Human Resources News & Insights

Rejected candidates fight back against ‘rude’ interviewers

It’s one of candidates’ biggest pet peeves: companies that never call after an interview. Now candidates are fighting back.

Savvy HR pros do their best to notify candidates when they didn’t get the job, but the step sometimes falls through the cracks.

Candidates who’ve been left hanging have a new way to tell those HR and hiring managers how they really feel — a Web site called Users enter an e-mail address and the site sends an anonymous form letter calling the manager out on his or her treatment of job candidates.

“A quick e-mail or form letter letting the candidate know he or she is no longer under consideration — that’s all it takes,” the letter reads. “Candidates deserve that. And so does your organization, which looks unprofessional when you leave candidates hanging.”

What’s your policy on responding to rejected applicants? Let us know in the comments section below.

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  • Jeffrey

    I used to send KISS letters to candidates for a position when we filled it with someone else. However, now (as bad as it sounds) I just don’t have the time. I don’t have an administrative assistant and I do more than just recruiting. I am a one man HR department for a multi site company. So, if the position is staff level or above I do my best to send out letters but for position below staff I just don’t have the time.

  • Bea

    Sorry, but time restraints is not a valid excuse. People who have taken the time to interview deserve at least a form letter. Too many people hang on waiting to hear and it is very unprofessional to leave them in the dark. Get a form letter on your computer and simply fill in the blanks. It can be done in just a few minutes. Or at least let them know at the interview that you will let the successfull applicant know by a certain date and that not all people who interview will be contacted.

  • JT

    It only takes 30 seconds to send a quick e-mail thanking them for their time and advising them you have chosen another candidate or that they are not being taken to the next step in the process. When I was unemployed and searching for a job I was amazed at the lack of follow-up. I, too, am a one person HR Manager with 300 employees in 8 locations across the country. But I take a minute to send e-mails to candidates who do not get the job. I usually receive a reply back thanking me for not leaving them hanging.

  • I agree with Bea. We are all very busy and with budget cuts reducing the admin staff we all are having to wear many hats at once. However, not notifying a candidate that the job has been filled is so very inconsiderate. People are making hard decisions right now as to how the should proceed in life. Should I move, should I get another career, etc. that without notification these decisions may be postponed too long causing severe financial hardships as well as severe personal suffering.

    Please everyone send out your rejection letters no matter how busy you are.

  • Helen

    It amazes me at how people have to be coddled and hand held. So I am supposed to send out a response saying something nice, when I really want to say, your dress was totally inappropriate, you have minimal qualifications for the job, and you are really just filling the DOL requirements for job searching. Is anybody on the side of the interviewer? Can we file a complaint about the absurdity of some of the applicants. Without going into detail, 90% do not read the requirements for the job, and come in knowing they are not qualified, and may I take the time also to comment on the poor quality of the resumes. Recently, I was trying to hire a para-legal to read and type contracts, and most of the applications I got had multiple typo’s and did not even meet the requirements requested. So these people go home and whine they did not receive a follow up letter. Gee, you think the flip flops they wore to the interview might have something to do with it? I am very frustrated, obviously. and I am not a typist…..I was trying to hire one.

  • Judi

    Helen, IMHO sounds like you (or your staff) need to do much better screening. You obviously can’t control the manner of dress someone shows up in, but you can certainly screen out the unqualified applicants with a phone call screen. And if I’m hiring someone for typing and the resume comes in with errors, it goes in the circular file and I move on to the next.

    I recently posted an ad for a receptionist on Craigslist and got over 100 apps. Maybe 30 were qualified (and I was VERY specific in the ad). That’s the economic time right now -everyone is trying for anything. I don’t waste my time interviewing unless I have narrowed the qualifications of the applicant before they walk in the door.

    People who take the time to interview deserve our time to shoot them a message regarding results. This is not hand-holding or coddling – It’s common courtesty. Especially now with the ease of email.

  • CL


    I am on your side. It is amazing to see how people dress for an interview and also amazing how many are actually late. I too was recently looking for a Legal Secretary to work part-time. Many applicants will tell you they can do the job, however, once you hire them, you soon find they cannot. It is a very hard position to fill. However, if you find someone who represents themself as someone who can do the job, bring them in for the interview and afterwards ask if they mind taking a test. I created sample dictation, filing, word editing, spreadsheet, creating computer files, moving computer files from one location to another, etc and having them save as test docs. Works wonderful because you can weed out the ones that say they can do certain things on the resume, and actually cannot.

  • Denise

    Helen – I am not an “HR professional” yet am involved in our hiring processes. Why on earth are you bringing in folks for an interview when their resumes don’t demonstrate they have the skills and experience you seek?

