Rejecting a Candidate: How to Say ‘Sorry, you didn’t get the job’?

Rejecting candidates is one of the biggest challenges for recruiters. In this blog post, you will learn how to say “Sorry, you didn’t get the job” in a way that will ensure that you maintain a strong Employer Brand, keep candidates in your talent pool and improve your candidate experience.


The importance of rejecting candidates in the right way

For some candidates, recruiters are builders of their future, but for others, they are dream crushers.
And who wants to be the dream crusher? 

Probably no one. Telling someone that they didn’t get the job is a really uncomfortable experience, but also something you have to go through when searching for your ideal job candidate

Besides being uncomfortable, the way you reject candidates can make or break your perfect recruiting recipe and have a serious impact on your company’s reputation.

Rejecting a candidate and saying "Sorry, but you didn’t get the job" in the "best" possible way is crucial for maintaining a strong Employer Brand, keeping them in your talent pool and improving your candidate experience.

Check out our free Guide About 15 Recruitment Trends to Implement in 2020!

Here is why the candidate experience is so important:


Despite popular belief, a candidate’s experience doesn’t end when you decide not to hire them

Candidates that don’t make the cut for one particular position may be a perfect fit for some of your future job openings. Keeping high-quality candidates in your talent pool and maintaining relationships with them can significantly improve the most important hiring metrics: Time to hire, Cost per hire and Quality of hire.

Now that we concluded that injecting a human touch to the rejection process makes it better and more considerate for everyone involved, let’s proceed by exploring different ways it can be done.

Rejecting a candidate with an email

Email - the most common professional way of communicating may seem as a reasonable choice for delivering the news. It is easy, you can just use the candidate rejection email templates, which can be personalized and sent in bulks using your Applicant Tracking System. And that’s it - you are done. A piece of cake!

The problem is that sending a rejection email can be seen as impersonal and cold. Imagine disappointed faces on the other side of the screen when they read this type of email and find out that they didn't get the job.

Even though it might seem like email is the easiest way to deliver bad news to your candidates, you should consider other options that are more in line with your Talent Acquisition strategy.

Want to offer your rejected candidates a personalized experience?
Rejecting candidates over an email doesn't have to provide a bad experience for the candidate or cost recruiters a lot of their time. Create personalized rejection reason templates and automate your communication flows with TalentLyft for a win-win solution!
 Get a demo! 

Rejecting a candidate over the phone

Many recruiters use phone calls to inform their candidates that were not selected for the specific job position. However, such phone calls have their pros and cons.

One of the biggest advantages is definitely that the recruiter can use his voice to soften the negative outcome this conversation is going to have. Make sure your candidates hear that you are considerate and thoughtful as much as you can.

Be sure they will appreciate you taking the time to explain to them all the reasons why they didn’t get that job but keep in mind that the absence of a visual presentation is still creating a distance between you and your candidate.

Rejecting a candidate using a video

When you first think about it, recording videos can seem complicated. But with the right video emailing software, you can actually save time, add a personal touch and have better control over your recipient’s feedback.

Video brings thoughtfulness, simplicity and creativity into the recruitment process and this is exactly what recruiters need, especially in the last phase of the recruitment process and in cases when you need to tell candidates that they didn't get the job.

Sending a video email to your candidates who didn’t get the job will make this situation a little bit easier for them as he will get the feeling that you truly appreciate their effort. 

How to reject a candidate using a personalized video email message?

It is probably easy to say that video is the best way to deliver bad recruitment news and tell candidates that they didn't get the job, but what should that video look like? What should you say?

Step #1: Say ‘Thank you’

Firstly, it is important to say your candidate’s name and thank him/her for his/her time and willingness to participate in this process.

The old-fashioned Thank you for applying for the position at the company” can’t be referred to as affectionate anymore. You don’t want a copy/pasted email phrase to ruin your candidate’s perception of your Employer Brand.

Every candidate should be treated with an individualized approach.

