Writing a great interview reminder email may seem like a no-brainer. All you need to do is send a simple message that includes the date, time, location, etc. of a scheduled face-to-face or phone/video screening, right?
Writing an applicant rejection letter could never be mistaken for a good time, but they’re so short on content that the experience of crafting one is virtually pain-free. Applicant rejection letters are all about delivering the message succinctly—you don’t need more than one or two short paragraphs to get it done right.
When you sit down to write an applicant rejection letter, you begin by personalizing it. Mention the applicant’s name in the opening, and in the body of the message, thank them for their interest in the company and job for which they’ve applied.
Next, note that you reviewed their credentials, and have decided to not move any further with their application. Thank them for a second and final time (again, for their interest in the company and job), and wish them good luck in their continuing job search.
Applicant rejection letters are simpler to write than candidate rejection letters. Why? Because unlike candidates, no relationship has typically developed with an applicant (by either email, phone, or in-person communication) before the sending of an applicant rejection letter.
Applicant rejection letter
1. Write and deliver the applicant rejection letter ASAP
Avoid sitting on your hands when you have to write an applicant rejection letter. If you review an applicant’s resume and find that it doesn’t contain multiple skills that are required for the role, write and deliver the rejection letter right away. If you review another applicant’s resume and spot right off the bat that their professional experience doesn’t align with the role, write and deliver the rejection letter. When you expedite efficiently on this front, you save yourself from the possibility of having applicants contact you to find out where they stand in the decision-making process. This is a hassle that you want to avoid at all costs!
2. Cut to the point
There’s no need to beat around the bush when you write an applicant rejection letter. Deliver the news, post-haste! Since you haven’t met the applicant, there’s not going to be a lot of room for personalization even if it’s possible to do so. Avoid, for example, noting that you and the candidate attended the same university. This is unnecessary filler that doesn’t belong in an applicant rejection letter. Your letter has one primary goal—to provide the applicant with swift closure, informing them that they won’t be moving forward in the process, and therefore, are not in the running for the job.
Do not reveal information about other candidates
Never mention a word about other applicants when you write an applicant rejection letter, such as their qualifications, or how they measure up to the applicant you’re rejecting. More importantly, never, ever mention another applicant by name.
3. Resist offering false hope to the applicant
You might be tempted to take on the role of the good guy and tell the applicant that you’ll keep their resume on file for future reference. Or, you might direct them to an open position in another department or recommend they revisit the company job board at a later time to see if there’s an open position that could work for them. Hold off on doing any of the above unless you’re confident the applicant might fit the bill for another role because you could generate a feeling of false hope for the applicant.
4. Communicate alternative opportunities only when 100% certain
That said, if you know the rejected applicant would fit like a glove in another role at the company, consider noting it in the letter, and direct them to the job post (and then give the hiring manager for that other role a heads-up). Or, note that you will hold on to their resume for future possibilities if you feel confident there could be something for them. Exercise sound judgment and use common sense when it comes to this!
5. Have your legal department conduct a review
There isn’t a lot of room for controversial language when you write an applicant rejection letter – they’re typically pretty boilerplate and somewhat dry. That said, if you’re uncertain about any of the words you’ve included in your applicant rejection letter (and how they might be interpreted), have your company’s legal department vet the language. There’s obvious language that you’d never include—a guesstimate of the applicant’s age, ethnicity, or sexual preference, for instance. But there could be other, less obvious language in the letter could be deemed discriminatory or offensive.
You want to make a professional impression so play it safe. The last thing you want is a situation where you’ve skipped the step of having legal review your rejection letter only to find that the applicant was insulted and is now writing negative comments about your company on social media. Play it safe, and get legal to give your letter the once-over!