What if the interviewer never calls you back?

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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.

148 replies
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    • Bun
      Bun says:

      This post is probably the best and most truthful post ive read. Its too bad more people that are doing the hiring dont read it. And to be honest, i think most applicants really believe that they will get the job, so theyll never give up unless the interviewer is clear they are no longer in the running.

  1. GoingLikeSixty
    GoingLikeSixty says:

    New clichè – “being transparent”
    Actually should be “being opaque” meaning, I’m not going to let you see right through me, I am going to let you see just enough that you think you got it figured out.

    • Deborah
      Deborah says:

      I liked your comment. I have been looking for a job since last July. I give good interviews. And transparency or opagueness would be a welcome difference to the cavalier unresponsive RUDE treatment that even large companies seem to operate from. I mean, I was told by the first interviewer I would get the second interview. I did. I was also the candidate she spent the most time with. Then the follow up was by phone. At the end of an enjoyable interview, I asked if I was the one to beat. I heard, “Absolutely!” and how NO candidate had ever taken the time to look at google analytics and told them what product was driving traffic to their website. I sent a thank you to all of them. I didn’t get the offer. I never heard a word back. The same kind of thing happened with Apple computers recently. Great phone interview, had her laughing. She asked me to drive to the store and get back to her. I did this and then called her as she requested. Nothing. I waited 2 days and emailed her. Nothing. To me, it seems like a form letter could be on hand and it takes about ten seconds to send one and even less time to have an assistant do it. The comment after yours actually makes me laugh, the guy said, “we’re a bunch of rude asses, aren’t we?” Umm, YAHHH sure seems like it!

  2. Downtown ATL
    Downtown ATL says:

    Telling a candidate their status has been determined on the spot, in an interview, is not transparency it irresponsibility. You've just told the interviewee that one conversation is being used to determine fitness for employment and one person is able to make the unilateral hiring decision. A good employment lawyer could use such practices to start a decent EEOC case. I bet your hot-shot HR friend is violating the policies of the Company that can not be Named.

    • Deborah
      Deborah says:

      Can I come to work at YOUR company? Seriously. It seems reare that anyone has your mindset about how to treat professionals professionally. My post is above, and not sure it shows my email but I would like to hear from you. deborah_now@yahoo.com

    • Mike
      Mike says:

      I agree. However, my reasons are that the interview alone holds too much weight. All things should be considered, and then the interviewee deserves a call. Bottom line.

      • Cindy
        Cindy says:

        I commend you on your human courtesy. As someone who lives in NY and is having a hard time finding a job I can’t believe some HR managers as just plain rude for no reason. Why tell someone they have a good academic record and job experience and you wil call them either way if you know you’re just throwing out their resume the second they leave and never calling. My favorite was when I was kept waiting for one hour for an interview only to be told they just hired the person they interviewed maybe I would have been a better candidate but they didn’t even see me.

  3. John Sasina
    John Sasina says:

    You’re right, the most efficient thing is to move on to the next opp.

    That said, it’s damn rude of anyone to treat a fellow human being like that. And I say that as the guy who does the interviewing. I always, always make time to call every candidate I interviewed to give him/her the basic courtesy of knowing the outcome. It’s the respectful, professional thing to do. Almost always the ones who do not get the position thank me for taking the time to contact them.

    We’re a bunch of rude asses anymore, aren’t we?

  4. Gautam Ghosh
    Gautam Ghosh says:

    Another reason for that is organizations sometimes have 2-3 rounds of interviews for which 10 or more people are considered.

    After an interview very few interviewers are clear that they are definitely hiring that person. They choose to see the other 9 and after all the interviews are through they make the final choice.

    A few people of the 10 might be clearly not a fit for the role. Most people are 60-90% fit on knowledge skills and experience required for the role, and interviewers can’t take that call unless they meet all the candidates.

    If the position is a very critical one, organizations might actually assess the candidates weren’t sourced well and they need to cast their net wider.

    Of course, not getting back to a candidate and informing them of where the process is, is very inefficient. So candidates have to also call back their recruiters and demanding an update.


  5. Jim C
    Jim C says:

    Sometimes the suitability of a candidate IS determined in one conversation. Oh, you don’t really have any experience in field sampling? Your degree isn’t really in Wildlife Biology but in Communications? Sorry, but the job requires the degree and the experience.
    The Human Resources people and the lawyers usually won’t let the interviewers or the hiring manager tell the applicant that he is wasting his time and the company’s, but it would be better for all concerned if they could.

