is it fair to reject these two job candidates?

A reader writes:

Our HR department is pretty lousy, despite us being a large organization and a big name in the industry. And so I ended up dealing with applicants we were interviewing for a position in my team directly. These applicants are all fresh graduates and have given me serious grief. Throughout the process, I felt I have had to run after the candidates on the shortlist to set up interviews, almost like they weren’t really interested in the position although they had applied.

So long story short, we decided on two candidates after the first round interviews to take them forward to the final interview. I got in touch with both candidates about their interest in taking the interview over the next few days since we have to book a slot with our partners, which is not an easy task. One candidate seemed very shifty about it and asked for time to think about whether he wants to take the second interview, then emailed me later asking me about salary package and roles and responsibilities before he decided whether he wanted to come in for the interview. Since we had provided a very clear job description in the advert he had applied through and we had also discussed it during he first interview, I am annoyed by the dilly-dallying about a simple yes/no response to whether he wants to take interview or not. I responded to his email but he has not gotten back to me either.

The second applicant very enthusiastically said he is very interested. I have called him back three times over two days since then to inform him of the time his interview has been scheduled for but he did not answer his phone or call back, although he certainly has the number I call from (since I had spoken to him a number of times when literally chasing after him to schedule the first interview). I emailed him but no response to that as well.

I’m bewildered at this lack of response. We are no longer interested in either of these candidates because we feel their attitude is quite unprofessional. Is it alright to send them rejection emails now, although technically we were in the process of scheduling the second interview which both did not respond to in the timeframe requested?

I would really like to know your thoughts on whether rejecting these candidates on this basis would be unfair/ unprofessional of us.

Yes, it’s reasonable to take these two candidates out of the running and move forward with others instead. However, I’d take a different approach with each.

For the person who is still thinking over whether he wants to come in, it’s certainly reasonable for him not to have his mind made up yet about whether he’s interested in the job or to ask for time to think over an offer — but taking this long to decide whether to even come in for an interview is a bit much. You don’t need to explain all that in your rejection email, though; you can simply write something like, “Just wanted to let you know that since we haven’t heard back from you, we’ve decided to move forward with other candidates instead. Best of luck in your search.”

But for the candidate who hasn’t responded to your repeated attempts to contact him about an interview, realize that while it’s certainly possible that he’s decided he no longer wants to pursue the position and just hasn’t bothered to tell you, it’s also possible that he’s on vacation (and away from his phone and email), dealing with a family emergency, or something like that. That doesn’t mean that you have to pause your hiring process meanwhile, but it does mean that you should account for that in the way you word your response. I’d say something like, “Since we haven’t heard back from you, I’m assuming you’re no longer interested in the position. Best of luck in your search.” That way, if it was something like being out of the country, when he sees the email he can respond to let you know what the situation was, and if you’re (a) still interviewing at that point and (b) satisfied with his explanation, you could put him back in the mix if you still wanted to.

Now, totally aside from this … What’s up with your candidate pool “giving you serious grief”? That tells me that something is going wrong in the hiring process. (Or, to be fair, that this is a position that by its nature isn’t going to attract the cream of the crop; those certainly exist, and you can’t always fix that.) It’s worth taking a look at whether there’s anything in your hiring practices that might be causing this: Where are you advertising? How are you talking about the position in your ads? Are you actively looking for and recruiting good candidates to build your pool, or are you just waiting to see who responds to an ad? How long are you taking to get back to people (since the best people may drop out of your pool earlier on when they get other opportunities)? What’s your screening process like? How are you selecting the people who move forward? What signals are you sending during the hiring process about your culture?

I don’t mean to say this is your fault, or your company’s fault. It’s certainly possible that you just got a crappy batch of candidates; it happens. But because it’s happening, I’d take a look at some of the questions above and make sure everything on your end is set up to attract and identify good candidates and screen out the rest.

{ 93 comments… read them below }

  1. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

    And it is perfectly reasonable for you to sit down with whoever is in charge of recruiting, posting jobs etc… and ask them these same questions. Once you can pinpoint where the problem is, you can start working on fixing it.

