How to Let People Know They Didn't Get the Job

One of the difficult parts of being a human resources manager or business executive are times when you have to tell job candidates they did not get the job. More than likely your company's selection process yields highly qualified prospective employees, all eager to join your team. Once the final hiring decision has been made for an open position, you should let the other candidates know they were not chosen. You should deliver the disappointing news to the rejected applicants in a professional manner that protects their self-esteem and keeps your company in a positive light.

Contact job applicants by phone or letter. Because companies are usually flooded with applications and resumes, it is acceptable to limit your communication to those who qualified for an interview. A phone call is the most personal method, but some companies opt to send a letter.

Keep your comments brief and succinct when addressing the job candidate. According to the website of Psychology Today, you should resist the urge to preface bad news with compliments about the applicant's good points 1. This will get his hopes up for good news, and he will feel worse when he hears he did not get the job.

Give reasons that are not directed toward the individual. For example, do not disclose that you received a poor recommendation or that her answers sounded shaky during the interview. Instead, provide brief reasons that are not personal, such as management based the hiring decision heavily on test scores or the number of years of related work experience.

Resist providing detailed reasons for rejecting a job candidate, even if he presses for an answer. It is best to respond with a vague, professional reply such as, "I'm sorry, but we had a number of individuals apply." Giving a specific reason for not hiring the person could lead him to become defensive, and an argument could ensue.

Communicate with courtesy. Remember that the job applicants invested a great deal of time and effort in hopes of getting the position. Let them know if their application will stay on file or if they should apply again in the future.


It is wise to create a script for calls and a draft for letters to have your company's legal department review. It is possible that you could inadvertently say something to a job candidate that she could misconstrue as a discriminatory hiring practice.

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