  • Melinda

    I am in vocational rehabilitation. We work with people who have disabilities and other barriers to employment. One of my biggest pet peeves are job seekers whose attitude is, “well, I turned in the application, that’s my part.” Or, “they interviewed me, I’m waiting for their call.” I have been hiring for decades and my advice to all job-seekers is for them to take responsibility for their own success. If the employer says they’ll have a decision by Friday and they don’t call you, CALL THEM. Sometimes I purposefully DON’T call interviewed candidates back because I want to see if they have the follow-up and advocacy skills that are critical for my staff to have.

    Our general policy is that if you interviewed, you get a “thanks, but no thanks letter”. However, if I didn’t interview you, you don’t get the letter or e-mail. If the job-seeker didn’t care enough about the position to follow-up with me, then they aren’t right for my company. Some people argue that this places more stress on the company by having to answer ALL those calls, but in reality, few job seekers call and follow-up. Until I start spending more time on the phone following up with unsuccessful candidates than a letter would take, I’ll vett my potential candidates with seeing if they care enough to make contact.

  • Lisa

    It is incredibly easy to send a letter. Log the applicants’ info in a spreadsheet as the applications/resumes come in. Setup a mail merge template. Then presto…you’re done. Just change the name of the position and the date. We have sent thousands of these and takes less than ten minutes to set up. We usually have the receptionist stuff the envelopes.

    If it were a second interview…we always make a phone call then follow up with a letter. The candidates appreciate talking one-on-one with you even if you are telling them they didn’t get the job.

    Sometimes a rejected candidate needs an ear to hear how hard it’s been for them. We generally will listen to them and suggest other resources/avenues. If they seem like they would harm themselves or others, we would contact the authorities, but so far, it hasn’t come to that.

  • CJ

    I see both sides on this one. It doesn’t take that long to send a letter but in this economy with so many people being without a job, you can get bombarded with applicants. I had over 200 once and then our company decided not to fill the position. It would be very time consuming to send something to all 200 people; even if it were set up as a template.
    And Lisa, although I commend you on taking that much time with applicants, I would be worried that lending an ear to them is not healthy for the person. They may take that as you care about them and that maybe if they talk long enough you will change your mind. Contacting authorities can be risky too because you don’t know the person and your actions can be misunderstood. The next thing you know some is filing a lawsuit because you created emotional stress for them and say that you caused embarrassment to them. You have no idea if a person is going to create harm to themselves or others and I think that is a bold move. But, just my opinion.

  • Rachel

    I tell each applicant at the interview when we expect to have a decision. I also inform them that we only contact the successful candidate. I explain that we are interviewing several applicants and due to company policy we only contact the successful candidate. (This has kept me from having to give reasons why they were not selected……My answer is we hired the most qualified candidate)

  • Chris Davis

    We practically never comment on the “status” of a resume that is submitted. In thie economy we get a boatload of resumes for every position posted and over 95% are unqualified. Regarding people we interview: Before we even start the Q & A I tell them that if there is continued interest beyond this interview they will be contacted within 2 business days. If they do not hear anything from us than they know they are no longer under consideration for that specific position. Many thank me that they will know something (one way or another) in such a short period of time. very few call back to see the status of their interview.

  • Hi Chris. You are right about the amount of resumes that are received. Your two day rule is golden for entry level positions but may be too short for managerial positions.

  • Pat

    I’m with Bea, JT & Kevin. I, too, am a one person HR dept, unlike JT, I’ve less than 100 employees & only one location. However times can still get busy & hectic, but I still make it a point to take the few seconds to either send a quick email or letter out to the candidate. Regardless of how these candidates may have fared on their interview (inappropriate attire, not meeting some of the qualifications, etc.), WE are the professionals and as such should extend that courtesy.

    Again, as with JT, when I was job searching, I was amazed as well as disheartened at the inconsideration displayed by some of this interviewers, HR managers or not.

    Seems like Helen & CL base the necessity on either how the candidates are dressed, whether they’re on time or quality of their resume.

    Helen, don’t know your recruiting method(s). But it sounds as if you had or get alot of office traffic. I place ads in the paper (print) and online. Weed through resumes received, select & contact those whose qualifications are a fit or close to it. The candidate is then contacted to fill out an application and be interviewed. A lot less letters to send out.

  • Chris Davis

    Good point. If we have just jumped into interviewing for a position we tell them that. The majority of the time if we have a candidate we really like we will stick contact them within 2 days to let them know that we are definitely interested in continuing the diaglog about this position.

  • Chris Davis

    Sorry. We will STILL contact them not “stick contact” them (they don’t like that). I am another person in need of a typist.

