why don’t employers send job rejections anymore?

You take time off work for a job interview, spend a few hours preparing for it, maybe buy a new suit, maybe even travel from out of state, and then … crickets. You hear nothing. Maybe you contact the hiring manager or the HR rep who scheduled the interview to inquire about an update on the job, and still … nothing. If you’ve had this experience, you’re not alone. Fewer and fewer employers are bothering to send rejection letters to job candidates, even when candidates have progressed through multiple rounds of interviews, tests, and reference checks.  It’s incredibly rude.

At Slate today, I wrote about this post-interview silence … but also why employers are sometimes damned if they do and damned if they don’t when it comes to rejection. You can read it here.

{ 282 comments… read them below }

  1. JokeyJules

    it really does seem like a lose-lose scenario for most employers to do that but it’s rude not to say anything.

    1. Washi

      Eh, when I was hiring for a entry level positions with hundreds of applicants, many of whom didn’t seem to have read the posting and generally didn’t always understand professional norms (wouldn’t submit a cover letter despite it being required, etc), I still really rarely got any response to the canned rejection emails we sent. A more personalized rejection could inspire more arguing because it might seem like the subject is open to debate, but I would call sending canned rejection emails a win-win.

      1. epi

        I was wondering as I read, how common it is to get responses to the canned rejection emails. Is it really more frequent than the attempted contacts you would get from people who have been left hanging? That’s hard to believe. Ranking frequency of contact from most to least, I would think it’s: candidates who have been ghosted, especially since some of them may not even realize it yet; candidates who got personalized rejections; candidates who got canned rejections.

        I get that *applicants* may feel hurt by any rejection, but unless they frequently respond, it doesn’t affect the hiring manager at all. It’s a stretch to call sending rejections a lose-lose when in one scenario, most people just feel some feelings without ever getting back in touch.

        1. RG2

          We reject everyone we don’t interview with a canned but polite response. We get a lot of responses asking for personalized feedback to rejections pre-phone screen (i.e., all we’ve done is read their materials). This can often be dozens and dozens of people per position and we don’t have the staff capacity to answer those (and the answer is usually that they didn’t have the experience we’d asked for). If we explain that we don’t give feedback, people sometimes argue we have time to respond to their email and ask for feedback again. If we don’t respond, I’m sure they find it rude.

          1. Mike

            This is just a thinking out loud: Could the rejection email to these phase of people (rejected after reading their material) come from an unmonitored email that just replies with a canned message? Then they can argue all day long with the computer only to get the same message back everytime.

            1. mark132

              I like the idea, but I think it may not buy as much as you think, after all they likely have been exchanging emails with someone in the company already. So they can just send an email to that address.

              1. Triplestep

                You’ve just said two different things. If you’re rejecting them before you even phone screen them, how would they have been exchanging e-mails with someone in the company?

                Honestly, there is no reason not to send an automated response and then ignore any attempt to engage by the rejected party. Weak excuses like this one only make things look worse for employers who ignore screened/interviewed candidates.

                1. RG2

                  Hi! This is what we do. I was just trying to give some of the employer perspective on why it feels like “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” I know we’re frustrating people by rejecting them and then not responding to their requests for feedback! Sometimes that’s frustrating for us. But we still make sure everyone knows the status of their application if nothing else.

          2. Trinity Beeper

            I do think that ghosting someone who asks for feedback is a lot less rude that ghosting someone who asks for a status update. There’s less riding on feedback from a rejection.

          3. Washi

            Huh, I guess I’ve just gotten lucky! Or I’m underestimating the number because I don’t feel the need to respond so it just doesn’t register. I think that by sending a clear rejection email, I’ve closed the loop, and if they want to keep emailing, they can, but I don’t have to respond.

          4. epi

            I phrased my thought wrong– I am really interested in the *rate* of responses, not the frequency. I’m sure there it’s possible to get a lot of responses to canned rejections pre-interview, but isn’t that just because that is when the most people are rejected?

            My theory is that the more contact an applicant has had with a human at the company, the more likely they are to reach out again.

      2. HarvestKaleSlaw

        I am struggling with this also. I try to give straightforward but kind rejections to people we’ve interviewed, but when it comes to applications, well… my experience is that people who waste your time will go on wasting it as long as they are given an opportunity.

        As an example, we hire for jobs that require deep knowledge of teapot glaze formulations, and we ask that any applicants have a degree in teapot glaze chemistry. This is in three different places in the job posting, in bold red letters. Yet we always get scores upon scores of applicants with degrees in teapot marketing or teapot finance or teapot operations.

        Teapot glaze formulation is highly technical and is not something you can just pick up on the job. Yet if I send candidates a letter that says, “unfortunately we are only able to interview candidates who meet the degree requirements,” they write back and demand an interview because actually, they interned in the accounting division of a teapot glaze manufacturer one summer, or they took Intro To The Science of Teapots as a freshman…

        It’s the Dunning Kruger effect in action. They don’t know enough about the qualifications to know how unqualified they are. And with hundreds of Teapot MBAs applying to every post, I don’t have time to explain it dozens of times over.

        1. The Original K.

          But can’t you just delete the requests for interviews, or create an Outlook rule that sends future correspondence from that person to the trash? In other words, stop giving them an opportunity to waste your time? You’re not obligated to explain the rejection.

          1. HarvestKaleSlaw

            Or I can only send rejections if people have progressed to a phone screen. That has turned out, through trial and error, to be the best way to manage things.

            1. pleaset

              Yup – pre-phone screen just send an automated message to every applicant hat the application has been received and you’ll only be back in contact only if you decide to move forward.

              Then rejections to people given phone screens who you don’t move forward with.

            2. The Original K.

              Yes – I think it’s fine not to email people that you’re not going to interview. I think it’s rude not to email people once you’ve met them in person. People have enough time to email 3-5 finalists.

    2. jb

      Rude to leave people you’ve interviewed hanging, yes.

      Rude to not send a “We will not be interviewing you” letter, less so.

      1. Tara2

        Yea, I hate getting rejection letters for places I’ve only applied to.

        Once I’ve applied to a place, I move on just like Alison advises. If I get a rejection letter, it stings a bit and it sucks. If they don’t send one, I completely forget ever having applied there and move on happily with my life and other opportunities.

        1. Triplestep

          This is how I typically feel, too. Occasionally I’m glad for one, but typically I’ve already moved on.

        2. The New Wanderer

          Right. I do like the auto-response to applications so I know the application submitted correctly, and they’re usually phrased as they’ll be in touch if there’s a match so I’m not holding my breath. I *don’t* like it if they have an auto-response that says they’ll be in touch only if they want to move forward, and then I get a rejection email later anyway (without any other contact). I mean, I can see closing the loop but I wasn’t counting on any contact unless it was positive so it’s a bummer I didn’t need.

      2. HJC

        Yeah, this is pretty much where I come down. If I’ve interviewed in person, I’ll even take a generic “you’re no longer under consideration, thanks” email just for the closure. While personalized feedback would be nice, I am mostly just interested to hear if they’re still considering me or not. I think if I spent the time to take off work and meet with you, you can take 30 seconds to copy/paste a rejection email to me. That’s the bare minimum of professionalism, in my opinion.

        I don’t expect to get a rejection letter from everywhere I’ve sent a resume if I didn’t make it to the interview stage. If I don’t hear from them for an interview, I can draw my own conclusions.

        1. Anonmur

          Agreed. I think recruiters/hiring managers quickly forget how frustrating, exhausting, and demoralizing the job search is once they have jobs themselves. It’s really a case for the golden rule: treat others how you want to be treated.

          I’ve never understood how recruiters/hiring managers ask for so much of your time, between phone screens, preparing, traveling, and interviewing, and we are supposed to kiss their butts that they even give us the time of day, yet in return getting them to spend 30 seconds to copy a canned response for a rejection is like asking them to give up their first born…

      3. SheLooksFamiliar

        Here’s another example of how employers can’t please everyone. I’ve heard people complain bitterly because they don’t get a ‘we’re not going to interview you’ letter for their application. Some have told me they should get a call from the employer telling them they aren’t going to get an interview. Really. I think there’s still the expectation of some kind of answer, and I try to give one.

        However, I recently changed jobs and work for a much smaller organization – broadening my reach into other parts of HR but managing talent acquisition for mostly executive and senior roles. We have no ATS with a messaging platform, and I communicate with LinkedIn applicants and my sourced candidates via email. It is very time-consuming to send out WNGTIY letters, even though I copy and paste a standard message and get into a groove with Outlook. I do it because it matters to me as part of our brand – our industry makes it a small world.

