I Interviewed and the Recruiter Won't Get Back to Me

Last Updated Oct 13, 2010 1:25 AM EDT

Dear Evil HR Lady,

Why has it become a practice for companies, if they do not hire you, to not even have the courtesy to tell you didn't get the job? I've gone to an interview, sometimes even TWO interviews, only to never hear from the company again. The job seeking process is hard enough and the silent rejection makes finding a job seem like a lottery.

Just so we're clear, I'm going to focus on people who have interviewed. If you've just sent in a resume, not getting a response is not unreasonable. If you submit it electronically, you should get an automated response, but other than that, don't hold your breath.

But, if you've actually had an interview (on the phone or in person) then the recruiter should get back to you to tell you that the position has been filled, or canceled, or whatever. I'm going to say it now and let the recruiters come attack me: There is no reason short of death (of the recruiter) that justifies not getting back to a candidate.

It's just plain rude and unprofessional. Plus, you may not need that particular candidate now, but you might need him later. Or, as Kerry found out, your resume may one day cross the desk of a candidate you treated poorly. So, if you can't do it for the sake of good manners, do it to save your own career one day. It doesn't need to be personal, or sweet, or go over the reasons why you didn't choose this person. It just has to let the candidate know. Here's a sample:

Dear Candidate,

Thank you for applying for [position] at [big company]. We appreciate you taking the time to meet with us. At this time, we have decided to go a different direction. We will keep your resume on file for 12 months.

Thanks again,

Recruiter.

See how easy that was? I give you permission to copy and paste that into an e-mail and hit send. It's not the nicest e-mail out there (and I'm sure that many of you do a better job), but it does not leave the candidate hanging, waiting for an answer, wondering if a phone call would be appropriate. Because, what if the candidate actually calls you and you aren't paying attention to the caller ID and you (gasp!) answer it? That will take you longer then sending out that email. I even give you permission to take 10 minutes every Monday morning to send this e-mail out to all the candidates that have been rejected.

I don't, however, give you permission to send it out to all of them at once. You must actually put the candidate's name and position into each e-mail. Sorry.

Now, for the candidates, here are the "whys" on this one.

The recruiter doesn't know what is happening. You would think the hiring process would be straight forward, but it's not. Managers change their mind on the type of person they want, departments reorganize, headcount gets transferred, etc., etc., etc. By the time it's all been sorted out, they assume you don't care any more.

The recruiter is holding onto you in case the first choice falls through. Again, the recruiter assumes that it's been too long for a follow up when things are finally straightened out.

The recruiter is actually a headhunter or a contractor who only gets paid if the position gets filled. If you aren't going to fill it, they couldn't care less about you. This is also dumb because, hello, there will be another position later.

The recruiter is too busy. This is what people will say, but this is (again) a lie. When a file is closed, either through the job being filled, re-posted, canceled or changed, it should take less than 5 minutes to send an e-mail to everyone who interviewed. I don't care what you say, you are not THAT busy.

The recruiter has other priorities. True, all the clients (either in house or contract) care about is getting their positions filled with the best people. But, it's also a recruiter's job to sell the company to the candidates. Right now there are more candidates than positions, but that will change again. If you treat your candidates poorly you will get a bad reputation.

The recruiter assumes the hiring manager will get back to you, the hiring manager assumes the recruiter will. Poor communication happens at companies. The responsibilities of all parties should be clear.

I realize none of this makes the job hunt easier, but hopefully it gives you a bit of insight. And maybe, if we're lucky, it will give a few recruiters a kick in the pants to have them start letting candidates know what is up. And if it doesn't, and you're still upset, you can have an anonymous e-mail sent to your interviewer.

Photo by macinate, Flickr cc 2.0

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