what’s the 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 around the holidays 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?

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 180 comments… read them below }

  1. Lioness*

    Personally as a candidate:

    If it’s not going to be me and you know it’s not going to be me, please just send the rejection ASAP. I try not to dwell, but the sooner I know, the sooner your position is out of my brain and I can move my resources on.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*


      Personally, I’m rarely (if ever) invested in a possible job enough to be terribly upset about a rejection.

    2. introverted af*

      To the OP, if you are concerned that you’re sending a rejection “too soon,” you can call that out – “I realize this may seem abrupt to reject you 15 minutes after you submitted your application, but I just happened to be reviewing applications at the same time and was able to make a decision about your application based on XYZ experience. I strive to be prompt in notifying applications as soon as a decision is made, so that’s why you’re receiving this now.”

      That’s pretty stilted still I think, but it’s ok to say what you need to say.

    3. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      To some extent, yes, but there are still some limits.

      Once, maybe 25 or so years ago, I was working for a very Large Company that contracted to provide teapots to the government. I interviewed at an Even Larger Company that also was a teapot contractor. I thought it went well. My interview ended at 3PM on a Wednesday. This is important because I received the rejection letter in Thursday’s US Mail.

      This told me one of two things.

      First, they did not take my job candidacy seriously, and had actually already decided on who they wanted for the position. They just interviewed me on the off-chance I was better than the option they had already selected.

      Or, second, I had failed the interview so miserably, they couldn’t wait to have HR rush down to the mail room and get the rejection letter out that very day.

      Needless to say, I prefer to believe the first. I do think that Even Larger Company’s HR was very unprofessional, and they probably should have just cancelled the interview. Or at least waited a day or two to get the rejection out.

      1. Sea Anemone*

        Third, they had already decided on a different candidate someone else, but wanted to interview you as another option or bc knew they would have other needs

        Fourth, they already knew that the funding had dried up for the position and wanted to interview you in case anything changed

        So many things could be going on that even if you are stung at the quick rejection and annoyed that all your time came to nothing, that it’s best not dwell on the most negative cause and just put the whole thing behind you

        1. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

          Fifth, they put it in the office outbox later that evening and the company does a direct post office drop off at the end of second shift.

          1. Splendid Colors*

            Yeah, where I live, the regional distribution center is located fairly conveniently to a lot of companies. Anything dropped off by 8 is postmarked that day. (Convenient for getting holiday orders out the door the same day!)

        2. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

          @Sea Anemone,

          Your third option is the same as my first option.
          And I’m not dwelling on the negative, and really didn’t even at the time. I just considered it highly unprofessional behavior on the part of Even Larger Company.

          I appreciate the interest and advice. Thanks.

    4. Saraaaaah*

      Agreed except once I had someone send me a rejection like 20 minutia after the interview. That stung. Let me think that you at least have to think about it a little bit.

      1. LittleMarshmallow*

        Haha! I basically had that happen. They called about an hour after the interview ended and said nope. I wasn’t actually super surprised. I was more surprised I had made it that far in the interview process. I was very under qualified for the job. It was one of those “it sounds interesting so I’ll give it a shot” even though it’s basically the equivalent of my boss’s boss’s position… and in a different industry than I’d been in (still chemical manufacturing but different types of chemicals and different type of target industries). They had flown me to the location and my flight wasn’t until two days later (they insisted on making a weekend of it because if they chose me they wanted me to explore the area – so Friday interview and Sunday flight home). They let me comp my meals for the whole weekend and said to just explore the area anyway. Such a weird experience. Haha. I’m glad I didn’t get it. I probably would’ve taken it and hated the area…

    5. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      Especially if it’s a rejection due to a mandatory requirement of the job, like specific licenses, time-frames, or (stated) salary, or other factors that can be decided on in seconds (those should be in the job posting, of course).
      For more nuanced decision points, I’d wait a business day but not more.
      When sorting applications, I have a “clearly yes”, “maybe” and “no way” stack and the rejections for “no way” go out the next day (if my co-reviewer puts them on their no way stack as well, that is). What happens with the “maybe” stack depends on the strength of the “yes” stack; if the decision to move forward will take more than 2-3 business days, they’ll get a thank-you email explaining our timeline – we try to not let applicants hanging for over a week without any initial communication.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

        I had one where it was a verbal no thank you at the interview itself. The hiring manager was willing to consider a candidate with experience & stem minor despite the non-technical BA…but HIS manager made it perfectly clear that he required the BS no matter how HR wrote the job rec.
        (I had early career experience being hired by someone whose boss had different view of the job description so I was simply relieved to avoid a repeat.)

  2. Dr. Tea Blender, PhD*

    I once received a rejection letter on Christmas. It was when I was frantically job-hunting and there weren’t a lot jobs that were a good fit for my skills and qualifications at the time, and this was probably the strongest fit I had found in awhile. Things got better, but I probably cried for like four hours on that one.

      1. Dr. Tea Blender, PhD*

        Thanks! It’s been years and I’m two years into a job I absolutely loved, but that was definitely a job hunt rock bottom.

    1. Bilateralrope*

      Also they told you that they have people making hiring decisions on Christmas.

      Sure, there might be a good reason for some of the staff to work Christmas day. But, even in those fields, a hiring manager working then is a bit of a red flag about how they treat your ‘off the clock’ time.

      So I get the feeling you dodged a bullet there.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        I interviewed a few years ago with a company whose hiring manager made all of her calls and emails to me either after hours or on her day off. I intentionally didn’t respond to any of them until normal business hours, figuring that if they had a problem with that it was best to find out now. I didn’t get the job. Oh well.

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          This could be seen either way – if an applicant is employed, they may have an easier time to talk outside office hours.

      2. Sea Anemone*

        Well, it tells you (maybe) that somebody was working Christmas, but it doesn’t tell you why. That person could be working on Christmas bc they don’t celebrate Christmas and was able to take a different day off–which is a huge green flag about how they treat your time off!

        OTOH, depending on how that letter was delivered, it might just tell you that there is lag time between a person entering a rejection into their ATS and the ATS sending out a rejection. I’ve gotten ATS rejections at weird times when it would not have made sense for it to have been initiated by a human at the moment it was sent.

    2. edtechperson*

      This happened to me Christmas of 2021! It was awful. Very sorry it happened to you too. HR ppl: please don’t do this!

    3. gumshoe*

      I know someone who got a rejection on Christmas Eve, while they were on bereavement leave for their father. The job was internal so the company knew he was away and why – they called him to tell him he didn’t get the job too so it wasn’t an automated email. Honestly felt like it could have waited IMO

  3. Michelle Smith*

    Do I want to know sooner rather than later? Yes. Do I want you to send a rejection the same day or two days later? Not really. Three days is a decent amount of time and Fridays are actually nice, so if I need to be upset I can do it over the weekend instead of having to keep a clear head and work while processing the rejection.

