How to turn down candidates nicely

Turning down a candidate (nicely)

For every new candidate you welcome to your business with open arms, sadly there’s a few who for whatever reason, weren’t for you.

That’s just the downside of recruitment I’m afraid!

But just because the remaining candidates were unsuccessful, it doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve to receive some form of communication and feedback. After all, considerable effort and time went into their applications and interview preparation, so don’t take the coward’s way out and leave them hanging.

In my opinion, it’s always best to give unsuccessful candidates the news as soon as you possibly can. Choose the channel that you’ve already been communicating through and send either an email or letter containing the following:

  1. Firstly thank the candidate for their interest in your position
  2. Thank them for the time and effort they put into their application
  3. Explain the reasons why you will not be progressing their application further than this stage and if applicable offer any feedback that the candidate may find useful
  4. If you have met this person on more than one occasion (say there had been a few interviews) express how nice it was to meet them
  5. Finally, wish them well in their search for employment.

If you think the candidate might be suitable for a future vacancy, send that person a LinkedIn request and promise to let him or her know if when there’s another position available. If you already have an established relationship, it’ll make your next hiring process a whole lot easier.

Remember, that not only are these people candidates, but they could also be current or future customers of your business – so it really does pay to treat them well.

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Emma Bonfiglio

About the author, Emma Bonfiglio

Managing Director at Appointments, Emma has spent 15 years building up a stellar reputation for commercial recruitment excellence across a variety of industries and sectors. There’s no staffing challenge Emma hasn’t encountered and her insight into the recruitment landscape has assisted countless clients achieve their goals over the years.


Specialising in the legislative and procedural side of business operations and through her extensive knowledge and continual training, Emma has a wealth of legal and contractual recruitment knowledge to help advise and support organisations of any size and in any industry.