        And yes, I get emails and calls from applicants arguing with my decision. Based on their resume – if they even send one – they are not even remotely qualified for the role. Funny how that works.

        1. Anonymous Educator

          So the focus shouldn’t be to please everyone but just to do what you know is decent and right, because your two options are:

          1. Do what’s decent and right, and have horrible people complain.

          2. Don’t do what’s decent and right, and have reasonable people complain.

          Either way, you’re going to get people complaining, but at least with scenario 1, you know you’re doing the right thing, and you’re not pissing off the wrong people.

          1. SheLooksFamiliar

            AE, please be assured I know all that, as I’ve been in staffing 35 years. I was simply commenting on the issue, nothing more.

    3. Karen from Finance

      I don’t think it’s the same degree of “lose” in all scenarios, though.

      Ghosting after maybe just one phone interview? Not ideal, but meh.
      Ghosting after multiple interviews and assurances to keep in touch? Very rude and inconsiderate.
      Sending a rejection email that the person chooses to take offence at? In most cases I’ve seen in this site the people taking offence are just hurt over being rejected in the first place and looking for an excuse to get mad. Not really the (not-) employer’s fault.

    4. Observer

      Please. Prospective employees may be offended, but the risk to an employer of sending a rejection email is almost nill when it comes down to it. Calling a lose-lose proposition REALLY overstates the case in a big way.

      1. Anonymous Educator

        Especially if it’s a form email, there’s pretty much no risk. So the candidate sends an angry reply back? Don’t respond to the angry reply. You did what you were supposed to do, and then the angry reply just confirms you made the right decision.

        1. Anonmur

          This! The argument stops at getting angry responses back, but you need to look further, just like you said. While I might not be happy with the decision, if I send an angry or argumentative response back, it just shows they made the right choice, at least from a culture-fit standpoint.

          I think it’s better to upset a few “bad apples” than to upset truly good candidates, who just didn’t work out in that exact situation. It makes candidates have a bad taste in their mouth when applying for future roles at the same organization.

      2. Anna

        Pretty much. You received an email you can easily ignore. It’s a pain, sure, but you only waste as much time as you put into it. If you choose to respond, you’ve wasted your own time.

  2. The Original K.

    Glassdoor has a section for interviews so when job-searching I make sure to review that section both to see what kind of questions I might be asked and to see how the company conducts itself during the interview process. If I get ghosted after an interview, I mention it in that section.

    I had one company reach out to me to reschedule because of a client meeting on their end. They gave me a few proposed interview times, I replied with my top two time choices, and … crickets.

    I am totally fine with a canned “you didn’t make the cut” response. I’m totally fine with not getting a response to every resume I sent out; companies get hundreds. But if you interview people, you should have the courtesy to reject them.

    1. bluephone

      “I am totally fine with a canned “you didn’t make the cut” response. I’m totally fine with not getting a response to every resume I sent out; companies get hundreds. But if you interview people, you should have the courtesy to reject them.”

      I want this on my gravestone; that’s how I strongly I feel about it.

    2. Anonmur

      People can’t be so sensitive that they need a response to everything (i.e. just an application). I think that while it would be ideal as a candidate, I definitely don’t expect it. But if you are going to take up any of my time post phone screen / interview, just let me know that it didn’t work out so I can focus on the other things I have going on. No idea how to make this happen, but we need to stop giving recruiters / hiring managers so much power.

  3. fromscratch

    I went through hour long interviews with 5 individuals and then spent 2.5 hours having dinner with the entire startup team at one company and then they just never followed up or responded to any of my messages.

    Another company ghosted after asking me to spend 4 hours on a homework assignment with an 18 hour deadline.

    It’s just shameful. If I didn’t respond to emails in my job, I’d be fired – so why is it “ok” in this circumstance?

      1. RVA Cat

        I’d consider that a bullet dodged. If they’re willing to put *candidates* through that kind of wringer, how do you think they treat their peasants I mean employees?

    1. Anonmur

      +1

      I can see a nice sit down with HR and my boss if I just decided to selectively respond to email, and ignore others.

  4. Rebecca

    My ex terrible manager didn’t want to be bothered contacting people who didn’t get the job. We thought it was just a normal thing to do, so they would go on to the next job or application, but she actually said “they’ll figure it out on their own”. Our admin took it upon herself to contact the people who weren’t hired to tell them because she felt awful about taking follow up phone calls that our manager wouldn’t return. Notice I said “ex” manager. There’s more than one reason for the “ex”.

  5. Peter

    Seems normal to me to not receive a note if I only sent my resume.

    But if I’ve been through interviews, I except at least to know I’m not the one they selected. Silence is disrespectful and will make me wonder if the email went into my spam folder.

    1. A-nony-nony

      Re: the spam folder thing–I hope companies that use automated systems for generating these emails take this into account. I was originally contacted by a recruiter from his email for a phone screen. Passed that and got an automated email to set up a phone interview with the hiring manager–that went to spam. I whitelisted it and subsequent emails from the system have been fine, and I thought to check spam within a day of receiving the email, but it could have gone badly if I hadn’t checked.

    2. ThankYouRoman

      I don’t want to work for anyone who doesn’t check the spam folder. How is this still something people need reminding of?! The internet isn’t new anymore!!!

    3. Anonymous Educator

      I won’t get upset if there’s no response to a résumé or application (though an auto-generated “We received blah and blah blah blah blah our process” is always a good thing, so I know they at least got it), but I’ve had two cases in which I was a finalist, went through multiple interviews (on the phone and in person) and then didn’t get so much as a form rejection email. One place even paid to fly me out, and then ghosted me.

    1. SheLooksFamiliar

      I have a mental image of Dame Edna smacking people upside the head with a Queen Elizabeth-style purse. Totally okay with that!

  6. MLB

    Companies not communicating at all when you’ve moved through some part of the interview process is just plain rude and unprofessional. And if the reason the company doesn’t respond is because they’ll get arguments or other responses, that’s a bullshit excuse. If you send a rejection email, and the person responds, you don’t have to keep communicating with them. Your job is to move people through the interview and hiring process. Part of that job is letting the people know you’ve moved on. I would rather have a form letter response than no response at all.

    And for those who get pissed because of the rejection letter they did receive, look at it this way…equate it to a break up. Any “why” answer you receive for said break up most likely won’t satisfy you or give you closure. So accept it and move on. Arguing with a recruiter or hiring manager about why you disagree with their reasons is only going to make you look bad, and will probably prevent them from reaching out to you in the future if they feel you’re more suited for a different position.

    1. Bigintodogs

      Yeah I wouldn’t expect a personal explanation (unless maybe it was between me and one other person), but I expect SOMETHING, especially after multiple rounds. In my experience, when people use the word definitely (as in, “You’ll definitely hear back”), they never contact me again.

    2. ThankYouRoman

      Yeah, I got a scathing response a few months ago. I just chuckled because his interview was wrecked and he had the balls to act like he got a raw deal. Then I let him have the last word, we broke up, get the net!

    3. Engineer Woman

      Completed agree!

      Yes, some people may argue and not be happy with the wording of the rejection but that doesn’t mean, as a company, you just stop letting all candidates that have spent considerable time with you – usually a phone screen with HR, phone screen with hiring manager, on site interviews. That is just rude.

      1. Engineer Woman

        Ack: you just stop letting people who have spent considerable time with you – explanation – KNOW YOUR DECISION.

    4. Psyche

      The only exception might be internal candidates. I think they usually deserve some feedback about how to improve.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        Internal candidates yes — especially in the cases when their current supervisor has control over whether or not to let them leave the department. That is by the way one of the most counter-productive rules I’ve seen — I’ve seen people job-hunting because they’re fed up with their manager’s poor planning (or toxic attitude), spot a perfect opening elsewhere in the company, and their manager refuses to let them out of the job. Result has always been they leave the company completely – which is a waste for the company.

        I can see the sense in a manager being given the option to *delay* transfer of someone hired by another department –but a matter of weeks should be enough to let the team hire someone new, and the outgoing employee to document procedures and train someone else.

    5. Jennifer Thneed

      Thank you. A few months ago, I interviewed for a position, and then interviewed again with that person’s boss, and then I never heard anything. A couple of weeks later I got something else, and I wrote to the first place to let them know that I was withdrawing my candidacy, and *crickets*. Which didn’t really surprise me but still pissed me off.

