Introduction to this document

Rejection of candidate after interview letter

After the recruitment process has concluded, reject the unsuccessful interviewees and then destroy their personal information after a reasonable period of time, e.g. six months, and in accordance with the terms of your privacy notice for job applicants.

The rejected candidates

After the recruitment process has concluded, the unsuccessful interviewees will need to be rejected, using our Rejection of Candidate after Interview Letter. It advises the candidate that, having given careful consideration to their qualifications and competencies for the position and their performance at interview when compared to other interviewees, their application has been unsuccessful. It also thanks them for the interest they have shown in the role and the business. You don’t have to give detailed written reasons why you have rejected a candidate as unsuitable after interview, so it’s preferable for the letter not to say anything more than our current wording. You should still keep interview notes and a written record of the reasons for rejection though, even if you don’t supply those to the candidate. You may need these if a candidate later tries to allege they were unlawfully discriminated against contrary to the Equality Act 2010. However, occasionally candidates may phone or e-mail to ask for feedback as to why they were rejected, so they can improve themselves for further applications and interviews. Our letter tries to deter this from happening by expressly stating that it’s not your policy to provide further feedback to unsuccessful candidates. If you do give feedback, be objective, stick to the facts and don’t give out any personal details relating to other interviewees. It is acceptable though to explain, in an anonymised format, why the successful interviewee was more suitable e.g. they had more relevant skills, experience or qualifications and/or they gave better structured answers to the interview questions. Be careful about rejecting everyone too quickly for in case the successful candidate declines your job offer. 

Destruction of personal data

After rejection letters have been sent out, the candidate's personal information and your interview notes should be destroyed within a reasonable period of time - we recommend a retention period of six months to allow for any discrimination claims. One of the data protection principles in the UK GDPR says that personal data should not be kept for longer than is necessary for the purposes for which they are processed. If you wish to retain the details of unsuccessful applicants on file for future suitable vacancies, say for a year, write to them to seek their freely given, specific and informed consent to this. Our letter includes this option for you. If consent is given, the candidate also has the right to withdraw their consent at any time, you must tell them of this right and it must be as easy to withdraw consent as it was to give it. Do keep a clear record of all consents that you obtain.