is there a best time to send rejection letters?

A reader writes:

Is there a standard for when to send out rejection letters? I deal with a lot of hiring in my job and I usually know as soon as I review a resume or hold an interview whether or I’m going to reject someone, but I have always figured that people don’t want to receive a rejection notice within hours of leaving a job interview, so I wait a few days.

A friend recently told me that she never rejects people on Fridays because it will be a bad start to their weekend and that she held a lot of rejections for longer than normal last month because she didn’t want to send them close to Christmas. Personally, I’d always rather know whether or not I had a job sooner, rather than having the employer worry about things like that. But is there a standard practice on timing these?

There’s never really a good time to reject people.

I’ve heard people complain that they were rejected right before a holiday weekend. I’ve heard people complain that they were rejected right after a holiday weekend. I’ve heard people complain that they were rejected too quickly, and people who complain that the rejection took too long.

All you can really do is strive for a timeline that feels reasonable to you. I do what you do — I often know right away that I’m going to reject someone, but I wait a few days (usually between three days and a week) before sending the rejection email. It’s still getting them an answer reasonably quickly, but if it’s faster than that, some people think you didn’t fully consider their candidacy or feel stung, like you’re saying “you’re so terrible that I didn’t even need time to think about this.”

But beyond that, I don’t think you need to worry too much. I mean, I would not send someone a rejection on Christmas — and in fact, it’s probably good practice to only send rejections on regular business days, at least if you’re in a job with standard business hours. But I don’t think you need to make the entire last two weeks of December rejection-free or worry about sending rejections on Fridays. That’s going into a level of managing other people’s emotions that isn’t required (and really, there’s no way to know if you’re dealing with someone who would rather just hear the news immediately or someone who will appreciate your delicacy around their imminent weekend).

The important thing here is that you’re sending them. Far too many employers don’t bother to send them at all, and that’s inexcusably rude.

{ 157 comments… read them below }

  1. Kyrielle

    “But I don’t think you need to make the entire last two weeks of December rejection-free or worry about sending rejections on Fridays. That’s going into a level of managing other people’s emotions that isn’t required (and really, there’s no way to know if you’re dealing with someone who would rather just hear the news immediately or someone who will appreciate your delicacy around their imminent weekend).”

    This, OP – and honestly, when I was last job-searching, I would rather have gotten the rejection on a Friday. Why? Because if I didn’t have a strong reaction it didn’t matter, but if it was a job I’d thought I had a good chance at and really wanted, I’d have had the weekend to do things *other* than sit at the job I was moving out of and fret about still being there….

    1. Kyrielle

      (Which is just meant to be another example of “you can’t please everyone with any single solution”. You might as well do what’s going to work best and feel most comfortable for you.)

    2. Thany

      I agree. I prefer to get a rejection on Friday, as it allows me to process my feelings through the weekend. If I was really excited about the job, I would have a hard time focusing on my current job. More likely, I would sit and obsess about my failure.

      1. AthenaC

        My lay-off was communicated on a Friday, specifically so my employer could let me “take the weekend” to process it before commencing my last two weeks on the payroll to basically job-search full-time.

        Also, I happened to get pregnant that same day. So I can only conclude that lay-offs = pregnancies, of course.

    3. Orchestra Alum

      Yes, false hope is worse than reality for me. I would imagine working in that job or replay the interview, if I was rejected I’d mentally cut bait and focus on applying to new jobs that weekend.

  2. Bend & Snap

    A recruiter for a Fortune 50 texted me a rejection on a Wednesday evening when I was putting my kid to bed. It wrecked my night. I like Alison’s guideline of sending on business days and really, as a candidate, I’d like to get something like that during business hours.

      1. Bend & Snap

        I didn’t enjoy it. All our communication had been via email so it was extra crappy to just get the rejection via text.

    1. Thany

      I agree with receiving rejections during business hours. I once got a rejection email at 10 PM on a Sunday. Ruined my night and my weekend.

    2. k.k

      I prefer business hours as well. That’s why my mind is in work-mode. Personally I don’t like thinking about work at all if I can during my free time, let alone bad work news. And it feels odd, like they’re going out of their way, using their personal time to reject you instead of it being a simple professional task. Maybe not rational, but it adds an extra sting.

      1. RVA Cat

        It’s a bit sour grapes, but you *could* reframe it as a 24/7 work culture that wasn’t a good fit….

        1. Jennifer Thneed

          Enh, emails get stuck in the tubes often enough. I’ve gotten emails hours later when I *know* when they were sent because it was from my wife, sitting across the kitchen table from me, sending me the URL of an article.

          (Back in the day, we used to say, “Sure, email only takes 10 seconds. But *which* 10 seconds?”)

    3. myswtghst

      I got a call from a recruiter to let me know I was not moving forward for a job I had really mixed feelings about (it was in my wheelhouse in a weirdly perfect way and I was excited about the opportunity, but they were unlikely to be able to meet my salary needs). I appreciated that she called and made a point to tell me how great I was and how much everyone loved me, but I also had to be professional while trying not to cry.

      In that instance, I was actually glad she called at like 7:30pm on a weekday, so I was home and didn’t have to deal with it at work, but I suppose that’s just another example of how there is no perfect solution!

    4. YRH

      I also agree with the normal business hours sentiment. I once got a rejection for a position where I was a finalist at 8:00 pm on my birthday. While they didn’t know it was my birthday, my reaction (other than a lot of disappointment) was basically why couldn’t this have waited until tomorrow. I would guess that person they had made an offer had just accepted and they didn’t want to leave me hanging, which I appreciate, but 12 more hours wouldn’t have made me feel like they were leaving me hanging either.

    5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      How very Joe Jonas of the recruiter.

      (Strong agree on business hours. Only call after hours with good news.)

    6. Wendy Ann

      I wonder if the afterhours emails are to stop (bad) candidates phoning in and arguing with their decisions? Give them time so by the time the business opens on Monday they’ve rethought making that call?

      1. SystemsLady

        They could always just schedule the emails to send exactly at COB the next day if that is the issue.

