IT Employment

Toni's rant to HR and hiring managers

Why do so many companies fail to tell job candidates that they didn't get the job? I'd really like to know.

One of the most frequent issues readers write to me about is the delay in hearing back from HR and hiring managers after an interview. I think if you've gone as far as to have someone in for an interview, that you've set up some kind of expectation and that person deserves to hear one way or another. I've tried really hard to give the benefit of the doubt to the people making the candidate choices, but I really can't get past the conclusion that there's a great deal of laziness or disorganization involved.

Really, what is a decent excuse for not letting a candidate know that he or she didn't get the job? Some people say that they don't want to tell the second-place candidate in case the first one doesn't work out. That's like waiting to confirm a prom date with an okay person while you wait to see if the person you really want to go with asks you out.

One hiring manager told me that if a candidate doesn't hear back within a certain amount of time, then he or she should conclude on their own that they didn't get the job. That's bull. How is that person to know that means(s) he didn't get the job as opposed to the company perhaps having a painfully slow assessment process?

To make the situation worse, some companies have policies where you can't apply for another job there unless you've been "officially released" from a previous job application. There is a health care company here in town that has that very policy. A friend of mine interviewed for a position there over two months ago and still hasn't been officially released, despite having heard from someone else that there is a person in that job now.

All the follow-up might be a hassle or a nuisance, but you're dealing with people here. People who need some kind of closure so they can move on to looking elsewhere. And, no, I'm not recommending that a job seeker only have one job possibility floating out there at a time, putting all the eggs in one basket so to speak. But normal people can't help but keep some kind of hope alive until they've been told otherwise.

I am throwing this question out to HR departments and hiring managers everywhere: Why don't you tell job candidates when they don't get the job?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

7 comments
tbmay
tbmay

...they just plain don't have to do anything. Candidates, in fact, all people, need to look out for themselves and not expect any different. That may be a sad state of human affairs, but it's just the way it is.

itsmeman1
itsmeman1

i had this happen one time. i interviewed at a company that was taking very long to get back to me, and i was sitting around waiting, kind of desperate for some income, and i was a runner up candidate. i wrote them an email telling them that i was upset that i never heard back from them after two weeks. the hiring manager said, we were trying to place you somewhere else, thanks for communicating that to me. To say the least that was the end of that position.

mckinnej
mckinnej

Not sure why folks are voting you down. What you said is true. There is no law, rule, or even a moral obligation for them to contact you with bad news. Come to think of it I've never been notified that I didn't get a job I interviewed for. The basic rule of thumb is "No news is bad news." They're probably really busy bringing the person they did hire on board, so all the rest are not even on the radar. Maybe the proponents of this are asking too much. I certainly wouldn't like to be the person calling these people with the bad news. I can just imagine having one of them break down and tell me how they really needed the job, they're late with the rent, their car was repossessed, its the end of the world, and so on. Yeah, that would be some fun. Better to tell them up front that you'll contact them if they're selected and leave it at that. That should also suit the folks playing the Professionalism card because the expectations are established right up front. I guess the real message here is that the hiring process isn't a touchy-feelie situation so don't expect it to act like one. (Here come the negative votes!)

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

about the timeframe to hear a decision concerning the job and they give me a date there damn well is an obligation on their part to respond. I don't expect a phone call if I'm the unsuccessful candidate but I do expect them to make good on their word to me. When they don't even send a form letter that tells a lot about the organization (or lack thereof.)

n.gurr
n.gurr

that they tell the candidate how long they are going to wait...

Gh0stMaker
Gh0stMaker

If a recruiter can't say when a position has been filled and give feedback than they don't have a close relationship with their client and should be ditched by the professional.

johnm
johnm

Law? Rule? Moral obligation? How about just plain professionalism? Send a form letter. You don't have to worry about dealing with emotions, or the person trying to get more specifics, etc., but you are at least being professional and respectful by sending a letter. It's not that big of a deal. On the other hand, are there positions where this would be a big deal...for example applicants to a fast food restaurant or other environments with high turnover and large applicant pools? Do you limit it to only those who have actually been called for an interview? I have had some companies send a form letter that I was not being considered when all I've done is submitted a resume -- and I appreciated knowing that I wouldn't be hearing back from them. When a recruiter is involved, I would definitely expect the recruiter to know when the position is filled and to notify the applicants that were not hired on behalf of the company.

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