    6. marmalade

      Agree 100% on both counts.

      As you say, companies not sending post-interview notifications because people might argue just doesn’t hold water. Firstly, if they’re hiring, it’s literally their job to perform the process of hiring in a basic professional way. Secondly, as you say, they don’t have to engage with people who are argumentative or rude! Just file the email and move on.

    7. Wild Bluebell

      “And if the reason the company doesn’t respond is because they’ll get arguments or other responses, that’s a bullshit excuse. If you send a rejection email, and the person responds, you don’t have to keep communicating with them.”

      Exactly!

    8. Anonymous Educator

      And if the reason the company doesn’t respond is because they’ll get arguments or other responses, that’s a bullshit excuse. If you send a rejection email, and the person responds, you don’t have to keep communicating with them.

      Also, I used to work in admissions, and we got all sorts of ridiculous protestations for applicants and applicant families. Did they mean we could just not notify rejected applicants they weren’t accepted to the school? No, that would be ridiculous. Of course you have to let them know.

      When I was a teacher, I got annoying entitled parents thinking their kids deserved an A for whatever reason. Would I just not give kids any assessment marking of any kind to avoid that? No, that would be ridiculous.

      1. Lollygagger

        Fantastic analogy. We wouldn’t allow this with college applications; why do we allow it for job applications?

        1. Anonmur

          Because unfortunately we allow companies to have all the power (and they kind of do). They have the “prize” and 300 people who want it. But the college admissions example is spot on.

  7. Bigintodogs

    I’ve been through interviews, even more than one round with some companies, only to hear nothing. How many people are you interviewing in the later stages that you don’t have time to follow up?

    1. SignalLost

      Exactly. I think it’s still reasonable to send an acknowledgment of receipt of the resume, if that can be an autoreply (it can if applicants follow a subject line) and a form rejection if you haven’t made it to an interview, but especially if, as happened to me this summer, the applicant goes through multiple rounds and is told there’s a hold on the position, you should at least be in contact once you do fill it. The more the applicant has invested in you, the higher your obligation to respond! (And that goes both ways – if, as an applicant, you definitively rule an employee out, withdraw. Don’t just decide that all interviews are good practice or whatever. Let them focus on people who will take the job.)

      It may be an uncomfortable thing, but the further someone gets in the process the more likely they’re “making space” for this job to be an offer, by not applying for marginal fits or spending a lot of PTO on one position (my new job required me to take two full days off of old job due to inconvenient scheduling and I would have been SOL on PTO if I hadn’t gotten an offer) or other work. It’s just courteous to keep candidates looped in. Though I do find that avoiding responding to email is the new phone hate, at least in hiring.

    2. Observer

      With resumes? It can be an avalanche. I remember one situation that I was involved on – an ad had been posted and we got HUNDREDS (in one case over 1k) of totally useless resumes within a week’s time or so. (We stopped placing ads in those places – totally not worth it.) So, yes, I know that acknowledgements slipped.

      But, once it gets to interviews, it’s a whole different ball game.

    3. ten-four

      I actually think this article misses a key thing: rejections are sent by people, and probably a lot of them feel terrible about rejecting people so they put it off and off and then convince themselves it’s too late. It’s the same emotional principle as acknowledging bereavement: people feel uncomfortable about it so they delay and don’t do it. I’m not saying it’s OKAY – it’s not. Just that there’s an emotional component because there are humans involved. That feels much more likely to me than “I didn’t have time” which just sounds like an excuse, not an actual reason.

      1. Someone Else

        A lot of larger companies use applicant tracking systems that can send an automated rejection email as soon as you mark someone No in the system, which really takes the human element out of it. I realize not all companies have these (mine doesn’t), but my experience is the bigger ones are more likely to ghost AND more likely to have software that would do this for them if they configured it to do so (which Alison pointed out).

      2. Seeking Second Childhood

        Yup. But in my mind, that’s about on the level of a child who avoids writing a thankyou note because they’re not excited about the present.

        In that case a parent sits the kid down and dictates “Dear Granny, Thank you for the new sweater. I will be very warm this winter. Love, Grandchild”

        So if the hiring manager doesn’t know how to say no, they can ask HR for standard text. Sure it’ll be recognized as bare-minimum — but it will end the ghosting.

  8. always in email jail

    I’m mortified at the number of times I’ve been on the hiring end of this. However, when I worked for state government, it was really common. HR would not shut down the applications (thus sending the “you have not been selected” email) until hiring for the final candidate went through. Which could take literal months. So, you could apply, and not hear a word while we did phone interviews then in-person interviews then reference checks then waited for a background check to be completed then let hte person work 2 weeks from their previous job then have them show up on their first day, THEN the rejection goes out. Or even worse, you could be one of the people who did a phone and in-person interview and not hear back until the other person started (again, sometimes at least a month later). I was always mortified, but that was the system and it was beyond my control.

    1. Rainy

      I work at a university and that’s how our hiring system works–you can reach out to HR but half the time they won’t tell you anything. Luckily the people who don’t make the cut for an interview do hear immediately they wash out of the process (“Thank you for applying! At this time you do not…etc”) but if you make it to the interviews, it’s crickets till someone is actually hired.

      1. Blue

        I’m in higher ed, and I’ve definitely applied places that didn’t send out the rejection email to ANYONE until the very, very end of the process. For one job, I got a rejection email a good nine months after I submitted my resume, and it actually made me laugh out loud because why even bother at that point?

      2. SignalLost

        I’ve applied repeatedly to a major university in my city (as in, nearly thirty times in ten years). 2 interviews, zero rejection notifications. Ever.

    2. Triplestep

      In cases like this, companies can write a rejection e-mail to the not-selected candidate before “pulling the trigger” on the system that will send an automated e-mail. The initial e-mail would say essentially “thank you for your time, we’ve selected someone else, you’re going to get automated e-mail from the system so I just wanted to reach out to you personally.”

      How many people would that need to be copy/pasted to? Two? Three at most?

      And if they write back, ignore them. I don’t get this “we can’t send rejections because people engage” argument.

      1. Phryne

        In government, it’s not that it’s HARD, it’s that we are flat prohibited from doing so. Telling a candidate that they weren’t selected out of the formal process is one of the few things that will quite likely get you terminated (and god forbid there is a vet involved who decides to throw a fit…you are absolutely getting either terminated or demoted).

        1. Seeking Second Childhood

          Are there rules about telling interviewees that you’re not allowed to send rejections? Because if I were hiring and KNEW that the only answer is a hire offer, I’d be able to move on.

          1. Madeleine Matilda

            In the US Fed gov’t, the hiring manager cannot communicate officially with candidates about selection or rejection. That has to be done by HR to ensure that all regulations are being followed. However, informally I’ve often been contacted by the hiring manager when selected.

  9. AnotherAlison

    I wouldn’t even care about a letter if there was just any form of closure. Even, “If you don’t hear by 12/1, you weren’t selected,” would be fine.

    I realize they may also want to keep you on the hook while they negotiate with the #1 candidate, but I would rather hear that that is what’s happening. We get this same thing from perspective clients on proposal submissions. It’s aggravating in that situation, too.

    1. Clay on My Apron

      “I realize they may also want to keep you on the hook while they negotiate with the #1 candidate” – thing is that if you don’t hear from them for weeks after your interview, you’re going to move on – and even if you don’t find anything, are you going to consider a company that treated you so rudely?

      1. Trinity Beeper

        But is it rude if they’re being honest about it? I think I would find it refreshing if an employer straight up told me, “look, you’re our #2 candidate. We are currently negotiating with #1, but if things do not work out you’ll be hearing from us in the next x weeks.”

        It might feel a little weird to know exactly where you stand, but I would take it as a sign of maturity and transparency, not rudeness.

        1. Nonprofit whisperer

          Ugh, I would not want to know I was the second (or third, or whatever) choice candidate I was. And honestly, I don’t want a new hire to know that either. I want them coming in confident and strong.

      2. AnotherAlison

        I wish that was always possible. I would move on with life after a couple weeks with no new info, but I have been in the situation where they contacted me weekly to say “you’re still in the running, and an offer is coming ‘soon'”. Then after several months, someone else got the job. After the HR guy had said “the HM is not talking to anyone else. . .” I think that they weren’t that excited about me and just hoped another candidate popped up.