  3. Murphy

    I agree with everything Alison said. I would rather know that I wasn’t getting the job sooner than later, even if it’s on a Friday, but I would agree that you may not want to reject people too quickly. In most interview cases there’s a discussion of a timeline, so in general, I’d probably try to stick to that timeline, even if you have your decision sooner. If you tell me I should hear something within in two weeks, but then reject me tomorrow, that might sting a bit.

    In general, you don’t know how invested someone is in that particular job and how much it’s going to upset them. They may have reconsidered whether they wanted the job after the interview, may not have been that interested in the first place, or they may be completely devastated. But that’s not your responsibility to manage.

    1. paul

      Yes.

      I just got a “thanks but no thanks” letter this week from a job I applied for in November. I’m glad to have gotten it at all but dang, sooner coulda been nicer. By now I kind of assumed I didn’t get it.

    2. myswtghst

      “I’d probably try to stick to that timeline, even if you have your decision sooner.”

      That’s a really great point! Given how many variables there are that the recruiter can’t know or account for, following the timeline quoted (or, at a minimum, waiting until the middle of the time frame quoted) is a good guideline.

    3. Wendy Darling

      I’m all for being rejected sooner than later MOSTLY, but I also prefer that there be at least 24 hours between me submitting my application and getting rejected, so I can at least pretend I was considered carefully! I’ve gotten a few rejections in ~5 minutes where I either just happened to time my submission perfectly or I was rejected by an algorithm, and it was an even bigger bummer than normal.

    4. Faintlymacabre

      Oh, this. I applied for a job that had preferred qualifications that I did not meet, but also said would train otherwise good candidates, which I was. I got a rejection notice the day after my interview, and while I can assume that they had met someone they would not have to train… ouch. Since they had said they would be letting people know after a week, I would really have liked for them to stick to that timetable.

  4. I am Fergus

    I can’t remember the last time I received a rejection email after an interview. It has been years.

      1. Wendy Darling

        It’s almost the 1-year anniversary of a particularly bad interview I went to where they never got round to rejecting me. I honestly only still remember the date because the interview was on Valentine’s Day last year. They were wildly unprofessional so I’m not terribly surprised they ghosted.

  5. Wannabe Disney Princess

    I mean, the time I got the rejection notice on my birthday wasn’t so great. However, I was also going to be surrounded by my friends that night so it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. But I never, ever would expect a company to work around that. Or the holidays. I would keep doing what you’re doing!

    1. Tuxedo Cat

      I received a job rejection letter (a job I interviewed for) a few hours before I got married (casual wedding). It was a workday, and I don’t blame the people for sending it then. It sucked but it’s life. It wasn’t done maliciously, the hiring people had no way of knowing.

  6. ContentWrangler

    Just wanted to say kudos to OP for actually sending rejection notices. So many applications or even interviews just seem to disappear into the ether leaving you wondering. I think waiting a few days seems solid. Before or after a weekend doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I agree with sending it during business hours.

  7. Dankar

    I can’t remember if I read it here, or if one of my coworkers told me about it, but I remember someone being rejected on Christmas. I think, for a US company, that’s about the only “bad” time for a rejection.

    I submit to a lot of journals, and am used to getting rejections. Usually, the quicker the better. I wouldn’t be too upset about having my job application rejected the same day I sent it in, but I realize that’s an outlier opinion.

    1. Persephone Mulberry

      I guess I wouldn’t love getting a rejection the same day as my interview, but I would prefer to know now than two weeks from now. Within 24-48 hours is my personal preference. Every day beyond that I get my hopes up a little more that I made the cut against whoever they interviewed that day.

      1. I Coulda Been a Lawyer ;)

        Don’t apply for a government job then. I have to rank the candidates in order of preference, explain why “these candidates” should be rejected, and then I’m not allowed to offer a position or decline a candidate until the hiring committees decision has been reviewed and approved by at least 2 individuals and 1 other committee. It can take months.

  8. Had Matter's Pea Tarty

    I once got a rejection email less than an hour after I left the interview. That was honestly depressing. So my entirely unprofessional recommendation – as one who’s been on the end of many, many, many rejections – is good for you for sending one and at least wait a day.

    1. AndersonDarling

      I once got a rejection email before I got home from the interview. They may have sent it as soon as I walked out of the office or while I was driving home, but that stung. It made me think they ran to their computer to send the rejection and were screaming “Hurry! Hurry! Don’t let her come back!”
      At least wait until the next business day.

      1. Gabriela

        Not to laugh at your misfortune (my confidence would have taken a big hit at that, too), but that image is making me giggle.

        1. RVA Cat

          Yes but also think if you would really want to work with people who did that? We get so many letters about supposedly grown adults behaving like middle school meanies.

      2. Valancy Snaith

        Yeah, I once got a rejection email while sitting in the car after an interview. Literally–left the interview, got into my car, was changing my shoes, phone pinged, rejection email. Could not have been more than 10 minutes. That hurt a good bit, I won’t lie.

        1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo

          I feel like I might have been tempted to pop my head back in the office and said “Hi, you may want to wait until the candidate gets out of the parking lot Kthxbye”

          Either that or thrown a shoe at their front door.

          (Hey I said tempted! not that I’d do either of those things)

          1. Ego Chamber

            I definitely would have been tempted go back into the building on any stupid flimsy excuse I could think of (car won’t start… ask to use the bathroom… directions… seriously anything), and pretend I hadn’t seen the email yet, just to see what they would do and if I scared them. Bonus points for setting an alert to go off on the phone, then check the phone, then pretend to text someone back while smiling. ;P

        2. Wendy Darling

          Seriously, at least give the applicant the illusion that you thought about it really hard! Even if you didn’t. Even if it was obvious that you weren’t going to hire them from 10 minutes into the interview.

    2. Sunshine on a cloudy day

      Yeah – the timing in terms of how soon after the interview or the application does matter to me. Don’t do it immmediately after (like this!). I get that people make these decisions very quickly and it’s not personal, but it definitely stings.

