Interview Rejection Letters: How to Take the Sting Out

Interview rejection letters are usually form letters. Someone creates the template, and it's just a case of filling in the name and a few other details. But how much thought is given to writing the template in the first place? Judging by some of the cold, formal messages I've seen in the business world --- not much!

Put yourself in the place of the job candidate. A job search is a nerve wracking process at the best of times, and particularly the interview. When people have put themselves through it and put their best foot forward, naturally being rejected for the job is a great disappointment.

Unfortunately, many employment rejection letters are written in a tone that adds insult to injury. Here are some ways you can at least to some extent take the sting out.

• Instead of "Thank you for your interest in our company" (impersonal) try, "Thank you for giving us the opportunity to explore whether you were the right fit for the position of ..."

• Instead of "While your credentials are impressive" (sounds insincere) try, "While you certainly have some of the attributes we were looking for..."

• "We had a number of excellent applicants including you, which made our choice a difficult one. I am, however, sorry to advise you that we have selected another candidate for the position."

• Instead of "We will keep your resume on file for six months in case a position should arise that suits your qualifications" (arrogant --- why would you assume they would still be available in six months?) try, "If another appropriate position should arise that appears to fit your qualifications, we will certainly contact you. In the meantime, thank you for letting us get to know you, and I wish you success in your current job search." Notice that I've used the singular "I" in that last sentence, which makes it more personal.

As these examples illustrate, while losing the job competition is always disappointing, interview rejection letters written with empathy can make it a little less painful.

46 comments:

Brother Adam said...

Thank you, your suggestions in this article were very helpful as this is the first time I have been on this end of the job interview process and have had to hire someone. Having been on the receiving end of many rejection letters I wanted to make it as painless as possible.

Erica joy said...

Thanks. It is easy sometimes to write these letters and just send them but that usually turns out to seem heartless. Your suggestions are very much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Nice article...thanks for this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the help. I now have an idea on how to correctly write the letter

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the help. I now have an idea on how to correctly write the letter

Karl said...

Nice article. Your suggestions certainly help soften the blow. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Some great advice.
Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much! The little changes made the generic rejection letter so much more personal. Interviewing is such a draining process, and by the time I hire and go to send the letters, my brain is fried. (:

Anonymous said...

Ha. You just did all of the work for me. Cut and paste, here I come.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the help nice comments

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Anonymous said...

your employers who are reading..go to hell you bunch of f

heartless people who dont give a damn about us...qualified people who dont give the job except those incompetent ones.thank you and go to die in hell.

Anonymous said...

those who never reply back and never answer their phones when we call for the follow up. i hate you! i hate you! f####

Anonymous said...

Oh, for heaven's sake, it doesn't matter how you write it: a rejection letter is a rejection letter. Do you honestly think anybody who has ever received one believes you feel their pain at being passed over for a job? Do you honestly think using "empathetic" language makes being rejected any easier? Do you honestly think that by using a "kinder and gentler" way to say "we don't want you," the recipient will feel all better upon reading your patronizing, insincere words?

If so, then you're obviously a career HR person, and as such completely out of touch with the real world. This article wasn't written to make the rejected applicant feel better; it was written to make the person rejecting the applicant feel better. That sucks.

WhiteLady said...

It's a shame that some feel so personally embittered about receiving rejection letters; maybe if a little less of that vitriol was evident in your personality at interview you would be more successful?

Thank you so much for these suggestions. It is difficult when you get 400 applications for an Admin assistant's job and 90% of the potential candidates have been made redundant in the past year.
Some are under qualified, some over, some just don't have the right personality to be part of the business, it doesn't mean I don't feel awful about having to inform them that they have been unsuccessful in their application attempt. These phrasing suggestions have definitely helped me out.
Maybe it is just semantics but constructive criticism is far easier to handle than a downright slating!

Thanks again and good luck to all

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for your tip.. this help ease the painful process on the sender and receiver.

Anonymous said...

Really appreciate these tips. I found them very useful while I was trying to reject a candidate prior to the interview.

Anonymous said...

I have received plenty of rejection letters, but received only a couple that were decent. Thanks for giving me tips on how to remain decent to well-meaning folks who are honestly seeking to better themselves. The decision not to hire a couple of the candidates was tough, so I'm glad to remain as positive as possible and let the candidate know that they were well considered for the position.

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