        However, even though I know that company was rude and did that, I am at a high enough level in a specialized field where I would still consider them. I can’t hop online and find 10 local jobs in my field tomorrow.

      3. Anonmur

        Here’s the deal though…while I completely agree with you…if 3 weeks later you are still in the job market and you really were interested in this role/company, you’d be doing yourself a disservice. That is one of the reasons companies have the power in hiring.

        1. Anonmur

          To clarify, I meant doing yourself a disservice is you let your offense persuade you to not go ahead.

    2. Marion Ravenwood

      I don’t know – I feel like I’d rather get the ‘thanks but no thanks’ email and then, if the first choice doesn’t work out, the call to say ‘we’d like to offer it to you’ than be told they were waiting until they’d finalised everything with the other candidate. I do agree with the ‘if you haven’t heard from us by [date] assume you were unsuccessful’ approach though, although if you’ve got to the interview stage you should still be able to ask for feedback at that point – for a resume/application form it doesn’t matter so much.

  10. Stephanie

    Eh. This is harder for smaller orgs, but I imagine it can’t be that hard for a MegaCorp to send an automated Taleo rejection with an email that won’t accept replies. People just want closure.

    1. Karen from Finance

      And for smaller orgs, how many people can they possibly have been interviewing in the first place that copy-pasting an email would be SO time-consuming?

        1. MsChanandlerBong

          Yeah, our company has six employees, and we received thousands of resumes every time we post a freelance opening.

        2. NotAnotherManager!

          Same – we get SO many applications, in particular to entry-level positions. We do have access to an HRIS that will send a short, automated response to candidates acknowledging receipt of their application and then a short, automated rejection to anyone note selected for a phone screen. Once you hit phone screen, it’s an email from the recruiter directly, one way or another.

          My HR is VERY diligent about not ghosting candidates, but they have manpower and IS resources that other organizations do not. We’re not mega, but we’re midsized.

        3. ThankYouRoman

          Where do you post?! What are you hiring for?! What’s your overall population?! I’m fascinated…we receive less than 100 or even 50 in most cases for pretty standard postings (customer service/production). I NEED YOUR SECRETS!!!!!

          1. Boo Hoo

            Depends on the job as to where I post. For the low level stuff I tend to just post on Craigslist because it is cheap and I can get enough good candidates that way. For more specialized I post on industry specific boards. That was a while ago. Now I really don’t have to post most jobs at all as we receive resumes daily since our business has grown and is well known.

        4. Karen from Finance

          Yes, I mean interviewing, not resumes received. I don’t mind being ghosted after just having sent a resume (although automated “your message has been received” emails are a thing), or even after a brief phone interview. But how many people actually had to rearrange their schedules to actually meet with you? How many did you have individual interviews with?

          If you have actually taken time out of your day to have at least one thorough in-person conversation with the candidate, and moreover, if the candidate has taken time out of THEIRS (which often include awkward rescheduling and finding ways to get a few hours out of their current jobs discreetly), you can take 5 seconds to copy-paste them a canned email.

          1. Karen from Finance

            I know someone who whas ghosted after interviewing with the VICE PRESIDENT of the company.

            I was ghosted after being told that it was between me and another candidate that they hadn’t seen yet, but that I looked like a good prospect so far. I eventually took the hint, but it creates problems when it leaves you hanging with that uncertainty. People need to make plans.

        5. Triplestep

          Excuses like this make recruiters/hiring managers sound worse. No one is asking for a personal rejection e-mail for having simply sent their resume.

        6. marmalade

          The comment you were responding to specifically mentioned the number of people interviewed, not resumes received …

                1. SignalReacquired

                  It’s ABOUT the number. Whch is perfectly obvious. Are you being deliberately obtuse, or are you actually this bad at comprehension?

        7. Someone Else

          You don’t need to reject the people you’re not even phone-screening. Heck I’d actually be OK with not explicitly rejecting people who only got phone-screened. It’s the people who got actual interviews who should get actual rejections. I’m assuming that dropped the pool to a fraction of a percent of that total?

        1. Caramel & Cheddar

          For higher level jobs with much more stringent experience / education requirements, maybe, but this seemed pretty common for every entry level job I’ve ever hired for, and we didn’t even advertise in that many places. We were just a very popular place for people looking for seasonal contracts.

        2. NotAnotherManager!

          Here is our process for hiring for entry-level positions:

          1. Post detailed job description (vetted for accuracy and completeness by people holding the position plus HR) on website
          2. Weed through the hundreds of resumes submitted

          Which part should we skip?

          1. Jennifer Thneed

            Add a test to the application? Something like “Must send cover letter” will let you weed out a high percentage right there, without even looking at them.

            1. NotAnotherManager!

              Yep, I’m a cover letter fanatic. We already ask for them because they’re a good gauge of the writing ability at the level we need it. That usually purges only 1/4 of them, which still leaves hundreds per job. I usually also ask not to see those with “attached please find my resume”-only cover letters.

              We also do not ask for a ton of information via the ATS so that people aren’t duplicating their resume. I guess we could turn more of that on to do mass weed-out, but I know applicants find the repetitive data entry frustrating.

      1. ThankYouRoman

        I got side tracked.

        As the HR department, with under 30 ppl, I don’t even copy/paste. I easily send “thank you for your interest but we have gone with another candidate. We appreciate your time and wish you well.” la la la.

        You can set up frigging auto responses on job platforms so you hit “reject” and boom there you go.

        1. Karen from Finance

          Right! I’m astounded at so many people in this comment section acting like it’s so hard.

  11. Not Australian

    I hate this. I used to co-ordinate job interviews for my boss (a lawyer) and afterwards I would write people polite ‘thanks but no thanks’ letters wishing them well in their search – and then he put his foot down and ordered me to stop. As a job candidate myself in the past, it was even worse – you couldn’t plan anything, because for a while you just didn’t know whether you’d be working at a given time or not. When it was a question of paper and postage there was some excuse for it, sort of, but now it only requires an e-mail all that’s involved is someone’s time – and TBQH candidates generally devote time and care to their applications and a polite ‘no thank you’ in return doesn’t seem a lot to ask.

    1. Artemesia

      That is ridiculous. What was his reasoning for being so rude? I did hiring where I was forbidden to send rejection letters until the hire was in place in case we had to go back to the pool. We would get a couple hundred applications of which half were often well qualified people but not at all for the job I was recruiting for. (because of internal political issues we had to make the ads vaguer than what we actually were looking for and many people applied thinking there were perfect who were not in the ball park — good people — just wrong resume). We then looked at the remaining 100 or so files and about 80 of those were discarded — people we would never hire. Then we narrowed to 10, had other people look at those and we narrowed to 6 for phone interviews, and then 3 for in person interviews and flew them in. I wanted to send immediate rejections to the 180 who were totally out of the running as our process could take weeks or months. But the boss wouldn’t allow that until we had the hire in place. Ridiculous and rather careless policy.

      1. Not Australian

        “What was his reasoning for being so rude?”

        He reckoned he didn’t need reasons, it was his company. We had 210% staff turnover in the two years I was there. Think of ’45’, only dark-haired, British, and with a moustache…

      2. Lynn Whitehat

        I can see leaving your options open for the 10-20 who are actual possibilities. But yeah, cut the other 180 loose.

    2. Working Mom Having It All

      And, meanwhile, the issue of “I booked a vacation months ago and now I have this new job” is definitely exacerbated by this sort of thing. Why does it feel like employees are holding all the complicated awkwardness in hiring situations, while companies protect themselves from even the mildest inconvenience?

  12. SteveK

    The answer is painful and obvious.

    THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU!

    Not one little bit. It will NOT get better if you get hired there.

    1. Working Mom Having It All

      Eeehhhh, I don’t know about this. I interviewed for a different job at my company before getting this one. In the first instance, not only did I not get a rejection email, but I actually had a family emergency that required me to leave town right around the date they wanted someone to start, and they STILL did not bother to communicate with me whether I needed to be rushing back or didn’t get the job and didn’t need to worry. Then I got a similar position on a different team (same HR manager) and honestly it’s a great company to work for. I love my job. If anything this is one of the best workplaces I’ve ever had.

      I will say that they way my rejection on the first go round was handled was indicative of how muddled the onboarding process was, and how it’s been if I’ve needed to approach HR about anything else. I think the issue is with specific people in Human Resources, but not with the company culture as a whole.

  13. ThankYouRoman

    I assume it’s due to the fact you then open up the doors to deal with people pushing back.