  • Hollywood HR

    While I can see Helen’s point, I have to agree with the majority of the posters: Sending even a form “thanks but not thanks” letter does not take up enough time to warrant leaving a candidate hanging. If the applicants have taken the time to make themselves available for an interview, they deserve a response once the decision has been made. One of the reasons I often use “blind ads” is to avoid having to respond to every APPLICANT – I get an incredible number of totally unqualified applicants for every position I post (over 400 for my last entry level position), so I certainly don’t have time to answer each and every one of those. But once it moves to the interview phase and they become a CANDIDATE, you have put that person on notice that he or she is being considered and they do, at that point, deserve a courtesy call, email or letter. Incidentally, I often include a “test” in the initial application process; something as simple as, “subject line must contain ABC22.” If they can’t follow that simple direction, I don’t even look at their resume. It’s a fast way to see which applicants (1) read the ad and (2) can follow directions.

  • CL

    I guess if less time was spent blogging then their would be more time to send out letters. We do follow up with our applicants and receive a lot of office traffic applicants as well, however we don’t judge them on their dress, punctuality or resume, we actually test them. I am just a firm believer that you should dress for the job in which you apply.

  • Sunshine

    I only send out letters to those that were interviewed. If I handle the interview process, I call them. I do not send out letters to those that submit a resume but are not called/interviewed.

  • KR

    I am stunned and disappointed that our profession has reached this point.

    Not only do we make it difficult for candidates to apply by establishing software systems that only software designers with PHD’s can understand. We then neglect to have the common curtosy to respond back to candidates.

    Neglecting to respond sends a negative message about your company and about our profession. I encourage us all to do better.

  • Lauren

    Generally, only a small number of the most qualified applicants are interviewed and consequently I don’t think it’s too much to ask (or considered hand holding for that matter) to send a brief email, form letter, phone call, letting the applicant know the position has been filled. Some applicants are looking for feedback on how their interview could have been better and how they might improve in their next interview. You’re not required to provide this info of course, but it’s the least we/you can do to notify them the position was filled. You may be significantly cutting your applicant pool the next time around if your policy is to leave qualified applicants in limbo; it’s extremely unprofessional.

  • mike R

    Time is a real consideration in a 1 person HR department. Especially when screening, interviewing, testing and selection are only part of the job. I generally tell those I interview that we will be making a selection by this date. If you are selected, you will be notified. I keep that commitment.

    I don’t consider it unprofessional to fail to live up to other’s unrealistic expectations. Professionalism is about trust and making and keeping commitments.

    Personally, when I was searching for employment, I would have liked to have been contacted after the interview, but in 50 years, I was contacted only by one large, huge national organization that had a computer generated form letter sent automatically.

  • Patricia

    If someone is asked to take their time and come in and interview, they deserve a letter/email/call to tell them another candidate was chosen.

    I set up auto-responses on job boards to notify candidates their resume was received and we will be contacting candidates we feel are most qualified over the next few weeks. At least that way they know their resume didn’t go into a black hole. It is a simple auto response but it is something. Applicants do not get rejection letters; only candidates.

    If someone went through a lengthy pre-screening phone interview, I have sent letters. I have sent letters when meeting with candidates presented by an agency. If they can take the time then I can take the time. Usually I interview under 10 people face to face so it is not a burden to do a simple form letter.

    Candidates who interviewed should follow up with a thank you for your time letter or email. I almost never see that anymore. Those candidates who don’t send a thank you should not be crying in their beer if the employer doesn’t send them a rejection letter. There is an obligation on both sides.

    Lastly if a candidate is not interested or took a different job, they should remove themselves from the running instead of disappearing off the planet and not returning phone calls. I cannot tell you how often people seem to disappear after a couple of interviews and being selected or chosen as one of the two remaining candidates. If you don’t want the job…candidates need to tell the employer so they aren’t in limbo.

    Bad manners and inconsiderate behavior are clearly seen on both sides of the desk. Although I send all candidates letters, I feel a candidate should receive as much consideration as they gave to the interviewer. If they don’t send a thank you message, I believe they do not deserve a rejection response. There should be proper consideration by the candidate and interviewer because everyone’s time is valuable.

  • RandiG

    I send an e-mail to every candidate I interview — if they have taken the time to come see us, then I can take a few seconds to let them know the outcome. I tell all candidates at the interview that I will let them know one way or the other. That seems to be a minimum level of professionalism and courtesy. I have had numerous rejected applicants thank me for the wording of the notification — I have crafted a reject letter that is both gentle and encouraging, despite being only three sentences long.

    I do not, however, respond to everyone who sends a resume; that would be time-prohibitive when I gets hundreds of resumes for one job opening.

    I make every effort to screen carefully and do not interview any candidate whose resume does not meet minimum standards. Typos, lack of relevant experience, a barely lliterate cover letter — those are red flags that this is not a viable candidate. Helen, it sure sounds like you need a better screening process before you begin interviewing.

  • mike R

    I apologize, I didn’t notice that this was about those who only interview. In that case, I would expect that the company would require that person to respond as part of their professional branding and selection esprit de corps.

