The art of rejecting candidates

Rejecting candidates is not the most pleasant thing to do, but it’s undoubtedly a very important part of the recruiter’s role. Handling it with care and providing constructive feedback demonstrates respect and professionalism and plays a vital role in maintaining positive relationships with candidates for future opportunities. At the same time, it leaves the candidates with a powerful tool to understand their strengths and weaknesses, guiding them toward areas of improvement for future job applications.


Here are some tips to keep in mind when rejecting candidates:


Be prompt

As tempting as it may seem, don’t postpone rejecting a candidate in time as it won’t get easier! As with every recruitment step, provide feedback as soon as possible after the decision has been made, to keep the candidate’s experience still fresh in their mind.

Be specific and objective

Focus on the candidate’s qualifications and skills that didn’t align with the position requirements. Make sure to receive detailed feedback from the hiring manager or team members that conducted the technical interview. With that, provide concrete examples and avoid generalizations, to help candidates understand the improvement areas, such as technical skills, communication, and interview techniques. This feedback-oriented approach fosters a culture of continuous improvement and lifelong learning and leaves the candidate with a feeling that the rejection was a part of their career journey and not a personal failure.

Be empathetic and respectful

Candidates invest their time and effort when applying for a position. Acknowledge their effort and interest in the role by using a respectful tone throughout the conversation, showing that the decision was based on specific criteria and not a reflection of their worth.

Offer guidance and resources

If possible, provide suggestions for improvement, whether it’s recommending additional training, suggesting relevant certifications, or suggesting resources for skill development.


Sticking to these tips should make candidates feel valued and assured that their application was genuinely considered. Constructive feedback reinforces trust and goodwill between the candidate and the hiring organization, fostering a positive perception of the company’s culture. On the other side, the company is benefiting from a good reputation and long-lasting relationships that can result in a hire or referral in the future.