      In terms of when during the year, during the week or during the day – meh. I have my preferences of course (got a rejection midmorning on a business day – I was really upset, which was on me – but it was hard for me to keep it together at my current job for the rest of the day), but this will be different for everyone. In terms of time of day, day or week, holding off over holidays – just do what you gotta do.

      1. Sunshine on a cloudy day

        Oh to add to the midmorning thing – it was the day of my annual review and I had been so hopeful I could just cut that off with a actually – here’s my two weeks notice. So it was particularly bad timing (not that they could have known!). I cried a little in the bathroom and was pretty dejected in my review (in my head I was just like ” yep, you’re right I’m a terrible, horrible employee, no one will ever want me, blah, blah,blah). Anyway – my person preference would be a later in the day rejection, but won’t hold morning rejections against anyone

  9. Wendy Ann

    Everyone is going to have different opinions on the best time of day/week/year to send rejections so go with what works for your company.

    In terms of timelines, for those you aren’t interviewing I wouldn’t send rejections until after the applications have closed even if you know straight away you aren’t bringing them in. For those who you do interview, I would wait for a couple of days after your last interview before you reject anyone. It gives the illusion that time was taken to consider an application/interview which can really help mentally when you’re stuck in a toxic job. I would rather get a no a month after I applied than the next day because for that month, I can dream that somewhere better could want me. (Not that it’s the employers’ responsibility to guard the mental health of their applicants, just my opinion as a job seeker)

  10. CatCat

    I agree with Alison to stick with business days and be reasonably prompt. I’d also make sure it is professionally and kindly worded. That, to me, matters more.

    The most ice cold rejection I ever got was an email that said, “Applicant not selected.” That was it. It was after I traveled thousands of miles on my own dime to the second interview. That pissed me off. I’m still irritated by it.

    On another tale, I was rejected from a job a week-ish before my wedding. The wedding had come up in passing during the interview because it was the reason I was otherwise in town for a few weeks (when I was living thousands of miles away). Kind of a “no win” rejection scenario on the surface! The rejection was professionally worded and wished me all the best in my job search and wedding. I thought it was quite kind, actually. Of course, I was disappointed, but it in no way left me upset or offended. Professionalism and kindness go a long way!

    1. CatCat

      I dug into my email for that second one:

      “Dear Ms. [CatCat] – it was a pleasure to meet you earlier this week, and I hope your wedding preparations are in full swing. I am sorry to report that we are not able to offer you the position. As you can imagine, we had a tremendous number of highly qualified applicants, many of whom have prior [experience of a particular nature]. We do wish you the best, and perhaps our paths will cross again at the later time. Best wishes, [Hiring Manager]”

      Professional. Kind. Classy.

      1. AndersonDarling

        It really shows the contrast between the two companies. I doubt you would consider working for “Applicant Not Selected” company, but would consider going to the Kind & Classy company if another opportunity came up.

    2. The New Wanderer

      Eesh, I really hope that “applicant not selected” was supposed to be an internal email to the person who should have written a more appropriate and professional rejection and that it was a mistake to send directly to you. Especially after an on-site interview!

    3. RoboRejected

      I got a similar “Applicant not selected” rejection email. It was a little longer, but it actually said this is a robo email, do not reply. I never heard from a real person.

      This was after a several month long interview process where I was told I was one of the final two candidates. I still don’t have a great opinion of the company or the hiring manager I communicated with during that process because of it.

    4. Wendy Darling

      Over a 3-4 month period I did three phone interviews, a take-home work sample, and a half-day of in-person interviews with 6 different employees of a company. They rejected me by having their applicant tracking system send me a form email that said ‘X position has been filled. This email address is not monitored. Do not reply to this email.’

      It was a big company whose products I used to buy but I’ve been too salty to buy anything from them in the year since then. I’ll get over it at some point, but not quite yet.

  11. Nelson

    I once was in the middle of a phone interview, and had GMail open on my browser. I received a rejection email DURING the interview.

        1. Nelson

          I wish I had, but I was deep into a long stretch of unemployment and held out hope it was an error or something. It was one of dozens of phone interviews I’d had to that point so I just let it go.

          1. Nelson

            I should add the interview was close to wrapping up, so I was only on the phone for a few more minutes after that point.

    1. Master Bean Counter

      Please tell me you told them about it.
      “Hey, I just got an email saying I’m not being considered for this position any longer, should we cut this conversation short?”

      1. Antilles

        I bet if Nelson had actually asked them about it right then, there’s a decent chance that they would have moved him forward to the next step anyways out of nothing more than pure awkwardness/embarrassment. Or at least said some kind of awkwardly stuttering “must have been an error, we’re still trying to decide, …” response.

    2. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo

      I was about to say, of course they didn’t hire you… surfing the web while in an interview! (imagining you with your phone in your hand answering questions like a bored teenager).

      And then I reread your post about it being a phone interview. I so want to hear how the rest of this went, but on the surface I’d say that you dodged a bullet there. I can’t imagine wanting to work for a company who did this.

  12. Master Bean Counter

    3-5 days is ideal. But the fact that the OP sends them at all is to be commended. Nothing like investing time for an interview only to be left hanging.
    Or in one case completely ghosted but then asked to apply again after a year with a promise that things have changed. But only to find out they changed for the worse.
    But honestly the best rejections I’ve had have been phone calls that happened the day of or the day after the interview. The fact that they took time to call showed respect.

    1. Delyssia

      This may be one of those “you can’t please everyone” things, but I would *hate* a phone call for a job rejection. First, I’ve always had a phone call shortly after an interview be an offer, so I would be halfway expecting that I got it, only to find out that nope! And second, I would hate to have to manage my reaction to the news like that. (“Oh, crap, I know I need to sound disappointed, but not *too* disappointed….”)

      1. Future Analyst

        SAME. Dear God, don’t call me unless it’s an offer, and even then, it better be the best damn offer ever. I’ll take anything and everything in email, please.

      2. Wendy Darling

        I’ve gotten phonecalls for rejections and I also hate them, but some people love them! Me, I want to be alone with my disappointment, not having to be polite to you on the phone now that you have crushed my hopes.