Step #2: Deliver the bad news with an explanation

The next step is the hard part where you want to spit out the bad news, but then again, it doesn’t have to be as wrong as it feels.

Instead of saying “You are not a good fit for our company”, try to provide a satisfying explanation and identify your candidate’s strength.

According to LinkedIn research, talent is 4 times more likely to consider your company for a future opportunity when you offer them constructive feedback.

Step #3: Keep in touch

Last but not least, close your video with a line that will show your candidates you want to stay in touch: “Please give us your feedback on this selection process and we would love to see you apply for our open positions in the future.”

Make sure your candidates feel like you want them to reach out to you if they feel the need to say something. Keep in mind that delicate situations like these help you establish yourself as an expert that this candidate will trust in future with his job search.

Example of a candidate rejection video email message

Here is a great example of how such a personalized video email message for rejecting candidates should look like:

This video has been made with Covideo, an easy-to-use video email software that provides you with numerous options for recording and sending videos.

How do you reject your candidates?

The next time you start typing bad news to your dear candidates, imagine how much better they would take the news with a personalized video email message where the recruiter is talking directly to them.

Thinking of ways to tell candidates that they didn't get the jobs is one of the biggest challenges for recruiters, but finding the best way to do so is what separates the average form the most successful recruiters!

About Covideo

Even though a lot of people think sending videos is time-consuming, there are a lot of cool video options that recruiters can use to communicate with their candidates. One of them is Covideo, an easy-to-use video email software that provides you with numerous options for recording and sending videos.

The next time you start typing bad news to your dear candidates, imagine how much better they would take the news with a personalized video email message where the recruiter is talking directly to them. Thinking of ways to tell candidates that they didn't get the job is one of the biggest challenges for recruiters, but finding the best way to do so is what makes you great at your job!

About author

Lucija Grubisic is a last-year student finishing her studies in marketing. She has been with Covideo for almost a year now, and she loves generating high-quality, inbound content!

Frequently asked questions

Why is it important to reject candidates properly? 

Proper rejection maintains a positive employer brand and candidate experience, keeping candidates in the talent pool for future roles.

What are some ways to reject a candidate? 

Candidates can be rejected through personalized emails, phone calls, or video messages, each method offering a different level of personal touch.

How can a video message enhance the rejection process? 

A personalized video message can add a personal touch and show appreciation for the candidate's effort, making the rejection less impersonal.

What should be included in a rejection message? 

The message should include a thank you note, a clear but kind rejection, and an invitation to apply for future positions, maintaining a positive relationship with the candidate.

How does the method of rejection impact the employer brand? 

The method and tone of rejection reflect on the employer brand, with thoughtful rejections enhancing the brand's perception among current and potential future candidates.

backgound backgound
Email Templates for Recruiters

Email Templates for Recruiters

Check out our set of Recruiter Email Templates used for sourcing, interview scheduling, job offers, rejections and referrals.
Get free templates

Further reading

[GUIDE] How to Segment Your Talent Pool [GUIDE] How to Segment Your Talent Pool
Segmenting your talent pool is the key to using it effectively and successfully. In this blog post, you will learn h ow to segment your talent pool. We will present...

By topics

Attracting Candidates
Best HR Blogs
Candidate Experience
Careers Page
Collaborative Hiring
Conducting Interviews
Coronavirus (Covid-19)
Company Culture
Employee Management
Employee Onboarding
Internal Recruitment
Employer Branding
Hire planning
HR Software
HR Tech Trends
Interview Questions
Job Advertisement
Mobile Recruitment
News & Updates
People Analytics
Recruiting Stats
Recruitment Agencies
AI in Recruitment
Recruitment by Industry
Recruitment Content
Recruitment Marketing
Recruitment Process
Recruitment & HR Software
Recruitment Trends
Remote Work
Resume Screening
Candidate Assessment
Social Recruiting
Talent Sourcing
Successful Recruiter
Talent Acquisition
Tech Recruiting
Employee Retention
Video in Recruitment
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

Your hiring teammate

TalentLyft is an intuitive recruitment app made for successful hiring.