    Speaking for the HR Generalists out there who assume the duties of Interview, screener, investigator, safety manager, disciplinarian, EAP, policy writer, benefits manager, payroll entry person, trainer, file custodian and manager, mediator, orientation manager, reference and criminal background checker, drug/alcohol program administrator, United Way Campaign manager, EEO1 and Affirmative Action Officer, Ethics Compliance Officer, management developer, etc. and do not have the resources to send letters to every interviewee and accomplish all the other tasks assigned; I say, it must be nice if you find the time (even 30 seconds) to send emails, make calls, and send letters to candidates not hired and then come on such a blog and blast anyone who doesn’t have the resources you have. You probably think it is because you have superior time management skills, but I would bet that really isn’t the case. As a time mangement practice of my own, I tell interviewee’s what to expect concerning notification and I do what I say. By doing such, I make the most of my resources to ensure a safe, productive, and effective work environment for my employees.

  • Kevin R

    I think this is just another bogus website designed to stir up crap. And it appears to be working. Just look at the number of responses.

    I agree with most of the postings here, it is a common courtesy and you should send a letter or notify them somehow even if it is during the interview. Not because the candidate is entitled to it, but because it’s the professional thing to do.

    Regarding this particular article though let me ask this: If you are one of the people who send letters to your candidates rejecting them do you think that is going to stop them from submitting something to this website? I don’t think so. They can still send this letter for any reason. You have to think maybe they are doing it because they have been interviewing for a year and they still haven’t found a job. It’s just an outlet to vent their frustrations.

    That’s not to say that some of them don’t have a real complaint, I’m just saying I don’t think the majority of them will be valid.

    Has anyone been to the website yet? There are some “rules” for the candidates before they are “supposed” to send this anonymous letter. It actually says that the candidates are supposed to have made an attempt to follow-up about the position. IF they still do not receive anything, then send the anonymous letter. The website group is not going to follow-up and make sure the disgruntled candidate meets all of the criteria to send the form letter. It’s an honor system. So again I ask, what makes you think that all of these candidates are going to follow the rules of the website? The website also tells candidates to send a Thank you note immediately. How many thank you notes have you received lately? 1 for every 15, 20, 30 interviews?

    Why has no one mentioned the lack of appreciation for our time spent looking through resumes and interviewing? I’m just kidding…let’s not go there.

    I just think it’s bogus.

  • Cl

    Kevin r.

    I am glad there are people like who who just says it like it is.
    I am with you on your comment.

  • Hi Kevin R and Mike R. I know you might blast this but I will try anyway. Open dialogue between HR professionals by exchanging opinions and ideas does not make it crap and every HR person I have ever meet in 25+ years have all been generalist with tight schedules and never enough time to do everything that is expected. That is just the nature of the beast. Civility between HR professionals and between you and your interviewees during and after the interview should be a must. Some things just have to wait if the only recourse is to be short, rude or just indifferent to others.

    Kevin R, your statement that the majority of them would not be valid is a very good point but how many very good candidates are represented by the minority. Ask your sales department why they respond to negative letters. It is because not every one writes so every letter represents many people. They just ruin the good name of your company to all of their associates and before you know it your company has a bad rap. Deserving it or not.

    Try to tone down the rhetoric next time.

  • Charlie


    I must be part of the 10% looking for a job with a good fit. I currently am a victim of our economy and have been reviewing postings and sending out resumes.

    The fact that you said most of the candidates are unqualified seems a bit harsh. The criteria that most postings require is so streamlined that it makes me wonder why the company didn’t try harder to keep the employee they had in the first place.

    My other concern is the “good match” factor. I would like to think this is a very important issue to consider. If you believe the individual is a good match for the company (and the position); minor tasks can be taught. If it is determined at the interview that excessive training would be needed, then the applicant should never have been called in to begin with.

    I attended an interview where my qualifications were above the required in most areas but lacked the specific software experience they recommended. This issue was addressed in my application. I was called in anyway and believed that this was not an important factor. Half-way thru the interview the subject was addressed and I was humiliated by the interviewer based on this assumption. So you can see, calling an individual in that does not have your specific requirements says YOU did not read the application to begin with. To finish the story, I politely excused myself and ended the interview. This company was not a good match. I did not follow up with a thank you note!

  • I can see this from both sides. I interviewed with five directors in the HR department at the University of Notre Dame, spending the majority of the afternoon there. I walked away feeling very confident that the interviews went extrememly well, and that I would be called back either for a second interview or offered the position. I sent my Thank You letter and addressed a copy to each person I spoke with. As weeks went by, no phone call, no letter. I finally phoned the initial Director who first contacted me for the interview and was told they’d decided to make the full time position I’d interview for to a part time position, and if I was interested, I’d have have to reapply after it ran its course on the internal job board.

