How to tell them “You didn’t get the job…”

How to communicate with unsuccessful candidatesSo you’ve made countless calls, sat through many interviews and have finally identified and informed the perfect candidate for the job. Your work as a recruiter is done, right?

Not quite…

For the sake of goodwill and your company’s reputation, the right
thing to do now is to inform unsuccessful applicants, especially
those who have been personally interviewed.

This can be done either by phone, email, or a letter.

The best method would be per email, as it, unlike a posted letter, is
instant and doesn’t draw out the painful “suspense” for a job seeker.
An email also shields you from being put on the spot to answer
awkward questions about why someone wasn’t fit for the job, as
you would otherwise expect during a phone call.

Here are a few do’s and don’ts in communicating with unsuccessful applicants…


Show kindness and appreciation – Put yourself in the job seeker’s shoes for a minute. They most likely took time off, spent money and put in effort to prepare to come to your office for an interview, as well as go through the emotional upheaval of waiting for the outcome. Be sure to thank them for their time, and wish them well in their future endeavours.

Provide positive feedback – Most job seekers will be grateful for constructive criticism, especially if it will help them land the next job they interview for. Be honest with them about why you felt they weren’t right for the job and how their conduct in the interview, their CV, experience, etc. could improve to impress another recruiter.

Mention other opportunities – If you were impressed by a job seeker and think that even though they weren’t right for this particular job, but have great employment potential, tell them of other opportunities you might have in your organisation they can apply for, or that you will keep their CV if anything else should open up that is perfect for them. Don’t make any empty promises, however.


Send out mass rejection emails – This is very impersonal and can shed a bad light on your company’s reputation. If, however, you have time constraints and have no choice but to send the same email to many unsuccessful applicants in one go, be sure to “blind copy” (Bcc) all the addresses. This will seem more personal and recipients won’t have access to other applicants’ email addresses.

Ignore unsuccessful applicants’ inquiries – Don’t draw out a job seeker’s suspense any longer than necessary. If they contact you before you have sent out the official rejection letters or made the phone calls, be honest with them. This will help them deal with the disappointment quicker, and move on to the next opportunity.

Defend why someone else was appointed – Never discuss one applicant with another, and why one was a better fit for the job than the other, as this could end up in a legal battle. Rather stick to thanking the applicant and providing positive feedback and well-wishes for future opportunities…

If you enjoyed this article about how to tell them they didn’t get the job, be sure to check out the following posts on our Blog:

  1. How to write an effective Job Advert
  2. 6 tips to attract top-tiered candidates
  3. Tips to better your Recruitment Experience
  4. More Tips for Employers to better their Recruitment Experience
  5. Job Mail Search Functionality improved: Find your ideal recruits faster

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2 Responses

  1. mogau says:

    I’m a youth of this country,but what is happening is that I am from an interview at a certain company on Friday but no one got back to me.

    • job-admin says:

      Hi Mogau – You have to follow up with recruiters. Find out the status of your application. If you don’t get a response back within 14 days you can asssume that you did get the job.

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