Rejection Letter Samples: After an Interview

Your Candidates Deserve to Know When They Are No Longer Under Consideration

Reading a rejection letter when you've applied for a job is painful.
••• Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy/Cultura/Getty Images

Send a candidate rejection letter as soon as you have decided that the applicant is unqualified for your job. The qualifications may have looked good on paper, but when the applicant participated in a first round interview, the reaction from your employees was unfavorable.

Following an interview, the lucky few who are still prospective employees are waiting to hear if they made it to the next step. According to job searchers, they often wait for a month, or even two, without ever hearing back from the employer. As time passes, they are less likely to believe that they are still under consideration.

Now, employers know that a lot is going on behind the scene when an employer hires an employee. But, the candidates don't know what is happening. They can only guess. 

And, one bad habit that some employers exhibit is to keep all prospects waiting in the dark while they make an offer and negotiate with their first choice candidate. You need to let the other candidates  know as soon as you know that they are not the person you want to hire. Do you settle instead for a second or third choice candidate? This is a bad practice.

If you want to establish a reputation as an employer of choice to attract the best applicants and make your employees proud to recruit for you, you’ll stay in touch with your candidates at each step of the hiring process.

With the accelerating war for the best talent, your reputation is the recruitment tool that will attract the best employees - or the worst.

Job searchers deserve your respect and how you treat them during your selection process colors their expectations and image of your company. I’ve written earlier about how to write a candidate rejection letter. Here are several more samples for your HR toolkit.

Sample Rejection Letter Following an Interview

It is difficult to assess whether a candidate will fit your culture from the written application materials. Frequently vetted, the resume and cover letter have one goal: to enable the applicant to pass your screening filters and get called for an interview. Consequently, interviews are an opportunity to assess whether the candidate will fit in your workplace.

Some mismatches are easy to determine. If you ask the candidate to describe his preferred work environment and he tells you that he prefers to work alone in his office, for some environments that might be the right answer.

But, if all of your work is team-based and collaborative, the candidate – and you – are unlikely to have found a good fit.

Other mismatches are more difficult to catch and some candidate are practiced interviewees. They know how to blow your socks off in the interview. They are emotionally intelligent and quick to catch the nature of the desired responses from your phrasing, expression and body language. The goal of every interviewee is to get a job offer so that the choice is in his hands – not yours.

So, cultural fit, while a critical component in candidate selection, is tricky to assess. When you and your interview team have determined that the potential employee is not a good cultural fit, use this rejection letter example to let him know.

An employer of choice, who wants to maintain that reputation for recruiting employees, always lets the candidate know where he stands – as soon as you make that determination.

Candidate Rejection Letter Example Following a First Interview


Name of Applicant

Applicant's Address

Dear Pat:

You have not been selected for the position of marketing manager at Twin and Barton, Inc. The interview team appreciates the time you spent coming to the company for your recent interview.

We enjoyed talking with you and especially appreciated the fact that you took the time to prepare for the interview. Bringing marketing ideas for our products was admirable.

We wish you success with your continuing job search. We also appreciate your interest in our company.


Real Person's Name and Signature

Example: Hiring Manager for the Interview Team

Rejection Letter Example Overview

You notice that this rejection letter example is brief, to-the-point and that it expresses gratitude for the candidate’s time invested in the application process. It is most notable, however, in the case of suspected poor cultural fit, for what it does not say.

If you wanted to encourage a candidate to apply again, you would say so in the rejection letter, for example.

Here is what the rejection letter example leaves out – purposefully.

  • Please apply for our open jobs in the future.
  • Although we have selected another individual for this opening, we have another opening that you may wish to explore with us.
  • We felt that you would fit in well at our company but you lack the marketing management experience that we must have for this position since it is leading the department.
  • We’d like to stay in touch with you during your job search in case we have another opening for which you qualify.

These are the subtle ways that a selection team can communicate with potential employees whom you believe will fit culturally in your organization. They receive a very different rejection letter.

Second Sample Rejection Letter

Prospective employees express confusion and uncertainty when they have attended a job interview at your company and then, hear nothing for weeks - if ever. This is disrespectful treatment, especially at the interview stage in your recruitment process.

The candidate successfully made it through the application process to an interview. He or she deserves closure.

Note that this second sample does contain clues for the rejected candidate that the company thought that he’d be a good fit for their company. The letter encourages him to apply again.

Sample Rejection Letter Following the First Interview

Mr. Peter Elias

1984 Potter Street

Anywhere, TX 00000

Dear Peter:

The Graham Corporation interview team thanks you for coming in to attend a first round interview with the team. You will not be scheduled for a second interview.

We appreciate the time you took to come in and meet with our team. We enjoyed meeting you and encourage you to apply in the future for Graham Corporation openings that match your qualifications.

While we don’t feel that our current opening is the best match for your qualifications and experience, we do encourage you to apply again in the future. We will also keep you in mind should an appropriate opening come up.

Thank you again and best wishes with your job search.


Richard R. Holmes

Director of Engineering

Phone: 000-000-0000

Here is an application acknowledgment letter sample that you can use to respond to candidates when they first apply for your job.

Disclaimer – Please Note:

Susan Heathfield makes every effort to offer accurate, common-sense, ethical Human Resources management, employer, and workplace advice both on this website, and linked to from this website, but she is not an attorney, and the content on the site, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality, and is not to be construed as legal advice.

The site has a world-wide audience and employment laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country, so the site cannot be definitive on all of them for your workplace. When in doubt, always seek legal counsel or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct. The information on this site is for guidance, ideas, and assistance only.