  6. Flying Squirrel
    Flying Squirrel says:

    I’ve been on both sides. After interviewing, I always got back to all the candidates to thank them for coming in, let them know another candidate had been hired, and wish them luck in their job search. It really doesn’t take that much time.

    I can’t tell you how many interviews I’ve been in (sometimes second interviews, and interviews where I had to prepare a formal presentation, or graphic design work) where the interviewer closes with “we’ll get back to you by the end of next week either way) and NEVER ever calls. And then avoids the call if I call to follow up.

    Bottom line, don’t tell someone you’re going to call them if you’re not sure you are.

    And for interviewees, when the interviewer says he’ll call to let you know “either way” take it with the same grain of salt you would if your lukewarm date says “I’ll call you sometime”

  7. Trina Roach
    Trina Roach says:

    I have to agree with Jim C. on this one. Sometimes people just obviously don’t fit. Period. Sometimes you can tell that about 3 minutes into an interview.

    Of course, most HR people (including me in a former life) often play nice and let the person leave feeling all warm and fuzzy about a job that simply isn’t going to happen. And the candidate waits around for a call that doesn’t come like some girl in a bygone decade who believed all the “I love yous” utter on the back seat of their date’s dad’s Dodge.

    Obviously there are some people who would try make an EEOC case where there truly is none. And sometimes a snap decision is made for all the wrong reasons.

    On the other hand, there has to be – no; there IS – a happy medium between wasting (at least) two adult’s time and humanely letting someone know that – for purely professional reasons – you “just aren’t that into them”.

  8. Joe Fusco
    Joe Fusco says:

    Great, useful post. And clear, unmuddled thinking from your anonymous source.

    Even before writing a thank you note or placing a followup call or two, a candidate should (if they’re thinking fast) ask the honest interviewer for some additional candor: “what can I do in the future to be a more presentable/acceptable/attractive candidate for this organization? What advice do you have for me on my interviewing skills/resume presentation/experience?”

    Again, great post and great advice.

  9. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    A piece of advice I’ve given friends regarding obtaining a response (and closure on a job prospect if it is dead) is to ask at the end of the interview about the timing of the interview/hiring process and when they can expect to hear back. If the candidate doesn’t hear by that date, he or she should follow up. At this point the answer is likely “no” but it’s better to know this and move on. The interviewee needs to empower themselves in this process.

    On HR people believing there is no consequence to ignoring interviewees — I’d disagree, at least for some industries and cities. If there is a talent shortage, you don’t want to burn a bridge with someone who simply lacks experience for the position in question as 2-3 years from now they may have experience. Or, they may be appropriate for another job at the company. Also, if you don’t hire them, another company will — and this company could be a key client. If you’ve treated them poorly, they’ll remember and even tell their new boss.

    Bottom line, you never know who will be important to your network. So it’s risky to treat anyone unprofessionally.

  10. holly
    holly says:

    I often wonder about the longer term affects of poorly treating candidates.

    I’ve had a few interviews with big companies where the HR people were rude, abrupt and unprofessional. I expected the same excellence from interviewers that I expect from their product. When I don’t get it, it degrades my impression of the company.

    It’s not sour grapes, telling me I’m not a good fit is fine, but leading me on or not returning calls or not closing the process makes me wonder what your firm will be like to do business with.

    Ask people about their negative experiences and they can always tell you the name of the company, what the position was.

    It’s always easy to call or send an email saying “Thank you for your time, unfortunately you aren’t a fit for us, good luck” leaving the candidate disappointed in the short term but not bitter.

    The truth is, as some people have pointed out, it’s a small world and if I’m looking for work I could very well start working with your biggest client and our relationship would already be slightly damaged.

  11. Downtown ATL
    Downtown ATL says:

    Jim C and Trina are right. Fitness can be determined in three minutes in one interview. The issue I am pointing out is the appearance that determination is made on the spot. It leaves room for argument that qualifications were not the reason for the decision. Have you ever heard the one about the attractive female walking into an interview with a male and hearing “You’re Hired”? Unilateral, on the spot, hiring decisions; real or not, should never be a part of a sound HR hiring process.

  12. lizriz
    lizriz says:

    When I’m job hunting I certainly appreciate hearing back that the job’s been filled, but really, what difference does it make? You don’t stop job hunting because you’re waiting to hear from someone else. If you don’t get a call, you didn’t get the job. It’s simple enough.

    The exception would be if someone said they would call you to let you know – Then it’s really rude if they don’t.

