Every once in a while I’ll publish job-hunt questions people ask me a lot. And it’s that time again. But today I’m publishing a question that stumped me:

“Why don’t interviewers get back to me after the interview? I go to the interview, I feel like we click, and the hiring manager or human resource representative never says another thing to me again. Ever.”

I sent this question to my well-placed, hot-shot human resource friend who works at a company that a slew of you want to work for but cannot be named in this blog, and this is what he told me about the issue:

The primary reason candidates don’t hear back after the interview is that most recruiters and/or interviewers don’t shut the discussion down when they know it’s a non-fit. This is rooted in human nature and avoiding conflict.

For example, two weeks ago I interviewed a terrible candidate. I spoke with him for a half-hour, and then told him, “You know what? I have to be honest with you that I’m going to pursue other candidates who appear more highly suited for this role. I want to be transparent about that because I know you may have other job opportunities you are considering, and I want to be up front that compared to other candidates I’m considering, they appear to be more strongly suited for the role.”

Most people won’t have that conversation in the moment, and instead say, “Thanks for your time, I have some more people to interview, and then I’ll get back to you with the decision on whether we’ll be moving forward.” This closing remark creates more work and clutter, and then the “getting back to them” never happens.

By not being transparent, the interviewer feigns that there will be more evaluation, and I believe interviewers think that it makes the eventual turn-down more palatable. But in all honesty, it just creates inefficiency and friction in the system.

Another way to look at this problem though, is that it’s simply poor execution, because the opportunity cost of letting people dangle doesn’t have to be absorbed by the interviewer. Example: If you interview with me, what are the consequences for me treating you poorly? Not any really. You as the candidate don’t want to burn a bridge lest [my company] should happen to call you in the future, so it’s not like you are going to take me to task.

In the mix of hundreds of candidates in process, there’s no clear measurement of what is really going on, unless you write a letter to my boss or blog about it (which few people take the time to do).

So what can you conclude from this? The people who get back to you and tell you flat out no, or, better yet, are transparent enough to tell you no right there in the interview, are the people who are the best to work for. And that’s not helpful, is it? I mean, they are rejecting you. So what are you going to do with that piece of knowledge?

Here’s an idea for candidates in the post-interview process. How about sending a thank you note, placing a followup call or two to show interest, and then if you don’t hear anything, move on?

And instead of spending time whining about how rude the interview process is, focus on turning the next interview into a job offer. If you get good at interviews, you don’t have to worry about people who don’t let you know about rejection because you won’t get rejected.