As a hiring manager, once you find the right person for the role, the hardest part is done, isn’t it? You’ve gone through practically hundreds of CVs and sat through several interviews. You’ve deliberated, discussed…and decided! You found the One. But hang on, there’s one last bit. The bit that is often seen as tedious, awkward and after all, you might think, is it really necessary? We say Yes, without a doubt. At the end of the day it boils down to good manners really. After someone has shown interest in your company, taken the time to research, prepared for an interview and waited with bated breath for the outcome, the least a hiring manager could do is send a rejection letter.

Rejection Letter - WTBad news is better than no news

True nobody likes to be the bearer of bad news. In fact, it’s hardly surprising that the task of writing the rejection letters is often shoved to the bottom of ‘to-do’ lists, only to eventually get lost and forgotten forever as other tasks take priority. But it must be done… and done thoughtfully. Firstly, this will reflect well on your company because it shows that you respect the interviewees and also, you don’t want to burn bridges – you never know.

Yet, one of the most common gripes amongst applicants is that they were ghosted by companies after their interviews, which leaves quite a bitter taste. If you think that receiving the rejection letter is disappointing, you can be sure that sending nothing at all magnifies that disappointment a hundredfold.

In any case, rejection always burns, so here are some suggestions of how to do it (as kindly as possible):

Thank the candidate

Interviewees will have dedicated quite a bit of time to the job application process, so thanking them is a no-brainer. And make it sound genuine. Rather than saying “Thank you for your time but we have decided…”, which seems like a copy-and-paste from some generic template, say: “I appreciate the time you took to learn more about our company and would like to thank you for your interest”. It sounds much better and less cold.

Personalise it

In a world where everything is so fast-paced, personalisation is highly appreciated. Address the candidate by name and be specific about the title the role they applied for. Also, refer to something that was mentioned during your conversation with them. This will show them that they did make an impact, but just weren’t the right fit.

Don’t procrastinate

Going to an interview can sometimes feel a little bit like an exam. We prepare for it, we sit for it…and we wait for the results. The sooner we get these results, the sooner we can decide which road to take. Many applicants will be waiting to hear from you before they move on to sometimes else – be kind and let them know as soon as possible so that they won’t miss other opportunities.

Give feedback

It’s always beneficial to receive feedback about your performance and, as long as it’s constructive, this will be greatly appreciated. Start off by praising their fortes and then explain where they fell short. It’s an excellent opportunity for the candidate to review where they can improve and you can even go as far as recommending a course that may help them in the area where you found them lacking.

Watch your wording

Think about the words you use. Whatever your message, avoid negative vocabulary. Get rid of words like “unfortunately” or phrases like ” We regret to inform…”. Who speaks like that anyway? Instead use vocabulary that you would use over the phone. It’s more natural and you won’t sound overly formal, cold or like a template.

Be Honest

Don’t fall into the trap of making empty promises just to soften the blow. Many of us naturally find it hard and awkward to deliver bad news and just leave it at that, but the candidate deserves your honesty. So, if there are no other posts that are suitable for them at your company or if they are the wrong fit, then don’t say that you will hold onto their CV and get in touch when the opportunity arises. Give them closure.

Wish them luck

End off the letter by encouraging them and wishing them luck in their search.

Finally…keep it short

The rejection letter doesn’t need to be longer than a few sentences. Keep it short and to the point. Also, at the end of the day, any rejection letter is better than no letter at all. The important thing is to acknowledge the candidate and give them the respect they deserve by recognising their effort. The above points are simply some suggestions of how you make it more personal and a bit kinder.

Read other articles in the Keepmeposted blog for more tips and suggestions.