Rejection Letters

From the interviewer's standpoint when writing to unsuccessful interviewees, it's essential that you do not write anything that could carry a liability for claims of discrimination, libel or defamation of character. If you are the interviewing manager or have the responsibility for sending interviews rejection letters and have any doubt about local policies and laws concerning interviews rejection letters, consult with your HR department before writing and sending job interviews letters to unsuccessful candidates.

Generally the safest kindest way to write an interview rejection letter is to simply say thank you, and to state that the reason for the interviewee not being successful is due to there being better qualified candidates. Below is a sample thank you rejection letter.

See the notes below also relating to more complex and positive rejections of job applications, notably for additional guidance about giving constructive feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

Basic sample job interviews rejection letter

Name and address of candidate.

Date

Dear (Mr/Ms/Mrs/Miss Surname)

Thank you for attending the interview (or group selection event) with us on (date) at (location) for the position of (position).

While you presented yourself extremely well and impressed us very much, I regret that we are not on this occasion able to offer you the position, due to there being other better qualified (or more suitably qualified) candidates.

I thank you for the interest and enthusiasm you have shown and wish you all the best for the future.

Best wishes, etc

Sample job interviews 'holding' letter

Here's a job interviews 'holding' letter, to be used when the selection decision is delayed for some reason, when it is important to acknowledge and thank the interviewee and keep them informed (and interested) in the position:

Name and address of candidate.

Date

Dear (Mr/Ms/Mrs/Miss Surname)

Thank you for attending the interview (or group selection event) with us on (date) at (location) for the position of (position).

You presented yourself extremely well and impressed us very much, and the interview process is still ongoing. We will be in touch as soon as possible to inform you whether we can offer you the position or not (or when and if we will need to see you again).

I thank you for the interest and enthusiasm you have shown thus far. Should you have any questions meanwhile please let me know.

Best wishes, etc

Other notes and examples for sensitive and constructive job application rejection letters

Here are some further ideas for job applications rejections, sample letters, and especially how to deal with unsuccessful applicants more sympathetically and constructively. Use or adapt these examples and ideas when informing job applicants that they have been unsuccessful in applying for job interviews, or after unsuccessfully attending job interviews (if you are a pioneering manager working outside of the HR department you should agree things first with your HR department).

This is a challenging area that many employers will not be able, or desire, to explore. Which is fine. You'll get around to it when you are good and ready...

First of all, you are not obliged to give a reason for the rejection. It is not a good thing to concoct a reason, not least because people aren't stupid (think back to your own experiences when you've been given a flimsy excuse or reason), and obviously you should avoid writing anything to a job applicant that could be regarded as discriminatory or insulting.

However, you should try to add a positive aspect to rejection letters if you can. It's good to do so, especially when someone has clearly tried their best. It's a wicked world - why not try to make it little kinder. People remember when they have been treated well; they tell their friends, and they'll remember when and if you meet them again one day. What goes around comes around, as they say.

Employers routinely reject people without a care for the rejected person's sensitivities; it's an assumption passed down from manager to successor. "We've always done it that way - why waste time bothering about people?...".

However, a little consideration can help a lot to reduce the demoralizing effect of receiving a rejection letter...

If the application or interview is a good one, but not quite good enough to succeed, it often makes sense to keep the person's details for possible future reference. If you plan to do this then tell the person. It's a positive aspect, albeit within a rejection letter. Having said this, don't just say it for the sake of it.

Particularly forward-thinking employers (and able managers) can offer to give applicants constructive feedback on their unsuccessful applications (and failed interviews too), and this again is an option that you can choose or not, in which case be mindful as ever about potential discrimination and defamatory risks. Postal or telephone feedback is possible, each of which of course have implications for time and control, and costs, for the employer - it's your choice. If you offer feedback ensure it is fair and that you establish a process for identifying a few constructive points, giving them, and recording them, which can quite easily be incorporated into the normal recruitment process and documentation. You will after all have made the rejection on specific grounds, rather than on a whim, in which case, it's a logical step to then communicate these points back to the applicant. One can easily argue that it's only fair to do so. A simple way to do this is to create a simple list of the most common reasons for rejecting people, and to indicate on the list the reason(s) applicable to each person failing to progress.

Giving positive feedback verbally or in writing, outside of a controlled list of reasons, requires a certain level of skill, so that the feedback is not perceived as a criticism, and so that the discussion or communication (whether verbal or a written response) remains adult-to-adult. Written feedback is safer, but verbal feedback is better, if handled well. The risk is that the feedback leads to defence or argument from the recipient, so it's important to accentuate the positive and be objective and factual, for example: "Clearer presentation of your qualifications would have enabled us to make a fuller assessment," or "The application would have stood a better chance if it had been more neatly presented," or "We needed to see more evidence that you understood the communications and relationships requirements of the role."

© alan chapman 1995-2009
www.businessballs.com

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