    I had three rejections to send awhile back and got a scathing response to one.

    I still do them. I also still answer the phone and speak to my vendors who want paid. However in today’s world many AP departments are behind a million walls and don’t even have phone numbers to respond to “where my money tho?” calls. So phasing out rejection notices make way too much sense to me. It’s just the evolution of business norms.

    1. Clay on My Apron

      Nobody has to respond to the candidate who pushes back though. The possible rudeness of other people is not an excuse to be rude first.

      1. ThankYouRoman

        But they’re scurred!!! It’s a ridiculous excuse because we’re adults but these humans exist in large amounts.

        It’s like those who refuse to answer their phones or use email. The excuses are scrapping the bottom of the bin.

        I’m fine with them being like that because my reaction time and overall ability to do the awkward things means I’m worshipped by those who work with me. That’s my own personal selfish silver lining. I learn from the mistakes of others, it’s my super power.

  14. Artemesia

    My husband went through several rounds of interviews and was offered the job by the person who had advocated bringing him in. He invited us to a BBQ the company was holding in a week and we arrived. I noticed that we were being kind of ignored almost shunned and told him that the offer had obviously gone sideways, but he said ‘They would have contacted me’ — Yup, he evidently got black balled and no one bothered to call and let us know not to come to the party. Pretty embarrassing for us, not apparently for them.

    1. ThankYouRoman

      WTF, that’s awful.

      I can’t believe they didn’t even have the decency to be civil to you guys at the BBQ. I would be mortified if a person was clearly not told about the change in decisions and rolled up with their spouse. Causing an awkward interaction but in no way is my natural response to shun people, ick!!

    2. That is beyond rude

      …so they gave him some sort of offer and decided to go with someone else instead and just didn’t think to say anything to him? That is beyond rude. I hope your husband works for a much better company now!

  15. AnotherSarah

    I was a finalist (2 other people interviewed) for a position a few years back…and STILL didn’t get a rejection. I called their office, spoke with HR, and was told they were not allowed to give out info about searches over the phone. I had been in three times! That was the worst; I had known they were a terrible place to work beforehand, but this confirmed it.

    1. TardyTardis

      The writing biz is even worse–I knew someone who sent a manuscript in that was recommended by BigAuthor who was the writer’s mentor–the editor said she’d read it right away. Five years later, she retired. Oh, and the company had a policy of no simultaneous submissions. I think in some places even having an agent doesn’t help much any more.

      1. SignalLost

        Honestly, just ignore no simultaneous submissions. Everyone says that’s what they want, but they use it as leverage to not read your MS; they don’t have to because you’re waiting for them. If you get an offer, pull the MS from consideration. Don’t waste years of your life waiting for someone to even read it.

    1. ThankYouRoman

      I would think non-profits would see how choosing to ghost is poor PR. I’m glad you didn’t end up pulling support for the organization. I’m the sort who would not be supporting fundraisers any longer!

      1. Murphy

        Honestly, I would if the cookies weren’t so delicious…

        If there were an easy way to get them without going through my local organization, I would do that.

        1. ThankYouRoman

          Hahaha my problem is I’m a sucker for children selling things, imagine my suffering when I had to stop supporting the Boy Scouts for awhile because of all that political nonsense sigh.

        2. CC

          There’s some pretty good fakes at grocery stores, but those are only for the most popular ones. I personally only like the popular ones so it works for me.

        3. NotAnotherManager!

          As a leader, I appreciate your continuing to support your local troops! We do make money on the sales (not much), and we have no control over council’s actions. The money we make from cookies funds volunteer training programs, our local camps, and the activities of the girls who sell them.

          I am also a sucker for kids selling things, though – years of fundraising as an introvert makes me say yes to nearly any kid who shows up on my doorstep.

    2. Dance-y Reagan

      The Girl Scouts told me that I was too young to work for them, when I had already worked for them in the past. Apparently I exist outside of space and time.

    3. Not a Candidate

      I had a job in Marketing Communications and my boss used to say, “Everything communicates.” That is, anything you do, including how you treat applicants, reflects on your organization and brand. Applicants are also your customers and donors. How many customers or donors are you losing because you didn’t treat a job candidate respectfully?

      1. ThankYouRoman

        Exactly!

        I’ve found amazing places through job hunts. I was turned down to work for an assisted living program administrator, beat out by someone with more specialized experience, totally understood. They were kind and gracious people with a fantastic mission. I’m now a regular donor and would volunteer if the opportunity were available.

        Anything that puts your brand/mission in front of someone is a time to show what your company is all about. A very soft sale approach. Make everyone view you as a dream company to work for, buy from and talk about positively.

        Also if a friend has a bad time working for you or interviewing for you, you betcha I’m not buying a darn thing. Amazon is the only one I haven’t been able to ice out but my friends who have been wronged also know that’s a beast we just deal with.

        1. Jennifer Thneed

          > Also if a friend has a bad time working for you or interviewing for you, you betcha I’m not buying a darn thing.

          Thank you! There’s a certain game company whose games I won’t play because they treated someone very badly many years ago. The person in question was my wife’s once-boss, and I liked him! She thought it was silly when I told her that I boycott that company’s games, but that’s okay with me.

          1. ThankYouRoman

            I found out the scumbags at my old company sold to new owners. My first thing was to lift our friend-ban of the place by texting all my contacts. I bring in customers when I work places and I taketh away *steeples hands evilly*

  16. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius

    I don’t have experience with hiring, but wouldn’t it be of some benefit to the employer to send a form email just to avoid fielding calls/emails from candidates who have not heard back yet, such as the first letter in the article?

    1. ThankYouRoman

      Tbh I field very few calls for updates. Most do not follow up. Outside the initial thank you notes of course.

      The people who follow up are the ones who argue rejections in my experience. So I’ll be dodging them no matter what!

  17. Ann O'Nemity

    I’ve stopped expecting rejection notifications, no matter how far along I got in the hiring process.

    The lack of notification used to bug me. Heck, one time I was really bitter after interviewing for two full days for an academic position, and the only reason I knew I didn’t ultimately get the job is because they sent me a copy of their newsletter that announced the new hire – and it wasn’t me.

    Eventually I realized that the lack of rejections had become so common that it isn’t necessarily a reflection of the hiring manager or company, and it isn’t worth getting upset about.

    1. Triplestep

      In large companies, it’s a reflection of the HR Talent Acquisition team. I think in many cases (unless you call or write to check in, which I don’t) the hiring manager has no idea that people are getting ghosted.

      I had suggested a friend for a job, and when she didn’t get it, I had to ask my manager (who was the hiring manager) again and again “Has she been told?” I had avoided contact with my friend during the process (which was thankfully short) so as not to give her false hope. I am pretty sure if I had not pestered my boss, my friend would have been ghosted. We had a terrible recruiter assigned to us from HR.

  18. Observer

    I think that “damned if they do and damned if they don’t” gives employers WAY too much credit. The reality is that the hurt feelings are an outlier, and those people are going to have their feelings hurt regardless. The occasion stupid (or even offensive) call (that you can hang up on) or email (that you can just delete or file) is NO WAY excuses the rudeness of not informing people who you’ve interviewed that they won’t be hired.

    1. Myrin

      Yeah, I think the article presents it a little too much like this is a fifty-fifty thing, when it seems to me like people being frustrated with not getting a rejection is a constant thing whereas people being in some way honestly offended by a rejection is actually pretty rare.

      1. fposte

        Agreed. I think the weight on the seesaw end is more like “it will take time and energy, nothing bad will happen if I don’t do it, and something bad might happen if I do do it.” All together it works to weight that end down.

      2. Triplestep

        I agree. I’m glad Alison called it out as being rude, but I think too much was made of the “pushback” from candidates. Sending rejections from a dummy e-mail address or even just hitting the delete button takes care of that!

    2. Tuxedo Cat

      Yeah. TBH, if I don’t get an offer and it’s a job I really wanted, I do feel hurt. I’d still rather know. I work in a niche discipline in academia, so it somehow feels more personal… I know it isn’t but it can feel that way.

    3. The Original K.

      I agree. The power dynamic remains the same even if the candidate sends an angry email. You still aren’t hiring that person, and as such you aren’t obligated in any way to deal with their response. Delete the mean email or voicemail and get on with your day. Using the outlier threat of getting a mean email from someone you literally never have to interact with again is pretty cowardly.