        1. Wendy Darling

          ME TOO. When I was being laid off I applied for a bunch of internal positions, and got rejected from one on the last day I was eligible for internal rehire. The guy *scheduled a time to call me* to give me feedback and then rejected me and wanted to give me extensive feedback about how I could better interview for internal positions. I muscled through a few minutes of it and then burst into tears and said in a super obvious cry-voice, “I can’t apply for internal positions anymore!”

          He was trying to be nice but it went so, so wrong.

          I wish it was normal to have a checkbox for this when you applied.

          IN THE EVENT THAT I AM REJECTED, I PREFER MY REJECTIONS VIA:
          [] email
          [] phone
          [] never hearing from you again

  13. Roscoe

    I remember once about 15 years ago, I interviewed for a job. This was back when a lot was still done via mail as opposed to email. I left the interview at like 3pm. I got the rejection in the mail the next day. Now, in fairness, I knew during the interview that it wasn’t a good fit too, but I’ll admit, it did feel like “Damn,you didn’t even wait until I was in my car to put this in the mail. I think a few days is fine, but immediately seems a bit harsh.

    1. Sled Dog Mama

      Remember the old days when you didn’t worry about when to send the rejection because the only choice was before the mail carrier picked up. And you didn’t worry about when the applicants received the rejection because the only option was at some point after their mail is delivered.
      OP send when it makes sense for your company, waiting a few days is very thoughtful and it seems that quite a few commentors would prefer late in the day.

  14. A Person.

    Agree with the idea of not avoiding Fridays or the run up to holidays. I like to ask the timeframe for the hiring decision or next steps in the interview process at the end of the interview, and if I’m told a decision will be made at the end of the week, I am appreciative of that rejection on a Friday. That way I’m not left wondering if they’re going to ghost me and I can transfer my mental energy to something else. And I think it’s just basic professional courtesy to follow up in a timely manner, even to say no.

    Of course it’s not their job to manage my feelings, but I would hate to get a same day (or instant) rejection at an interview. Again, it just seems more professional to give candidates the impression that they are being thoughtfully considered.

  15. essEss

    It seems like I am in the minority (based on other postings in your column on this topic) but I really believe that the email should be sent whenever the decision is made. It is EMAIL, which can be read at any time of the recipient’s choosing. The information should be shared as soon as it is available and it should be the receiver’s decision whether to check their mail on Christmas or not. I shouldn’t have to try to guess when is the most convenient for the person to receive the news since they might be urgently waiting for the answer in order to make other plans (such as accepting a different job offer).

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Keep in mind though that often the decision is made right in the middle of the interview, or seconds later. So you’re already building in some time that you’re going to wait before sharing the decision lest it seem insulting/rude — and so then the question becomes when you should share it.

      1. essEss

        Every place I’ve done interviews (on the ‘being the interviewer’ side), even if we decided we didn’t want the person, we still had to do some review paperwork with HR and discuss the decision with the hiring manager so at best it was several hours later that the official ‘no-go’ decision can be given even if we were certain in the middle of the interview.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Definitely can happen that way — but lots of times the person doing the interview has the authority to make the decision on their own, so that’s something to factor in.

        2. Bea

          It varies drastically. I’ve hired people on the spot and been offered a job on the spot as well. Lot’s of small companies tend to have less if any paperwork involved. I’ve had to call people immediately because I’ve learned that waiting means they won’t be available tomorrow as well.

    2. Penny Lane

      Even if it’s 5 mins after the candidate has left the office? That’s just mean for the sake of mean.

      1. essEss

        If I had multiple interviews, and this was the last one and I had an offer elsewhere but I had been interested in this one, yes I still want the information right away.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          That’s where it gets into the different goals of you as a candidate versus goals of the employer. So many people would be offended/stung by a rejection five minutes later that sensible employers won’t do it, even if there are some people like you who would appreciate it.

  16. DMLT

    I once interviewed for a job, drove the 15 minutes home, and walked in the door to hear the man I’d just interviewed with leaving a rejection message on my answering machine (which probably gives you a hint that this story is ancient history…)
    I was gutted.
    And then the phone immediately rang again as soon as he was done. I let it go to the machine because I was upset.
    Him again. With a job offer.
    I was baffled.
    How do you even RESPOND to that? (Keep in mind this was before email, texting, cell phones…)
    I honestly can’t remember what I did but I know I didn’t take the job!

    1. cold brew raktajino

      Could the first one have been an accident? As in, you were so stellar in the interview that he immediately called the other candidate(s) to reject them–only he dialed your number instead?

      1. Bea

        I have to wonder if the messages both included a “Hi Wendy, we’ve decided to go with a different option.” and then “Hi Wendy, we think you’re a great match and want to offer you the position.” If he’s zoning out while making the calls I can see a misdial either direction but you realise it after you hear the same answering machine pick up!

  17. Bad Timing

    The company could not possibly have known about this bad timing.

    I had a miscarriage and went to the hospital. While waiting at the hospital I got a rejection email from a job I applied for that I REALLY wanted. Nothing about that was fun. On the other hand, I got all the bad news I could anticipate all within about 20 minutes. So, maybe that was kind of efficient.

  18. Anita

    I have always notified all candidates (first that we received their app and later that they were declined). But I have always waited until I have a candidate who has accepted the job before I send out rejections. Is that weird? In some cases with a particularity large pool, I’ll go ahead and send the rejection notification out to the bulk of applicants who didn’t get an interview. But for those who make it to one of the interview rounds, I wait. I have had too many occasions where we had candidate(s) turn our offer down and we end up going down the list of folks with less experience, etc. Maybe I am just superstitious, but I want an acceptance in hand- would hate to go back to someone with a “well on second thought…” And my rejection notes typically say something like, “in the end we selected a candidate with extensive [yadda yadda yadda].

    1. Queen of Cans & Jars

      I think this is smart. Interviewing is a two-way street, so even though you may have found someone you think would be a perfect fit for your job, the candidate may not think the job is the perfect fit for them. While there’s no shame in being a second (or third) choice for a job, it’ll make for a happier start to a working relationship if you don’t initially reject a candidate, and then say, “Well, our first choice didn’t want it. Are you interested?”

