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The Position Has Been Filled: Telling Candidates They Didn’t Get the Job

When searching for quality candidates, it’s inevitable that you’ll come across a number of impressive resumes and applicants. The unfortunate truth is that regardless of how qualified these candidates are, not all of them can land a position, and it’s up to HR to promptly inform inquiring candidates if a job has been filled.

Not only is informing candidates that they didn’t get the job the polite and right thing to do, it also reflects on your company’s brand and company culture. For larger companies looking to fill large numbers of roles, you can go through dozens and dozens of interviews. Having a streamlined rejection process to recruitment will ensure these dozens of candidates feel heard and respected. 

Below is everything you need to know about how to inform candidates that the position is filled.

HR Failure - Not telling candidates a position has been filled

Let’s be very clear, not telling candidates a position has been filled is an HR failure. Not telling candidates that their position has been filled can you hurt you in the following ways: 

  • It’s generally rude and impolite
  • It looks bad on your brand and corporate culture
  • These potential hires will likely not recommend you to their colleagues or professional friends
  • It will be less likely that a quality candidate will not reapply in the future, perhaps after they’ve gained more experience or accolades. 

Putting candidates in a no-hire limbo is disrespectful and will negatively reflect on your organization. Taking the time to write a courteous and direct email isn’t a difficult task, and you can even streamline the process by having examples or models handy.

What to avoid when telling candidates a position has been filled

Before we get into what to include in your rejection email or call script templates, let’s look over what you shouldn’t do. Below are a few examples of what not to include in a rejection notification.

Example # 1:


 Dear [applicant’s name,]

We are writing to let you know that you did not make the cut for the [job title] position. We found someone more qualified, and we weren’t particularly pleased that your degree isn’t relevant to the field. If you gain a bit more experience in the field, perhaps get a certificate or two, we would like to see you reapply in the future. 

Best of luck with your job search.


[recruiter’s name]


While the above example is short and direct, which we recommend, it offers far too much detail in the thought process behind the rejection. Feedback can be good, but you don’t need to provide too many details. Additionally, while straightforward, the email comes across as rude. You want to be polite and courteous, which often means there should be some semblance of an apologetic tone. 

This next example takes a different approach, but also has some issues.

Example #2


Dear [applicant’s name]

We’re writing to inform you that, unfortunately, you were not selected for the [Job Title] position. 

Good luck with your search.


[recruiter’s name]


This email example is apologetic and empathetic, but it’s too short. Short and sweet is a good thing, but if it’s too short, it will come across as lazy or neglectful. 

There’s a way to have it all: a short, direct, compassionate rejection letter that applicants will be thankful for despite the bad news.

Putting it all together: Best practices for notifying candidates they have not been selected

When putting together a call script or email sample, there are a few best practices you can follow to make the exchange as cordial, direct, and understandable as possible. 

  • Call/email each candidate that you interviewed. It’s important not to strain your resources too thin; you should only be writing rejection letters or making calls to candidates you actually interviewed, and you should make it known on the job description that individuals called in for an interview will be notified of the company’s decision within a specific time frame.
    • There’s a balance in the level of detail you should put into your responses. You want your email or letter to be direct and brief, but you need to write more than a sentence or two. A very generic response might look something like this:
  • Dear Candidate, 

Thank you for your interest in becoming a part of [company name]. As we had a large number of applicants this hiring cycle, we’re sorry to say that the position for [job title] has been filled.

We were impressed with your application and interview, and we do hope you keep us in mind for future openings. Best of luck in your continued job search.


[Recruiter name]


  • As you can see in the example above, you want to provide some explanation. Often, what these letters come down to is another more qualified applicant getting the position, and it’s okay to state that. 
  • Have different templates for different situations. You can create a very generic letter, like in the example above, that can be used in most scenarios, but you still want some other templates for more unique situations. You can have an interview absent template, an unqualified candidate letter, or a turned-in-late letter where applicants don’t get the necessary information or paperwork to you in time. 
  • Be honest and straightforward. There’s no reason to beat around the bush with your explanation. While you want to stay respectful, cordial, and professional, being clear is being kind.

With these best practices under your belt, you can make a number of call scripts or email templates for any candidate rejection situation. 

How Crosschq can help

You can reduce the number of rejections you write by hiring smarter. Crosschq offers recruiters a cutting-edge solution to hiring. 

Benefit from Crosschq’s robust analytics, comprehensive talent pipelines, and intelligent reference checking capabilities. Try the demo today to see how Crosschq can get you the best matches today.

Mark Ko

by Mark Ko

Content Writer

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