    I couldn’t make sense out of why five Directors, not one, or, a member of their staff, could have sent out a letter or an email to me to let me know of this decision. But, Notre Dame has the reputation of not following up with candidates they are not interested in.

    I have a very good friend who referred me to an open position with her company. I didn’t believe I had all the qualifications of the position, but the recruiter called and scheduled an interview with me anyway. With this, I thought there must be something in my resume that made her think I met, at least, the minimum qualifications. During the course of the interview she made it a point to ask me questions that were obvious just by reading my resume that I was skilled in that particular areas. I felt so humiliated, I immediately stopped the interview, said the position was not what I was looking for, thanked her for her time, and left.

    With these types of interviewing experience under my belt, I always put myself in the candidate’s shoes and only schedule interviews with those that not only me, but the hiring manager feels meets the minimum qualifications of the position, and I follow up with all candidates who were interviewed.

  • Melissa

    While it is frustrating if I don’t receive any kind of notice after an interview, I also realize that I can’t just sit and wait by the phone or computer hoping to get a response. I continue to look for work, assuming I don’t have the position in which I had an interview for. That way if I haven’t heard from someone in 2 weeks or so, I have other opportunities waiting. It’s not up to the company to inform me if I have the job, it’s up to me. If I want a job I have to continue to look for one until I find one that is a good fit.

  • Melissa

    In my previous posting I stated it’s not up to the company to inform me if I have the job. I should have stated it’s not up to the company to inform me that I DON’T have the job.

  • Steve

    I’m an experienced IT Manager that was edged out when the company was bought. You people should spend some time on my side of the fence before you go whining about workload.

    I was never late for an interview, always wore a clean pressed suit, and have a professional resume. I always came prepared and even had laptop in hand. I always made certain that I knew and met the qualifications as well as the history of the company I was interviewing with.

    You folks have the edge over those of us that are looking. I was shocked how dominating, dumb and uncaring some of the interviewers are especially when it comes to IT. I spent 6 to 8 hours a day on job boards only to find rude recruiters or HR folks that didn’t know what half the qualifications even meant. I was contacted by close to 50% when I was not selected over a one year period. The rest just left you hanging.

    When I need to hire someone I want all the resumes. I don’t want HR to screen them because they don’t know what I’m looking for. I had over 350 resumes for one opening scattered across my living room floor looking for that one person. Once I found several that I thought sounded good I sent them to HR to schedule interviews. Afterwards I followed up with HR and made certain that the un-chosen were contacted.

  • mike R

    To Steve:

    You state that you have been on both sides of the fence- looking for work and have hired others. On the looking for work side, it is good that you showed up on time, wore clean clothes, and did a little research to show interest. It was your job to “sell” your abilities and skills and show how you would benefit the company you were interviewing for. I can tell you, I have seen many who do ALL the right things, but have this HUGE chip on their shoulder that convinces me they think the world owes them a living. Part of my job is to find a fit between the applicant and the work force and I will not subject our current employees to someone who will sew discontent but dresses nicely.

    On the other side, you say you don’t give the criteria to HR and don’t let HR screen applicants to your criteria. You also go on to say that you make sure that HR contacts all the “un-chosen.” Sounds to me like you have too much time on your hands. If you can’t articulate the criteria for a job so HR understands and can screen, then you may be using your own biases to discriminate against candidates. And all this time you spent looking at the 350 resumes and following up on HR contacting unchosen ones, was time away from your IT duties.

    Oh, by the way, I wouldn’t stress this example in any of your interviews as evidence of your IT skills.

  • RJ


    I have to admit you sound very disgruntled, and you are obviously using your bad interviewing experience with other HR professionals to hold a grudge against your current company’s HR dept. Whenever I have a job opening to recruit for and I feel I don’t know enough about the position, I ALWAYS meet with the reporting manager to get any and all details that are in the job description and, I always ask that manager what his/her description of the “ideal” employee for that position beyond the required skills, knowledge and qualifications, so that I can look for personality traits to determine how well they may fit in that particular department.

    You stated you bypass HR and conduct the screening and interviewing process singlehandedly. If a manager in my organization treated my HR dept with such professional disrespect, they would certainly send out their own reject letters, with their name on it, not HR’s. If you treated your HR dept as part of your team, and kept a dialog of open and clear communication going, your HR team member would be able to do what they’re experienced in doing, and that’s assisting you by screening those 350 applications to present you with just the qualified ones that meet the criteria you set for the position.

    I have to agree with Mike. Sorting through all those applications shows you have way too much time on your hands. Maybe you should forego filling your open position and instead use that time to do the job yourself and save your company the cost of hiring an additional employee.