  13. Irene
    Irene says:

    I have been in situations when I didn’t get a call back, and it is extremely annoying. I still remember one of the companies that did it to me (after 3 rounds of interviews and a trip for an evaluations at a psychologist’s office, which usually suggests that unless you’re a serial killer, you should be expecting an offer). I haven’t heard anything from them, and had to contact an acquaintance who worked for that company who had to make the HR person get back to me. They probably had some changes in funding or something unexpected came up that did not allow them to offer me a position then, but how difficult is it to drop an email – sorry, we’re still not ready to give you an answer, sorry, but we decided to hire somebody else? Granted, I was looking for my first job out of college, but as companies do this to more in-demand experienced professionals, they have to be careful that such behavior is not going to backfire.

  14. Ben
    Ben says:

    Great post. I’m job-hunting at the moment (my least favorite thing in the world) and just had a recruiter do this to me except I received an automated email telling me the position was filled. I emailed her back:

    “I must admit, I was hoping to receive a more personal notification of this than an email. I understand that you’re busy, however, so please don’t think there are any hard feelings. I am still very much interested in XXXXXX as a company and would like to speak with you about any other openings you have. When is a good time to meet with you?”

    This didn’t get me a response, but after a phone call the next day, she got back to me. She recommended another position within the company that I had overlooked and she considered me more qualified for. We’ll see if I get it…

    If you want a call back after an interview and the recruiter is a professional, you’ll get it, but you might have to work for it.

  15. MJ
    MJ says:

    Wendy, not many HR think like you do but I agree with you. Interview works both ways – for employers to screen employees and potential employees to check if the employers (or rather interviewers in some cases) are suitable with their personality, experiences, skills, etc.

    I’ve had an interviewer who said, “It’s just our way to test people who apply. If they don’t contact us after interview, they are not interested. Even if we said we’d call them.” That’s plain rude, misleading and misconduct to me.

    It sucks especially when you really want the job and hope you’ll get it but received nothing at all and your calls are not returned. Too bad for the employers. Take your talent elsewhere, where they are appreciated :D It’s not worth working for those people anyway!

  16. Don B.
    Don B. says:

    Where I work we are often late getting back to applicants. That usually means we are interested ironically and can not decide whether to pull the trigger. Sometimes we will hire someone who is not a fit for the specific advertised job because they we were so impressing we assume we will find a fit. A tricky proposition for firms under seventy-five people. I read your post primarily as a reminder to be professional to all applicants and remember to get back to them promptly so they can move on. We try not to interview people whose resume’s do not appear to offer sufficient talent for the position and concentrate on people who have interested us. The thankyou idea has been used by some we have seen. My advice is to learn to showcase your talent. The talents can be about anything from good people skills to technical expertise. We look for and hire talent. We will train the talented applicant even if we think it is preparing them for a future elsewhere as we can make it profitable for us in the meantime anyway.

  17. Matt Bingham
    Matt Bingham says:

    I say a couple follow up calls and if you still get nothing, move on. If they end up calling you and you are still looking than try to hook up with them again. I try not to let the HR department dictate how the whole company runs. If you have another job offer or have already started a job and they call you back, it’s as easy as telling them you accepted another job but to keep your resume on file. Keep the bridge open if at all possible.

  18. Kathleen
    Kathleen says:

    As a recruiter, I have low tolerance for people that make a commitment (I’ll be in touch . . .”) and don’t follow through on that commitment, so I applaud your HR friend’s willingness and ability to be clear when they’re not planning a next step with a particular candidate. I also talk to alot of candidates, so I hear ALOT of the same candidate complaints that you write about. I think, though, that there are questions candidates can ask the interviewer to get a more realistic assessment as to whether or not they’ll be advanced in the process. Example: “I’ve enjoyed our conversation today, and I’m eager to continue in the process. Based on what you’ve learned today, what’s your assessment as to whether or not I’ll be advancing in the process?” Generally, conflict avoiding people aside, interviewers will take this opening to set low expectations if they don’t think it’s likely that they’ll be advancing the candidate. As a candidate, this question might get you an honest answer, and might make you feel less like a victim.

