7 Tips For Telling Someone They Didn’t Get the Job

As an employer, telling someone they did not get the job can be tough - no question about it. But while it’s tough, it’s also a necessary part of the hiring process.

Need help putting together a game plan? Read these tips on how to properly turn down a candidate.

How to tell someone they didn’t get the job


Questions Answered

  • Tips for telling someone they did not get the job

  • Should I offer constructive feedback

  • Should I tell them to apply again

  • Should I say the position was filled

  • Should I email or call


It’s not a fun task to call someone that applied for a position in your company and tell them it’s not going to work out.

HOW you tell someone they did not get the job is important as you don’t want to be cruel or have them look negatively on the company.

Whether you’ve never done it before or want to improve your technique, this article offers advice for letting a job seeker down gently without leading them on.

 

7 Tips For Telling Someone They Didn’t Get the Job

1. Inform Them Promptly

The best thing to do when telling someone they didn’t get the job is to tell them as soon as you know. (but that doesn’t mean telling them at the end of the interview, as this can sting).

If you made your hiring decision in the moment and decided to go with a stronger candidate, let them know the next morning or early afternoon.

Waiting may give false hope or keep them in a state of anxiety and stress.

Ripping off the bandaid is a kindness, even if you feel bad doing it. 

2. Be Empathetic

Try not to be a robot when delivering this bad news. It’s okay to say sorry and that you regret giving them this news. 

Try to use a sullen or regretful tone.

If you call in a delightful voice, this may give the wrong idea and make it seem like you are mocking them.

Put yourself in their shoes and treat them how you would want to be treated in this situation. 

3. Thank Them

Thank them for their time and effort during the job application process, especially if they came in for a second interview, took an assessment, or performed other tasks beyond just applying. 

By thanking them for their time and acknowledging their effort, you make them feel appreciated, to a degree, and they’re less likely to walk away with a sour taste in their mouth.

And honestly, it’s just the polite thing to do. 

4. Avoid Small Talk

Don’t call and open the conversation with the weather or world news. Doing so is simply cruel, as they just want to know if they got the job or not.

Small talk may make it seem like they did.

There’s no reason to drag out this painful message, so get straight to the point. 

5. Personalize the Response

It’s best not to send out “templated” letters to reject applicants. Doing so can make them feel unappreciated and give your company or business a bad reputation.

Try to tailor rejection letters and phone calls to the individual applicant to prevent sour feelings. 

Companies that receive hundreds or thousands of resumes for a job opportunity may have difficulty doing this but try your best.

And if you interviewed them, they deserve a personal response. 

6. Acknowledge Their Strengths

Don’t lie to them but if they had decent qualities and appropriate strengths for the position, it’s okay to compliment them, even if you went with a different candidate. 

You can do this while explaining why they weren’t the ideal fit and why they may be better suited to a different kind of job. 

7. Highlight Other Candidates

You can simultaneously highlight the candidate’s strengths while explaining the qualities needed for the job that they lacked. 

For example, you can complement one’s writing skills while explaining this position requires better finance skills.

Explaining the reasoning behind your decisions can help them better themselves for the next job and give them closure. 



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Should I offer constructive feedback?

You don’t need to offer constructive feedback, but if they ask and you have some interview feedback to offer, it’s a helpful gesture.

For example, you may want to tell a candidate that they were too casual during an interview or that their resume has too much irrelevant information.

These small comments can help them in future interviews and help them land a future opportunity. 

Should I tell them to apply again?

Don’t give false hope, but if they were a strong candidate and there was just a stronger candidate, you can encourage them to apply again when there’s another open position.

Or you can suggest an open position that they may be better suited for.

But if you don’t see them ever fitting in at your company, there’s no reason to keep that door open and waste their time.

Should I say the position was filled?

Being honest is always best.

If the position is filled, it’s okay to tell them. But if you‘re still reviewing applicants and conducting interviews, don’t lie to them.

It may give you or the company a bad reputation, discouraging future applicants. 

Is it better to call or email?

A good rule of thumb is to continue with the means of communication you were using before.

If you only communicated via email, it’s fine to send a personal rejection letter in an email. 

But if you conduct several interviews, whether on the phone or in person, it’s expected that the rejection will also come via a phone call.

Resorting to a rejection email, in this instance, can be impersonal and hurtful. 


Wrapping Up | How to tell someone they didn’t get the job

At the end of the day, don’t beat yourself up over these rejections. It’s all a part of the hiring process which candidates also understand.

To recap our seven tips to reject a candidate:

  • Let them know right away

  • Be empathetic

  • Thank them

  • Avoid any small talk

  • Personalize the response

  • Acknowledge their strengths

  • Highlight other candidates

The best you can do is be polite, concise, and empathetic, so they can make peace with your decision and move on. 

We hope this helps - best of luck in the hiring process!


Title: How to tell someone they didn’t get the job

Category: Employers

Tags: how to tell someone they didn’t get the job, letting someone know they did not get the job, turning down candidates