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      If you know you definitely won’t hire someone, I don’t think you should wait. But yeah, if you could potentially be interested later on depending on how the search goes, I’d wait.

      1. Oxford Comma

        In academia, usually, there were 3-5 people brought in for an in-person interview and we wait until paperwork is signed by the person we’re hiring. Because if something goes wrong or Pick #1 rejects the job, nobody wants to redo the search. Unless there was only one really good pick, but that doesn’t happen often.

        Candidates who don’t meet the minimum qualifications are notified almost right away, at least at my institution.

    3. Antilles

      I think it really depends on how firmly you feel that Candidate is not an option. From the candidate’s perspective, the instant you get a rejection letter, it’s case closed (or it should be anyways).
      So if the candidate is a perfectly viable option but just not your preferred #1 choice, then yes, it probably makes sense to hold off sending the rejection letter. But if it’s someone who’s firmly off the board either because they’re 2oth on the preference list or because they flat out don’t meet your needs, then you might as well go ahead and send it since you have no real reason to hang onto them anyways.

    4. Kate

      This is what I do, too. I had a former boss who liked to wait until the selected candidate actually started the job, which I hated. It meant the other finalists had to wait 3+ weeks for an update.

      This was for hiring corporate recruiters, by the way. Not a field that tends to no-show the first day. Also a group that’s savvy about what’s going on behind the scenes. Everybody kept it professional, but I could tell they were annoyed. I didn’t blame them.

    5. A Person.

      It’s not that unusual in my experience as a candidate to get either a call for an interview or a rejection letter 3-6 months after I applied! I think it’s because the hiring process is so onerous (state government procedures) they don’t want to send anything until their selected candidate actually starts the job. Heaven forbid they have to restart the whole process if the selected candidate backs out.

      But I still think it’s weird after months of silence.

    6. Stormy

      It isn’t ideal from the candidate’s perspective, but at times it’s necessary. I’ve seen interviews drag on for almost a year because multiple candidates accepted and then backed out, or even quit during training.

  19. voluptuousfire

    When I’ve sent them out, it’s during the week. I also generally follow that logic–don’t reject on a Friday, why ruin someone’s weekend? I also try to reject (if I do) on a Monday afternoon. I remember getting a rejection at 9 am on a Monday morning. It was so half-assed, because they replied to the email LinkedIn sent them with my resume and profile and just changed email addresses. At least open a new email window, ya know?

  20. Queen of Cans & Jars

    So here’s a question in regards to always sending rejection letters. I do hiring for a production facility, and as such, I’m pretty much always looking for folks. Or I might originally need 10 people, but then I only need 3 right now, but will more than likely need 7 more in the next month. When I interview, I usually let them know that hiring is very changeable, and that even if I don’t call them immediately, they may hear something from me in the near future. If there’s someone I know is not going to be a good fit, I’ll send them a notice, but I know I’ve had some folks hanging out there with no additional communication from me. FWIW, I think it may be fairly common in production work, because even though I invite good candidates to contact me within a few weeks if they haven’t heard anything, I rarely have people do that.

    So what would you suggest be the best way to handle this type of hiring situation?

    1. Bea

      You’re correct, it’s common for production jobs. They most likely don’t reach back out because they find employment elsewhere, I never thought too much about it when I was in the same position of hiring production staff.

    2. Kate

      I have the same situation in my field. It’s tough. Between growth and turnover, I know I’ll need more people in the coming months, just not when, exactly.

      It’s not a perfect system, but I have two rejection notices. One’s a typical rejection email. The other is a softer “not now” email. It basically says, “we decided to go with another candidate at this time, but were impressed by your [insert details]. Please know this was a tough decision, etc etc. We’re always adding new positions [sounds better than high turnover]. I’ll contact you the next time we have an opening in case you’re still looking. [friendly closing etc]”

      I’ve successfully hired several previous candidates that way. I know nobody wants to know they’re the 2nd choice candidate. But still, better to know where you stand, and hopefully get the position the next time.

    3. Antilles

      It seems like you’re handling it fine overall.
      The only thing that jumped out to me is this:
      even though I invite good candidates to contact me within a few weeks if they haven’t heard anything, I rarely have people do that.
      If you’re hoping they do follow up with you in a few weeks but very rarely seeing people actually do that, it’s worth reviewing your phrasing/language to make sure it’s actually clear what you mean. Many companies include some version of “we’ll keep your resume on file”, “please feel free to apply for future positions” or other boilerplate, so it can be hard to tell that you *really* mean it and aren’t just tossing it out as a meaningless courtesy brush-off.

  21. Kate

    I like to send rejection emails near the end of the work day, like 3:00-5:00 p.m. My thinking is that if they’re upset, I don’t want for them to have to power through a full day of work.

  22. Bea

    Same day rejections are brutal. I had someone hand me back my resume and wish me luck in my job hunt. I was just like “what the actual F just happened?!”. I’d rather be ghosted and that’s why I’m antsy about anyone who asks for someone to apply in person.

  23. JoAnna

    I’d rather get a job rejection on a Friday so I didn’t spend my whole weekend on pins and needles wondering if I’d gotten the job.

    The last rejection I got happened right away in the morning, and I was depressed for the rest of the day. So I guess I would have rather gotten it at night, but in the grand scheme of things it didn’t really matter.

  24. ChocolatePower

    I was once rejected for a job before I even left the building I just interviewed in. I shook hands and pulled out my phone as I walked out and there it was in my inbox. There were two interviewers and one stepped away for a bit during the interview. I think he may have actually rejected me before the interview was even done because the rejection came from a application system and not a persons direct inbox.

    It was definitely a slap in the face. There’s no way they discussed anything I said so I must have done a terrible job. Fine. Reject me then. But they literally just looked me in the face moments before and acted like I was a consideration and they should have just said it wasn’t going to work out.