  2. Ruffingit*

    Definitely look at your hiring practices as Alison suggested, self-reflection is always a good thing. That said, these candidates are ridiculous, there’s no reason to continue with them. Dump them. I suspect the both of these candidates are people who have some other income stream (another job or a parent or someone) supporting them so perhaps they have room to be choosy, but this is not choosy, it’s rude and there’s no need to put up with it. Getting back to you about interviews, returning calls, etc. is the basic of what can be expected. If they’re not doing that now, I’d hate to see what they would be like with clients.

  3. Kou*

    Now, two days is a lot longer than I’ve ever taken to reply to an employer, but it doesn’t seem like long enough to pull and interview offer. Especially if you’re calling– have you also emailed this person? It’s extremely hard to get me on the phone during the work day because I get no cell phone reception where I work and often messages left don’t load for hours or sometimes even a day or two. When I’m hoping to get a phone call I’ll step outside a few times a day to see if they load, but it doesn’t always work right away.

    1. PEBCAK*

      Is the message clear that you want a response, too? If someone called and left me information about an interview time, I’m not sure I’d think I needed to call back; he might just show up at the time.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Yeah, I thought about that actually as well and I agree that if she was just saying “Show up at 11 on Tuesday” then the candidate shouldn’t be expected to return that call. But I read the letter as saying she was calling to schedule the interview with the person as in “We have this time and this other time open, which would work for you?” So it was something that required a response.

        1. Zahra*

          Just to say that we don’t all read the messages the same way. I understood that the OP called and said “We are interested in meeting you again. The second interview will be at X time.”

          That kind of message doesn’t need an answer unless you need to change the date/time.

          1. Felicia*

            I’ve had messages that say your second interview will be at x time on x day, and I never responded, so make sure it’s not that! Also it’s way easier to get ahold of most people quicker by email. I can’t answer the phone at work, and sometimes the voicemail never indicates i have a message even if i do, so I don’t know to check.

    2. ac*

      Agree with this. If they haven’t responded to voicemails AND emails over a period of days, I think you could fairly take them out of contention, but if you’re only leaving voicemails then there’s a possibility of a technical glitch that’s taking out an otherwise viable candidate.

    3. Jennifer*

      I have the same problem at my job. I tell people to e-mail me during the day.

      That said, I’ve left messages and e-mails for people and when they don’t get back to you for 2 weeks, odds are they are out of the country on vacation. If this guy hasn’t responded for 2 days, that could be why.

  4. Mike C.*

    These are really legit reasons to throw out the candidates.

    In fact, you might consider keeping track of the number of candidates you find completely unacceptable to show that the current process isn’t working.

  5. Miranda Jane*

    How specific is your job description? Does it give enough information to be able to judge the job? Have you actually given the first candidate any information about salary or did you dodge the question? It could well be that your first candidate is already employed, wasn’t hugely impressed by your first interview and is trying to work out if it’s worth taking time off for a second interview.

    Given how much we hear about rubbish hiring practices and secretive hiring managers here, it may well be worth checking your job description, considering your first interviews and making sure they’re not being hesitant because they’re getting red (or even orange) flags.

    1. RB*

      In all my years of hiring, I’ve discovered that it is a small percentage of candidates who actually read the job description.

      1. KarenT*

        Agreed. It actually baffles me how many candidates come in to interviews with no clue what the job is about. And our postings are overly detailed.

    2. Anonymous*

      That was my first thought too. Are these candidates currently employed? They may not be able to drop everything for an interview at OP’s convenience, because they have obligations to their current employers.

      And the one who hasn’t replied yet: Maybe they haven’t replied yet because they are waiting for approval for a timeoff request? If OP announces the interview one day, candidate requests timeoff the next day at work — that’s 2 days right there, at that’s assuming their current manager is good about promptly and agreeably responding to short-notice timeoff requests.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I can’t imagine not replying though, if that were the case — you could simply say, “I think that time should work, but I need to confirm I can get that day off — let me check and get back to you as soon as I can.”

        1. Jessa*

          Exactly, if you have an issue because you’re employed, you still respond to the email, you don’t ignore it.

