Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire
How to Tell a Candidate They Didn’t Get the Job

How to Tell a Candidate They Didn’t Get the Job

There’s no easy way to tell someone they didn’t get the job, however, breaking the news quickly is a must. While it may feel better putting off letting go of a candidate, ultimately, it’s respectful to inform them as soon as possible so that they can begin searching for other opportunities. If it’s time to have that conversation with someone who applied for an open role within your company, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Break the news early in the discussion

Some people get uncomfortable with this type of conversation and try to stall to avoid having to deliver unpleasant news. In reality, the conversation is much easier when it’s short and to the point. Skip the urge to make small talk or provide a long preamble about why you’re calling them today.

But don’t be too blunt about it

This will likely be difficult news for the candidate to hear, so don’t just tell them they didn’t get the job and get off the line. Explain that the choice was difficult, and acknowledge the qualifications and positive traits that they offer.

Provide some insight about why they weren’t the right fit

If possible, you might want to provide some guidance about why the chosen candidate was selected. For example, perhaps they had more experience working with a certain type of client or computer program. Knowing this can help to soften the blow so that the individual who didn’t receive the job offer realizes that it truly wasn’t personal.

Explain why these traits are relevant to the job

Once you’ve specified what the other candidate had that they didn’t, it’s important to briefly put these skills into context as it pertains to the job in question. Explain why these abilities are necessary in order for someone to succeed within your company.

Encourage them to stay in touch

A candidate may feel awkward once they’ve heard that they weren’t selected for the job. If you liked what this person had to offer, but didn’t feel that they were the right choice for that particular role, encourage them to keep in touch in case other opportunities arise in the future.

Once you’ve covered these points, sincerely wish the candidate well. You may also want to give them a chance to ask you any questions they may have. You’re not obligated to do this, but it can help to provide clarity for a candidate moving forward. Once this is complete, the conversation is over. The dialogue doesn’t have to be long and drawn out in order to be effective for both parties.

Image: Jakub Jirsak/

Lauren Levine

Lauren Levine is a copywriter/blogger who contributes to a number of magazines and websites including The Frisky, USA Today, and others. She also authors her own blog called Life with Lauren. She loves cooking, anything on the E! network, and is trying to convince herself that running isn't so bad.