    1. Lana Kane*

      I once got a rejection 3 hours after a second interview, gotta say that stung. And agreed on the Friday – I can mope in private over the weekend.

      I’m personally ok with getting the rejection the next day. When I was hiring, I’d send it on day 2 (say Monday was the interview, send the rejection on Wednesday morning).

      1. Sea Anemone*

        I received an automated rejection whose timing made it clear that the interviewer had notified their employer that they were going to pass on me pretty much right after the interview. I can only guess that they were iffy about my fit going in and nothing I said changed their mind.

      2. Kacihall*

        I once applied for a transfer about six hours away, for an assistant manager position in a bank. I had taken the job because the manager told me that with a degree in management, I could move into an AM position after a year. The first time I applied, I was told my branch was too slow to prove myself, so I moved to Lexington KY and worked for nearly a year at the second busiest branch in the country. After two years at the bank, I applied for another AM position. Only got one day off at a time, so drove six hours after work, stayed at a hotel, interviewed at 10 am, then drove back. Clocked in the next morning and had gotten an email at 1 pm the day before letting me know that without management experience I wouldn’t ever be eligible for a promotion. A coworker had just gotten a similar promotion because he listed his Sunday School bus driving experience as a management position.

        I quit less than two weeks later.

        1. rosyglasses*

          Good grief! How did they ever expect to be able to promote folks? I would much prefer to promote folks from within an org (in most areas) and help scale them into the relevant experience than to never have that option available to strong employees!

        2. Critical Rolls*

          Policies that mean companies will effectively never promote from within are not just insulting to employees, they also make no business sense. And lying about it is really awful.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

          >listed his
          Kacihall are you a woman? Is just sounds like a particular shade of wrong.

      3. A Simple Narwhal*

        Yea a same-day rejection is a real kick in the pants, like wow I wasn’t even considered, was I? Or, man I must have really blown that interview to be rejected so quickly! So if at all possible, a next-day rejection is much kinder. Even if you know instantly you won’t be giving them an offer, a small amount of consideration can go a long way.

      4. Elitist Semicolon*

        As a grad student, I applied for an assistantship on campus and, when I got home from the interview, found a snail-mail rejection letter already waiting for me. Because I am Not Shy, I called the search chair and asked why they had interviewed me if they’d already sent a rejection letter, and she said, breezily, “oh, it’s good to know who’s out there for the future.” Bold of her to assume I’d still be interested in the future after that.

      5. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

        It depends. If the rejection is by email, yes, the next day is not too soon. If the rejection is received on the next day by US Mail, and the interview ended in the late afternoon, I consider that to be unprofessional. (see my reply to Lioness above).

    2. Miss Bookworm*

      Agreed. Don’t send the rejection right away, give it a couple business days (I feel like 3 is definitely the magic number) and would prefer Fridays for the same reason.

      1. Foxy Hedgehog*

        I like this a lot. Send the letter 2 business days after the interview no matter what day of the week it is–if I have an interview on a Friday afternoon, and I get the letter on Tuesday, I can convince myself that I was considered for the job, there was a meeting on Monday, and they went with somebody else.

        And also, kudos to the LW for (1) actually sending rejection letters, and (2) caring about when to send them.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Agreed – I love that OP is sending a rejection notice. Ghosting became too much of a norm – and a crummy norm at that.

    3. Smithy*

      I agree with this rationale.

      While I get that there may genuinely be reasons why a final candidate is selected hours after an interview that aren’t necessarily a slight – it’s just much harder to process that rejection as not being personal. Also, those rejections that come after longer interview processes or after the finalist stage, a lot of energy and effort has been put into that and having some time to feel bummed is nice.

    4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      To me three days felt fair – like just an extension of the hiring process. They finished the interview process (or the first round of interviews) and are cutting down candidates. It’s quick enough that I don’t feel like my time was wasted, but long enough that I feel like there was a fair process.

    5. Sherm*

      And lots of people do their job searching/resume tweaking/etc on the weekends, especially those who already have a Monday-to-Friday job. So if they get the rejection on Friday, they can redouble their efforts the very next day. (I know you shouldn’t ease up on your job search until you have an offer regardless, but many people do if they think they are close.)

    6. Delia*

      Yes to Friday rejections! My work seems to have a pattern of telling you if you got a job on Friday and telling you you didn’t get it on Monday or Tuesday. Knowing you got the job before the weekend is great, but I hate having to go back to work like normal after getting rejected for a promotion/new role. I’d much rather have the weekend to deal with my Feelings.

  4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    To the employer doing the rejecting = do it as soon as you KNOW you’re not going to hire the person. Most people are professional, they realize that it’s part of working life AND they will move on. And finally, don’t be hung up on it too much – you may feel empowered by handing out the rejection, but don’t let it show when you do.

    When I was out of work and somewhat desperate, a rejection was a huge downer. But in times when I was working, but looking to improve my lot in the working world, a rejection would have been accepted as “oh well, onward and upward”….

    The improtant thing is not to drag out the process. The applicant doesn’t know he/she’s been rejected until you send the word. If you’ve made up your mind – then send the rejection. Most people are prepared for it.

  5. Super Anon*

    I once got a rejection email while I was in the ER having a miscarriage. I actually laughed really hard about that because let’s just throw another issue on the fire.

  6. AY*

    Rejection letters are sort of like breakups. Whenever they happen to me, I always find fault with how the other side does it. But what I’m really upset about is that it’s happening at all.

    1. Bexy Bexerson*

      I broke up with a guy about a week before finals during his first semester of grad school. He was super pissed that I didn’t wait two weeks until after after he’d taken his finals and received his grades. Apparently, I was supposed to keep going on dates (and knocking boots) with him like nothing was wrong.

      And this wasn’t a young guy who started grad school straight out of undergrad…he was in his mid 40s going for an advanced degree to make a career change.

      He took the breakup pretty well in person, and then started all this nonsense via text afterwards. I’m certain he was lashing out because of the breakup itself, not because of school. Anyway, it wasn’t long before I blocked him.

      I’ heard through the grapevine that he graduated and is doing well in his new career. Good for him!

      1. Splendid Colors*

        Before finals one quarter, my boyfriend insisted I skip a review session for a final to meet him for dinner because we set up the date before my TA announced the review session.

        He DUMPED me at the date.

        Dude, if you were going to dump me anyway, why make me perform “of course I love you more than I love my grade in Biochemistry?”