    4. ThankYouRoman

      I’m inclined to agree. I truly think the real reason is laziness in the end.

      Considering the other lazy “but someone MIGHT!! take advantage or react poorly” reasons I’ve dealt with in HR jobs I’ve taken over, I always assume corner cutting is the core reason. I always change and build in more kindness/respect when possible. So far the people who love me for treating them well outweigh the ones who create drama for me.

      1. marmalade

        Yes, it does seem like laziness masquerading as “but WHAT IF”.
        And – so WHAT if a person is rude or demanding? Are hiring managers/HR so delicate that they can’t deal with that? Especially considering that they literally don’t need to do anything other than delete or file the email.

  19. The Cardinal

    I guess I’m old and outdated in my way of thinking but I simply don’t “get” why not receiving a rejection notice is any kind of big deal. I do understand that it’s a polite thing if an interviewing organization does so, but I’ve never expected one. I’ve always been cool with the idea that any contact with a prospective employer other than a firm job offer is just a waste of both our time.

    I wonder if some folks disappointment at not receiving a job offer is simply being re-directed to focus on what is to me just one more minorly-annoying thing of no major consequence that falls into the “ehhh- just the way of the world” category?

    1. AnotherAlison

      For some jobs, I have had the “eh whatever ” attitude. I have an open discussion with an employer right now, though, and while I have been hearing from them weekly, it would cause me some stress IF they just went non-responsive. IF I got an offer today, I’d have a lot of personal and financial things to work through before year end. Not knowing kind of leaves me in limbo.

    2. SteveK

      It’s not the disappointment of not receiving a job offer.

      It’t the days and weeks of wondering. And the lack of empathy about how stressful the waiting and wondering is.

    3. Dust Bunny

      Same. I’ve always assumed that the answer is “no” and go on with life accordingly unless and until I receive a confirmed “yes”.

      1. ChachkisGalore

        Yeah, this is exactly where I land. Of course a quick “thanks, but no thanks” email would be nice (and I think is the proper/respectful thing to do), but ghosting rejections have happened WAY more often than an actual rejections for me, like exponentially so. That’s just talking about potential roles that I’ve moved forward in any way in the hiring process (I don’t expect at all a thanks, but no thanks if I’m not moving forward in the hiring process).

        Given my personal experience (and it seems pretty on par with everyone here of receiving way more ghostings than rejection emails) I have two options. I can continue to sit around waiting for something that I’m fully aware I am unlikely to receive, and continue to get upset when I don’t receive it. OR I can assume that the answer is no at all points (no matter how well I think the interview went) and not get hung up on waiting for rejection emails. Option B is way better for my mental health.

    4. Dance-y Reagan

      For me, it’s the stark contrast of the amount of care the company puts into reaching the top level of interviews, versus the abrupt carelessness of the ghosting. You liked me enough to fly me to another state, take me out to dinner and meet your family, but then I wasn’t even worth a quickly jotted “Sorry, nvm” e-mail?

      (Note that I don’t feel this way about just sending in resumes or just reaching a first cursory interview. It’s only once I’m in the second or third round that it gets to me.)

    5. Delphine

      I used to think this way, but then I had a stretch of six months where I was unemployed and had a number of interviews with companies in a competitive market. I didn’t hear back from a single one until the company that hired me called me to let me know they were sending me an offer.

      Imagine job hunting for six months, a year, two years, and getting interviews and thinking things went well and hoping each interview will be the one that lands you a job…and never hearing back from a single organization. It’d be one thing if the majority of companies made some attempt to contact applicants and say they’d decided to go with someone else, but that’s not the case at all. It can be torturous to hold on to that feeling of hope and demoralizing to go through the interview process only to be ghosted.

      From the other side, I’m now part of the hiring process at my company and I can’t imagine a situation where we wouldn’t tell the 9/10 people we interviewed that we had made the offer to someone else. It seems unconscionably unprofessional to leave people in the lurch like that.

      1. TardyTardis

        But the corporations don’t have to care, and most of the time, they don’t. It’s like daring to ask what you’ll be paid for a position, or something equally too pushy for the delicate flowers in HR in some places.

    6. The Expendable Redshirt

      It can be hard to move on mentally from an interview process if there is no concrete point of closure. It’s (for me at least) not the disappointment about not getting an offer, but rather the confusion as to if the interview process has ended or not.
      To give an example…
      Company:”Thank you for coming in for three interviews! We will let you know if you’ve gotten the job by next Friday.”
      Candidate: *Waits until next Monday.* *wonders if they should follow up with the company*
      Candidate: *sends the company an email the company on Tuesday*company does not answer*
      Candidate: *waits and wonders*
      Candidate: *waits another week with diminishing expectations*
      Candidate: Alright, I guess that I didn’t get the job then?

    7. Mike C.

      I don’t understand what “old fashioned” has to do with it. The candidate invested time in applying, and even more so if they were interviewed. Having a response acknowledges the effort that was put in, makes the company look professional and ensures that well qualified but unsuccessful candidates continue to apply to future job openings.

      1. The Cardinal

        “Old fashioned” means I was either offered a job or wasn’t but if not, I didn’t sit around in my feelings waiting on things that were both unlikely to happen and outside my control to influence.

        And FWIW, I went through a 2 year period of unemployment from 2011 – 2013 and had relatively few interviews – but if I didn’t receive a job offer within the expected time frame, mentally and practically I moved on – no closure needed and not sublimating my disappointment in not receiving an offer into moaning about whether someone who DID NOT HIRE ME was respectful of my time, polite, etc…

    8. NotAnotherManager!

      For me, it really depends on how much time I’ve invested in their process. If I’ve come in for an interview, I would expect to be notified one way or the other. Phone screens are 50/50. If I just submitted an application, I would expect no response unless they wanted to interview me.

      I mean, I’m not going to fixate on it, but, if you bring 2-3 people in for a position, taking the time to send 1-2 rejections isn’t going to break the bank, particularly if you would be interested in that candidate reapplying in the future.

    9. Working Mom Having It All

      It’s having your whole life up in the air while you wait to hear back. If you currently have a job, you’re sweating how to wrap up your various projects and give notice. If you’re unemployed, you might be wondering if you’ll pay rent next month. While, yes, if several weeks or months pass and you haven’t heard, you can safely proceed as if the job isn’t happening, it’s still annoying.

    10. Anonmur

      I don’t think it is simply a transference of the feeling of not getting the job. There are other factors to consider. For example (assuming it is a role in which if I receive an offer that lined up with my expectations I would take it), I could potentially put off applying to other positions that are just marginal, I could put off taking PTO in anticipation of needing more days for this role, I could not put my best foot forward with other interviews…

      I’m not saying these are good, they aren’t, but I’m sure it happens. Getting a rejection confirms to me that I can and need to be full steam ahead on other opportunities, among other things.

  20. Brogrammer

    People who nitpick the content of their rejection letters remind me of people who get hung up on the exact words their ex used to convey the breakup.

    1. Rosa

      Yes. Sometimes employers just aren’t that into you. And other times, there’s really no way to give honest feedback that would be productive. “Don’t make jokes about how you don’t believe in working hard when meeting with the director”? “Don’t assign nicknames to the search committee members at dinner and then CALL THEM BY THESE NICKNAMES throughout the interview”? It all boils down to, someone else had better skills/judgment/etc for this particular position.

  21. LP

    Does anyone else think interviewing is comparable to dating in this way? (especially if you meet through online sites/apps like Match, OKCupid, Tinder etc). Just a thought ;)
    I think there’s a correlation between time/effort invested and expected or appropriate rejection response. The more time the other person invests (number of interviews, number of dates or whatever), the less appropriate it is to just “ghost” them. However, not getting a response to an initial application or message sent on a dating website/app is typical and not a big deal.

    However, also like dating, you might receive a nasty response or an interpretation that the matter is open for more discussion whether you politely reject OR ghost after a few dates or interviews. There’s always the potential for “damned if you do damned if you don’t”, depending on the other person.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

      Oh yeah. I’ve had people send me angry missives for politely rejecting them as a date; no matter if I did it in person or in writing. Eh. I did the right thing and let them know that there wouldn’t be another date with me and they should move on. I would’ve loved to receive a rejection call or letter from a company I interviewed with, for the same reason: to know for certain that I can move on. And I’ve never received any, unless I went through a recruiter (in which case, they would tell the recruiter that they did not want to hire me, for the simple reason that they wanted the recruiter to send a new candidate).

