How to Tell Someone They Did Not Get the Job

If you have ever gone to an interview before, you will know that they are usually incredibly tense and nerve-racking affairs.

Just as they can be hard for the prospective employee, they can also be tough for the interviewer themselves. This is because they will have to choose from a series of skilled candidates.


Once they have chosen the candidate, an employer will then have to contact everyone who applied. Whether they are bearing good or bad news, it is essential that they notify everyone.

Delivering this bad news can be tough for some people. Fortunately, we are here to help you to politely inform someone that they have not got the job.

Top Tips

Personalize Your Response

Nobody wants to be rejected from a job application. However, people will be even more insulted by their rejection if the response is impersonal.

Be sure to call the candidate by their name, creating a more personalized experience. Plus, this will make them think that you did seriously consider their application since you are clearly aware of their name.

It is best to stick to first names, as surnames may seem a little too formal. Of course, if the candidate prefers to be addressed in this way, such as Mrs. Smith, you should use this name instead.

Overall, the more personalized the response, the better the candidate will feel.

Thank The Interviewee

One of the best ways to start a job rejection conversion or email is to thank the person for applying to the role. After all, they will have taken time out of their schedule to prepare and attend the interview. Therefore, you should thank them for their time and effort.

Give Feedback

While it is crucial that you not be too critical when delivering this news to a candidate, you may want to give them some feedback as to why their feedback was rejected.

Though this may sound harsh, it can be useful for candidates when they apply for future jobs.

For example, if you thought they dressed incorrectly for the interview, you may want to suggest a wardrobe tweak.

When giving this constructive feedback, you must be fair and brief. Otherwise, your rejection may seem mean-spirited. If the candidate seems keen to have more feedback, you can offer to arrange another phone call to go over their interview.

Though this may take up some of your time, it is nonetheless beneficial to the candidate and may give them a better impression of your business or place of employment.

Use A Civil Tone

When calling a candidate that has been declined, you should be polite. It is important not to seem too friendly, as this may lull them into a false sense of security.

Of course, you also do not want to come across as rude or cold. This will give the candidate a negative impression of the brand, which should be avoided at all costs.

Explain Why Another Person Was Chosen

Tell the person that another applicant was chosen. This may assure them that they were not simply rejected because their application was not good enough.

Instead, you can tell them that the candidate was declined because another candidate had a superior application. You may also want to briefly say why this other person was chosen.

Again, this can have a reassuring effect on the rejected candidate as they may realize that they were not as qualified or well-suited to the position.

Be Positive

Instead of focusing too much on what went wrong with an interview or application, you should focus on what they did right.

For example, you can mention the qualifications of the candidate that made them well-suited to the candidate. This can make the interviewee feel better about themselves and can enhance their confidence.

If you thought that the candidate could be employed for a future position, you can tell them that you will consider them if any other jobs come along.

This will inspire good candidates to maintain a relationship with the company, meaning that you can hire them the next time that there is a job opening. Plus, it can reassure the failed candidate.

Get To The Point

Rejection conversations can be arduous. The last thing you will want to do is lengthen them. Instead of making small talk, it is recommended that you get to the point of the conversation.

Doing so will give the rejected candidate more time to focus on applying for other jobs. By avoiding small talk, you ensure that the conversation is brief and professional.

These conversations can seem rather personal and will make it harder to reject the candidate once you know more about their everyday life.

Aside from small talk, you should also steer clear of jokes. Unless you are in the right situation, making a joke can seem like you are laughing at the expense of the candidate.

Rejections: Phone or Email?


When informing someone that they did not make the cut, one of the main decisions you will have to make is how best to contact them.

Generally, the best way to notify someone of this is via a phone call. This will be especially true if the person has got to the interview levels of the application.

You should consider using Email if the person did not progress very far into the application process.

For example, if the candidate merely submitted their CV and did not have an interview, you can Email them the news instead of having a conversation.

After all, having a long conversation on the phone seems too formal and unnecessary. You probably will not have a lot to talk about if the candidate has not had an interview.

Furthermore, Emails will be better suited to positions whereby there are loads of applicants. Phoning each of these candidates will take a lot of time and effort.

To avoid seeming detached, you should aim to make rejection Emails somewhat personal.


If you are looking for some templates, here are our recommendations. Be sure to build off these and personalize them instead of simply sticking to them

Rejection Email

“Dear Mrs. Smith,

Thank you for applying for this human resources position. Though your application was very strong, we have chosen to go with another candidate. We experienced a high level of amazing applications, making this a very tough decision. With your skills, we are sure that you will find another job. We wish you the best of luck with the job search”

Rejection Call

“Dear Henrietta,

I am just calling to thank you for coming to the interview for the human resources position. It was a pleasure to meet you and we enjoyed hearing about your experience in your previous job. Unfortunately, we have chosen not to go ahead with your application as we have found another applicant with more qualifications. However, because of your amazing experience, we encourage you to apply for other jobs within the company. Best of luck with your job search.”

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Console Someone Who Has Not Got A Job?

If a friend or family member is disappointed that they have not been offered a job, the best thing to do is to be kind to them. Tell them that you are sorry and offer to give them a hug.

Try not to use any overused idioms, as this may seem impersonal. Yet, it is important that you remain hopeful that they will get another job.

Final Thoughts

It may be a daunting prospect to deliver the unpleasant news that someone’s job application has been unsuccessful. Hopefully, this guide will have made the task much easier. Please bear our tips in mind the next time you are in this situation.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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