  25. anon for this

    I think it depends in part on the time scale involved.
    I put my hat in for a job last year. Didn’t want or need it, but it would have been good on my CV etc, and an “in” with an organisation who I might want to work for in the future. And good practice for the hiring process involved in this kind of organisation.
    Long story short, I went through five rounds of selection in just over a week. Asking me different questions, more information needed about my background/ qualifications, even a test. And I got jerked around quite a bit during that time (the interview time was changed more than once, they told me I had several days to do something then called me up mere hours later to ask me why I hadn’t done it yet). I ran with it, because this organisation is extremely prestigious, and it was still good practice.
    I stuffed up the interview. Don’t know why, but I did. So *I* knew during the interview that I wouldn’t be selected. But it took them two weeks, end of business the business day before their induction (which took place on the other side of the country) to send me a form rejection email.
    I’m now in the process of some different types of applications that involve this organisation and some of their competitors. On paper, this organisation should be at or near the top. Because of this experience, they’re at the bottom.

    1. Stanford Graduate

      So you didn’t want or need the job, they didn’t pick you, and now you’re being petty about it at your other job? That’s… petty.

      1. anon for this

        No, not really. I’m being deliberately vague.
        It was a bonus opportunity which would have looked amazing on my CV but I would have struggled to make it work. I didn’t expect to get through round one let alone as far as I did.
        The only impact it has is on my personal preferences. I’m at a career stage where almost everyone in my position needs to be looking for new opportunities. So my preference for this company is not as great as it would have been. It has zero real world impact otherwise. I’ve not said or done anything differently. I can’t see why that’s petty. (My point was, I feel they could have told me sooner and not at the eleventh hour. Given how much I had to rush around to fit their extremely tight schedule, plus other factors which were inconsiderate, the experience didn’t sit well with me)

        1. Phoenix Programmer

          Ah I thought you were putting them at the bottom of your vendor stack because of their process – which is where I believe stanford got petty.

        2. Stanford Graduate

          Thank you for clarification. Yes, as Phoenix commented below, I got the impression that now you are handling some business at your current job and deliberately disadvantaging the company because of their previous handling of your situation.

  26. Collingswood

    A couple of people have said that receiving a rejection on a Friday would ruin their weekend, but I’d rather hear on Friday than spend my weekend what if-ing about the job interview.

    1. Tuxedo Cat

      This and if I’m that emotionally invested in a job and I’m still employed somewhere else, I’d rather have the weekend to take of myself than have to work. I’d rather the evening than like Monday morning.

  27. C38

    Personally, I would rather be rejected on a Friday afternoon. That way I could use my weekend to help cheer me up (enjoy hobbies, hang out with friends, watch movies, have some wine) and go into the next week refreshed and ready to move on. Receiving a rejection on a Monday would be a rough way to start the week, especially if you working at a job that you are desperately trying to escape. But everyone is different.

    And Allison is right- I would HIGHLY prefer to receive a rejection on a Monday than be ghosted.

  28. oranges & lemons

    It does sound like you’re over-thinking it a little–it’s impossible to know the preferences of each individual interviewee. But it is thoughtful of you to err on the side of trying to make it easier on them! The one factor I would take into account is the amount of time the interviewee has invested in the process. If they’ve only submitted an application, I wouldn’t worry too much about just rejecting the next day. If they’ve been in for multiple rounds of interviews, then I might be a bit more conscious of the timing.

  29. Product person

    I’m going to write this here in hopes some readers dealing with rejection will see and feel better:

    Every time I apply to a job without having someone internally acting as a sponsor, I get rejected.

    This has happened multiple times in my career. Yet, I know I have good skills because 1) I have never been fired from a job; 2) the only time I got laid off, the CTO of the company made sure to put me in touch with the best headhunter in town, who quickly found me dozens of opportunities; 3) I have an attractive resume that causes recruiters from the most successful tech companies to reach out asking if I’d be willing to fly to Seattle or Silicon Valley for an interview.

    Still! Every time I like a job description and send my resume without a warm introduction, I either get a rejection letter, or just radio silence.

    Not once, over the past 20 years, I was even asked to be interviewed when submitting a job application in a vacuum. All my phone screenings, interviews, and job offers come from having a former manager put a good word for me, or finding someone to introduce me to the hiring manager or someone influential that can open doors and get me a chance to interview.

    I’m currently consulting (fully booked and earning a solid 6-figure), but the next time I need a full time job, I already know that I’ll have to pick a company where someone I know works or has connections. I’m sure it’s not like that for everyone, but this is proof that you should never take a rejection as an indication that you’re not worthy (plus, if possible, always try to have someone refer or introduce you to the right people in your target company).

      1. Tuxedo Cat

        Me too. I’m facing this right now. I live in a college town with my partner, and the university is basically the only option for my field. The university basically hires its own alums or people will tight connections to those hiring. I’m not an alum nor do I have any tight connections. Neither does my partner.

      2. Lady Anonymous

        No kidding! I’m likely to be looking for jobs in the near future, and all this does is make me anxious.

      3. Bea

        If my goofy awkward self can get people to hire me, y’all should be fine. I’ve heard very few cases like this except in small towns where you slept with the wrong person and now you’re poison!

      4. Wannabe Disney Princess

        If it helps, every job I’ve had was gotten was without someone on the inside. Including a very tiny industry where everyone knows each other…and I had ZERO experience. Luckily, I was able to demonstrate why the skills I had would align with what they were looking for. It’s totally possible!

      5. Product person

        Had Matter’s Pea Tarty,

        I’m sorry if it doesn’t make you feel better; it’s the reality I face, that proves that hearing “no” isn’t necessarily about you or your skills — it can also be about the fact that many places will prioritize interviewing and hiring people who come recommended to them.

        Last year, I helped 17 people (!) get their new jobs — including a former boss. They reached out, I put them in touch with people I knew were hiring, and bingo, they ended up getting a new job. Knowing this is a way to get hired shouldn’t make you feel worse. I’m not saying stop applying if you don’t have a referral; just know that the reason you’re being rejected could be just that someone else got precedence because of a connection.

        I didn’t invent the system, just learned to live with it…

        1. Had Matter's Pea Tarty

          Which is all well and good until you’re unemployed with no contacts, no way of getting them, and now I’m being told all this.

