Is the shortlist already completed and the vacancy almost filled? Then comes the part that probably no HR department likes to do: to politely inform the rejected applicants, including cancelation of the job interviews that have already been arranged. In this guide you will find 7 examples of how to write a rejection letter and how to introduce the reason. You will also find out how to react in the opposite case, i.e. what if the employee declines with thanks?
7 Templates for Employers: Rejection Letter for an apprenticeship, unsolicited application, etc.
Irrespective of the company size, in theory, there should be feedback for every single application, as rejection is still better than no response at all. Writing a rejection letter, on the other hand, plays a crucial role in Employer Branding.
We have then put together various templates on how you can politely formulate the rejection of an application. All patterns are to be understood as suggestions; the more customized you make the rejection letter, the better for the candidate experience. At the same time, the applicants know, of course, that not every company has time to formulate an individual rejection. Don’t make it harder than necessary – but don’t make it too easy either.
1. Basic template for the polite rejection of an application
In the first example, we assume that you can already tell from the application documents that this person does not fit into the company. In such a case, the rejection could be formulated in the following way.
Dear Mr…/ Dear Ms…,
Thank you for your application for [position] and your interest in our company.
We have received a large number of applications and, unfortunately, we cannot shortlist yours at this time.
Please do not take our rejection as a depreciation of your skills. In the application process, small details are often crucial for the final decision.
With your consent, however, we would like to include you in our talent pool and inform you if further positions are available. To do so, please follow this link: [Link to the Talent Pool Declaration of Consent]
In the meantime, we wish you every success in your job search.
Recruiting Readiness Check
How good are we at getting the right candidates to the right position in time?
Of course, you don’t have to refer to the Talent Pool for every rejection. After all, only applications that really have potential should end up there.
However, as soon as you want to add someone to this pool, you must obtain their consent, as this is related to the use of personal data. With the right HR software, the talent pool can be managed without much effort.
2. Rejection of an Unsolicited Application
Imagine, a promising application is on the table, but there is no vacancy. In this case, too, it’s time for a polite refusal. Refer to the talent pool if it is possible!
Dear Mr…/ Dear Ms…,
Thank you for your interest in our company and your application documents, which we have looked through with great interest.
Unfortunately, there is currently no vacancy in our company that matches your profile.
However, since your qualifications are very promising, we would like to include you in our talent pool for future positions. If you consent to this and wish to receive notifications, please follow this link: [Link to Talent Pool Consent Statement]
In the meantime, we wish you every success in your job search.
3. Application Rejection in English
If you need to reject a candidate in English, you can use this template as a guide:
Dear Mr/Ms …,
Thank you for your interest in our company and for sending us your job application.
After reviewing the many applications we received for this vacancy, we regret to inform you that we cannot consider you as a candidate. Although you are highly qualified, another candidate’s profile was even better suited to what we are currently looking for.
Nevertheless, we wish you success for your future career.
TURN ON YOUR DIGITALIZATION NOW
4.Rejection after Probation
Probation is a proven method to test whether companies and applicants are actually compatible. In the best-case scenario, both sides immediately realize that the chemistry is right. However, it can also happen that the opposite quickly turns out to be the case.
Ideally, as a company, you should not cancel by email, but rather do it by phone. It’s a sign of respect, after all the potential candidate has put in some effort. If you cancel by message, the following letter would be a good idea:
Dear Mr…/ Dear Ms…,
Thank you for taking your time to get to know our company better during the probation period.
Unfortunately, after detailed consultation, we came to the conclusion that we would like to continue our search for the ideal candidate to fill the vacancy.
We are sorry that we cannot give a positive feedback. Thank you for your commitment and good luck for your future!
5. Rejection of an Apprenticeship Application
Delicacy is required, especially when rejecting an apprenticeship. For the HR department it is nothing more than a quick e-mai, but for a young person it may be a shattered dream.
Dear Mr …/ Dear Ms…,
Thank you for your application documents. We are very pleased that you are interested in an apprenticeship at [company] and would like to start your career with us.
Unfortunately, we have to inform you that we cannot offer you an apprenticeship position at this time. [Add a reason here if necessary: other candidates with even more potential or similar]. Please do not take our rejection as a depreciation of your skills.
We wish you every success on your further path!
6. Rejection after the Interview
Just like the probation, the interview is a crucial point in the application process. However, this decision is not always positive, and the disappointment on the applicant side may be all the greater. In the rejection, show that you appreciate the effort.