  6. KimmieSue*

    I agree with AAM’s advice. The only thing I’d add, is that I do think its reasonable for both the candidate and/or the employer have a general salary expectation discussion prior to a second round of interviews. It’s always a shame when you go through multiple interviews and find out that your target and their expectations are not in the same world.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I’ve long been an advocate of listing at least a salary range in job ads. Your story is one big reason why. Unless you’re 16 and applying for a bus person job at a restaurant, minimum wage is not going to cut it and it’s a waste of time for you and the business to go through two interviews only to find the pay is prohibitive in terms of you taking the job.

        You know, it would be interesting if companies had to pay the hourly/daily salary of the job to the people they interviewed. You can bet they would not be holding back on basic job information then, a ton more would be spelled out in the job ad so they could make sure they had the right candidates and the candidates could be sure they wanted to bother with that job. I realize such a thing would never happen, but an interesting thought nonetheless :)

        1. Felicia*

          I really don’t understand why employers WON’T put the salary range on job descriptions. It saves everyone a lot of time if everyone knows what they’re getting into. I also hate when I’m asked my salary expectations – I’d rather they tell me what they’re willing to pay, but they never do.

    1. jesicka309*

      I was just offered a job where the salary range wasn’t listed. However, the interviewer brought up salary in my phone screen. My expectations were wildly low, as I’m changing industries and wasn’t sure what entry level roles get in retail as opposed to media. The interviewer set me straight that it was quite a bit higher.
      And I’ve been offered the job at the rate discussed in the interview. I’m absolutely stoked…and actually kind of glad they didn’t post the salary. I might have self-selected out of applying if I had seen what the salary was, as I would have assumed that they wanted someone much more experienced than me.
      I think if it’s not posted in the listing, the salary should definitely be discussed before coming in for a face-to-face interview.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        Congratulations on your new job! And your better-than-you-even-expected salary!

        It’s nice to hear when something works out so well.

  7. JulieInOhio*

    I can’t help but wonder if the first person (delaying answering about 2nd interview) has another offer pending (perhaps) and is trying to wiggle the timing.

    1. Elizabeth*

      That doesn’t seem like a reason not to go on a second interview, though. Delaying accepting a position because you’re hoping for another one – fair enough. Delaying accepting an interview – unnecessary.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        Not necessarily. If the interview process is really thorough (re: a pain) then I can see delaying. Especially if you’re not that enthusiastic about the job. I mean some second round interviews are a full day or a half day.

    2. Trixie*

      I’m thinking this too for Candidate #1, especially because he inquired about the salary package. I think he had an offer and was deciding between accepting that versus a second interview but not official offer.

  8. BCW*

    These type of questions are always somewhat interesting. As many hiring managers that are out there who don’t bother to respond to anything, and IF they do, its on their time frame, its amazing how angry they get when someone gives them a bit of it right back. The first guy wants more clarification on salary and job description before he takes time possibly off work and to travel, and you think thats too much to give? I mean how long did it take to reply? I’ve applied for jobs and gotten call back MONTHS after, and the description is no longer online. So yeah, its perfectly acceptable to want clarification. And the other guy didn’t get back in 2 days to your calls? That seems like a very short turnaround time you have, when there are many possibilities. I’ve had phone issues and not had a missed call or voice mail notification come through for days. I get that you your own time line you would like things done, but I think you are being a bit too rigid here.

    1. jmkenrick*

      I’m not sure I agree. It’s understood that hiring managers have a lot going on with a potential role, and I think candidates should be aware that their responsiveness reflects on them. I don’t think hiring managers can expect candidates to respond *right away* as some may have jobs, but most people have access to e-mail after work, and so should at least be able to respond with a timeline. I think it’s part of demonstrating how responsive you would be while you’re a worker…it’s not necessarily meant to be a “fair” process.

        1. periwinkle*

          “I emailed him but no response to that as well.”

          Note that the OP emailed the second candidate as well as left three voicemails, with no response to either communication format. The OP also wrote that she had to chase down this person just to schedule the first interview. If candidate #2 is this hard to contact when he’s trying to make a good “hire me” impression, what is he going to be like as an employee?

