Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Thanking Candidates for Interviewing and Providing Them with their Status is Common Courtesy

I am constantly hearing from candidates who complain that they interview at agencies or companies, are sometimes promised next steps and then hear nothing.   Often, these people get passed on, interview with hiring managers and then hear nothing.  Their calls go unreturned. Their emails go unanswered.  It is really uncaring and callous.  Yet the people who did the interviewing don't even realize that they are being irresponsible - no one told them that if they promised follow up, they have to deliver.

We all understand that people are busy, sometimes even frantic.  But, honestly, it only takes a couple of seconds to return a call or email.  Calls can be made at times of day which will pretty much guaranty getting a voice mail, which means all that has to be said is, “Thank you.  It was nice meeting you, but we have decided to go in another direction.”  Ditto emails.

I received the following email recently from a candidate.  It is typical of the frustrations of interviewing:

            …. I want to see a blog on courtesy and respect of candidates.

            Since I saw you two weeks ago after going to see [so-and-so], not a single word, after
            follow up e-mails to the hiring manager.

            Also, I meet [sic] with [company] about a Brand Director position before Memorial Day, with
            the hiring manager telling me they want someone in place by July 1st. Well, guess what,
            not a single response.

            I think there needs to be a "cut-off" or some indication based on who you've met with. For example, 
            if it is only HR,   no response necessary, but if you've met with a hiring manager
            or even worse, the extended team, I would think courtesy dictates some type of update
            after 2 weeks time.

            Thank you for letting me rant!!

In companies where there is a human resources department, it should be their responsibility to track candidates, keep them informed of their progress and, ultimately, to let them know where they stand and what their status is.  Most of the good HR departments do this automatically and intuitively.  But many do not.  It is very easy for a candidate to get lost in the cracks.  It should be the policy of every company to insure that a candidate who has interviewed is properly thanked for their time. I have previously written about how important feedback is.  But even recruiters often aren't given the status of their candidates. (I have been called a pain in the you know where for my persistence and have even lost one or two clients because of it).  I have also written that companies should write thank you notes; this was the subject of one of my Ad Age columns in 2010.
In this day and age, even an HR intern can make thanking candidates and letting them know their status as part of his or her responsibilities.  It will go a long way towards doing great public relations for a company.

Getting emails like the one quoted above, are just plain unnecessary and can easily be avoided.


  1. This has long been a complaint of mine and sadly it is the norm and not he exception. I recently met with an HR person and head of the department at a major agency for a senior spot (CD). Called back to meet three more key staff. All great meetings, after which I performed all appropriate "thank you and follow ups". Can't get a response from any of them.

  2. This kind of behavior is indicative of the culture of the organization and I believe, the character of the individual. What goes around comes around, alas, these types are not worth the memory space!

  3. I could not agree with you more! Unfortunatley, it seems as though us HR / recruiting folks are quick to forget what its like to be on the other side of the desk! I like to call this "candidate karma". Its important to keep in mind the basic principle; treat others the way YOU yourself would like to be treated. Its sad that this is more the norm in today's hiring culture...I find it rude and there is no excuse for it. Everyone deserves the simple acknowledgement of a response.....In today's society, every little bit counts! Be kind, PASS IT ON! Thanks Paul, love the blogs - keep up the great work!

  4. One of the problems is that each person you meet believes it is someone else's job to keep you informed. That's why I believe agencies should have policies and they should be written in the employee handbook.

    I don't accept that this behavior is indicative of a company's culture. It happens at very nice and otherwise caring companies. It is just that people are busy, forget to do the right thing and certainly don't remember what it was like when they were looking (the human mind has no memory of pain).


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