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What is a Regret Letter & Why is it Known as the Catalyst for Growth?

  • regret letter sample
  • 10 min read
  • July 25, 2023


As an HR professional, few tasks are as challenging and delicate as delivering a regret letter to job applicants. These letters bear the weight of disappointment, conveying the news that a candidate’s application was not successful. However, behind the seemingly discouraging facade lies a profound opportunity for personal and professional development.

In this blog, we delve into the world of “Regret Letters” from an HR perspective and explore their role as catalysts for growth.

Discover how these seemingly tough messages can inspire engagement, offer valuable feedback, and motivate individuals to embark on a journey of self-improvement, transforming rejections into stepping stones toward a brighter future. We also have a regret letter format for you!

Shall we start?

Understanding Regret Letters or Rejection Letters!

A regret letter, also known as a rejection letter, is a vital aspect of the HR process, playing a significant role in the candidate selection journey. As an HR professional, it’s essential to comprehend the purpose and impact of these letters to navigate this responsibility with empathy and thoughtfulness.

Download Regret Letter

Note: You can download directly from here and edit as per your need.

  • Purpose of Regret Letters:

Even when you are sharing a piece of bad news, regret letters serve a crucial purpose in keeping candidates informed about the outcome of their application to an open position. While it may not be the news they hoped for, a well-crafted regret document demonstrates your organization’s commitment to transparency and respect for applicants’ efforts and time. It also leaves a lasting impression on candidates, fostering a positive perception of your company’s values and culture.

  • The Emotional Impact:

A letter of regret to unsuccessful applicant carries significant emotional weight, as they often represent a candidate’s hopes and aspirations. Acknowledge the emotional aspect of receiving such news, and endeavor to convey your understanding and empathy. By recognizing the effort candidates put into their applications, you can soften the blow and demonstrate your organization’s commitment to treating applicants with dignity and respect.

  • Leveraging Regret Letters for Positive Impact:

Regret letters can be transformed into a powerful tool for building a positive employer brand. By offering valuable feedback and encouraging candidates to apply again in the future, you foster a sense of inclusivity and fairness. A candidate who receives a thoughtful interview regret letter is more likely to share a positive experience with others, even if they weren’t selected for the position.

Now that you know the regret letter meaning and its purpose, let’s know the types of regret letters!

Types of a Clear Rejection Letter or Regret Letters

Take a look at the most common types of regret letters:

1. Unqualified Applicant:

This type of regret letter is sent to applicants who do not meet the necessary qualifications or requirements for the position they applied for. It conveys appreciation for their interest while candidly explaining that their skills and experience do not align with the job’s demands.

2. Mismatched Applicant:

A letter of this nature is used when the applicant’s background and aspirations are not in harmony with the organization’s values or goals. It acknowledges the applicant’s credentials but explains the mismatch and the subsequent decision.

3. Internship Rejection:

Internship applicants who were not selected receive this regret letter. It thanks them for their enthusiasm and application but explains the competitive nature of the process and the final decision.

4. Post-interview Rejection:

Following an interview, candidates who were not chosen are sent this regret letter. It appreciates their time and interest, provides feedback if possible, and informs them of the decision.

5. Internal Candidate Rejection:

In cases where an internal candidate applied for a promotion but wasn’t selected, this letter is utilized. It acknowledges their interest in advancing within the organization while explaining the reasons for the decision.

6. Late Application:

Applicants who submit their applications after the deadline receive this regret letter. It politely informs them that their late submission cannot be considered due to the predetermined selection timeline.

7. Undisclosed Reason:

Occasionally, this regret letter for candidate may not specify the exact reason for the rejection, often due to internal policies or sensitive circumstances. It expresses gratitude for the application but respectfully communicates the decision without divulging the underlying cause.

5 Tips for Writing a Good Regret Letter

Here are five essential tips to help you craft a thoughtful and effective regret letter:

1. Be empathetic and understanding:

Just employee management, candidate management is also equally important.

When crafting a regret letter for not selecting the candidate, it’s crucial to lead with empathy and understanding. Acknowledge the recipient’s disappointment or unfulfilled expectations with sincerity. Show genuine compassion towards their situation, appreciating their effort or interest in the opportunity.

By addressing their emotions and recognizing their investment, you demonstrate respect and consideration for their feelings. An empathetic approach can help soften the impact of the regretful news, fostering a sense of connection and trust between you and the recipient. This compassionate tone sets the foundation for a thoughtful and well-received regret letter, leaving a positive impression despite the unfavorable outcome.

2. Use a polite and respectful tone:

When composing a regret letter to candidate, maintaining a polite and respectful tone is paramount. Address the recipient with courtesy and dignity, refraining from any form of rudeness or condescension. Ensure that the language used is formal and appropriate, showing consideration for their feelings and maintaining a sense of professionalism. Avoid any negative or dismissive language that could exacerbate their disappointment.

By upholding a polite and respectful demeanor, you convey the sincerity of your regret while also leaving a lasting impression of your organization’s or company’s commitment to treating individuals with kindness and respect, even in challenging circumstances.

3. Be clear and concise:

In a regret letter, poor communication skills or mismatched time commitments are a big NO. So, clearly state the decision and the reasons behind it without ambiguity or confusion. Use straightforward language and avoid unnecessary jargon or complex wording. Being concise helps ensure that the recipient understands the message promptly and without unnecessary elaboration.