          I agree with JulieInOhio – the first candidate may already have a pending offer and he wants to know if the OP’s job is worth pursuing. If this were the initial interview, I can understand Candidate #1 wanting details on roles and responsibilities because when you’re applying for multiple jobs it can be difficult to keep track of all the different job descriptions. He should know which job he’s interviewing for by the second interview, though…

      1. BCW*

        It may not have been very clear though. Just because she thought she was clear, he obviously still had questions. So what is wrong with wanting to make sure you understand things as much as possible. It didn’t say whether or not she responded to his request for clarification, just that his questions were discussed before. But how often does it happen that you think at the time you fully understood it, but turns out there are still questions? Is the her management style? You better not have questions after our initial conversation or I’ll ignore your request for clarification?

          1. David*

            Based on how the OP claims to be annoyed by the candidate’s “dilly-dallying” in asking these questions, I’m thinking that’s part of her problem, and why I said in my comment below that I think there’s more to this than just bad applicants.

          2. Rana*

            Especially since a number of these questions could be answered during the interview. This is the sort of behavior that makes more sense with regards to an offer, not the initial screening.

  9. David*

    I’m actually a little surprised AAM didn’t touch on one of the most valuable pieces of advice I’ve ever seen her offer: that job seekers are (or at least should be) interviewing the employers for the right fit as much as the other way around.

    Now, I only have the OP’s original e-mail to base this on, and there may be something else going on that isn’t explicitly stated, but if these folks are interviewing with a company that has a “lousy” HR department and a hiring manager considering the applicants as a source of “serious grief”, I’d say there’s a liklihood that after their first interviews they had some serious reservations about whether or not they wanted to work with this “big name” organization at all. Sure, maybe they haven’t handled conveying their disinterst well, but just based on how the letter opened I have a sneaking suspicion this hiring manager thinks they’re doing the applicants a favor just by interviewing them at all.

    Now, if the employer has done everything on the up and up, and communicated all they say they have in the advert and first round of interviews, drop these applicants from the running immediately. But something doesn’t smell right, and I’d certainly put more weight on the latter part of AAM’s advice than the former.

    1. Lanya*

      I agree with David. If the first interviewer wanted to know more about salary before deciding whether to accept the second interview, he was clearly not impressed enough with the first interview to take the second one sight-unseen. That explains why he is taking his time in answering. Chances are, he has already vetted out for himself that this company may not be the best fit for him.

      1. voluptuousfire*

        I’m curious as to why the OP had to “chase down” someone to schedule an interview. I can see leaving a voicemail and following up with an email but letting it go after that. If the person doesn’t get back to you within a certain time frame, move them to the “no” pile.

        Maybe it’s just the OP’s choice of words, but considering this economy and how many so-called “qualified candidates” are out there, why do they have to hustle so hard to get people scheduled for interviews? I understand people are flaky, but I’m guessing the two candidates the OP had to wrangle into interviews either have better options or for whatever reason can’t be bothered to care.

  10. Brett*

    I wondered a bit about the second person being a recent grad. I’ve learned that recent grads really do not like to answer their phone (or even talk on the phone at all), especially if it is a blocked number. *82 before a phone call makes a world of difference in reaching a person directly.

    This still is no excuse for not returning a voicemail, but it can definitely make a difference in the person actually answering your calls.

    Makes me wonder if texting a candidate as a followup to a voicemail could be acceptable?

    1. Brett*

      That’s the other growing problem. As a college adjunct, I’ve found that current students and recent grads have also use email dramatically less than the working world does currently. They check it, but only once a day or less. They expect immediate communications to come by text.
      (My day job deals with this same issue too, but it is far more frustrating while teaching classes.)

        1. jesicka309*

          When I applied for my current role, the first interview was scheduled by phone. I then spent a nervous 1.5 weeks waiting for an email response, wondering if I’d somehow misread the company’s interest (they’d literally rung me an hour after I applied to schedule an interview that afternoon…seemed like they were super keen).

          It turned out that HR had been sending repeated emails to the wrong address. Think instead of Really, my email was my name…they just forgot the .au. HR could have been jumping up and down and wringing their hands at the awful candidate who hadn’t checked their emails, before realising it was actually their fault.
          For all we know, this whole thing could be just a misunderstanding, rather than a deliberate avoidance of calls.

