Writing letters to job candidates

28 April 2005 by
Writing letters to job candidates

If you've advertised a job vacancy and received a lot of replies you'll have to begin the line of correspondence with prospective candidates that precedes the final appointment.

Alternatively, you may be the candidate's former employer and have been asked to provide a reference.

Writing these kinds of letters can seem straightforward, but you need to make sure you're providing all the necessary information to get your message across clearly and simply.

"Come for an interview" letters

You've gone through all the applicants' CVs and decided which ones you want to get in for an interview. Now you just need to write and tell them.

Keep it simple but include everything the candidate will need to know. Just telling them the time and place isn't enough. If you're planning some sort of itinerary (a tour of the hotel, or a series of interviews, for example) then you should tell the candidate the details so they can do any preparation.

At the very least you should tell them approximately how long the whole procedure will last and if there's any special dress code.


Dear Mr Smith

Thank you for your application for the post of food & beverage manager at the Brown Hat hotel. We are pleased to invite you for an interview at 11am on Tuesday, 4 March here at the hotel.

The interview will last approximately two hours and will include a brief tour of the hotel and a number of short, simple, psychometric tests. These will be followed by an informal interview with myself and my deputy Claire Johnson.

If you are unable to attend on this date could you please contact my PA Leslie Ryan to arrange a more suitable time.

We look forward to seeing you.

Yours sincerely

Adam Jones, general manager

"You haven't got the job" letters

Letters rejecting people who have applied for a vacancy are pretty much voluntary. If you're expecting a lot of replies, it's worth putting something in the original advert saying "only those invited for an interview will be contacted".

It is frustrating for anyone who has applied for a job to hear absolutely nothing from the company: they're not sure whether they have been rejected or that their application didn't arrive. It is common courtesy to send some sort of acknowledgement, unless there are simply too many to reply to.

Again, the letters should be simple but contain all the necessary information. They should also be reasonably positive in nature, thanking them for their interest and briefly explaining why they were not selected.

You never know, the person you reject now may be perfect for a different job in a year's time, yet a rude rejection at the first application may put them off trying again.

These principles also apply if you want to turn down someone who attended for interview.


Dear Mr Smith

Thank you for your interest in the position of food & beverage manager at the Brown Hat hotel.

Unfortunately, I am afraid your application was unsuccessful this time as we have decided to offer the position to someone with more experience.

However, we received many strong applications and it was a difficult decision. Please do not hesitate to apply again for any similar vacancies.

Yours sincerely,

Adam Jones, general manager

"We're still thinking about it" letters

If you've invited somebody in for an interview, you should give them some indication of when a decision will be made.

If you tell them you'll get in touch in a week and you don't, you will give a bad impression and they will be on the phone asking what's happening.

A quick note to say you're still thinking about it and haven't made a final decision is a simple, courteous way around this.


Dear Mr Smith

It was a pleasure to meet you recently and I want to thank you again for your continued interest in the position of food & beverage manager at the Brown Hat hotel.

The evaluation process for this vacancy is still ongoing and a decision has yet to be reached. However, as soon as we make a decision we will contact you immediately.

Again, thank you for your interest and your patience.

Yours sincerely,

Adam Jones, general manager

"Do you want the job?" letters

These letters can be slightly more tricky as they are proof that you offered the candidate the job and, until they sign an employment contract, the details are considered binding.

So, keep it simple, keep it factual, and make sure all the details are correct. Include the salary, the start date and any other agreed details of the remuneration package. Avoid any vague statements such as "you'll probably have a pay review after about six months" if you're not sure this is the case.


Dear Mr Smith

Thank you for your interest in the Brown Hat hotel. We are pleased to offer you the job of food & beverage manager.

As agreed, your starting date will be Wednesday, 16 May 2002 and your basic salary will be £25,000 per year. Your first salary review will take place on 13 November 2002 when you have successfully completed a six-month probationary period.

You will also be eligible for 25 days holiday per year plus access to the company's pension and medical insurance schemes.

Yours sincerely,

Adam Jones, general manager

"Yes, he used to work for us" letters

Not strictly correspondence with candidates, but anybody who has worked for you will probably look for a reference at some point.

There are a lot of legal issues surrounding references. You could easily find yourself on the end of some potentially expensive legal action if you mention any unfounded accusations or other defamatory remarks. If you're unsure, take a look at this article.

A basic reference can be written easily and should include details of your relationship with the candidate, their role, how long they worked there, any achievements they made and what attributes they have.


Dear Mr Johnson

RE: Reference for John Smith

I am the general manager at the McGuffin hotel and I can confirm that Mr John Smith currently works here as assistant food & beverage manager.

John began work here on 3 February 1999 as senior receptionist, moving quickly into food & beverage where he reached his current position in May of 2001.

John is responsible for all day-to-day operations in the food & beverage department of the hotel and reports directly to our food and beverage manager Linda Butt.

He is a very able and capable young man who runs an excellent team of five people. He is hard-working, conscientious, thorough and was instrumental in a departmental reorganisation that took place six months ago.

I heartily recommend him for any position you are considering him for. If you require more information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

Sheila Fondue, general manager


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