    2. Purple Cat*

      This is one of those simply profound statements. In most cases, candidates won’t be happy about the news, so delivery is less important (within reason)

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Most of the time, I’ve moved past an application, but rejections after interviews feel more personal. I had two interviews for a job I really wanted that both went exceedingly well, and then…nothing.

      The company reached back out to me about something else, but their explanation of the snafu was dodgy at best. I’ve put them on my Yeah Probably Not Ever Again list but for a while, it really hurt.

  7. cubone*

    gosh, how is being rejected on a Friday somehow worse than sitting around all weekend, anxiously hopeful, only to get rejected on Monday?!

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Right? As someone actively job searching it goes like this:

      Monday: Full of optimism! Today I’m definitely going to hear back. I spent all weekend thinking about it, no matter how hard I tried to move on

      Tuesday: Haven’t heard anything. For some reason Tuesday has become “no one is ever going to hire me” day.

      Wednesday: Apply for a few more jobs. Start feeling hopeful again.

      Thursday: Start getting interview requests for the next week! Yay! I AM a smart and capable person!

      Friday: Feeling great, next week will be the week!

      I’d likely prefer a Thursday/Friday rejection. I can feel bad about it Friday night, spend the weekend regrouping and applying for new things. It’s sucks whenever, but if you know I’m out of the running, just tell me ASAP.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*


        Early in my long career, I had your optimism.

        As time went on, I learned, you apply, you give the interview cycle your best shot, but , since you’ve completed all they’ve asked, you can just pessimistically wait. When you’re out of work, it’s one thing , but if the interview is for a job that moves you up the ladder, rejection can become easier to handle.

    2. I should really pick a name*

      For some people if they get it on Friday, they’ll just stew about it over the weekend. If they got it earlier, work could distract them.
      There’s no blanket rule about how people react to these things.

      1. Delia*

        I think I would prefer internal rejections on Friday and external rejections on Monday. It just really sucks having to work like normal after being told you didn’t get promoted.

  8. bee*

    Not exactly the same, but when I was applying for colleges I noticed the Very Competitive places all put acceptance/rejection decisions on their portal on Fridays at like, 4:59, which I assumed was so they could immediately leave the office and avoid the worst of the disgruntled parent phone calls. I still think that’s a pretty good idea! But probably less necessary in the workplace, where people can be expected to be a little more professional.

    1. Aggresuko*

      Oh, they had to change the notification letter releases for right after the phone lines closed on Friday, for that reason. I note their office lines closed at 2 p.m. and ours (an unrelated office) closed at 4, so WE got all the screaming phone calls about it. This year they finally got sensible and closed ours at 2 as well.

      1. nonprofit writer*

        I know I shouldn’t be surprised at this, especially since I live in the NYC suburbs where college mania is beyond intense, but… wow. Parents call up college offices screaming that their kid was rejected? What do they think that is going to accomplish?

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          The sort of people who call up colleges to yell about not admitting their prince(ss) don’t ever really think about what their impact on others is, at least in my experience.

        2. Gracely*

          Parents lose their shit. Even relatively sane, reasonable people will lose their minds when it affects *their* child. When my SIL’s kid got rejections from 2 schools and waitlisted on 2 others (even though they got an acceptance to the school they were planning to go to), SIL was epically furious. She actually said that now she understands why Lori Loughlin and her husband pulled the shit they did to get their daughters into college, and that she wished she could do the same. And her kid had already gotten into the school they wanted.
          AFAIK, she didn’t call up any schools, but I really saw a side of her I did not expect.

        3. University Schlep*

          Parents call up college offices to scream about everything. EVERYTHING. And if they don’t get the answer they want they will randomly pick a different office.

          I get calls alllll the time from parents complaining about :
          Their child not getting admitted (I don’t work in admissions)
          Their child getting admitted but not getting the financial aid they wanted (I do not work in financial aid)
          Their bill (I do not work in billing)
          The vaccine requirements (even preCovid there have always been requirements) (I do not work for University Health)
          The dorm rooms being too small, too old, no A/C (I do not work for student housing)
          The wifi being spotty (I do not work for Information/Technology systems)
          The meal plans and food quality (I do not work for unversity catering)
          The cost and availability of parking on campus (I do not work for Campus services)

          In almost all cases when I offer to transfer the parent to the correct department they have already talked to them but didn’t like the answer.

          1. Rainy*

            I get this from students a lot. There’s a certain personality that will just keep asking different people in hopes that they’ll hear what they want and then can go back and tell the actual office in charge of this stuff that X in Y office said Z, so now the office in charge has to honour it.

            I had a dude end up in my office making really elliptical statements once until I realized that he was asking, in a very roundabout and plausibly deniable way, what person in what office he had to bribe to get to do the thing he wanted to do. Being me, upon having that realization, I immediately said “are you asking who you can bribe so you can do this thing?” When he, obviously relieved that I had *finally* gotten the point, said yes, I got to explain that that’s not the way it works here, and there is no one on campus he can bribe to look the other way while he breaks the law.

            And then I got to sit there with my finger on my panic button while he threw a tantrum in my office and I tried to predict if and when he was going to try to physically attack me. Good times.

            1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

              There’s a term for “if mommy says no, ask daddy”. It’s “immature”, and it can apply to person’s of any age.

        4. Captain Swan*

          Northern Virginia and the DC Metro area in general could give NYC a run for its money in college mania.

    2. Jinni*

      Oh, it’s the same for private school admissions in Los Angeles (only it’s often before spring break too). I guess they figure parents have calmed down by Monday.

  9. Wendy Darling*

    On the one hand, ASAP.

    But also at least 24 hours after I sent my application so I can at least tell myself you had to think about it. I know you didn’t have to think about it probably, but let me have my illusions.

    1. Tirving*

      I agree. A rejection right away would make me think “Wow, I really bombed that one, or they really must have hated me !” Waiting a few days would at least give me the illusion that I was worth considering, but another candidate was better. Makes dusting oneself off and carring on to the next application a bit easier.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        One time I got a rejection email between when I left the interview and when I arrived at my car, like as soon as I walked out the door of their office the interviewer turned back to their computer and hit the ‘reject’ button. That was A BIT MUCH.

        1. Critical Rolls*

          Yikes! That makes me wonder if they had functionally already selected someone before they interviewed you. It’s thoughtless no matter the circumstances, though.

          1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

            They may have sorted applicants and Wendy’s interview did not place her application into the current top two or three. As a job seeker, I’d my interviews to be a two-way dialogue, and if it becomes clear there’s no good fit (from either side), not much time should go to waste. A honest and if possible uplifting explanation / feedback is the polite thing to do; waiting three weeks to tell the candidate is not.