      6. sin nombre

        The only job I’ve ever gotten from personal connections was at Wendy’s the summer after my freshman year of college. (I walked in to turn in an application, an employee who happened to be the mother of one of my high school classmates recognized me and put in a good word.) Everything else has been on the strength of my application, interviews, references. This is one person’s experience and it’s far from universal.

        1. sin nombre

          Which is not at all to contradict the message that “no” isn’t necessarily about you or your skills, which is absolutely true.

    1. Sunshine on a cloudy day

      Oh wow – I just thought back and this is totally true for me too. I seem to do best with external recruiters. Usually I reply to job ads placed by the recruiter not actual companies and that totally works for me.

    2. Jennifer Thneed

      > Every time I apply to a job without having someone internally acting as a sponsor, I get rejected.

      Every time? Not even an interview? I suggest that your resume or cover letter might be the reason.

      But it also doesn’t matter, because you’re fully employed, and with your network, you no longer need to cold-mail your resumes anywhere.

  30. Massmatt

    It’s great that you are showing consideration and sending rejection notices. They are no fun to receive, but certainly better than not hearing anything. I don’t think I would care when I received it, though I agree it should be during business hours.

    In my last search I got very few rejections to online applications/sending resumes, and at that stage, I had little invested so I had low expectations. I had several interviews, some were lengthy/involving multiple people, and at that point I think ghosting a candidate is rude, it happened to me a couple times.

  31. Asperger Hare

    I once got the rejection call about an hour after the interview. That stung a little, but I could see during it that it wasn’t going my way.

    A few days ago I got an email saying that their decision had been “postponed” and to await further news. I must admit, my mind is going over all kinds of scenarios! Did someone else get offered the job? Are they checking references first? Maybe it suddenly got really busy in the office and picking a candidate keeps getting pushed to the back of their To Do list. At this point, even a rejection would be welcome as it would take the edge off the waiting.

  32. Suzy Q

    Whatever you do, just please send it! I can’t even tell you how many jobs I’ve applied to, or even interviewed with, that simply ghosted me. SO frustrating.

    1. soupmonger

      Worse. Because usually a phone call means an offer, so the applicant is psyched for a positive call. To then reject them means a bit of a double whammy. That’s the way I’ve always handled it, anyway, when I’ve been interviewing potential employees – phone call to the successful one, then emails to the other applicants.

    2. Bea

      I would be confused by a rejection call in this day and age. Heck even in the years before email being pretty much universal we just got rejection letters mailed. My first supervisor had the new hire send them out to everyone she beat out. Form letters mind you but yeah that felt funky to 19 yr old me needless to say.

    3. JoAnna

      It’s worse than a rejection letter or email, but better than no rejection at all (i.e., ghosting an applicant).

      Email or snail mail is better because the applicant can process their feelings and not strive to remain professional over the phone in the face of disappointment.

    4. Astor

      Worse. I’ve had a bunch of really great rejections over the phone, so I’m not against the practice. But the worst rejections I’ve had have all been over the phone, and it’s really difficult to just… take the rejection and have to be upbeat. In addition to the expectation that a phone call means an offer, cellphones somehow mean that I’m more likely to answer calls from prospective jobs even when it’s not an ideal time.

      I think it really only makes sense to call someone that you think would particularly appreciate a call, and otherwise send a friendly email. If you’re interested in having a chat for a particular reason, you can always invite them to call you.

    5. sin nombre

      Worse. Far worse. Please don’t. I hate the phone to begin with, as do a lot of people (not just millennials, though I am one but I’m 34, not new to the work world). Add to that the fact that the candidate is likely to think a phone call means an offer, and that they have to immediately be professional and positive with no space to collect themselves — honestly, I would take a rejection phone call as a little bit sadistic.

    6. anonagain

      As a seasoned rejectee, I wouldn’t want a call, in general. Like everyone else has said, a call usually means good news.

      I don’t do hiring and never have, so I don’t have any experience to draw on here. I think I would rather deliver this news in writing since you can choose your wording carefully (as can the other person) and have a copy of what you sent the applicant. It also seems faster, but maybe that’s just because I’m the person who would end up stuck on the phone listening to someone crying for 20 minutes. (This is why I don’t do hiring; I’m the antithesis of management material.)

      The exception for me personally is if you’ve decided to reject me shortly before our scheduled interview. Even though that’s a rejection, I would like for the interviewer to follow up with me as they would if they were rescheduling last minute. I would like email as soon as you know, using a descriptive subject line and, depending on the timeline, a phone call if you don’t get a message back from me confirming receipt. (Basically call if you think it might not see the email in time.)

      I really don’t want to spent even more time/money/effort on a canceled interview. That’s more important to me than avoiding a bad phone call.

    7. Video Game Lurker

      I prefer an e-mail, unless the person calling has more than the basic “we went with another candidate” script.

      I’ve been rejected by phone after a week after the interview where I had thought I had done very well, and had to struggle to keep myself from breaking down while on the phone.
      I’ve also gotten a rejection by phone, but the person on the other end had a list of things I could work on for my next interview (like taking more confidence in my work experience, and more pride in what I’ve done on the job). That was not as emotionally painful to me, since it was more than just a “We chose to hire someone else instead.”

  33. Bookworm

    Agree that the most important thing is that you send them at all. If it’s the application submission I can understand not bothering but something that really irritates me are the orgs that NEVER send any acknowledgement after an interview-phone, video, in-person, etc. If I spent the time/effort and maybe money traveling, the least that can be done is to let the candidate know they can move on. I also find people who don’t hold to their timeline a bit annoying, although I understand things happen and maybe they’re negotiating or had to reschedule an interview, etc.

    I’ve had a few rejections within hours or the following day and yeah, that stung. I’ve also received rejections months after and I wondered if the message somehow got lost in cyberspace or if they were just really slow or what happened there. I agree there doesn’t seem to be any one answer to make anyone happy, other than avoiding holidays (but other than Christmas I’m not sure what other holidays could be an issue).

    As someone who is now job hunting I appreciate that you take this into consideration, OP!

