How to Tell Someone They Didn’t Get the Job in 2023

Telling Someone They Didn’t Get the Job

How to let someone know they didn’t get the job

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

If you need help putting together a game plan for those scenarios where you have to turn down a candidate, follow the outlined tips below.

Questions Answered

  • Tips for telling someone they did not get the job
  • Should I offer constructive feedback
  • Should I ask 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 won’t work out. Whether you’ve never done it before or want to improve your technique, this article offers advice for gently letting a job seeker down without leading them on.

How to tell someone they didn’t get the job (7 Tips to Follow)

1. Inform Them Promptly

The best thing to do when telling someone they didn’t get the job is to let them know as soon as you know.

That doesn’t necessarily mean telling them at the end of the interview, as this can sting. If you made your hiring decision at the moment and decided to go with a stronger candidate, let them know the following day or early afternoon.

Waiting may give false hope or keep them in a state of anxiety and stress. Ripping off the bandaid is kindness, even if you feel wrong. 

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 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 want to know if they got the job. 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 those rejection letters, emails, 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 (if necessary)

You can simultaneously highlight the candidate’s strengths while explaining the qualities needed for the job that they lacked if you would like. 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 suggest, 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 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. 

Rejection Email or Rejection Call?

A good rule of thumb is to continue with the communication platform you used before when turning down an applicant. If you only communicated via email throughout the process, sending a personal rejection letter in an email is okay. 

But if you conduct several interviews, whether on the phone or in person, it’s expected that the rejection should come via a phone call. Resorting to a rejection email, in this instance, can be impersonal and hurtful. 

what to say to someone who didn’t get the job examples (Phone and Email)

Phone Rejection Example

“Hi (name of applicant). This is (your name) with (company you work for). I wanted to reach out and say thanks again for making the time to attend the (Job title) interview with us (specific date). It was a tough choice, but we decided to move forward with another candidate at this time. You both were very qualified for the role, but the other candidate did have more experience with (specific duties within the role). I wish you luck with your job search, and we will keep in touch if anything else that’s a better fit comes up. Thanks again for applying, and have a good day.”

Email Rejection Example

“Hi (Name of applicant).
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us about the role of (position) on (date of interview).
enjoyed our conversation and hoped we could provide insight into who we are as a company.
Unfortunately, I wanted to let you know that we will not be moving forward with your application now
You have a similar background as the candidates we have picked to move forward, but those candidates’ skills and experiences better match the role we are trying to fill.
We appreciate your time and wish you the best of luck in your job search. Please let us know if you have any questions.
Thank you,
(your name)”

Wrapping Up | Job Rejection after an Interview

They can be tough but don’t beat yourself up over these rejections. It’s all a part of the hiring cycle, which you, the hiring manager, and the candidates should understand. To recap our seven tips for rejecting 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 after an interview

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, how to hire, job title, hiring manager, job rejection, rejection letter, rejection email

Author: Reid is a contributor for theJub. He’s an employment and marketing enthusiast who studied business before taking on various recruiting, management, and marketing roles. More from the author. | Author Profile

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