    2. Polymer Phil

      At least with dating, I can understand why the ghosting phenomenon came from womens’ bad experiences with rejected guys blowing up on them. It’s extremely unlikely that a rejected job candidate would do anything beyond a nasty email or phone call, and companies usually have precautions in place to make sure a disgruntled customer or ex-employee can’t easily make it past the reception area.

    3. AnotherAlison

      I also see a parallel with more general rudeness these days. Ever try to get people to RSVP for a party? I normally don’t care, but I had a kid’s party where 1 family (2 other kids) showed up. We invited 10+ and had ~3 respond “no.” Same as the job–I don’t really care, I just want to know so I can manage things properly.

    4. Anonmur

      How much time do you have?! I almost always equate the overall job search to dating!

      There are so many similarities, such as: making the right first impression and saying the right things, the waiting game of hearing back, and respecting others’ time (and really respecting others in general).

  22. Amy Farrah Fowler

    Even when doing a lot of hiring, it’s not that hard to send rejections. At my company, we don’t send rejections to people who are not selected to interview (as in, no phone screen, you sent in an app that was wildly unqualified), but if you’ve spoken with someone at our company, you WILL get a notice one way or another. It’s really not that hard.

    Do people sometimes argue with them, or ask for more feedback than we’re willing to share? Yes, but most times if I hear anything at all it’s “Thanks for your consideration. Best of luck filling the role”. Courtesy is free, and there should be more of it in the world.

    1. Ann O'Nemity

      The applicant tracking system (ATS) we use makes it sooo easy to send rejections. There are tons of template notifications “Thanks for applying but,” “Thanks for interviewing but,” etc. You can modify these however you want, and mass send them. And there’s even the option when you close a position to send the standard rejection notifications to anyone who hasn’t been previously contacted.

      I have to assume that most hiring managers don’t have an ATS like this, or don’t know how to use it. Because like I said in another post above, it seems like no notification is the norm and I don’t even expect them anymore.

  23. Seal

    During my most recent job search, I received an invitation to do a phone interview that also included a request to hold several days 2 weeks later for a day-long in-person interview. While day-long interviews are common for my profession (academic librarianship), they usually occur a month or so after the phone interview since most candidates are coming from out of town. Since the job looked very good on paper and would have been a significant step up for me professionally, I chose to overlook that enormous red flag.

    I was scheduled to speak at a conference the week they were planning to do their in-person interviews and let them know, but also told them that I could still be available to fly in for a few of their designated days. The phone interview did not go as well as I would have hoped, but I assumed that I would hear back from them quickly since their interview schedule was so compressed. My phone interview was on a Friday. When I had heard nothing by the following Wednesday – a week before the first date they asked me to hold for an in-person interview I would have to fly halfway across the country to have – I contacted them. They politely told me that they would not be bringing me in for an in-person interview. Not getting an in-person interview was fine, but not letting me know ASAP after asking me to hold some dates on very short notice was incredibly rude.

  24. Lumen

    I have to disagree that employers are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. That just strikes me as “we could do the courteous thing, but then occasionally a few people might be neurotic about it”, and that’s not a great reason to refuse to close the open loop with a candidate.

    1. mark132

      This, when I’ve responded to a rejection email, it’s usually to thank them for their consideration and if I might still be interested a note to keep me in mind for future jobs. And usually it’s not much longer than this post here. I would assume that large majority of responses to rejections are like this.

      1. Lauren

        That’s what I say too if I get one. Usually thanks for letting me know and I enjoyed meeting with you. If I have to ask them what’s going on I don’t reply to the rejection letter if I get one. Usually because at that point I’m so angry I just can’t.

    2. ThankYouRoman

      I think the best excuse here is ignorance if we need to find a reason.

      It’s become somewhat normalized to ghost, ignore or block those we lose interest in. I’ll bet money lots of HR and Hiring Managers don’t know any better. Just like why AAM exists to give advice for things that sometimes seems so basic.

      1. Lumen

        I totally agree. Culturally it’s just become normalized and ‘acceptable’ to ghost people. At least in the US. And that’s affected how hiring managers work. Doesn’t make it okay.

  25. OlympiasEpiriot

    The worst part of this for me is the nagging feeling that I *was* contacted somehow and missed the call/e-mail/message and have therefore stood someone up in return without knowing.

    As someone said above, closure is wanted.

    Btw, this reads like most people who get a rejection note are going to be complaining. I’ll bet these are outliers — and the fact they wrote in about it makes it more likely. I mean, if you get several of these complaining letters every week, maybe it *is* even-steven, but do you?

    1. Marthooh

      And the fact that they complained to AAM doesn’t mean they complained to the offending company. In the unlikely event some rejected candidate does send a “how dare you not hire me” email, then that’s valuable information – put them on the “Never Hire” list for future reference and block them.

    2. Anonmur

      Exactly – there are so many times you think to yourself “maybe something is wrong with their voicemail” or “what if my email went to spam”.

      I actually use Streak for Gmail now because it basically gives you read receipts without the other person knowing. That way at least I know they got it and opened it..but then you have the “why aren’t they responding?!?!” thought as well.

  26. Ashlee

    I don’t think you should a rejection email for every resume you get, especially when it’s in the hundreds, but if you have actually had an interview, a quick rejection email is doable. If they reply with an argument or “tell me more about why I wasn’t chosen” you can simply ignore/delete or have them sent to the trash folder.

    We recently promoted a position via social media (for the first time). We got hundreds of resumes. Once they selected the people to interview, the director of marketing closed the listing and said something along the lines of those chosen for interviews will be contacted by phone/email, nicety. Once the interviews were over and the candidate had been drug screened and reference checked, I personally sent the “canned” rejection emails and not a single candidate sent a negative email. All were pretty much thank you for letting me know.

    1. Not Australian

      Yeah, it should be possible to put something on a blog or website to the effect that ‘Thank you to all candidates who applied for the Llama Grooming position. If you have not heard from us by [date] we regret we will not be taking your application further on this occasion.’

  27. Collarbone High

    I’m frustrated by this right now – I applied for an NGO job that would require an international move, did two interviews and a lengthy assignment. Obviously there are things I needed to be doing (like getting my house ready to sell) and not doing (like making long-term plans) if there was a chance I might be asked at any day to move halfway around the world. (And there was a very good chance, I’d worked for that agency before and had priority in rehiring.) I passed up my chance to get Hamilton tickets!

    After two months I reached out and was told they hadn’t made a decision yet. It’s now been six months and I finally heard through the grapevine that they hired someone else months ago. I really would have appreciated even a terse “we went in another direction” so I could take my life out of suspension.

      1. lnelson1218

        The power that we also give them is on their side. As the “war on talent” continues to grow and in some parts of the country it is more visible and also in certain fields, the candidate will have more power and in some specialized fields the pool is quite small. If one person hears about a bad or rude interviewing process and talks, others might not be so inclined to apply.
        Watched a webinar, with sites like Glassdoor, etc. If 90% of the people give bad feedback, there might be some truth to it.

  28. Wendy Darling

    I’ve only got angry at one rejection email, which I got after two phone interviews, a 5+ hour day of on-site interviews, and two months of periodic (like every 2-3 weeks) asking for updates and being told they would get back to me “next week”. It went something like,

    “Dear Applicant,

    This email is to inform you that the job you applied for, [insert job title and requisition number], has been closed.

    Do not reply to this email. This address is not monitored.”

    There’s impersonal and then there’s… THAT.

    1. Lord Gouldian Finch

      This was back in the day when rejection letters were still mailed sometimes, but I got a letter that basically was “dear [person who wasn’t me], we thank you for applying but you didn’t get the job, blah blah.” The letter WAS addressed to me so I assume whoever did the envelope stuffing screwed up. I never said anything to them, just sort of was quietly miffed they couldn’t stuff the envelopes right.

  29. Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

    I understand not notifying local or phone interview only candidates, but I was pretty upset when I flew to another state on my own dime and spent 12 hours at a working interview for a professional position and didn’t even get an email. Rude as hell.

  30. Labradoodle Daddy

    I think between risking saying nothing to a candidate and risking saying something they may not want to here… I’d still go with the latter.

  31. frida

    A few months ago I got a rejection email for a job I had applied to before graduating college… nearly 2 years ago. Very weird.

    1. Armchair Analyst

      This happened to me on, like, New Years Eve or something like that. A rejection letter from a resume sent possibly 10 months before?! It seemed like they were clearing out their electronic database and just clicking “send” or something. Definitely more “weird” than anything. I shared it with my other job-seeking friends; by that time I was employed.

