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Do Employers Have an Obligation to Send Rejection Letters?

 

rejection letterInterviewing for a new job is stressful enough, but nothing frustrates candidates more than acing—or at least thinking they aced—an interview and never hearing back from the company again. So here’s the question: Do employers have an obligation to tell interviewees that they have not been selected for the position?

There are a few schools of thought on this, but we’d like give a few reasons why you should send interviewees a letter of rejection.

Sending rejection letters can build goodwill
Many companies don’t send rejection letters. Does this justify your decision to do the same? Not necessarily. In fact, it’s a good reason for you to send them. Sending short, conclusive rejection letters gives candidates closure; it also tells them that your company cared enough not to leave them hanging.

Why is this important?

  • First, it’s just common courtesy.
  • Second, interviewees can be a source of advertisement for your company; if you leave them with a good impression, they may talk about it.
  • Third, the candidate may not have been the right fit for your company—or for this particular position—right now, but you never know what the future will bring. You may cross paths with this candidate again. 

Sending rejection letters doesn’t take much effort
You may receive hundreds of applications for a single position, but only interview a half dozen candidates from that pool. While we see no reason to send a rejection letter to every candidate who emails a resume, we would argue that it takes little effort to send them to the five candidates who didn’t make the cut.

Rejection letters don’t have to be personalized
It’s your job to find the best candidates. It’s not your job to be a rejected candidate’s career coach, mentor or psychologist. A good rejection letter doesn’t have to be—and probably shouldn’t be—lengthy, sentimental, or include advice. To the contrary, it should be short, specific and conclusive. Try something like this:

Dear Candidate,

Thank you for applying for [position] at [X] company. We appreciate you taking the time to meet with us. At this time, we have decided to go a different direction. We will keep your resume on file for 12 months.

Thanks again,

Mr. or Mrs. X

Save this template in a Word document, plug in the candidate’s name and simply copy and paste into an email. It’s simple, courteous and leaves the impression that you respected the candidate enough to give him or her closure.

Download our Human Resource Management Factsheet

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