Best way to contact unsuccessful candidates after interview


I am a new supervisor (2 months in) and I am already going through my first hiring process, so I'm learning as I go!

I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on the best way to contact unsuccessful applicants after an interview? I had originally planned on doing a phone call, but I am also considering the pros and cons of sending an email. The reason that I'm considering email is because that would be how I would personally prefer to be notified if I were not successful after an interview. I feel that an email would allow the applicant time to digest the information and respond on their own time. However, I also want the opportunity to give the unsuccessful candidates feedback on their interview (if they desire), which may be easier to do over the phone.

Any thoughts? What has worked well for you?


370 Posts

Specializes in ICU, M/S,Nurse Supervisor, CNS. Has 16 years experience.

Personally speaking, I would prefer to receive an email. I've only ever received two phone calls to inform me that I was not chosen for the position and it was somewhat akward. Obviously I was not happy about the choice (not mad either, but maybe just disappointed) so I was trying to essentially hide my emotions until I could get off the phone. At least with an email I could have digested the information a little before sending a response (I always still follow up with a "thank you for your consideration" type of email).


1,194 Posts

Specializes in Cardiac Care.

Usually people figure the email is a turn down. When someone sees the phone call come in they can think they actually got the job and it kinda stings more I think. You can make the email personal, instead of the standard mass email that most HR departments at large facilities do. This way you can provide the feedback within that email.

For example, Thank you for interviewing with us. Unfortunately we have decided not to offer you the position at this time. Although your qualifications were impressive, we really need someone who has had experience with... or who has a knowledge of... or who would fit in better with... or please review some interview skills you really blew it.

Ok the last one was joking... but you get the idea. I have had to do this in my last position (outside of nursing), I felt this worked the best. Besides I hated calling them with bad news, I can be a bleeding heart sometimes.


14,633 Posts

Doesn't HR usually handle that? Or are you working in a small operation?

In my experience, I've gotten e-mails or actual, typed-on-paper, snail mail rejection letters. I've never had anyone call me to tell me I didn't get the job, unless it was to say "but we have this other position we wonder if you'd be interested in ..."


199 Posts

I agree that e-mail or snail mail would be best. You could add a blurb like, "If you have feedback on your interview experience, please contact me at 555-555-5555." or something like that. I agree that a telephone call usually means that you were accepted for the position and it will probably only get people's hopes up and make for a more difficult time turning them down. Good luck!


24 Posts

Specializes in Public Health. Has 2 years experience.

Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I work at a moderately small centre (40 staff members) with no HR department, so most of these HR-type issues are up to me. I feel a lot better about the decision to email the unsuccessful applicants now - thank you all! :)


2 Articles; 1,406 Posts

Specializes in nursing education.

I got a rejection postcard once. That was the worst because who knows who might have read it. Usually, it's a letter.

Specializes in ICU, CM, Geriatrics, Management. Has 17 years experience.

Depends on the circumstances. If another spot remains open, or if a position is expected to be available in the near-term for which the applcant may be a good fit, I'd call with the current rejection and discuss other possible opportunities.

On a straight rejection, I'd go along with the e-mail suggestion.

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

142 Articles; 9,981 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 26 years experience.

My senior supervisors are really good about calling people. Myself, I prefer to use good-old-fashioned snail mail on company stationery....that way I don't have to deliver the bad news personally. I'm not a fan of confrontation either. :uhoh21:


89 Posts

In my experience, a timely email or snail mail is best.


38,333 Posts

I would prefer receiving a written run-of-the-mill letter. Even a canned letter is better than nothing at all. I want nothing concerning employment matters in emails or over the phone. That is how I feel on the receiving end and how I would handle the matter if responsible for the notifications. If a person wanted feedback, I would prefer that an appointment be made so we could discuss the matter in person, provided that I would be the one to give the feedback.