      1. Anonymous*

        I’m not even a particularly recent grad (’05) but I never answer my phone if I don’t recognize the number. I assume that if it is important, they will leave a message and I will call them back. And I assume that if it is essential and/or time-sensitive, they will text me (or if it’s my mom who doesn’t know how text, she’ll call my sister and my sister will text me).

        I mean for this information to be interesting background about my generation and not at all as an excuse for these applicants. If I am actively job searching, I make it a point to check my voice mail and email regularly and always respond within 24 hours. But if I have no reason to expect important communication, I easily might not check my email or voicemail for a few days.

      2. Yoteach*

        Adjunct here as well and yes, the lack of email checking is quite surprising among the current college population. It’s a main mode of communication in my classes when I need to send attachments and such. But many students say they almost never check it. I now open all classes with “You must check your e-mail every day, I recommend doing so at least twice a day…”

        1. Jess*

          This is so odd to me, because I’m only 25, but I check email constantly. It might explain, however, why I can’t get ahold of my undergraduate residents…

          Though I do think part of this issue is sometimes that professors email the “school” email address, which many people don’t use. I forward mine, but I know many people who only check it once or twice a day.

          1. Yoteach*

            I send a sheet around in class and ask students for the email address they prefer to use. They still don’t check even that one very often. It surprises me because I use email a lot, but I am now recognizing that some people just don’t. So for classes, I make sure to emphasize that they need to check their email.

        2. Mostly Sarcasm*

          Sometimes universities use these online systems that send e-mails to the student e-mail addresses, rather than personal e-mail addresses. At my university, the system was really unpleasant to use (as a student). And sometimes the university e-mails are not as easy to set up on a desktop or smartphone e-mail client, or to set up e-mail forwarding. If the only way to check your email is through the university student portal, that’s pretty restrictive.

          I bet you’re teaching a first-year class and the students haven’t figured out university yet.

    2. Anonymous*

      Speaking as a recent grad…I would find it incredibly unprofessional and strange if someone from a company texted me to set up an interview.

      My first guess is that both of these candidates are not interested, but don’t know how to communicate they aren’t interested, so they’re ignoring the communication in hopes that OP will just stop trying.

    3. Felicia*

      I don’t like to answer the phone when it’s a number i don’t recognize because of the tendency of many employers to ask to phone interview me on the spot and me being too nervous at such a request to tell them no like they should. So i never answer the first time someone calls. But I am a fairly recent grad, and I ALWAYS check my voice mail, or google the number if it’s not blocked, and return calls fairly quickly. I think email is a good enough back up to calling that we really don’t need texting.

    4. MentalEngineer*

      Recent grad and twenty-something.

      I don’t pick up the phone on the first ring unless it’s my girlfriend or (sometimes) my family. No exceptions. I’ll have the Google Voice transcript 30 seconds after you finish leaving the voicemail and I will decide if it’s important enough to interrupt my day for. Then I will call you, and I’ll actually be prepared to have whatever conversation we need to have, instead of being in the middle of something else (or I’ll just email you and hope you get the point). Millenial entitlement? Perhaps. Damn efficient at not wasting any more of my time than absolutely necessary on phone conversations? Absolutely.

      Semi-rhetorical question for the commenters below: How is it remotely possible that people even younger than I, who never even had a dumbphone, can’t figure out push notifications for email? Hell, if you bought your phone from the company store, they link your email account for you right there. Admittedly, this is slightly more work for crappy academic emails, but checking one’s school email is far less time investment than, say, coming to class, and most (well, some – well, a few) students manage that.

    5. themmases*

      I graduated in 2009, and I usually do not answer my phone if I don’t recognize the number. One drawback I’ve found to many people using their cell phone as their primary is, I get way more wrong numbers than my family ever seemed to with a landline. The numbers seem to turn over more, so I get calls and texts from the friends and family of at least one previous owner– even with call blocking. And no one actually knows anyone’s number, so a number could be carried forward in someone’s contacts for years after they’ve changed it. So I decline unfamiliar calls, check voicemail pretty quickly, and only call back if I know the person or if the wrong number really needs to know about it (e.g. I’ve gotten wrong numbers from doctor’s offices calling to confirm someone else’s appointment or test results).