    2. MsClaw*

      I think 24 hours is the right answer. We always get back to candidates we interview the next day. If it’s bad news, just rip the band-aid off. As a candidate, if it’s not a fit it’s not a fit. I’m going to feel however I feel regardless of the timeline. The sooner I know, the sooner I can move on.

    3. irene adler*

      Yeah- I concur. At least leave me with the illusion that some thought went into my application.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Oh, absolutely – unless you missed a key point (applying for a heart surgeon position with a degree in teapot making, or misreading a “maintenance associate” as a position with a c-suite salary rather than a janitor) where 10 seconds are clearly sufficient.
        Also, when rejecting applications that quickly that are technically a good fit, watch out for bias – I know I caught myself when going through the stack before sending the notices. I had let bad experiences with employees of a certain background unconsciously cloud my judgment; waiting for the next day allowed me to correct that.

  10. KHB*

    I’d say that if someone came to you for an in-person interview, at least give them time to get home and decompress (which means, if they traveled a long distance to see you, accounting for that too). Interviewing is an intense experience, and it’s not a good feeling to know that it was all for nothing when it isn’t even totally over yet. But that’s just my personal preference, and you’ll probably find people who’ll say otherwise. As Alison says, the important thing is that you’re sending rejection letters at all.

    1. NervousNellie*

      I recently got a rejection a bit before the interview that was scheduled. That was awkward.

      1. Zelda*

        In a way, I would find that easier, because it isn’t about you– your resume was a top resume and landed you the interview. Then you didn’t flub an interview; it just never happened. Clearly they interviewed someone awesome, fell madly in professional esteem, and hired that person quickly. Bummer not to get hired, but otherwise the minimum possible bruises to the ego.

        1. Hanani*

          “Fell madly in professional esteem” describes exactly the kind of feelings I have about some of my colleagues, thank you for that.

  11. Triplestep*

    If you circle back and notify the candidates who were not selected, you are already ahead of the VAST majority of people hiring. So don’t worry about ruining someone’s weekend or holiday – the recruiters and hiring managers who have ghosted them have already done that. Just send it (or call them) ASAP.

    To be clear, I am talking about candidates who have interviewed, or at the very least, phone screened. If someone submitted an application but was not selected to interview, they should not be expecting a rejection letter. But if you send those, I think “ASAP” applies here, too.

    1. So Tired*

      Perhaps I’m in the majority on this, but I do expect a rejection even if I don’t make it to the interview stage. I realize it’s not always going to happen, but if I spent hours reworking my resume for the job and crafting a cover letter, I really don’t think it’s too much to ask to be notified that they’re selecting other applicants. Even if it comes the day after I submitted an application and is a form letter, at least that way I know it didn’t get lost in the ether.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        I don’t think that anyone disagrees that a rejection SHOULD be sent even if you didn’t get an interview, but it is very common for it not to happen which is where the advice to not expect it comes in.

      2. alienor*

        I don’t expect it, but the last time I was interviewing for jobs, it was definitely helpful to get the form email just so I could cross that one off my spreadsheet.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I cross it off if I haven’t heard anything for two weeks. Unless it’s academia—I gave Famous Science Uni a month, because it took Snooty Ivy League Uni a month to ask for a phone screen.

          1. BethDH*

            I once heard back from an academic posting four months after applying. In this case it worked out because I had gotten another job in the meantime but it was a term position, and I was able to negotiate a start date for when I’d be available. So I started the new role 11 months after applying.

            1. IEanon*

              A good friend of mine got a rejection for a position she had applied to on the day she started her new job. At the same institution in a different role.

              She got the email while she was unpacking boxes in her new office.

              She and the person who got the other job started on the same day, and the university didn’t send out rejections to finalists until the new hire actually showed up to work.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              Gah, I wouldn’t want to wait that long, But if they reach out, I’d love to talk to them! Who wouldn’t want to work on a campus where robot dogs frolic around on the lawn? ;) #BlackMirror

              1. Splendid Colors*

                The state university in my neighborhood has security Daleks. Do not want!

    2. Wednesday*

      I think even people aren’t selected for an interview deserve some type of follow up! Close that loop so people can move on and not wonder what’s happening with the postion.

      1. Econobiker*

        Your sentiment is very rare because most HR or recruiters don’t follow up about just resumes submitted. One position I was assisting with had 300 applicants resumes before HR turned off the Indeed posting.

        1. Metadata minion*

          But even if you’re dealing with hundreds of applications, it doesn’t take *that* long to click the “send form rejection” button on each of them. (And if you’re dealing with that many applications and aren’t working in some sort of HR software system that has a send-form-letter button, I’m so sorry! But I’m guessing that’s not the case for most hiring managers.) I don’t expect a personalized letter, or even a customized *form* letter; I’m perfectly fine with one sentence that was obviously written by a robot if I didn’t make it to any sort of interview stage.

        2. University Schlep*

          I do think it is hard sometimes with some of the systems. We get so many incomplete applications that appear to be submitted by an autobot missing critical components. I don’t think many of our departments formally reject incomplete applications.

          1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

            I’m not in HR, but I thought the system places the incoming (technically complete, i.e., all mandatory fields filled) into some kind of inbox from where they are sorted – and placing one into the “no way” box then triggers a form email to be sent (possibly with a delay). This keeps the clutter from the inbox and the data protection officer happy (no personally identifiable data sitting around that’s not needed).

    3. Triplestep*

      We all know these letters to applicants who were not interviewed are boilerplate and sent with the click a button. Yet any time the subject arises, HR people complain they are too busy. I’d rather these people who are too busy to click a button spend their precious time notifying those who had moved on to the interview stage.

      And let’s face it, it’s a click of a button to reject the people who took the time to interview (prepping for it, possibly commuting to it, carving time out of their work day and personal life for it) and so few of them ever hear back either. I mean, it would be nicer to deliver the news in a more personal way to someone who may have had multiple conversations about the role, but for hiring managers and recruiters who lack the spin or the time …. *click*. Just do it.

      1. Triplestep*

        That was meant to have been “lack the spine …” but I guess “spin” works, too!

    4. Pocket Mouse*

      But please don’t call people to reject them. That’s likely to get their hopes up and then the have to process the news live and out loud with a professional contact doing the rejecting. Just… email.

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Once I got a phone call rejection and it was the worst. I hated my current job and I really thought they were calling with an offer. I raced to a private area to take the call only be told I was going to be stuck in a miserable job still Sure email stings too but for some reason hearing it live hurt more. Trying to keep my disappointment professional was hard.

        The only exception is if the rejection is immediately followed up with, “But Y position is open if you’re interested I can move you to the top” Even then, email.

