How to respond when you didn’t get the job?

So you didn’t get the job—bummer. It stings but the process isn’t over yet. Before you move on to the next potential gig, do these three things.

Whether it’s a job interview or after asking someone out on a date, rejection is a harsh reality…

You’re hurt, I get it, but now is not the time to get angry or hide in a corner to pout. After all, anything could still happen. Their top choice could back out, they could have a change of heart, or the employer might have another job opening soon. Your email response should be courteous and positive.

Here’s a basic template you can use, courtesy of Danny Rubin’s book, Wait, How Do I Write This Email? and featured at Business Insider:

Hi ______,

Thank you for letting me know about the [name of position/internship].

I understand your decision and appreciate the opportunity to interview for the job. Please keep me in mind for future opportunities, even in a freelance capacity. I respect the work you do at [name of company] and would like to contribute if possible.

(Optional: “I maintain a personal blog/website, where I post articles I find interesting and the latest on my career. Please check it out from time to time and see what I’m doing.”)

All the best,

[your name]

Email signature

Here’s another example from Alison Greene at Ask a Manager:

While it pains me to see this opportunity go, I want to thank you for getting back to me. I also want to thank you for taking the time to meet with me. It was such a pleasure to meet you and ___ and learn about the organization. After spending the time talking with you and doing my research, I really do believe that the ___ industry is where I want to work. I know that I am not in a position to ask for favors, but if you have a moment to spare I would love any additional feedback. Please do not feel obligated to answer this question, but if there was something you noticed, it will help me in my job search and I would be most appreciative. I hope everything works out with you and your new intern.

As you can see, the key is to avoid burning any bridges while also leaving a positive impression with the employer. You never know what might happen. This can ensure they’ll hold onto your resume for future positions.

Getting rejected feels like crap. How you respond to it, though, can make all the difference. It’s best to look at your rejection as an opportunity. That’s why online job search expert Susan P. Joyce recommends you write a thank you note to everyone who interviewed you, including the hiring manager, the recruiter, and anyone else involved in the process.

Joyce suggests your note contain several simple but essential elements. Thank them for letting you know the outcome, thank them for their time and consideration, show appreciation for the opportunity to learn about their organization, express your disappointment and continued interest in working there, and lastly, ask them to get in touch with you the next time there’s an opening. It shouldn’t be more than a few sentences. Joyce says thank you notes are rare, so they’ll really make you stand out, and might even bump you up on the “almost-hired” list. If something happens to the top pick, you could be next in line. At the very least, the thank you note gives you a chance to build out your network.

You should only send a thank you note if you still want to be a part of the organization, however. If you weren’t feeling a spark during your interviews, your email response is good enough.

We can be pretty mean to ourselves when we mess up or get rejected. Once you reach out and maintain those bridges, it’s time for some self care. It’s easy to get down on yourself when you’re rejected for a job, but it’s important to keep a positive outlook. The more you let a rejection get you down, the more it will hurt your confidence the next time you go in for a job interview.

Remember, a job rejection isn’t a failure. It’s simply you not being the missing piece that fits that employer’s puzzle at this point in time. There’s a good chance their choice had nothing to do with you and everything to do with some details you had zero control over. Don’t over-analyze the outcome. Let it go and get ready for the next job possibility.

The key is to respond promptly and show nothing but confidence. You didn’t land the job – OK, life goes on. But you maintain a positive relationship with the employer and that could go a long way.

There’s opportunity everywhere – even in an email response to a rejection.

Stay positive.

Check out my related post: What is the fear of rejection?

Interesting reads:


  1. Wise advice! I always used to do it and advised candidates to do likewise. In one case, the chosen candidate didn’t work out and they came back to mine. What made the difference? His engagement with everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic advice. Really good. I didn’t get two jobs with the same organisation last summer. In truth I was gutted, but I have since had various dealings with them. I have now seen a totally different side to the company and the problems it has with staff. Ooooh there are some real nasties in there making others’ lives an absolute misery! Perhaps God works in mysterious ways as my mother used to say!! I think I got off lightly. Fab post and I shall remember the letter examples. Katie

    Liked by 1 person

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