be able to take your candidature further. This role requires a strong command of Communication Skills, and we feel that criterion is not met at this time.
We encourage you to work on the same and apply again in the future for a suitable role.
Thank you again for showing interest in pursuing employment with our Company.
[Recruiter Full Name]
As mentioned in the template, this is suitable for Telephonic discussions scheduled for a given role. It can be altered based on the skill the recruiter is evaluating through a TeleCon. Sharing input based on the discussion that already happened makes the email slightly more personal than the first template. Also, this gives the candidate information on what went wrong and what they can improve for future interviews.
Dear [Applicant First Name],
It was great meeting you. Thank you for taking time out to go through the interview process for [Job Role] with [Company Name].
Given the seniority and criticality of the role, we met with a few other contenders as well. After severe deliberation, unfortunately, your name is not on the final shortlist. We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused, if any.
The ideas and plans you have for this role are truly marvelous. While the board has been immensely impressed with your unparalleled technical acumen, we have decided to offer the position to some with more people management experience keeping in line with the role’s demands.
Thank you again for your time and interest, and I wish you the best of luck in your search finding the right company for your experience. We’ll be sure to recommend your profile should a suitable role open up.
[Recruiter Full Name]
As is seen, this template is ideal for sharing with candidates who apply to Senior and crucial roles. The email highlights the applicant’s strengths and clearly delineates the reason why the candidate is unsuccessful in the interview process. It helps if the recruiter/hiring manager notes the strengths and areas of improvement while interviewing high-profile applicants to make the process both personal and truly professional.
Dear [Applicant First Name],
Thank you for your recent application for the [Job Role] with our company. While your application for this role has not been successful, the recruiting team has been highly impressed with the achievements apparent throughout your work experience. We feel that your profile would be more suitable for the following role with another department. Attaching the Job Description and details for your reference.
Kindly reach out to [Concerned Person], should you wish you apply to the alternate role.
Wishing you the best of luck and looking forward to hearing from you on this.
[Recruiter Full Name]
Found a candidate with an excellent track record and recommendations, but they would not be right for your current role? Checking to see if their profile matches with any other existing job opportunities can help both parties. This template can be used in similar cases when an alternative position is available, and the said applicant’s profile matches that position.
Dear [Applicant First Name],
We appreciate the time and energy you have invested in our recruitment process for the [Job Role] at [Company name].
We are glad that you were able to clear the Hackathon and 2nd level of project presentation. We applaud you to have come this far in our stringent screening process. However, we are disappointed to let you know that you were unable to make the cut in the Final Shortlist.
In the final technical interview, we were looking for a deeper and applicable understanding of the fundamentals. We find a mismatch here and feel that you would be better suited after gaining more hands-on experience. We suggest that you apply again after acquiring the required experience.
To help you with preparing better, here are a few reference links:
- Link #1 – Introduction to ABC
- Link #2 – Real-time application of ABC Fundamentals
We wish you good luck in your future endeavors.
[Company Recruiting Team]
The 6th template seems harsh and to the point. While being so, it also appreciates the progress the applicant has made so far in the process. Plus, it truly helps the candidate prepare better as the reference links for preparation have been added for perusal. This template may be the most to the point and in keeping with the current recruiting trend. As many start-ups and tech-focused companies recruit through Hackathons and demand a high level of technical capability, this template serves their purpose well. Giving reference links based on the applicant’s perceived areas of improvement is the icing on the cake.
The above templates are but a few examples of some of the most frequently occurring scenarios in a recruiter’s day-to-day work life. Having these templates or ones similar to above can certainly help build relationships with candidates who could not make it in that particular round of interviews. Having a positive relationship with candidates makes it easier to build that ever-important pipeline for future critical requirements.
The trick to exceptional recruitment is maintaining relationships built through the initial conversations with applicants. (Staying in touch)
This is especially true for cases where unsuccessful candidates could not make it due to either being overqualified for a role or being unsuccessful due to a mismatch of must-have skills. Here are a couple of ways to keep in touch with applicants for future roles:
- Inviting candidates in the pipeline for Career Events or Job Fairs
- Following their profile on social media (LinkedIn, etc.) to keep a tab on their progress, commenting on any workplace achievements posted, etc.
- Setting up notifications to reach out to candidates using ATS reminders.
Lastly, to realize effective 360-degree communication during the interview process, having a feedback form or questionnaire ready is essential. Better communication is achieved if it happens both ways. So far, communication from the employer to the applicant has been discussed. A seamless recruiting operation can be accomplished by encouraging candidates to share their experience during and after the interview process. Along with any of the above templates, a Feedback Questionnaire may also be included to understand how the candidate experienced. This, in turn, helps the employer keep their recruiting processes up to date, provided that reasonable suggestions are implemented.
This practice, although laborious, needs to be in place purely for a recruiter’s selfish needs. Ultimately, a better candidate experience leads to a better talent pipeline, which makes the recruiter’s life slightly less stressful. “When one door closes, another opens. However, once a door closes, a person often takes too long looking at the closed door in disappointment before they start looking for the next open door.”
No matter what is written, these emails tend to disappoint the candidate. It all comes down to the tone or the way it is written. Sharing constructive feedback can go a long way in building a strong relationship with the candidate. This can alleviate not only their disappointment a little but also boost employer brand. This act of compassion can help nudge candidates in the right direction and can be understood from the above statement paraphrased from Alexander Graham Bell’s quote.
Encouraging the applicants to apply again later can ultimately lead to them having a good overall experience, thereby enabling the candidate to recommend the employer to their friends/relatives. This process only makes a company’s recruitment process stronger as the competition to hire the best will continue to increase in the years ahead. Companies that go the extra mile while ensuring wholesome candidate experience will always have an edge in attracting and retaining talent.
Also read How To Write a Thank You For Donation Email [With Examples]