        1. MsM*

          The worst for me was the phone call rejection where the manager asked if I had any questions and seemed very annoyed when I didn’t. It was pretty clear to me why and where the interview broke down when it happened. I wasn’t particularly interested in rehashing it, and I’m still not sure what else she thought there was to discuss.

      2. L.H. Puttgrass*

        I got one of those, and it was so awkward. It was two or three weeks after they’d called my references, which for this organization usually means a person is about to get hired. So when the hiring manager called and said, “I guess you’ve realized by now that we won’t be making you an offer,” I was really disappointed. Sure, I had a suspicion given the delay, but I had hoped that it was just normal delays.

        I did appreciate getting a personal phone call instead of a form e-mail. But in retrospect, a personal e-mail with an invitation to call would have been gentler.

      3. JP in the heartland*

        I agree. I’ve had 3 rejection phone calls, and it’s so hard to maintain composure. I don’t want to get all choked up, or, even worse, cry, on the phone. Just send me an email. If you care that much, make it a personalized email.

  12. So Tired*

    You’re never going to be able to make everyone happy with how/when you send a rejection. Honestly as long as you’re not cruel about it, I think you’re ok to continue with whatever has been working for you until now.

    1. Snuck*

      Precisely. Don’t over think it, just do it.

      That said, from the commentary here, it seems you are best to wait a few hours or the next working day after an interview to send the rejection, people want to feel that you’ve considered their application with some weight.

      I personally wouldn’t email them out in the last few days before Christmas, and probably not in the gap between Christmas and New Years (I live in a society where this is the primary holiday season of the year, adjust accordingly for local variation!), but I would give a timeline to people if I was holding applications over that time (and have never done so, always finalised recruitment a good week or more before Christmas, or held it until after New Years – the gap between is an awful awful awful time to get anything done sensibly).

      I’d also say make sure your rejection matches the level of commitment put in – if someone has flown across the country, or gone to three separate interviews with you, a short call from your HR person saying “Thank you for your efforts, and we’re really sorry this hasn’t panned out, but are keen to keep your details on file and invite you to apply for other positions still” is worth doing – if they were good enough to spend time with, then give them some of yours, not just a form-email.

  13. ecnaseener*

    I know everyone will feel differently, but personally I feel like 2 days should be fine to avoid the feeling of “instant” rejection! Using the interview example rather than the initial application: the hiring manager had their initial thoughts about me after the interview, slept on it, took a whole other day to think about it and maybe discuss with others, and slept on it again. Obviously they didn’t spend that whole day thinking just about me, but I’d have no reason to think they didn’t give me due consideration.

  14. Econobiker*

    What’s a rejection letter? Is this 1985 again?

    I’ve never received a rejection letter or phone call directly from a company without calling or emailing them myself. On most occasions a recruiter has reached out to me but usually I have to call them myself also. Most often I have been ghosted about the job opening even after an in-person and on-site interview.

    1. Koalafied*

      I think I’ve seen it go about 50/50 with jobs I interviewed for. Half send a rejection – in most cases after so much time has passed that I already knew I wasn’t getting it, but it’s still appreciated as a basic courtesy. Half ghost.

    2. londonedit*

      Most of the time in my industry (book publishing) the job advert will say that only successful applicants will be contacted with an invitation to interview, so you know that if you don’t hear anything initially then you’re not in the running. But if you’ve had a first interview then you absolutely will get an email rejection (or invitation to second interview) – I’ve never been ghosted completely after an actual interview.

  15. Dust Bunny*

    I don’t think you can win this.

    I want to know as soon as possible, regardless of what time of day or week. If you send it on Friday you might spoil the weekend. If you send it on Monday then you’ve let them stew all weekend only to smack them down.

  16. Bookworm*

    There is no “worst” time, but I personally (just me!) would say that “never” is a bad time. Things happen, stuff gets delayed, etc. But I stopped bothering to follow up unless I really want the job and knew they’d come after me if there was interest (and because it’s even more irritating to me personally to go through the process, follow-up and never hear a thing). If a candidate puts in the effort, the best thing is to let them know as reasonably soon as possible.

    The “best” would be within whatever your timeline is. You say a candidate should hear back in 2 weeks? Make it 2 weeks. And not a few days before Christmas before I got my current job (I was so mad since they said a lot sooner but then I got an offer somewhere else the next day so I was fine but I’ll bet other candidates weren’t.) If you know, they’re not it that’s fine, but maybe a few minutes after the interview is a bad idea. But they have the right to move on and not wait or wonder. Even a form rejection to just update a candidate is good. If something does happen and you really have to delay: please let us know. You don’t have to go into detail but even something like an emergency popped up or that you are sorry for the delay, etc. is fine.

    These are never fun but employers shouldn’t be mad about candidates ghosting them after doing the same for years.

    1. WomEngineer*

      If I don’t hear back within 2 weeks of interviewing or applying, I assume it’s a rejection.

  17. DrSalty*

    I once was rejected a few hours after an interview. I knew I did badly, but it still stung. I’d say waiting at least 2 days is the kindest option without being over the top trying to manage people’s feelings.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      One time, when we both knew that I was an impossible fit, we ended the interview with a rejection. I can’t work in a process driven organization, and aerospace needs to be that way. But, still, the people’s desks didn’t show any personalization, and they even measured morale.

      I hope that they are a good strong company. I was delighted to buy one of their used instruments because I knew that they would have taken good care of it.

  18. Someone in BioPharma*

    I was on reddit in a job search sub and people were talking about receiving rejection emails months, or even years after applying for a job. How does that happen?

    1. K-Sarah-Sarah*

      Something going awry with the hiring workflow in the ATS, most likely. Not an excuse, just an explanation.

    2. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Corporate recruiting here. Usually, this happens because someone either forgot about an open requisition or left it open to collect applications for future use, and finally got around to closing it. There was probably an active workflow that sent out a generic rejection to all pending applicants when the requisition closed. Maybe someone thought, ‘Eh, better late than never,’ or and was told to message every outstanding applicant to meet metrics.

      Whatever the reason(s), it sucks. It’s lazy, dismissive, and definitely not okay.

    3. the_feds_know*

      happens often in federal jobs! Government jobs take a while to fill anyway, and the way USAJobs is set up is…not great…for timeliness. The theme there is “apply and move on” because of how long it takes to hear ANYTHING. (Have also heard of people being contacted for an interview more than 8 months after applying!)

      1. AdequateArchaeologist*

        Seconding this. I have a friend who was listed as “processing” or “considering” or whatever it is for about 5 years. She got a rejection email and was confused about when she’d ever applied to something in Wyoming.