  19. Rick75
    Rick75 says:

    Ahhh, interview etiquette! A great topic that, although it can take up an entire "Seinfeld" episode (Was it already?), is nonetheless a cause of much consternation among job seekers. Let's face it: Each side of the interview has a responsibility here. The recruiter or hiring manager should have a good idea of whether a candidate has the chops for the job before even calling him or her in for an interview. That's the purpose of a well constructed resume. Any resume that fails to meet at least a minimum level of criteria for the job shouldn't get more than a cursory read. The interviewee, meanwhile, needs to make sure that he or she comes away from an interview with a clear sense of what the employer's next steps are. That's only fair because it's the job seeker who usually has the tougher time making room in his or her schedule to set up interviews. Absent that sense of "what happens next," the interviewee needs to demonstrate interest in the position and the company by telling the recruiter when he or she will follow up. Bottom line: I've always had more respect for companies that replied promptly, say, within three business days. Even if you don't get the job, the company's professionalism may be enough to keep it in consideration for another position later on.

  20. Tiffany
    Tiffany says:

    While I agree that employers can do more in this, I thik a lot of this is up to interviewees as well. I definitely agree with Penelope’s points on being proactive. Here’s another thought: Taking time and having the initiative at the end of the interview and ask candidly “what is your next step?” can sometimes open up the doors to this open communication.

  21. Ask a Manager
    Ask a Manager says:

    I will occasionally tell a candidate on the spot that I don’t believe they’re right for the position, but more often then not I won’t do it in the moment and instead will follow up with an email rejection. (But I ALWAYS follow up one way or another; I’d never just not get back to them.) The reason I usually don’t issue the rejection right there in the phone interview or in-person interview is because some candidates will try to argue with you about it and I hate that. I think I’m about to write a post on my blog about this, in fact!

  22. Charlie
    Charlie says:

    In thinking of past interviews, I realize that I have received strong indications of the eventual outcome.

    For example, I have had two interviews where at the end the interviewer has whispered that she has a “hunch” that I will get an offer. And I did. Another successful interview concluded with a personal tour of the grounds plus an unsolicited ride to the train station, both by the head of the department. Others have ended with scheduling the subsequent interview.

    As for my many fruitless interviews, I now see that I have always left them feeling some form of uncertainty or disappointment, even if I can’t put my finger on exactly why. Common red flags include the interviewer being vague about when they will be deciding or mentioning the many other candidates.

    My point is that interviewers usually let you know, directly or indirectly, if you will get a call. Look for clues and tap into your intuition.

  23. melanie gao
    melanie gao says:

    Once I was chief-of-staff to an engineering director, and we were on a hiring spree. We did dozens of interviews and if the director liked a candidate, we called them back right away. However if he was neutral or negative on a candidate, he never got back to them. I pushed him hard to give them some kind of answer but his logic was that he wanted to keep his options open, and by leaving the candidates hanging he could come back to them if he changed his mind later.

    BTW Penelope I find there are fewer and fewer people who want to work for that anonymous company any more. There are too many stories going around about their employees who feel compelled to take their Palm Pilots to the gym with them so they can stay connected even during their workouts. More and more of their people are leaving them, and people are starting to reject employment offers from them. I think they’re becoming the David Hasselhoff of employers.

    * * * * *
    Melanie, thanks for the delightfully cryptic insiders information: Job hunters beware! (And, I have heard the same…)

  24. andy
    andy says:

    As a manager currently undertaking a job hunt, I’ve experienced both sides. It’s completely feasible for a manager to know if a candidate won’t be a good fit after one meeting. That’s also completely the call of that one person (the hiring manager). If they are courageous enough to notify the person then and there, that’s great! For those managers who base a decision purely on attractiveness, they will get what they deserve. I can’t imagine that manager will be successful for long.

    As an interviewee, I’ve run into the automated rejections months after applying, no responses and personalized phone calls. My best experience has been with a recruiter at a company I’ve targeted. After conducting an informational interview with him, he’s assisted in tracking down potential positions, setting up interviews and calling me within a few days with specific feedback. Unfortunately, he’s an exception, but it makes me want to work more for a company that hires someone like that to represent them.

    • Dale C
      Dale C says:

      I had two interviews on January 21 and was told if we offer you the job when could you start. I stated immediately. Well have not hear back despite a follow up letter, phone calls and a visit to the plant. Today I called the VP of HR told him the situation and stated that if the HR rep and hiring manager cannot make a decision or get back to someone then they should not be in the job. Lo and behold I had an email today from the company (Hubbell Inc -affiliate was Hipotronics that I was not chosen. Well I knew that was coming by going to corporate. That is what men and leaders do speak up and tell the truth and accept the results from the politically correct and wimpy HR folks. How many blogs tonight whining about HR has it tough- your working and telling falsehoods everyday and getting paid for it. That is corruption and deceit and you all should be fired for it. You call it conflict! Getting back to someone-give me a break- not even close to conflict. Nation of HR babies and when someone takes you up on your deceit you get all revengeful. Call yourself leaders.

