The Best Practices to Contacting Rejected Candidates

Assessment The Best Practices to Contacting Rejected Candidates

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Rejecting candidates isn’t an employer’s most favorite thing to do, but as a leader, it is a necessary part of the business. There are many different ways to go about contacting rejected candidates, and some are better than others. Decide which approach is right for you when it comes time to deliver the news.

Rejecting candidates isn’t a pleasant task. Even if you don’t dread delivering the bad news, it can be time consuming. But it’s worth it; letting candidates know that they have not been selected for a position you interviewed them for projects professionalism and can help small businesses extend their networking opportunities.

Most job openings receive too many applications to contact everybody, however, when you interview just a small pool of candidates, or someone makes it to the second or third round, you should contact them. There can be real consequences to not contacting candidates.

Rejected candidates who are not contacted have reported that they would discourage others from applying at the company, or even purchasing its products or services. Conversely, making the candidate feel valued means they might apply again or encourage others to do so.

Contacting Rejected Candidates

It’s quicker and easier to e-mail candidates than it is to phone them, especially if you create a form letter. If a candidate was in the final consideration for the role, you should write a slightly more personal email or make a phone call. Letters should be polite, but definitive in their rejection. Don’t tell candidates you will keep their information on file or contact them in the future if it isn’t true.

If possible, give a little feedback to the candidates who were the top choices. You might want to contact them in the future. It will pay off to have them think you thought about them seriously enough to do this. It adds to your reputation as a good company to work for.

Emailing seems more impersonal, but sometimes candidates are reluctant to ask questions on the phone. In addition, you don’t have to worry about having them call you back unexpectedly. Reply to their response if necessary, but you probably don’t want to start a conversation.

Rejecting Candidates Referred by Employees

One rejection it can make sense to worry about is the rejection of a candidate referred by an employee. It’s possible that the employee will feel slighted or embarrassed, especially if they’re particularly close to the candidate they recommended. Simply be honest and explain that their recommendation turned out not to be the best choice. Don’t apologize; it isn’t a personal decision and they should react professionally.


Contact rejected candidates as soon as you confirm that your choice will indeed take the job. Again, your reputation could suffer if you leave candidates waiting. You will also avoid getting emails and phone calls from candidates trying to check on their status.

Contacting rejected candidates isn’t just a polite thing to do, it’s good business.

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