  • Shelley

    We have an extremely busy HR dept (of 2) with 1200 employees, constant acquisitions, and regular RIFs. Even with all this going on, as primary recruiter, I personally review all resumes, send a “no thank you” email to all candidates that do not make the cut and a “thanks but no thanks” email to all who interview but are not selected. The “rejection letters” are a cut and paste and personalized by adding their name, but candidates do not know this, they are just so appreciative to have received a response. I figure it is the least I can do to respond to their submission and leave them feeling positive about our company/HR department. Although candidates are plentiful right now, this may not be the case in the future and I want to be remembered in a positive light.

    No one can account for those that do not dress appropriately for an interview, show up late/or not at all, or do not possess the qualifications they profess to have. Simple phone screening of likely candidates should weed out most of the “bad apples”. Do not punish all candidates for the poor skills of some.

  • Patricia

    There is a difference between what HR is screening and interviewing for and what you would be screening and interviewing for. HR can look for the years of experience and all the same buzz words you can look for on a resume. If you tell the HR person that the candidate needs 5 years of working with Java and J2EE technologies including servlets, JSPs, and EJBs, they can screen for that even if they don’t know what it means.

    The HR person can also screen for some of the soft skills such as why they left or are leaving their current job, how they handle conflict, deadlines, prioritization and so forth. They can check salary requirements, certifications, education and eliminate those who won’t fit. If your have a position paying $40,000, you don’t need to look at a resume of someone who wants $100,000.

    Technical interviewing is a speciality that most HR professionals don’t do. There is good money in technical recruiting and interviewing because it is a specialty. You are correct that you need to be doing that part of the interviewing. But you don’t need to be the person to screen every resume. If someone doesn’t have the proper years of experience or familiarity with the technology or required certifications, why should you ever need to see their resume? It is not a good use of your time. If you hire someone once every few years, then it may not matter as much but you are not using time effectively.

    Also, if you cannot articulate your basic hiring requirements and needs to HR, how are you going to defend against a discrimination claim? If you don’t have a standard list of requirements against which you evaluate the resumes, can you prove you didn’t exclude all women or all Asians, etc…?

    Recruiting for IT is tough but an experienced recruiter should be able to take a good job description and job ad along with some explaination from you and screen resumes. Maybe they give you a stack of 30 to review but that is far better than the 350 you have been looking through previously.

  • Toni

    I believe if a candidate takes the time out of their schedule to come in to meet with us as the employer we SHOULD take the time to send a simple form letter informing them that they are no longer being considered for employment. This is something that can be added to your ATS system.

    If you were to interview with a company, wouldn’t you want to know if you were no longer being considered? …..I think it just gives the candidate some closure.

  • HF

    I live, work, and recruit in a small town.

    I fill all of our manufacturing positions. Yes, HR makes the hiring decision. I have been sworn at, hit on, had “good on paper” interviewees show up drunk or otherwise impaired, had my voicemail filled by people who can’t take “no” for an answer, had applicants go “above my head” when they didn’t like my answer. I have been interupted at dinner with my husband. I have organized a three wave staff reduction of 30% this year. I do my best, but I’m tired.

    The last thing I need is another venue for applicants to harass me.

  • Lucy

    I’ve been in HR for 19 years, and I love my job. Couldn’t imagine doing anything else and wouldn’t want to. Because I love what I do, I give it my all and do my best. I remain professional, courteous and friendly. I don’t always get that in return and am often greeted by candidates who are late, sloppy, intoxicated and/or grossly under qualified, yet they have still come to the conclusion that they’re entitled. And who was it who asked how many thank you notes you’ve received? I can count ONE in the last 3 years. I make the time to send emails or letters to those who didn’t make the cut because I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be on the other side. I don’t like to be kept waiting and wondering either. It’s just common courtesy and it’s not brain surgery. It takes just a few moments to fire off an email or complete a form letter.

  • mike R


    I agree, in the most perfect world I would send an email or letter to interviewee’s that were not selected. And yes, it only takes a few minutes to get the address of the interviewee, compose a note, and fire it off to them. I don’t know about you, though, but interviewing and selection are just a part of my job in HR. I am responsible for the safety investigations, grievance investigations, training, policy and procedures, EAP and guidance to supervisors, disciplines and terminations. I get to check things like this blog a couple of times a day when I need to take a break. When I have opennings, I have a rush of applicants and it is not uncommon to fill an entire week with interviews. So those few minutes for 50 interviews turns into a few hours that I don’t have. Once the selections are made, I begin the back ground checks, drug tests, and preparing orientation materials. And you know, that when I do send out emails or a letter, a portion will then call to find out more information and want to get me to reconsider. So there is even more time I will spend that I don’t have. I am an exempt, salaried person working in the nonprofit social services sector. I need to be real with myself to get the critical stuff done in a day or a week.