      All that said, I pick up all unfamiliar calls when I’m job hunting, and I’m in my email all the time– and I was as a college student too, before I even had a smartphone. With modern tabbed browsers, I really see no reason not to have your email open all the time unless you’re working on a deadline. And I strongly prefer that people email me.

  11. Joey*

    Big and well known won’t necessarily guarantee that applicants will be knocking down your doors to work there. I can think of plenty that wouldn’t be a 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd choice.

    Also, aside from the unreturned calls, I’m getting the sense that applicants are evaluating you right back and it’s turning you off. If that’s the case you need to get over it.

    1. EngineerGirl*

      It’s all about skill sets and a great reputation. You need at least one. It looks like these guys only had one – or if they had both it will soon be one.

    2. themmases*

      I take these letters as a good sign, personally! When I’m staring down a sternly worded job ad about the REQUIREMENT (their caps) that you be a unicorn with a degree in some piece of outdated niche software (but otherwise exactly the type of job I do now), it’s easy to start thinking that my competition really is mostly unicorns. Then I read a letter about how other job seekers are pretty much regular people putting their best foot forward, or not, and feel a lot better about my chances. :)

  12. dejavu2*

    Not trying to “blame the victim,” but I agree some introspection is required. In this economy, if you can’t even keep applicants interested enough to consider going for a second interview… I mean, this may be unfair and totally off base, but my immediate reaction was “God, how bad is this job?”

    1. David*

      Exactly. The more I think about it, the more I realize that the candidate asking follow-up questions regarding salary is really asking how much he’ll need to be compensated to put up with the red flags he’s seeing in the interview process.

    2. B*

      Completely agree with this!

      As well, remember that not everyone is attached to their phone and email. And agree with PP, if you said here is the interview date and time they might think that is that if you did not ask for a confirmation. They also may be trying to move some things around to make it work. They may also want to confirm with you but do not want to harass you.

      While you may think one way, people who are looking for jobs are reading every nuance possible. They do not want to annoy, seem too eager, but then they do not want to waste time and be rude.

  13. steve g*

    My guess is the position pays poorly so the applicants aren’t taking it as seriously as higher paying offers.

  14. Gene*

    AAM, let us know when the question comes in, “I applied at and while their HR department seemed to be staffed by unfeeling robots, I did snag an interview. When they called me to schedule a second interview, I asked for time to think about a second interview, then emailed asking about salary package and roles and responsibilities. I did get a reply, but the tone seemed snippy; I’m not completely sure this is the place for me. What should I do?”

    After the honeymoon, of course.

  15. Rich*

    This post struck waayyyyyyy too close to home. Whew! Recruiting Struggles 101.

    I’m a firm believer people will do what you let them. I’m willing to give 24-48 hours depending on if there’s been initial contact. But if there has, I address the lag early. A couple weeks ago I had a last minute reschedule after not getting a response for “a while.” In my reply, I started off thanking for the heads up, but pointed out that I noticed there was a serious lag in responses that was making it difficult to continue to process. At that point, I like to see how the person responds and make a judgment call. If they’re lax, I don’t reschedule. If they apologize or explain and make it clear they’re committed, I reschedule.

    I always ask myself “Is this a person I could see myself sitting next to and working closely with every day.” If they don’t pass that test, I can’t put them in front of the hiring manager.

    AAM’s method works. You know’ll what’s what in how they respond. Good luck with the bad batch!

    1. Ruffingit*

      +1 on asking yourself if this is someone you could work with every day. That’s a good method. As we’ve so often done here, this issue can be compared to dating. Most people are on their best behavior in the early stages of dating and in interviews. If they’re not, that pretty much tells you what you’re going to be getting down the road. My feeling is that if someone can’t be bothered to return phone calls or emails to the recruiters/HR folks, then how are they going to act with customers and clients? Not sure it’s worth taking a chance when they’ve already shown you they can’t get their act together now. This is of course mitigated by actual good excuses for non-responsiveness such as being away from phone/e-mail as in out of the country or being in the hospital, etc.

