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?