    Toni: You make a big point about candidates taking time out from their schedules. It was then when I realized that some here may be interviewing upper level management and IT positions and may be recruiting from other agencies. So I guess to persuade them to leave their current job to work for you, it is important to follow thru, especially if you plan to try again to get them to come to your agency later. I would imagine that for a postion you might interview 6 candidates? Most of my applicants are unemployed and don’t really have any schedules to speak of to take out from. They are anxious to get a job. They call every day after submitting an application to inquire as to the status (even when posted not to call). Most of my jobs are entry level and part time and I may interview 50 candidates in a week. It’s a cattle call. I agree, that if I had the time, I would send the notes. I also agree that there are situations where it is imperative to make the time (filling key positions).

  • Talia

    Dear (Insert Name),

    Thank your for applying for the (Insert Job Title) position at our company. At this time we would like to inform you that we have selected another candidate for this position.

    Again, thank you for your time. Best of luck on your job search.

    Some Guy

    The above note (or one like it) saved to your desktop and sent out only to candidates who interview… This is too much work? Maybe you should find a new profession. Part of working in HR/Recruiting is having a professional and courteous interface with your customers—your employees and prospective employees. If you can’t take ten minutes to insert a few names and send a few emails you shouldn’t be the person prospective employees come in contact with for your company. God help your company if you work in a retail field–I can only imagine how many bank customers my bank would have lost if we never bothered with a brief follow up email to the people who actually took the time out to come interview with us (no matter how badly they were dressed. Unprofessional dress or a bad interview does not mean its okay to match unprofessionalism).

    If you find you are interviewing a huge number of applicants to the point where sending courteous emails takes a huge deal of your time, you probably need to interview less and screen more.

    I think this email thing is great. Just because you are in a hiring power position doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a reminder of your ‘professional rudeness.’

  • mike R


    It is nice that you have the clerking and secretarial skills to use your desktop effectively and to send out friendly notices to unselected candidates. It is also nice that you have the time to do that.

    You make the blanket suggestion that if a person doesn’t do these nice little things or interviews too many people, that they should do more screening (interviewing is part of the screening process) and maybe should look at another profession.

    There are many types of HR professionals (Generalists, Compensation and Benefits, Selection and Recruiting, Training and Development, etc.) and many varied sets of skills and duties. I didn’t see you even taking into consideration the ROI (Return on investment) for completing these notes for your organization or the RISK ASSESSMENT for possible future litigation by a disgruntled applicant. If you are not in charge of HR at your place of employment, you might sit down with the person who is in charge and discuss these aspects. Perhaps there are things you could be doing that would be considered a higher priority. Be careful, though, with this economy, if it turns out that the company could save money by eliminating your job or combining it with another, you don’t want to be seen doing “busy work,” but making a significant contribution to the organization and the bottom line.

    If the world were perfect and I had all the resources I needed, I would certainly apply your suggestion. The world is NOT perfect and I have limited resources. Sending a notice to interviewees informing them they were not selected takes a low priority to other HR activities, and I find that informing them at the time of interview that they would be contacted by a certain date if selected, meets the needs of the applicant and the organization.

    And your example for retail about customers leaving if they don’t get an email telling them they were not selected….come on….I can imagine that this would have no significant impact on customers. Sure you may lose some customers because of an emotional response (then be glad you didn’t hire them) and you can be assured if not getting an email would upset them to leave, what else might upset them? No toilet paper in the bathroom, floors not swept, security guard did not greet them with a smile, etc. i would expect that this would be only a small percentage of those you interview. But to put your example into perspective, assume the worst case scenario, if every person you interviewed and did not hire went to do business with a competitor, how many customers are you talking about leaving in a year? What is that compared to your customer base?

  • Been there

    Mike R-well put. Having been in the position of looking for a job before, I did not expect to get a letter from every single place I applied. It was nice, but it is also depressing getting rejection letter after rejection letter. That alone could send someone over the edge. It is not a perfect world but I would expect that most people in this position, wished they had the time. And like it or not, time is an issue as companies downsize and responsibilities get put on others desk.

  • Chris Davis

    Really glad I have a job, comfortable with how we respond to those we interview…ready to drop the stick becasue this horse is dead….Just found out how to stop getting the resposnse to this thread…my productivity will soar and blood pressure will settle down!!!

    Have a good weekend…

  • RandiG

    Chris, thanks for the smile!

  • Maria

    Do unto others!!….. been on both sides of the coin…I ALWAYS find the time to send a letter letting the candidate know that the job has been filled and, as a professional, I certainly appreciate the professional courtesy of a rejection letter, no matter how depressing one can be.

  • RJ

    THE END!

  • Pam

    No good deed goes unpunished…..

    It is a point of professionalism in my department that all candidates receive notification if they are not selected for a job for which they applied.

    A personalized letter goes to those who were interviewed in person. An e-mail goes out to everyone else who applied but was not selected for interview.