  34. Recruit-o-rama

    This will probably be unpopular, but I think many of you are way overthinking this. In a perfect world you would get a rejection email at the time you want and it would say whatever makes you feel good, but this is not a perfect world.

    I know there are plenty of crappy recruiters, just like there are crappy engineers, baristas, lawyers, doctors,etc.. but most recruiters are just doing their best.

    I send rejection emails as I review applications. My ATS sends the email 24 hours after I reject. Sometimes I review applications at 10 at night or 5 in the morning or for a few hours on a Saturday. While I certainly want to be professional, I cannot customize my approach for every possible circumstance.

    A rejection is not personal, it’s business, please try to see it that way, even though I know that can be hard to do.

    People who have interviewed in person get a personal email which will come after the Candidate we selected starts, which usually means a Monday morning, but again, sometimes I do computer work like that on the off hours because I can do it on my couch with my pajamas on. It’s still not personal.

    1. sin nombre

      I mean, the question was “is there a best time”. People are sharing their perspectives on that. It doesn’t mean they expect a perfect world.

      1. Recruit-o-rama

        Sure, and I’m giving my perspective. I’m reading conflicting stories of how a rejection ruins the weekend…or the work week. There’s no winning so therefore, no perfect time, that’s my point.

    2. Bagpuss

      I get that you can’t customise for every scenario, but if you have an automated system sending rejections out 24 hours after you review them, would it be possible to set that up so that they are sent out in business hours only? e.g. so that if you reject at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning, it sends at 9 a.m. on Monday, not at 5 a.m.m on Sunday?

      I appreciate that it might not be possible, but it might be worth considering whether you can adjust the settings which then wouldn’t require any customisation on your part after that.

  35. NDC

    I once interviewed right at the end of the work day, and there was a rejection waiting in my email when I got home. No hard feelings, though: they had been very clear that they were on an extremely short timeline.

    One of the panel invited me to discuss another opening with them, which also took the sting out of it a bit. I accepted, and discovered when I started that the successful candidate for the first position was very well known within that workplace already, and well suited to the role. I imagine one would have had to have been a stellar candidate to compete with that! :)

  36. NDC

    Worst rejection I ever got was maybe nine years or so ago: hiring manager emailed me after the interview and asked me to come and meet with them – didn’t say why. I assumed it was some sort of followup interview, so prepared and dressed accordingly. Turned out they just wanted to let me know face-to-face that I hadn’t got the job.

    I had been working in that workplace for some time already so knew them slightly, and I think they meant it kindly, but, seriously, I would have preferred an email.

  37. Beatrice

    I interviewed for an internal transfer/promotion a month ago. I still haven’t officially heard back, but the hiring manager stopped by my desk on Tuesday and said he was going to schedule some time on my calendar “to update me on their decision.” If he was going to hire me, he wouldn’t have said it that way, so I know I didn’t get it, but he still has not scheduled anything with me, and has not actually told me that I didn’t get the job, which leaves just enough doubt that my brain is hanging on to it.

  38. Courageous cat

    I’m likely alone in this but I’m actually surprised at how vital people find rejection letters. Maybe it was my industry (retail, at the district or corporate level) but there was a good amount of turnover, thus a good amount of interviews, and absolutely no way to take the time to send rejection emails to every person we interviewed.

    Obviously it’s totally different if it’s a more intense process, or you’re really far along in it, or any of those variables – but otherwise, it seemed dumb for us to even bother to try. I would think candidates assumed that if they didn’t hear back from us somewhat soon, they weren’t getting the job. This also may be colored by the fact that I rarely receive rejection emails (at least, in a timely manner) myself, and I’ve never really minded because I’ve already mentally moved on after a week.

    And then to follow this with the absolute -worst- part of receiving rejection letters: applying to jobs and then getting form rejection letters NINE MONTHS LATER. I am still so mad when I see something come in my inbox being like “Thanks for your interest! We have decided to move forward with other candidates at this time…” It wastes my time and feels so presumptuous, even though it’s automated. Like, you still thought I was hanging on after almost a full year?

  39. De Minimis

    We have two stages for ours—if someone isn’t going to be interviewed, I’ll send an automated rejection to them once we have a group of finalists. This takes almost zero effort, and I think there is no excuse for not doing this.

    For the finalists, we wait until the person selected has signed an offer letter and has set a start date. At that point, I write personal e-mails to the other finalists. I don’t plan on sending them at any particular time, just when my schedule allows.

    I’m currently looking for a new job, and I honestly don’t care how or when I receive a rejection letter as long as I receive something. If I’m not going to be considered for an interview, it’s a little less important for me to be notified, but if I’ve taken the time to interview, I do expect to receive something.

  40. JamieS

    I’m going to take a stance that the best time to reject candidates is Wednesday between 10:00-10:30 as long as it’s not Christmas. Gives them a couple days to recover so their weekend isn’t ruined, it’s halfway through the week so it doesn’t get their week off to a bad start, and they find out shortly before lunch so they can immediately drown their sorrows in some buffalo wings and wine.

  41. I was a Jimless Pam

    I’d rather get one within a week or not at all. There have been so many times I’ve gotten a boilerplate rejection one, two, SIX months later… at that point it’s like, I figured. You don’t need to add insult to injury!

  42. LM

    I definitely think that rejections should be communicated as soon as possible – doesn’t matter if it’s right before a weekend or holiday! Last year I was rejected from a job on 22 Dec (last business day before Christmas) – and as I was down to the final 2, it was quite a blow! – however I did appreciate being able to start my holiday knowing that I hadn’t been successful, rather than holding out a glimmer of hope! I was then able to use my holiday to look at other opportunities (which I know you should be doing anyway!) But it was good to have had the certainty.

    Alison is right that it’s going a bit too far in “emotion management” to avoid particular days for rejections – rejections are a normal part of life and especially job-searching, and candidates would be mature enough to realise that.

  43. JaneS97

    I would love to just get an answer as soon as you have it! If you know that you don’t want to hire me at the end of the interview, just tell me then! I wouldn’t want to waste time wondering if you can give me the answer.

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