        1. L.H. Puttgrass*

          Some fed HR departments just never update the status on USA Jobs. My current position is still listed as “reviewing applications” (I think) even though I’ve been in that job for a couple of years now!

    4. IEanon*

      Speaking generally, people on Reddit need to chill out. Some of these subreddits are the perfect example of “can’t please everyone, definitely gonna piss at least one person off.”

      Some of the stuff I see them complain about on r/antiwork is unbelievable. And I’m 100% on their side, ideologically!

      That’s sort of unrelated to your question, sorry!

    5. Things that make you go hmmm*

      I once received a rejection letter after withdrawing my application. It felt like a middle-schooler saying “NO, I break up with you! You don’t break up with me!”

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        yeah I had that happen — I was called into an interview (under false pretenses) – “all shifts” didn’t mean CHOICE of shifts but rotating shifts, and, I was expected to take a pay cut. I firmly but politely said “I don’t think this is what I was expecting, and I won’t take up any more of your time.” And after a brief pause, got up and asked the guy “please, show me out.”

        Two days later, I received a nasty letter, they found me unsuitable as a candidate (well, duh!) and advised that I should never apply there again.

  19. Language Lover*

    I don’t necessarily care when the rejection happens after I submit the application. I don’t want it within a minute because that feels like there might be a computer glitch but about a day later is fine.

    I would not want it immediately after an interview. At least if there are a few days in between, I can convince myself that I was just beat out by a better candidate. If it’s right away, it feels more personal in that “we don’t know who we’re going to hire but we do not it’s definitely not you.”

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Yeah I once receive a robo-rejection five minutes after applying. So I thought, “sheesh what a bunch of maroons”.. and then, a week later, I get a call from a headhunter trying to place me there. Ah, no. Very sloppy footwork there.

  20. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    I think I hate rejections that come at unexpected hours/days the most — so no 9:00 pm or 3 am rejections, no Christmas Day rejections, if the business is closed on weekends don’t send weekend rejections, etc. This is a business contact so do it during the normal business hours.

    My vote is two business days after the actual interview regardless of whatever day that is, with the caveat that if you are open on a state/federal holiday, you pick the next non-holiday day.

    For a rejection after only receiving a resume/application, immediately is fine.

    1. Madame X*

      Quick question: would it really matter if you received a rejection letter at 3:00 AM? Unless, you are regularly on reading your email late into the night, you would not see it until daylight hours. (Personally, I make sure not to have email notifications turned on to avoid receiving endless notifications on my phone)

      1. Snuck*

        It might matter for some. Makes the morning coffee pre work a bit bitter. Mind you if I saw one at 3am I’d be glad I’d dodged a bullet of a company that has wildly odd expectations around hours for work!

        I think the goal here is to find a reasonable middle ground that best meets most people, and it’s probably industry specific at some level. A 3am text is not necessary, and shows unexpected professional norms, but it also hits people at their ‘vulnerable time’ right as they wake up and face the day. No one expects (hopes) to find bad news before they’ve had a chance to fully get up to the morning. Sending it at 6pm is probably ok, up until around 8/830pm… but sending it much after the ‘polite hours’ of 9 or 10pm shows that you aren’t trying to consider the other person. If you wouldn’t ring a person at that hour maybe don’t send a rejection? This same rule could apply to Sunday mornings, Saturday afternoons and recognised holidays/holy days.

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          You could easily get one at 3am from an international company with centralized HR administration without any I’ll will – it may be normal working hours for the transactional HR team on another continent.

        2. Allonge*

          I mean – canditates who have these expectations can set up an email address for job searches and only check it when they are in the right mindset? There is no way to work around all that for a company that has more than, say, five applicants per year.

  21. K-Sarah-Sarah*

    When I was participating in the hiring process, my MO was usually about 24 hours post-interview, no more than three days, and I would never wait until Monday.

  22. 1-800BrownCow*

    Please let me know right away. Don’t wait until Monday or the day after Christmas. I’d rather know then be left wondering. Waiting to send the rejection is almost as bad as places that ghost you after an interview. Also, you don’t know what the person is going through personally. Maybe you decide to wait until the day after Christmas to send the rejection and that happens to be the day something tragic happens in that person’s family. You waiting didn’t make it any better for them, so just get it over and done with as soon as you know. Finally, that person may be waiting to reply to another job offer to see if they get an offer from your company. It’s not helpful if they have another offer on hold because they’re waiting.

  23. HB*

    I’d send them pretty quickly, but one time I got a rejection email as I was leaving the interview and walking through the parking lot to my car. That was…too soon. At least pretend like you thought it over for an hour or so.

    1. Wendy Darling*

      It’s too soon!

      I had a recruiter BEG me to come to an interview on under an hour’s notice and then got rejected on my way to my car after the interviewer and I was so, so angry. I talked smack about that company for YEARS.

  24. Hailrobonia*

    I used to support faculty searches at a university and due to the timing of the recruitment and interview process, rejections typically went out in mid-February, often right around Valentine’s day. I suppose it would be unprofessional to send “Roses are red, violets are blue, we’re hiring someone, just not you.”

  25. irene adler*

    Additionally, those surveys that ask about one’s candidate experience really hurt. “What can we do better?” is not ever going to garner any positive, productive responses.

    Also, don’t send a “Congrats on your new job!! Please fill out this survey on your hiring experience” email right after sending the rejection email. That’s just plain mean.

    (Yes this really happened to me!)

    1. Wendy Darling*

      I had one multi-phase super-long on-site tech company interview where the first interviewer of the day ran an absolute inquisition and acted like he was offended I’d had the temerity to even apply for a job at this company (and I almost walked out, which I regret not doing because…), then the lunch interviewer made inappropriate sexual jokes. After they rejected me, they sent me a survey about my experience as an applicant.

      I kept it as unemotional as I possibly could, and even had a friend proof it to get the residual rage out as much as possible, but I told them exactly what had happened in my interview.

      That company is a major employer in my area so a huge proportion of the available jobs in my area are with them, but after that they coincidentally rejected all my applications immediately for 3 solid years.

      1. irene adler*


        Applicant survey as screening tool? That is low. NO doubt someone there is patting themselves on the back for this one.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          It could be coincidence. It might be.

          I kind of strongly suspect it’s not. But it might be, and I’ll never know.

    2. voluptuousfire*

      I interviewed for a role with a company on Friday afternoon and received an automated email from the company’s ATS at 9 am Saturday morning with a candidate experience survey. It was for a recruiting operations role and a good portion of the role was familiarity with this particular ATS, which I had in spades. I knew I was going to receive a rejection because I know that survey only gets out when someone is moved to rejected status! LOL

      You have to manually unclick the box if you don’t want it to send and she did not. The recruiter said she would run my application by the hiring manager who was on vacation until Monday and I should hear back early next week. I heard promptly at 3:30 pm on Monday afternoon, which was the roughly the same time my interview had been on Friday. I knew she rejected me right after she spoke with me, which annoyed me a lot. I know the hiring manager didn’t review my materials because they weren’t given to her.

