Cannot-Miss Tips to Write An Applicant Rejection Letter

Cannot-Miss Tips to Write An Applicant Rejection Letter

/blog/posts/applicant-rejection-letter - July 16, 2019 - 4 minute read -
campus-recruiting candidate-experience recruiting-coordinators

An attractive company would be more likely to be able to get the hands on the best talents in the pool. So how can you create a good organizational image in the eye of future candidates? A research from International Journal of Organization Analysis suggested going with compensation, name brand, and the company culture per se. Yet there exists an easy way that many recruiters failed to notice: a “good” rejection letter.

I. What Can A (Good) Applicant Rejection Letter Do?

Not all candidates make it to the contract. Hence, giving an applicant rejection letter will not present any detrimental impact as all firms should do as needed. However, you can take different approach would help you stand out. Following up strategy is undoubtedly good, but you’ll gain more benefits if even unsuccessful prospects are given similar attention.

We deemed the traditional approach to writing rejection letters inflexible. In other words, it is using unfit templates, or conduct with rather poor word choices. Very often you’ll see the conversation risks being one-sided, subduing and discouraging further (positive) interactions. Eventually, you have to admit that the applicant rejection letter - if done correctly - could favor both parties. Firstly, it complements the company image of thoughtful care from beginning to end towards the talent pool. Secondly, it encouraged and enhanced candidate experience would be perfected, and in specific cases (see part II) capabilities in the long run, given stated guidance.

II. What To Consider In Writing An Applicant Rejection Letter

Using a template is not inherently a bad thing - but rather how badly customized it is. In other words, you should consider several elements that should be accounted for in making the customization logical and humane. In an HBR writing, the author suggested tailoring according to the recipient’s position, interest and performance. With regards to the sender’s wants and needs as well, there are three main aspects as follows:

rejection letter consideration

1. The Stage Of The Recruitment Process

You should take into consideration the linkage between the position and the personalization of the letter: The further the position in the process, the more personalized the letter should be. Raise the informality, subtly. This is a polite denial response, not a friend-to-friend conversation.

2. The Level Of Performance

94% of the applicants desire to know how well they did in an interview. So, give basic insights and comments respectively. Also, higher performing individuals often have higher expectations. The higher the expectation, the higher the rejection sensitivity they possess; therefore, you should be very careful with the word choices. Above all, a smart rejectee will come back stronger if given a good enough reason.

3. The Attitude Of The Company

Applicants surely have varied preferences and enthusiasm towards the company. Though the intimacy level in language choice and the candidate’s attention are expectedly positively proportional, all applicants should be treated indifferently. Regardless of any factors, you should send in a timely manner with the acknowledgement of the applicant’s effort.

III. How To Write An Applicant Rejection Letter Properly

There should be four main parts in the following order: expressing gratitude → delivering news → giving main reasons → offering hope. It feels hard to reject a person - but that does not grant the right to beat around the bush. Also, do not try to give out false hope just for the sake of being nice. If nothing, it is even more unkind than not saying anything.

Other major pitfalls include being 4 too’s and 1 lack, according to Carmichael in the aforementioned HBR writing. They are: too broad - too repetitive - too jargony - too self-promotional - and lack of supporting information. Being precise is enough. To simplify the word choice difficulty, there are two recommended approaches:

how to write applicant rejection letter

  • Sandwiching: Layering positive and negative feedback (with the positive one in the beginning and the end) can soften the blow, consequently dealing with the high rejection sensitivity. Thus it strengthens the relationship between the employer and the applicant. Note that a sandwich with too many layers is difficult to bite - try to limit to 3 layers of criticism only.

  • The ‘restaurant rejection’: In a well-serviced restaurant, a returned dish always comes with a bottle of wine or something similar for compensation. You can adopt a pretty much similar approach, with options like self-help ebooks, proposed alternatives and other possible guidances available. With compensations like these employers can show their attention towards nurturing the talent pool.


It is not as hard as it seems to turn down someone - though it sounds rather harsh.

If you write a good applicant rejection letter, you could do wonders for both the rejecter and the rejectee. You need to stay customizable in the right places and pay attention to the word choice with cushioned criticism and extra offer If you still feel struggled with writing applicant rejection letter, you can try out our templates here.

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