  25. Dennis Smith
    Dennis Smith says:

    Yep, no two ways about it…Recruiters turn wimpy at the most inconvenient time (the end of the interview). We cannot afford to continue perpetuating such an awful interview experience (candidate experience) and expect that it does us any favors.

    The negative WOM impact should be enough to make us (recruiting community) want to come clean and do the unthinkable…be honest.

  26. Working Girl
    Working Girl says:

    Interview for enough jobs and you will learn how to tell faux warmth from real warmth.

    And Lizriz is right, you’re still looking elsewhere, right? Make it, at least in your own mind, that THEY are the ones chasing YOU, not the other way around.

    Sure, maybe employers should let you know, “No dice,” but they don’t and it is truly a waste of energy to worry about it.

  27. Sameer Panchangam
    Sameer Panchangam says:

    The last line sums it all up! Why not send out a thank you note to find out how things are going! That helps build tremendous rapport, even if you aren’t going to be selected for the job!

  28. Paula G
    Paula G says:

    Great post.

    I have found that how someone treats you in the interview process is a great indicator of how they operate normally. So I’d prefer someone to be totally up front with good or bad feedback than to pansy around and be vague.

    I’ve worked with a number of people, especially women that others would call “bitchy” or “speaks her mind too much” yet I loved working with these people because I ALWAYS knew where I stood with them. If I screwed something up, they would tell me. If I did something good, they would tell me. In my book that beats the silent evasive type any day.

    (of course it goes without saying that they speak directly what is on their mind but in a respectful way…)

  29. Dave Atkins
    Dave Atkins says:

    I’ve had two situations where the interviewer didn’t follow up and then, when I emailed back, it ultimately resulted in a job. And I’ve had a few weird situations where a company wasted a day of my life and then I had to bug them to get an official rejection.

    I think it is pointless to speculate about what is going on in their heads. It could be anything. Penelope, you can probably give specific advice on timing, but in general, you’ve got nothing to lose by following up yourself. If they think you are a desparate loser, then they were not going to hire you anyway. I’ve never heard anybody talk about how “we didn’t hire him because he seemed too eager to work here.” or “He would have been perfect for the job, but he kept bugging me, so I had to hire an unqualified person instead.”

  30. Melissa Kunde
    Melissa Kunde says:

    I think it should be self-evident that if they don’t call you back they’re not interested but here is where the grey area comes in…You interview and the interveiwer emails you back saying you are a top candidate – be ready to fly out in the next week for the third interview and then they never call you. This is where it gets super rude.

    I had this experience a couple of years ago. After that I became better at qualifing the employer and their intentions during the interview.

  31. leslie
    leslie says:

    I completely agree with the concept of sending a thank you note. Recently I interviewed for a freelance position which wasn’t really a good fit for me. However, I did send a thank you note and received a positive response letting me know that they would contact me in the future. Sowing seeds takes time.

  32. Kathy S
    Kathy S says:

    Ben??? You received a rejection e-mail and you replied saying “When is a good time to meet with you”??????????????????????????????????????

    You can’t be too pushy like that! It’s a complete turn-off. I’m no recruiter but I think I understand the etiquette of all this. Please for your own good (unless you’re in sales or a pushy position) don’t go overboard like this.

    Also, I’ve never ever NOT received a response from an interview. However, my position is technical and the interviews are typically 3 hours to a day long so after that type of investment I suppose one would get back to the applicant.

    BEN.. ur crazy.

  33. Jeremiah
    Jeremiah says:

    Get over it.

    If someone doesn’t call you back, THEY DON’T WANT YOU!!! If it really bother you that much, give your interviewer a follow up call/e-mail.

    When i was in the job market I applied and searched for jobs until I got an offer letter; having, a seemingly good interview should not stop your search activities.

    * * * * * * * *

    This really does get to the heart of the issue. I think people get upset about no callback because they are waiting, and they want to know if they should stop waiting. But if you want a new job, then you have to keep looking. You can’t stop looking every time you have a good interview.


  34. James
    James says:

    I think this whole issue can be avoided if job seekers limit themselves to only applying for jobs where they can make a strong case for themselves.

    Once you have identified openings where you are a naturally good fit for the position, then you need to go in to the interview with the attitude that this is your job for taking.