Dear Mr…/ Dear Ms…
Thank you for taking your time for a personal interview as part of your application. It was a pleasure to meet you and you left a very positive impression.
Unfortunately, we have to inform you that, after careful consideration, we have decided to move on with another applicant.
We wish you all the best in your future journey.
7. Rejection of an Internship Application
Interns are often smiled at – a mistake, because they often turn out to be an unused talent pool. So pay as much attention to internship cancellations as you would to a permanent position. You never know: maybe you are turning down a talent for tomorrow and squandering the chance that this person will apply again in the future!
Dear Mr … Dear Ms…,
Thank you for your application documents and your interest in an internship at [company].
Unfortunately, we have to inform you that we cannot offer you an internship at this time. Please do not take our rejection as a depreciation of your skills.
We are sure that you have a lot to offer and would be happy to include you in our talent pool. If you wish to do so, please follow this link: [Link to Talent Pool Consent Statement]
We wish you every success in your journey.
Writing Appreciative Rejection Letters: How to Formulate Application Rejection Letters
The fact is: the rejection of an application reflects the corporate culture to a certain extent. Applicants will remember whether they received a rejection and, if so, how it was written.
Here are some recommendations on how to make the text of the application rejection polite, friendly and appreciative:
- Pay attention to the personal salutation and the correct spelling of the name. “Dear applicant” shows total disinterest.
- Customize the style. A manager with 10 years of professional experience expects different formulations in the rejection than a school graduate who is currently looking for an apprenticeship.
- Don’t skimp on praise. Has an application particularly impressed you? Say it out loud! An appreciative rejection is easier to digest.
- Assemble your message from meaningful text blocks instead of using a rigid template. Phrases such as “keep on record” or “the application does not fit the profile” are a starting point, but not the best solution across the board.
- Give a meaningful reason, if possible. (more on that later!)
The Rejection Reason: Do’s and Don’ts when You Reject an Application
The question of why is a tricky one. Many companies do not give a reason for the rejection and do not want to take the risk of violating the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG). This law states that no one may be rejected on the basis of age, origin, gender, etc. (Caution, the job post must also comply with the AGG!)
In any case, a legally safe refusal should be given if you refer to factual reasons, such as
- Another applicant has more experience or better education.
- The position was spontaneously filled internally.
- There are currently no vacancies (for unsolicited applications).
- The salary expectations are too high (according to Statista, a major reason for many personnel decision-makers to reject jobs). A possible wording in this case would be: “Unfortunately, your salary expectations deviate from our current budget options for this position”.
And what if the application is rejected mainly because it contains too many errors? Then caution is advised: For example, do not accuse anyone of bad or faulty language – you may never know whether dyslexia or another impairment is behind it. To give that as a reason would be a violation of the AGG.
Does the application fail because of the catastrophic formatting? Then the question arises whether you want to point this out to the candidate. To put it politely, it goes something like this: “Please take this note as well-intentioned advice based on my experience as an HR manager: Your application documents could benefit if you improve the formatting”.
If you do not give a reason, you may have to expect that the applicants will ask for a reason – especially if you cancel an interview that has already been arranged. Therefore, be sure to use an evaluation sheet for the interview. This makes the decision easier in the end and you have the reasons for acceptance and rejection ready in writing.
For Employees: Respond and Politely Reject an Application
Let’s go to the other side, namely that of the employee. Here, too, it can happen that you have to decline the job offer, e.g. because…
- another employer agreed more quickly.
- the chemistry at the interview/probation was not right.
- the circumstances of the employee unexpectedly change drastically (relocation or similar).
So what can it look like if you have to withdraw your application or cancel an interview?
The most important thing is that the cancellation is communicated at all. Feedback leaves a good impression, even if it’s just a brief thank you. A few lines are enough. It should contain the thanks, the rejection itself and, if necessary, a brief explanation. However, the latter is not mandatory and is at your own discretion.
Basic Rules: Polite Rejection of an Application
Cancellations are not popular – neither with the sender nor with the recipient. After all, there are a few golden rules on how you can design the rejection of an application in such a way that your company is remembered well:
- Remain friendly, polite and respectful, in other word – This applies even if an applicant behaves exactly the other way around.
- Respond promptly. According to a survey from 2019, the majority of applicants expect 1-2 weeks between application and feedback.
- Send back the complete application documents. They legally belong to the person who submitted them in response to a job advertisement.
- The contact persons do not change constantly. If you cancel after the interview, the cancellation should come from someone who was present at the interview.
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