A well-structured letter communicates the outcome efficiently, saving the recipient’s time and reducing any potential confusion or frustration. By adhering to clarity and conciseness, you demonstrate respect for the recipient’s time and make the process of conveying the regretful news more straightforward and transparent.

4. Offer constructive feedback (optional):

When appropriate and applicable, providing constructive feedback in regret letters can be valuable. Offer specific insights or suggestions that can help the recipient understand why their application or proposal fell short. Focus on actionable areas for improvement rather than personal criticisms. By sharing constructive feedback, you demonstrate a genuine commitment to their growth and success, even in the face of a negative outcome.

However, ensure that the feedback is tactfully delivered, avoiding harsh or discouraging language. Remember that offering constructive feedback is optional, and if you choose to do so, it should be done with the recipient’s best interests in mind.

5. Encourage future engagement:

In a regret letter, it is essential to encourage future engagement positively. Express appreciation for the recipient’s interest and assure them that their application or proposal will be considered in future opportunities. Emphasize that the decision is not a reflection of their abilities but rather a specific outcome based on the current circumstances.

Invite them to stay connected with your organization or company, sign up for updates, or explore other potential avenues for collaboration. By fostering optimism and enthusiasm for future possibilities, you leave the recipient with a sense of hope and motivation to continue pursuing opportunities with your organization.

By following these tips, you can write regret letters that not only conveys the decision clearly but also leaves the recipient with a positive impression of your organization or company.

Read More – Structuring Behaviour Warning Letter: A Guide for Clear Communication


Regrets won’t solve the problem, but our FREE HR toolkit can!

It is high time for you to try our comprehensive HR toolkit, which is particularly designed for HR professionals to save time and energy on letter drafting. With the HR toolkit, you will get access to 300+ templates of HR emails, letters, forms, and more.

Take the first step towards a more confident and successful HR approach!

How do Employers Benefit from a Regret Letter?

Employers can benefit from sending a rejection letter to job applicants in several ways. While delivering rejection news is never pleasant, a well-crafted letter can have positive effects on both the company’s reputation and future hiring endeavors.

Here are some key benefits:

1. Maintaining a Positive Employer Brand:

Maintaining a Positive Employer Brand

Job applicants are potential customers, clients, current employees, or even future employees. How employers handle the hiring workflow reflects their company culture and values. By sending a polite and respectful regret letter, the employer demonstrates professionalism and empathy, even in challenging situations. This can enhance the company’s reputation and attract top talent in the future.

2. Strengthening the Candidate Experience:

Strengthening the Candidate Experience

The candidate’s experience significantly impacts how applicants perceive a company. Even though the outcome is a rejection, a personalized and considerate letter shows that the employer values each candidate’s effort and time invested in the application process. Treating applicants with respect fosters goodwill and may encourage them to apply for future job openings.

3. Building a Talent Pipeline:

Building a Talent Pipeline

Regret letters can create a talent pool for future job opportunities. By maintaining a positive impression, applicants who received rejection letters may be more inclined to reapply when suitable positions arise. These candidates are already familiar with the company and its values, saving time in the recruiting process.

4. Strengthening Employer-Employee Relations:

Strengthening Employer-Employee Relations

Job applicants may also be current or potential business partners, suppliers, or customers. A respectful regret letter for unsuccessful applicant demonstrates a commitment to ethical business practices and encourages positive interactions with various stakeholders.

5. Legal Protection:

Legal Protection

Sending a regret letter to candidate after interview, including those not selected for an interview process, can serve as evidence of fair hiring practices if there are legal challenges. It demonstrates that the employer considered all applicants impartially and based hiring decisions on relevant qualifications and experience.

6. Encouraging Word-of-Mouth Recommendations:

Encouraging Word-of-Mouth Recommendations

While being rejected for a job is disappointing, a well-crafted letter of regret for job application can soften the blow and potentially lead to word-of-mouth recommendations. Applicants who appreciate the company’s transparency and respectful communication might share their positive experiences with others, which could attract more qualified candidates in the future.

7. Improving the Employer’s Self-Assessment:

Improving the Employer's Self-Assessment

Crafting regret letters may also lead employers to evaluate their hiring processes, interview techniques, and job descriptions more critically. This introspection can help identify areas for improvement, leading to a more effective and efficient hiring process in the long run.

Now that you made it this far, we have an interview regret letter sample for you in the next section.

A Regret Letter – Sample Template

Regret Letter Sample Template


We hope you find the blog and our regret letter sample for job applicant helpful.

In essence, the regret letter, supported by our HR software, serves as a potent catalyst for growth, prompting introspection and learning from mistakes. Embracing this practice fosters accountability, resilience, and personal development, transforming setbacks into stepping stones for success. By harnessing the power of regret, we can forge a path of continuous improvement and a more fulfilling future.

Also, do not forget to check our HR toolkit.


Alpesh Vaghasiya

The founder & CEO of Superworks, I'm on a mission to help small and medium-sized companies to grow to the next level of accomplishments. With a distinctive knowledge of authentic strategies and team-leading skills, my mission has always been to grow businesses digitally. The core mission of Superworks is Connecting people, Optimizing the process, Enhancing performance.

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