  16. Elizabeth*

    On a side note, I was struck by the opening: “Our HR department is pretty lousy… so I ended up dealing with applicants we were interviewing for a position in my team directly.”

    IMO, this is kind of how it should be. Not the HR dept. being lousy, of course, but the hiring decisions should be made by the actual manager(s) of the team where the new employee will be working. HR might be useful in initial screening of resumes to weed out the truly unqualified, but they shouldn’t be doing the interviewing or hiring.

    Unless what the OP meant was that she wished the HR department was handling the scheduling of interviews, which could be reasonable.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Agreed. My impression was what you stated there at the end, which is that the OP would like HR to handle the scheduling, but I still agree with what you say about the actual manager handling the interviewing. Were I managing a team, I would want to do that myself so I could vet the people coming on board and because I would know best what my team needs were.

    2. HR Competent*

      You got it. HR should be much more than posting the ads, screening the resumes, and scheduling interviews.

    3. Andrea*

      If the OP is this aggravated by just two candidates being either flaky or uninterested in her, I think she is pretty green. HR should be available to assist her in being set up for success. She doesn’t know what she is doing yet.

  17. Anon*

    I know nothing about your candidates, but in terms of the second one: we’re at the tail end of the Jewish holiday season (it ends this week), which means for each of the last few weeks, there’s been a holiday (Rosh Hashana – 2 days, Yom Kippur – 1 day, Succos first days – 2 days, and upcoming Succos last days – 2 days). There are a lot of Jews who don’t answer e-mail or their phone during the holiday, and who are traveling before and after the holidays. So if the candidate is Jewish, this might be a factor. The person might be very interested in the position, but because it’s the busiest, most hectic time of the year for Jews, may not be quick on e-mail.

    Again, no idea if the candidate is Jewish, but something to keep in mind! :)

    1. Elizabeth*

      This could be a reasonable explanation. If so, though, it would have been better if the candidate had set up an email auto-responder to say something like “I will be away until [date] and will not be checking email while I am gone. I will answer your message when I return.” It’s a good practice whether you’re job-hunting or not, really.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Good point. It’s also something to consider if you have clients who are in an area where there is a large Jewish population (or in another country). We had both at Exjob, and I kept both Jewish and Canadian holidays marked on my calendar so I wouldn’t ship boxes to people when their offices would be closed.

      Elizabeth makes an excellent point about the email responder too. It’s up to the candidate to do that, however.

  18. Gilbey*

    Is this hiring process new to the OP ? Not trying to put them down but it seems like the OP was a little more irritated than should be. Yeah it is all annoying. Yes people should respond when asked if they want a second interview and just make sure they are communicating in general.

    The OP said the HR dept was bad but I am curious as to why? What are they doing wrong?

    The OP was irritated she had to “chase candidates down” ? One was shifty and dilly dallied? The process caused her ” serious grief” ?

    Heck, applicants get grief from companies all the time. No reponses after interviews, bad interviewers, bad job descriptions, bad pay…. not complaining….just saying….

    I am not quite sure why this process is overly diffcult for her and the 2 candidates caused all this problem for her. They don’t respond or you are not sure? Move on and forget them.

    It is difficult to hire, not saying it is not, but the OP is acting like none of this should ever happen. No problems should occur. The process didn’t go smooth and therefore there was ” grief” for the OP.

    I don’t know why the OP is THAT irritated and using such phrases as she did as this seems like normal stuff that happens in hiring. Not that is is right, just stuff that can happen.

    1. Ruffingit*

      You make a good point here. It does seem the OP was overly wrought about this. Dump the two off and move on if they are causing such a headache.

  19. Kerr*

    Two days without a response to phone calls *and* an e-mail sounds like a lack of interest to me, but it’s always possible that there were technical difficulties. (I’m assuming these are weekdays; if they’re weekend days, the candidate might not even be checking e-mail or voicemail.) Maybe give them another day to respond, then send an e-mail saying that since you haven’t received a response, you assume they’re no longer interested?