  26. Elizabeth West*

    I’m voting for ASAP (but not too fast; I want to feel like you at least considered it). However, please do NOT call me to tell me I didn’t get the job. It might feel more personal to you, but if you go to the trouble to pick up the phone and dial my number, I will probably assume it’s good news.

    An email is fine. That way, I don’t have to pretend to be cheerful or act professional even though I’m probably about to cry.

    1. Wendy Darling*

      I once had a hiring manager call me to schedule a time to talk about the results of my interview, and then in that call rejected me and spend 15 minutes giving me extremely extensive feedback about my performance while I tried not to cry. It was one of the most excruciating experiences of my life, especially because he thought he was being nice by giving me such helpful feedback.

      Oddly all the feedback was the exact opposite of the feedback I’d gotten at a previous round of interviews at the same company so it wasn’t even particularly helpful!

      1. Sea Anemone*

        I got an email asking me to call them to discuss feedback from the interview! I’m sure they thought they were being courteous by respecting that I might not be able to take a call out of the blue, but something about making me put in the effort to be criticized just added to the audacity of giving feedback to someone who didn’t even work there. My policy, which I solidified in that moment, is that you only get to give me feedback if you are also giving me a paycheck. Otherwise, I seriously don’t care what you think, and I’m not going to make any changes. Your experience of getting conflicting feedback is exactly why I don’t care what anyone who is not paying me thinks.*

        As it happened, I had already accepted another offer, so I just emailed back and said I was no longer interested. If I had not had another offer, I would probably would have called them bc I was a little desperate at that time, and it would have been worth it to build a relationship with that company in case of future opportunities.

        (*I don’t really care what people who are paying me think, either, but I’m willing to make concessions to promote harmonious working conditions and keep collecting that paycheck.)

    2. Esmae*

      It does feel more personal to get a phone call! And personal is not what I’m looking for when I’m getting rejected. I’d like that experience to be as distantly professional as possible, thanks.

    3. KX*

      Also… do not call and leave a voicemail and make me call back so you can tell me that I was rejected.

  27. jobs_last_summer*

    Haha..at the height of my job search I was applying to large orgs online and would receive rejection emails HOURS later. As in, the same day. It made me feel as though they didn’t even read my application–which often contained paragraph answers to their questions–and that stung since I took time to do it. I’m sure it was the ATS score that did me in, but still.
    For those jobs where I was in round 2 or later–the sooner the better (doesn’t sting as much). Once I emailed to follow-up on an interview from a month before, and only then was I told it wasn’t me. Felt kinda stinky to have to email to find out–why couldn’t they have just emailed me when they knew? It was down to the final 3.

  28. middle name danger*

    Being rejected on Friday gives me the weekend to A) process things, B) spend some free time investing in other applications.

    I want to know as soon as possible, with the caveat of giving it a day or two cushion so I can convince myself you had other stronger candidates that interviewed the same or next day, and knew even if the first choice rejected your offer, you had a backup that wasn’t me.

  29. MsM*

    I don’t honestly care so much about the exact timing of rejection emails as I do about clear timelines and communication. If you tell me at the end of the screening call that I’ll know I’ve made it to the next round if I get an interview request from you by the end of the week, and I haven’t heard anything ten days later, I don’t mind so much; I’ll just assume it’s a “no” and move on. But if we get to the final round and you tell me I’ll be hearing from you one way or the other within a certain time frame, don’t make me chase you down to figure out what’s going on.

    1. Michel*

      Very much this. Every good hiring process I’ve been involved with has had clear expectations set about when decisions will be made. Loads of interviews I’ve been involved in both as a job hunter and hiring manager have involved making an immediate decision and notifying applicants the same day – this works fine when everyone is told! Resume rejection is a bit harder to navigate as you can’t have that in-person conversation, but so many applications go through software that automatically approves/rejects applications now, I don’t think most people think too much about swift rejections.

  30. Sea Anemone*

    If you tell applicants that there is a timeframe during which they will hear back, then at least send a rejection within that timeframe. Say, for whatever reason, you told them it would take up to 2 weeks to make a decision, then send the rejection no later than 2 weeks after the interview.

    Rightly or wrongly, if the timeframe passes and the candidate hasn’t heard, they will most likely assume that they have been ghosted. By not sending an email, you send a message. If the message you wanted to send was that you need more time, then send an email saying the timeframe has been extended.

  31. L. Ron Jeremy*

    If you mail out the letter on a Friday and given the current delivery issues with the USPS, I don’t think you know when the letter will arrive.

    Email, on the other hand…

  32. Annon*

    When I was rejected for a job at a fancy private school, I was completely devastated because I wanted to be able to send my daughter there more than anything (I can’t afford tuition without the employee discount). My feeling of failure to get the job was amplified by the feeling of failing my child, so I appreciated getting the rejection on a Friday afternoon because I had time to grieve over the weekend before returning to a job I hated on Monday.

  33. anonymous73*

    Being rejected for a role will suck for the candidate no matter when you do it. With that said, I’d rather know as soon as you know, instead of dragging me along wondering if I still have a shot.

  34. Bernice Clifton*

    I have rejected candidates immediately at the application stage, because

    a) their resume doesn’t include the requirements listed in the job ad
    b) they apply to every opening we post
    c) they applied to the same position at least twice before and ghosted after attempting to schedule a phone screen, interview, or ghosted the interview or providing references
    d) they worked for as a FTE or contractor and were let go for cause or were unreliable or not competent

  35. katie*

    I once got a rejection notice for an internal position within an hour of interviewing. I of course, reached out for feedback and it actually ended up being a really valuable experience (I really wasn’t the right candidate, I didn’t have a wide enough field of knowledge, and the interviewer ended up as an unofficial mentor ) .

    That may have been a bit early, it stung, and if I hadn’t gotten feedback it would have been worse. But I prefer to know sooner rather than later.

  36. CupcakeCounter*

    I think it depends on the stage.
    Phone Screen (with HR or recruiting team): wait at least an hour or two but same day is fine
    Phone interview (with hiring manager): next day anytime; at that point I’m not too invested so let me know somewhat quickly
    Video or In-person interviews: I’d wait at least 24 hours from the end of the interview, with 36-48 hours after kind of being my sweet spot. At that point, I feel you gave ample consideration even if you wrote the email as I was leaving the building and set it to delayed send but I’m not stuck waiting for the answer for too long.