    Take control of the interview process by asking as many questions about the position as they ask about you. Say things like “In my previous work experience, I excelled in situations where I ______, it’s my understand from the job posting that this position is going to require a lot of ____, is that correct?” or “My educational background in ______ has taught me a lot about _____, would this be an asset to someone in the position?”

    Of course you already know the answers to all these questions because you applied for a position where you knew and met (or at least came very close to meeting) the position requirements. Remember, you are looking for the best fit for YOU first and foremost, not to trying to mold yourself into a position you aren’t suited for.

    At the end of the interview, if it’s a job you want and are suited for, say something like, “based on our discussion today, I think this opportunity really fits into what I am looking for, when should I follow up with you yo confirm things“. If they are vague at that point (which they shouldn`t be, unless there were some interview surprises), or say that they will call you, then you are probably not getting the job. Follow up once or twice in the following weeks if it is something you really want and believe you are suited for.

    I have followed this game plan my whole life, I`m 24, have probably had about 10-15 jobs and have only been turned down once after an interview.

  35. Stephen Jacob
    Stephen Jacob says:

    This is all very well if the buck stops with you.

    In many cases, however, an interviewer is not the final decision-maker, and so cannot tell the candidate that they are not likely to get the job …

    … or even if they /are/ the final decision-maker, they want to consult with the other people who interviewed the candidate before making a final decision. That’s not weakness, in my opinion. I think it is a strength to not be above considering the input of your people.

    Anyhow, just some thoughts. It just seems like the article was a bit sweeping in its generality.

  36. Suddu
    Suddu says:

    I make it a point to inform the outcome to candidates. And it does not close the doors for them forever. It’s just that at this moment, the profile and the requirements do not match. In fact, I have made friends because of this. It always pays to be respectful for the time and efforts spent by the candidates. And they deserve feedback, isn’t it?

  37. Raven
    Raven says:

    Interviewing/Recruiting is such a tough process these days, no matter which side you are on. I understand hiring managers and HR being overwhelmed, not making timely decisions, etc. but it seems that a lot of organizations have taken the “human” part out of HR. I’ve had several interviews in the past few years where senior HR recruiters started the interview loops and outlined their process and next steps, all of which included follow-up verbal communication. A few even went so far as to say they’d call me back by X, but in the end I never heard back from most, and those who did finally get back to me were always *weeks* late in responding. After repeated attempts via phone/vmail to get in touch with folks that looked me in the eye and promised a follow up phone call, I hear nothing. Of course I know longer want to work at any of these companies because of their unprofessionalism – it’s plane RUDE to promise a personal response and hear n-o-t-h-i-n-g. I understand there is a human aspect and people tend to avoid conflict but, in my mind, it’s a recruiters job to provide timely feedback and they should follow through on what’s promised. I can’t count how many follow up emails I’ve sent to the various HR contacts to no avail. It comes to this in my mind – you have two responses to a candidate following up on a prospective job, and responding to an email takes literally seconds: 1. We haven’t reached a decision yet and are still considering you, 2. You’re not the right fit, we’re moving on (whether that be due to qualifications, experience, personality, skills, etc. doesn’t matter, the end result is the same). I have more empathy for overwhelmed hiring managers as they are often juggling interviews and covering open positions, but again if you are not sure – say so, respond to that email or have HR do it. Send me an automated email or post card if you need to avoid the stressful call, but at least let me know. It’s the least a company can do, be respectful and respond, for the time I invested in researching the company, prepping for the interview and spending an average of 4 hours onsite for interview loops. I realize an interview should be viewed as an “opportunity” and that the company doesn’t owe me anything but it’s profressional courtesy to provide timely feedback, even if it’s “I don’t know”, to candidates working with HR. I probably sound like a rabid nut with this ramble, I’m just frustrated at the pervasiveness of this issue over the last few years. After reading this article I’m convinced a lot of company’s are putting serious dents in their reputations due to the way they treat candidates. Oh, and yes, yes – we shouldn’t be hanging around and tied to any one opportunity, if the company doesn’t get back to you – move on, I get that. I’m just talking about the rude people that have forgotten what it’s like to be on the other side, which allows them to see candidates less as human beings and more like a warm body for an open position.

    My long-winded two cents.

  38. marie f
    marie f says:

    I am job hunting right now and really the thing that bugs me the most is, if you believe you had a good interview and you are denied, can’t the interviewer tell you why so that you can improve the next time?