    You would NOT BELIEVE the rude, obnoxious responses that come back to us as a result of not being selected for interview. Just the other day, I had to waste an hour of my time because some moron threatened a lawsuit because they were not selected for an interview! (the candidate did not even bother to send a resume, and only completed a fraction of the application — for a temporary, not even permanent position!)

    IMHO, you are darned if you do, and darned if you don’t. I still keep sending them, but sometimes I wonder why I bother. Of course, it certainly enlightens me as to why some of these people are still unemployed!

  • Lisa

    Pam ur an idiot, “these people” as you put lol makes it clear you should not be in human resources.

  • Pam

    Lisa —

    Obviously, you must be one of the unemployed folks who threatens a lawsuit when you don’t get selected for a job, most likely because of your inability to spell “you are”. LOL!

  • Lisa

    Okay, going to see if this one posts lol, ur is shortened version many young people use online, like duh hello. Maybe Pam is an old crabby lady, opps then never mind.

  • Steve

    First of all I never went into an interview with a chip on my shoulder! I was always appreciative of the opportunity. I have two issues with some of the interviewing process. First of all I’m not a young man and I’ve been in IT since 1982 with 15 years as an IT Manager. The second issue is my experience. In almost every situation I was told I was over experienced coming from a large company with the responsibilities of some 6000 users. I have a broad knowledge of the IT systems and especially management and I have been very successful in building a team and not a department.
    I finally found a position as an IT manager with a smaller company with some 200 users. A few years late an opportunity came up to move to a higher paying position with larger company and I was told I didn’t have the experience working with larger organizations.
    If I didn’t fit the criteria then why call me in for an interview?
    When I created a new position I gave HR all the criteria that I needed and when they give me 10 resumes out of 350 then something is wrong. I asked for all the resumes and found a lot they missed and no I don’t have too much time on my hands. It took a weekend to look at and pick ones that I was interested in. I owe it to my team and my company to pick the best fit.
    I always interviewed the candidate and if I thought they might fit I showed them around and introduced them to my team. I left the room and let them talk to the team. After 20 minutes or so I came back and escorted them out then let the team vote. It is shocking what they information my team got because the candidate felt the interview was over.
    I feel that my team has to work with them. They have to help train them and I feel they should be involved in the decision. It has worked successfully for 18 years now.

  • winkie66

    If an applicant is interviewed and does follow up including the thank you letter or note to the interviewers I find it incredibly insulting for the HR department to not let the interviewee know. I do not care if it is difficult times and you are wearing ‘many hats’ it is common courtesy. You expect the person being interviewed to show up on time be qualified and as well send a thank you letter and follow up with you. If the interviewee does not do these things it is frowned upon and if it was between two candidates and one sent the thank you note and the other did not guess who gets the job. Do you not think that people who interview with you are potential customers/clients of your business or may know people who are. If your HR department is rude and leaves an interviewee hanging it will leave a bad taste in their mouth. When businesses need customers to survive and you are being rude to potential customers it will at some point come back on you. They may end up working with a competetor or a company that may use your business services and word of mouth travels. If you are rude to enough people sooner rather than later it will affect your companies bottom line and the HR person that can’t be bothered to send a ‘no thank you letter’ may find themselves in another line called the unemplyment line.

  • Carrie H

    I understand that employers might not always be able to send out form letter to rejected applicants. During my job search after college, I probably recieved such courtesy letters around 10% of the time. That was frustrating, but I never took it personally.

    What does offend me is a lack of screening process to begin with. If an HR rep has my resume in front of them, they can clearly see my qualification or lack thereof. Why on earth did you call me in if you didn’t like my qualifications??!

    I never responded to ads I was not qualified for. There were several times in which my interviewer had clearly not even glanced at my resume prior to the interview. Other times they’d never even heard of my software proficiencies.

    There was prevalence of cockiness and lack of professionalism in so many of my interviews. In one, I was asked if I ever watched The Batchelor, then was accused of lying when I said I didn’t watch the show. In another, I asked about what type of person they thought would fit best in their company culture. In answer, the interviewer brashly said, “Well look at how the this office is decorated…you can pretty much guess the type of person we need,” Then later, ” I don’t know how to answer that. Yay for professionalism in HR!

    Oh, and for the HR peeps who purposely DON’T call back applicants in wait of a thank you note…that is the most unprofessional, passive-aggressive thing I’ve ever heard. This isn’t high school, it is a work place. I frequently sent out such thank you notes in the onset of my job search, but was NEVER given the courtesy of a reply–so I quit, assuming it was an antiquated measure.

    My main requirement is not so much a form letter, but just to be treated with professionalism and common courtesy. An interview is a two-way-street, I don’t have to work for you if I find the company unsavory. I’m showed up prepared, well-dressed, and qualified–I expect the same from my interviewer.