    Frankly, I’m surprised that the OP has had to chase down candidates, and it leads me to wonder if the hiring process is being rushed, or if they’re expecting an answer more quickly than a candidate might reasonably expect. For instance, as a candidate, I’ve had sudden requests from employers who are in a big hurry to fill a position (sometimes after having my application for weeks!), and want me to interview ASAP. A few have sent e-mails wanting to schedule phone interviews for that day – assuming that I’m checking my e-mail frequently throughout the day, I suppose. (I am, sometimes, but to *expect* an instant reply is unwarranted, I think.) Sometimes, they’ve sounded miffed about the fact that I’m not available for an interview the very next day. In at least one case, after turning down such a request and responding with my availability, I never heard from them again. So the OP might want to make sure that they’re not getting upset over slight delays that are, from the candidates’ POV, very reasonable.

  20. Andrea*

    Sometimes the entire pool of candidates generated from an outreach sucks. There is always a flaky percent, there is always an unqualified percent, there is always a personality-doesn’t-fit percent and sometimes that adds up to 100 percent.

    I find this when we are looking for a highly specialized position, but it can happen with more generalized positions also. Don’t settle, try again next month.

    You might need to up the pay you are offering, though, to attract better people. Example, we were cheaping out on a warehouse position and got what we deserved from it – flaky, unreliable transportation, nothing but headaches. We upped the pay 20% and attracted an entirely different, qualified and responsible, pool of candidates to choose from.

  21. Audiophile*

    Not too recent grad (2008) and I don’t answer my phone. I’ll answer for family, friends and people I work with. If your number isn’t in my contacts, you’re going to voicemail.

    I’ve had it happen too many times, where it’s a telemarketer, auto robot or whatever, so I let my VM pick up. Employers will leave a message, I’ve learned this. Does it sometimes make me anxious? Yes, but it certainly cuts down on the annoyance of getting those robo calls. I had a call yesterday, where the number was all zeroes except for the area code.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I did answer my phone when I was job hunting, but it’s not my public number. This is why I don’t answer my landline anymore, though.

      Disclaimer: I only have a landline because of DSL. Someday I hope to move and then I’ll have different internet and get rid of it.

      1. Audiophile*

        If I’m off work, I’ll answer. But too many times, I’ve answered, been told who it was, and it results in me feeling pressure not to say I can’t talk right at that moment. Usually I get calls midday, and it’s slow so I figure “I can answer this” and then it backfires. It’s just easier not to answer, when it during my working hours. Usually that means I can’t answer people until close to 5 or after.

  22. Chris*

    “These applicants are all fresh graduates and have given me serious grief.”

    “Or, to be fair, that this is a position that by its nature isn’t going to attract the cream of the crop; those certainly exist, and you can’t always fix that.”

    General question about these statements.

    When hiring managers look for / screen out people, are they looking for the “cream of the crop” people or “cream of the crop” for the position? Example:

    Ace has a resume. He has 4 internships at NASA, has a 4.0 GPA, has won several awards for research, and had enough scholarships to give himself a full-ride through college. His references include Burt Rutan and Elon Musk whom he had done stuff on the side for. Everyone who has spoken to him loves him.

    Snake has a resume. He had an internship at company X, a 3.5 GPA, and did research. His reference is his research professor and manager. However, his research and general projects more closely match what the job position requires than Ace.

    In terms of fresh graduates, which one is the hiring manager looking for? While they may both be called to the interview stage, which one is called up to the interview stage quicker? Is the guy with more accolades and honors going to naturally get more interviews even if he doesn’t tailor his resume to positions?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It depends on the position and the hiring manager. Personally, I’m generally going to be more interested in Ace, but it could vary from position to position. But in general, I’m looking for people with a track record of achievement — and in junior level positions, it doesn’t always have to be achievements directly related to the job description, just a pattern of excelling. (With obvious exceptions — I’m not going to hire the brilliant scientist to write press releases unless I see some damn good writing from her too.)

  23. Tara T.*

    The same thing happened to me as happened to jesicka309. The interviewer wanted to set up an interview and said she would sent me an e-mail the following week with a date & time after discussing it with the hiring manager. But when she was ready to set it up, she typed my name from memory on the e-mail address, and she put in an extra letter. It did not reach me. Luckily, I wrote back to her after a week letting her know I was still interested and wondering when the interview would be set up. She then replied to that e-mail and it reached me.

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