    • shawn
      shawn says:

      No. Sue paranoia has ruined good faith business decisions. 99% of the time there is no reason to worry about telling someone why they didn’t get the job, but lawyers have figured out that all it takes is that one inexperienced person to say the wrong thing to a candidate and it is cause for a lawsuit. That’s why HR doesn’t say anything, or they don’t say anything meaningful, or they just don’t tell the truth.

  39. Quasar9
    Quasar9 says:

    Hi Penelope,
    I have to say horses for courses

    But I agree with your hot-shot HR friend.
    Most bg firms have a policy for applicants, if you have not heard from us by … in two or three weeks, you have not been shortlisted.

    If after an interview, you do not hear from a prospective employer, the interviewee should chase or follow up the interviewer. It shows 1) initiative, and 2) That you are interested in the job.

    If the vacancy has been filled they’ll soon let you know.

    What I find pointless or impractical is a phone call for someone to tell me “we’ve offered the job to someone who fits the requirements better”

    Uhhh – you what. If you are going to turn me down, a Dear John letter saying thankyou, will suffice. If I want feedback from an interview or want to hear the interviewers voice – I’ll call you.

    I can’t understand places like the NHS (national health service) who train their HR staff and/or interviewers to phone interviewees with bad news. I guess it is endemic in the NHS that staff are trained to dole out bad news over the phone to patients. Hello Mr so&so, we regret to inform you that you have some untreatable cancer or disease and you’ll be dead soon.

    This kind of news you don’t really want over the phone. You don’t even really want this kind of news by mail in the post. This kind of news should be given face to face by a Consultant, Surgeon or Specialist.

    And the same applies with job interviews. If I don’t hear from you within a week – I’ll assume I didn’t get the job. If I’m really keen on the job rest assured I’ll be calling YOU. It is much easier then to inform me that you have offered the position to someone else. And if I want feedback from the interview – then YOU have the opportunity to tell me how dependant on what is written on a scrap of paper (application form) and my answers to a handful of random questions from a list – you can ‘fathom’ who is best suited for the job.

    And one really can ‘bullshit’ with the best, and risk that even if your lies are discovered, you’ll get full marks for initiative (unless you claim to have vital experience or licence for a job, such as machine handling, open heart surgery or running software) – or one can be as precise and accurate as possible, when going after a job one really wants and is more than capable of doing, and risk being ‘trumped’ by the applicant with the bullshit pooling the wool over HR and the interviewer.

    Alas, Life is a Comedy of Errors
    After all how did bin Bush (son of Bush) become President of the USA. Certainly not because of his quick thinking, nor because of his previous experience of invading a foreign countries – wrong Bush (It was his father ‘liberated’ kuwait) – or managing floods & the economy.

  40. Swaroop Bhushan
    Swaroop Bhushan says:

    Years ago this happened to me a couple of times, only after which I realized that I had been – in the language of relationships – ‘dumped’ and they didn’t have the heart to make closure.

    After that I send two follow up letters with some gap in between, to induce the interviewer towards either a positive decision, or at least be driven to “uh-what-the-hell-He-asked-for-it” mode.

  41. GreatManagement
    GreatManagement says:

    If the company or agency does not want you , they do not ring you. Happens every single day. However, you want to know why, so you can improve for the next time. However, when you do get feedback, it is normally ‘made up’ and useless anyway. How do you tell someone, ‘your face doesn't fit’ or ‘you were wearing white socks and I hate people who wear white socks’. Rarely is it because you did not have the necessary skills.


  42. jen_chan, writer SureFireWealth.com
    jen_chan, writer SureFireWealth.com says:

    This entry reminds me of the time one of my friends wondered what she should do since the hotel she applied for wasn’t calling back (as promised). Unfortunately, a lot of people have no clue what to do in situations like this. Halfway through your entry, I was actually thinking of sending thank you cards. I read it in a magazine somewhere. Anyway, if they don’t contact you, you shouldn’t mope and sulk in a corner. The best thing to do would be to move on. It’s their loss, not yours.

  43. Dave
    Dave says:

    Lots of good advice about asking for info on how the process will proceed (“When should I expect to hear your decision?”, etc) and I practice this myself. However, despite this, I’ve run into places that apparently just lie to me and then don’t have the courage or morals to actually speak the truth. If you hear “we’ll make our decision on Friday” and you haven’t heard by Monday or Tuesday, then it is time for some followup. When they don’t bother to return your calls or emails, that is a good sign that you didn’t make the cut. What’s worse though is the “you are great and we’ll be making you an offer” story, followed by nothing – no calls, no mail, nobody will return your calls. I’ve had this happen a few times and never gotten a good answer as to what happened. I always continue my search until I have an acceptable offer in hand. The very worst that ever happened to me was a verbal offer that evaporated – “we’re interested, how much money do you want? That’s acceptable, expect an offer letter from us” – then nothing. I had some highly-placed friends that worked at that company and even they couldn’t find out what was going on (very large company though – 40k+ employees, revenue in the billions – understandable that they didn’t have a large view from even their position)

    The bottom line is that rude treatment of applicants is noticed and talked about by me and my peers, and it does affect the reputation of the company. That very large company I mentioned? I know many people who used to work there, none are there still, and none will consider going back.