  37. Decidedly Me*

    For applications that I review the same day they are submitted, I’ll schedule a rejection for the next day. When it’s someone that has reached an interview stage, I’ll give it a few days after the interview.

    I really appreciate all the thoughts here on Friday rejections giving people the weekend to process. While I haven’t typically avoided Friday rejections, they’ve always made me feel bad.

  38. HR Ninja*

    Please, for the love of the Spaghetti Monster, do not call to reject me. It’s the job hunting version of, “It’s not you. It’s me.”

  39. Calmer Than You Are*

    Here’s what I’m dealing with right now: my husband applied for a job at my organization back in January. He had a phone interview with the hiring manager, then never heard a single word about it again until I saw the announcement to all-staff that they had filled the position – 3 months later. Luckily, the more we discussed it, the more we realized he would have been incredibly bored in that position, but I’m still pretty shocked and pissed that they didn’t have the decency to inform him that they weren’t moving him on in the process. They should be doing that for all candidates, but the fact that they didn’t do it for a current employee’s spouse is particularly egregious.

  40. University Schlep*

    I would prefer as soon as possible. A rejection on a Friday might make a sad weekend, but since I essentially sit in a puddle of anxiety and stress obsessively checking my email until I hear, sooner is better. The amount of time I spend mourning a lost job is proportional to the amount of time I have spent building it up in my head as where I will be next so the longer the delay, the worse it gets.

    If for any reason you are going to delay sending them, plan ahead of time to state “we have other candidates we are looking at so do not expect to hear from us until after the holidays” so people aren’t sure if they are in limbo or not.

    1. University Schlep*

      but also I would much prefer a Friday rejection than a Monday rejection because want to process in the peace and quiet of my home, not while in a meeting with coworkers at the job that I now know I have to stick with a bit longer.

  41. Cube Farmer*

    Gee, start the weekend with disappointing news, or wonder and worry through the entire weekend? Not sure which is worse, but I would much rather know than not know.

  42. Excel-sior*

    Personally, I’d like to know as soon as possible, but also at least a day later; i want to feel that I was at least considered seriously. Even if i absolutely flunked it and i was immediately thrown onto the reject pile.

  43. Patty Squarepants*

    I was up for a promotion against a coworker who was in the same title as me. She ended up with the job. She was also the person who left me the letter letting me know I wasn’t selected – on a Friday afternoon after she’d left – which also happened to be my birthday – and she knew it.

    1. Splendid Colors*

      I applied to an important (non-job) program with a timeline where they had to respond within 60 days. They called me with the rejection about a month into the 60 days in the morning of my birthday. (And yes, my birth date was in the application packet so they knew what day it was.)

  44. NoName Just thoughts*

    Back in the days before email, I went into NYC for an interview for a co-op position at a department store. (I was majoring in marketing).

    The train was an hour each way. After I left, I walked to Penn Station and took the train home. A rejection letter was waiting in the mail for me. This meant it was sent a few days BEFORE I even interviewed. So a wasted trip and a waste of my time. A phone call would have been appreciated.

    The department store was one of the very early casualties in retail (think 1980s) Revenge is sweet.

  45. RealtalesofHR*

    The reason that HR Recruiters sometimes shy away from sending rejection emails (as a Head of Recruiting) is that some people freak out and you start to dread telling people no. I hate when a candidate tries to argue/debate their way back into the running- and yes, this happens! I even once had a candidate call me the chastise me for having led him on- because I had interviewed him and then declined his candidacy. It felt like a bad date!

    But most of the time, I don’t get back to candidates right away because they are still being held in consideration, but we are still interviewing others trying to compare/contrast.

  46. DiplomaJill*

    I sent a form rejection to a no way candidate pretty quickly once and they responded with a threatening rant about my capabilities and professionalism. Then they Googled the owner and ran a background search and sent several more ranty threatening emails about the owners vacation homes and hobbies. I was horrified and shared how freaky this was. A few days later the owner sent someone to my office to tell me that the candidate had arrived at our office and was asking for me. This was a not funny joke. I was not amused, and in fact extremely uncomfortable. I stopped sending form rejections without waiting several weeks first.

  47. Tech Recruiter*

    From a recruiter perspective, we often wait until a candidate has accepted an offer before sending rejections to other candidates. It’s not a question of not wanting to be responsive, but the reality that things change and we want to have options until someone has signed. For those who have had an actual interview, if they definitely aren’t right we reject in 2-3 days but if they are a “silver medalist” we wouldn’t reject too quickly in case the first choice declines. Of course, all this requires communication and transparency about expected timing to hear a decision.

  48. Virginia Plain*

    Tbh for every person who feels that a rejection on a Friday will ruin this weekend there’s another who feels that a Monday rejection sets a downer for the working week. When alls said and done, it’s bad news and the timing isn’t going to make much difference. It’s like, did the burglars leave muddy footprints in the hall when they nicked your telly?

    Fwiw owing to a clerical error I have been both rejected and accepted for the same promotion on the same day, six hours apart. Happily the acceptance was second of the two and, as it turned out, correct, but that was a rollercoaster of a day.

  49. Forgot My Name Again*

    IME the longer it takes to hear back, the more likely it’s going to be a rejection anyway. I’m in an area where you’ll get huge numbers of applications to jobs, a handful will be invited to interview, and the successful candidate will know either that day or the next, and it’s waiting on them that delays whether or not the other interviewees hear whether they’ve been rejected (because usually any one of them will be able to do the job). I think at least 1 working day’s notice strikes the balance between “had time to consider” and “don’t want to leave you hanging”.

  50. AnonymousReader*

    This is a tough one! Logically I would like to know ASAP but emotionally, I don’t know if I could handle being rejected minutes/hours after an interview. Even though I hate it when people try to pass off relationship “advice” as professional “advice”, I think the 3 day rule might apply? Wait two to three days to reject them? Soon enough for them to move on but not so soon it’s insulting? As to the day of the week, I think Mondays sound the best because you have the whole week ahead of you to apply to new positions.

  51. Ewwwwww....*

    A place I worked for has a long track record of ghosting their rejected candidates. I applied for two jobs with them and got to the phone interview stage both times. The first time I was told, in person by the CEO that I wasn’t getting a final interview, because that time I was an internal candidate. On a Friday at the end of the day. Not the news I wanted, but I appreciated the notice because they knew that their institution ghosted rejected candidates. The second time I was just ghosted like everyone else.

    And then someone else at the organization wanted me to sit in on the final candidate interviews. I really didn’t want to. I didn’t think I could provide meaningful feedback and I didn’t trust myself to keep my composure.

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