I was asked a question yesterday which I’ve been mulling over ever since. It was a pretty straightforward question “what’s the right way to tell someone they haven’t got the job?” but the answer isn’t as straightforward as it might seem.
In the first instance, it’s important to define “the right way”. As with so many situations in life as well as in HR and employment stuff, I think that the “right” thing can depend on a number of different factors.
Let me start by saying what I believe to be the wrong way to do it and that’s to say nothing and assume that the candidate will get the message. Recruiting can be a frustrating process since so much depends on the right candidates seeing your job advert, being interested enough to apply, getting through the interview stages, etc. I know from personal experience that you can get to the point of thinking that there must be something wrong with your advert; it clearly isn’t saying the right things or appealing to the right people. So much rests on getting good quality applications in order to shortlist the very best person for the job.
As recruiters and employers, we have high expectations of candidates when they come for interview. We expect them to live up to the promises made in their CV or application. We expect them to be the whizzes at Excel they say they are and to be able to multi-task because their CV says so. Most importantly, we expect them to come for an interview and to be well prepared for that interview.
What about the candidate – are they entitled to expect anything in return? They don’t usually expect to be reimbursed for their travel expenses in getting to the interview or for the time they’ve taken out to come along. After all, presumably they do actually want the job and they shouldn’t be expecting to receive reimbursement for the privilege of being interviewed.
However, they do have a right to expect feedback. They have a right to expect that you will tell them how they’ve done and that does not mean saying nothing at all. Of course they will get the message eventually but is that fair? I know of many employers who will say something like “if you don’t hear from us, it’s a no”. To my mind, that’s just rude. You’re telling the candidate that you expect them to be bothered about you but when it comes to returning the favour, well, it’s a case of don’t call us, we’ll call you. Maybe.
In the next post I’ll cover thoughts around the right way or ways to tell someone that they’re not right for the job they’ve been interviewed for. In the meantime, I’d welcome your comments – have you had good or bad experiences of getting feedback after interviews?