Conveying bad news is not easy, especially if you hate disappointing people. However, at some point in your career, you may have to write a denial letter to inform an applicant that his job overture was unsuccessful. With the right approach, you can write a letter that delivers the bad news yet remains polite.

Step 1.

Begin the letter thanking the applicant for his time. The letter should start with “Dear Mr. or Mrs…” and go on to say thanks on behalf of the organization.

Step 2.

State the refusal in a clear way so no confusion lingers for the recipient. Do not use positive words to begin a negative sentence. For example, "We were very impressed with your resume, but regret to inform you that you are not qualified for the position." Be clear and concise so the recipient knows exactly what you mean. Don't make the letter longer than it needs to be; break the bad news as soon as possible, while remaining polite.

Step 3.

Explain the reasons for the decision. Perhaps the job was already filled or there was an error in the application documents. Providing a reason for the denial is important if you wish to help the applicant improve his chances for success in the future or if you want to point out an easily remedied error. However, some companies or individuals offer a rhetorical reason; this is an option to avoid telling the truth. For example, if the person was late to the interview or appeared to have poor hygiene, you should use rhetoric instead of explaining the true reason.

Step 4.

Close the letter with a courteous sentence and a note of goodwill. For example, "We appreciate your time and efforts throughout the interview process." Wish the applicant the best in the future and encourage another try. Don’t make the ending long and drawn out at the risk of seeming insincere.


Be sure to send the denial letter in a timely matter. Do not leave the person hanging for a final decision.