We Can Do Better

Has contacting candidates after an interview to let them know their status become as antiquated as a rotary-dial telephone?

It’s become apparent to me over the past few years that—somehow—it has become acceptable for even the best HR departments not to follow-up with candidates after an interview  to let them know their status … ever.  As a 20+ year HR professional, I’m embarrassed for our profession by this.  We can do better.


Over the years, I have found recruiters to be among the hardest-working, most dedicated employees in an organization.  They are almost invariably over-worked, underpaid, and putting in the maximum effort, day after day.  Therefore, the “not calling back” phenomenon is certainly not due to lack of effort or commitment on the recruiter’s part.  Yet and still, this isn’t acceptable, and we need to change it.

What’s Happening

Here’s the scenario that often plays out:

  1. Candidate responds to an internet posting with a resume and cover letter.
  2. If they’re lucky, candidate receives an automated response saying, “We’ll be in touch if you’re a match.” (No problem there).
  3. Candidate is called for an interview (either on-site or by telephone). Hopes rise.
  4. Interview occurs.
  5. Candidate checks their e-mail/voicemail regularly … in vain. Hopes are dashed.

Collateral Damage

Here’s the part companies don’t see (or don’t want to think about).  If they’re like most people, the candidate shares their potential good news with family and friends before and after the interview.  Prayers are said, good wishes are shared—an extended “family” is hopeful.  As the days wear on with no news, hope turns to sadness turns to anger—anger about how the candidate was treated (not even the courtesy of a call or e-mail letting them know their status), and anger at the company.  Sure, there are a million (or billion) other customers who want what they sell … but is any company doing well enough that they don’t have to worry about customer relations and good will?

This is to say nothing of the moral aspect.  The candidate might be an unemployed head-of-household with four mouths to feed … or a single parent with dreams of building a better life for themselves and their child.  No company owes the candidate a job.  Every company owes the candidate the courtesy of a prompt and respectful reply.  Many strive to be a “great place to work” – sometimes forgetting this really starts with the candidate experience, even before the employee experience.


We all know the answers:

  • setting up “auto-reply” systems to at least let applicants know that their resume was received and will be reviewed—conveying respect and appreciation for the submission
  • taking the time to make the call (however awkward) or at least send the e-mail to let the candidate know you’ve moved on to “better matches.”

It’s difficult … it’s uncomfortable … and it’s the right thing to do.  Let’s hold each other accountable for doing the right thing.  Besides, wasn’t that why we got into HR in the first place?  We can do it … we just have to care enough to try.

One response to “We Can Do Better

  1. I remember when I’d just finished university – it was so disheartening not hearing a response. I think even an automated one is better than nothing at all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s