    • Jay Gaultieri
      Jay Gaultieri says:

      “I had some highly-placed friends that worked at that company and even they couldn’t find out what was going on (very large company though – 40k+ employees, revenue in the billions – understandable that they didn’t have a large view from even their position).”

      I received calls from three recruiters from three firms for a position with the back office of a very large DJIA investment firm. There is a very narrow band of potential candidates for this job and they needed somebody enough to pay recruiters search online for posted resumes. One recruiter got me an in-person interview after a half hour phone interview . I showed up navy blue suit pressed, tie straightened, shoes shined, and hair combed with extra copies of my resume.  Two “team leaders”  showed up in casual dress and asked for copies of my resume, scanning it as if they were reading it for the first time.  My interview took about twenty minutes, during which we were thrown out of three conference rooms for scheduled meetings (?). The interviewers read canned questions off a printed out sheet: “Can you tell me a of time when…” “Do you like to work as part of a team?” “What is your favorite color?”. I answered questions trying to tie my job experience to the job description I was given. Halfway through they casually mentioned the position was not the advertised one and required a different set of skills. Luckily I had experience in this entirely new job, but I couldn’t go back and reanswer the previous questions.  I was told, “We’ll be making a decision” and was left to find my own way out(?).  A month later the recruiter called me to say the firm had stopped communicating with her. Months later I saw the same positions listed on another job board.

      Sometimes it’s not you, it’s the company. There’s no point in sweating it. Don’t consider yourself employed until you are there on your first day of the job.

  44. Grace
    Grace says:

    To be fair, the follow-up thank you note is a good suggestion, and I agree that it is in any candidate’s best interests to continue to explore other options while awaiting a response from a prospective employer. I am troubled, however, by your closing statement: “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.” This is patently untrue. You can be terrific at representing yourself well in interviews, and still be rejected for any number of reasons – under-qualified, over-qualified, you and the hiring manager’s personalities don’t mesh, etc. The idea that only people who interview poorly are rejected by hiring managers is preposterous, and creates unrealistic expectations in those who may read this column for advice. Statements such as this make the reader consider everything else that you say to be potentially suspect.

  45. Quasar9
    Quasar9 says:

    Hi Grace, ( from previous comment)
    that’s a bit sharp
    There are few ‘absolutes’ in real life
    whether choosing a partner, choosing a job, or what to do after an interview.
    Each case is individual:
    1) They may already have an ‘internal’ candidate, and yes are just going thru the motions trawling the market, just in case something should crop up
    2) The person at HR or conducting the interview may have a ‘preferred’ candidate, or a friend’s friend he wishes to offer the kob to
    3) They may indeed not like the look of your face, or the colour of your socks, or …
    4) They may feel ‘intimidated’ if you are in any way overqualified, overconfident, or sheer cocky
    5) YOU MAY NOT FIT THE BILL (even though you must have on paper, to make it to interview)
    6) YOU MAY NOT BE UP TO SCRATCH (excellent cv, but hell you can ‘download’ a prize winning cv)

    and a host of other reasons.

    One – do not be put off, demoralized or feel insulted if they do not contact you

    Two – if you are keen on the job, follow up. Some may be unable to give you a good reason why you didn’t get the job. But at least you know they’ve offered it to someone else

    Three – don’t be confrontational, that may be why they didn’t offer you the job. Unless one of the rquirements of the job is to be confrontational.

  46. Jonathan
    Jonathan says:

    Penelope once again you hit the nail on the head square on. I am fully aware of how demoralizing it is to be told “I’ll be in touch” and feel you need to empathize with the swamped interviewer (i’m on the hunt myself). Deep down you know that if 48 hours go by and they don’t call it was never meant to be.

    There are days where this is just sucks the get-up-and-go out of you and there are others where you dig deep and find the best way forwards. I can only wish all my fellow job hunters out there the best of luck and continued positive attitude.
    Thanks again for giving us that little push to keep on striving for excellence.

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