    2. Polymer Phil

      I get these once in a blue moon too. I wonder if it’s cases where a hiring process got put on hold, the position finally got filled two years later, and some automated system spit out rejection emails to all applicants.

      1. Ann O'Nemity

        I mentioned something similar in a previous post. Our Applicant Tracking System (ATS) asks you when you’re closing a position if you want to mass send rejection letters. I can totally envision someone in HR deciding to clean up and close all those lingering positions in the ATS and blindly clicking through the popups, resulting in a bunch of auto-rejections to candidates who applied eons ago.

    3. Lauren

      LOL I got a rejection email for a job applied to a year or something later too! I hadn’t even gotten an interview. I was like thanks?

    4. SignalLost

      I got an email asking if I was still interested in a position three or four years after I applied for it. And the way it was worded, the company, and the original application process all still make me think they actually reached out directly, not through an ATS.

    5. The New Wanderer

      I once got a rejection on my internship application while in college. I got a second rejection a year later despite never having applied again. Guess they really did keep me on file?

  32. Comms Girl

    I do believe everyone deserves an answer, so I used to get furious about not getting a reply when jobhunting, but even more so after in-person interviews (phone screening is not very common around here). My worst experience (years ago) was when I was in invited for an interview in early January and they told us candidates would be notified of the outcome (moving forward to a second round with psychometric tests etc) around 20th of January. February comes and still nothing, so I send a polite email asking about it. Their office manager apologises and says that their Director (who conducted the interview) had been very busy with last-minute travelling and events, and they would get back to all candidates on the 15th of February. I never heard a word from them ever again.

  33. AnonAnon

    I just went through a GREAT hiring process (and was not selected). They offered feedback conversations to everyone who interviewed.

    I didn’t get actionable feedback about my background or interview (the hiring manager said that I was an exceptional candidate, but that my strengths mirrored strengths they already had on the team and they moved forward with people who brought different strengths).

    But we did talk about how I could continue to explore the kind of work that the organization does (because it aligns so clearly with the direction I want to take my career), and set up another time to talk further about some of the big ideas we’re both tackling in our work.

    The whole experience greatly deepened my relationship with the organization. I’m more likely to apply to work with them in the future; more interested in the work they produce; more of an advocate for them in our region. It was just so well done.

    1. Triplestep

      … the hiring manager said that I was an exceptional candidate, but that my strengths mirrored strengths they already had on the team and they moved forward with people who brought different strengths …

      That IS a great rejection – people should take note! I would use that even if it was not true!

      While your experience here is definitely above and beyond what most people are expecting from their rejections, you raise an important point that I think most companies that ghost are missing: They are hurting their brand.

      1. Lauren

        Exactly. I mean when you are interviewing they have the power and I was unemployed. Now that I am working at a job I LOVE (seriously I practically skip into work I love it.so.much) I am “all screw them I would never apply to them” ever again.

    2. Lauren

      And I don’t know why interviewing has to be such a horrible process! I swear it’s worse than going to the dentist.

  34. AnonAnonymouses

    This is so relevant for me right now. I’m even more frustrated with the lack of communication because in my case, I finally got a friend to apply for a job in my company, after YEARS of trying to convince them, and I think they are really highly qualified. They had 2 interviews, and now crickets. I gave them the advice Allison often gives: assume you don’t have the job and move on.

    But the fact that it’s been almost a month since their last email to the recruiter with NO response honestly makes me wary of referring anyone else to my company.

    1. Autumnheart

      Agreed. If a potential employer shows this level of disrespect from talent they’re actively trying to hire, what do they think is going to happen to their talent pool when the word spreads about how candidates are treated?

      Just sending a simple email could save the company a priceless amount of goodwill in the community and industry. I would think hiring managers would recognize that a company’s reputation and brand are more important than their personal feelings about getting an angry response.

      1. TardyTardis

        And now companies are complaining that they have oh so many empty slots to fill, why doesn’t anyone love them? Of course they don’t say that they want a doctorate to work at minimum wage…(true life example–a job that needed a serious qualification is only paying minimum wage in North Carolina. Gee, I wonder why they’re having trouble filling it? If I’m working for minimum wage, I want at least a bucket of chicken to take home with me from work).

  35. Mollyg

    One reason that some employers do not send out rejection explanations is they have no reasons that they can write down. I have gotten explanations for rejections that are objectively unture, such as “You implied x.” when I explicitly said the opposite of that. Or have been rejected for reasons that were never brought up a any of the interviews.

    1. Observer

      So? The employer doesn’t need to provide a reason. Just have the decency to let a person who has taken the time to interview that you’re not moving forward. That’s all don’t give reasons, and DO NOT make up stuff.

      That’s a win all around.

    2. ThankYouRoman

      Those employers suck at the art of removing any feedback in a canned rejection.

      Standard is “we’ve hired someone else who fits the role, it was a tight race!” because yeah, nobody ever writes “we picked them over you because we liked their outfit more than yours and cuz we both like dragons.” which is often the actual case.

  36. Dr. Doll

    I was guilty of this ONCE — it was the first search committee I was ever on, and somehow got named the chair (hot potato not-it not-it not-it situation), and we received no information from either HR or the admin person who was helping coordinate about how the search worked. I was furious and mortified when I found out after the interviews that no one had either contacted the unsuccessful candidates OR told me that that was my job. That was only the beginning of the dumpster fire that was that position, which ended up with the person fired after less than 2 years.

    But ever since then I’ve been very clear that we reach back out to EVERYONE.

  37. Library Sub No More

    I think it’s especially bad when rejections aren’t sent to internal applicants. I worked at my local library on a substitute basis – I was not a permanent employee, and had no regular shifts but was called in to cover if someone was sick or on vacation. There were about 20 of us with this job and many applied whenever a permanent job came up. I applied for one and got it! I knew all the others who had been interviewed for the position and they hadn’t heard anything yet. I was interviewed on a Thursday, got the call Friday, did paperwork Tuesday and officially started Thursday (since there was a big all day staff training day they wanted me to attend) . My friend who had also interviewed messaged me that day to ask if I had heard anything yet… And in the staff meeting I was near the mother of someone else who had interviewed. By the time lunch came, the news was out about me getting the position. I had been a sub longer than the others (my friend emailed me congratulations, and the other interviewee’s mom said I deserved it more, lol!) but it was so awkward having everyone find out that way. They couldn’t have sent an email when I signed my offer letter??

    I think everyone who makes it to the interview stage should be notified whether they are internal or external, but there is just no excuse for not notifying internal applicants before they find out through the grapevine.

  38. Ebrofin

    I agree that I don’t expect an update from an application, but I do if I interview. What I find really obnoxious is companies that sell directly to consumers — retailers, goods, services, etc. that don’t send a rejection email. When I have the opportunity to choose between two stores, or two teapots, or two teas, I’m not going to choose the one offered by the company that ghosted me. I will also tell my friend, and random people I meet in the store who are pondering what to buy.

  39. It’s all good

    About two years ago I spent half a day at a company. First hour was a math and logic test (I passed). Then a two hour interview with a Director (he loved me). Then another hour with the COO that I had to wait for (she was upset because I wa overqualified for the job). The Director told me I as the first interview, they would get back to me in a about a week. Emailed thank you notes on the way home. Nothing. Followed up with him via email and left a voice mail a few days later. Crickets. Another week went by sent another email. Nothing. So so rude.

    1. Casper the friendly ghost

      Personally, I would’ve gone with the hunch that I didn’t get this job due to the COO being upset that I was overqualified. That should have been a clear clue you were most likely not getting this job, and it would’ve been a pleasant surprise for you if you did!

  40. restingbutchface

    I always let people know if they haven’t been successful, company policy or not. It’s just part of my values.

    However, when I’m staring at a vitriolic email from an unsuccessful candidate, it’s easy to realise why some recruiters don’t bother*. The one I’m looking at right now copies in my boss and although it confirms I made the right decision, it’s not nice to read.

    (*Although I think most recruiters just don’t see the value in it for them, which is icky)

  41. Allison

    I work in talent acquisition, and I’ve been a job seeker here and there, and I’m a big believer in sending rejection emails when you don’t plan on hiring them, or interviewing them, or going forward with them as a candidate. Canned, impersonal “we reviewed your application and decided not to interview you for this position” are fine for applicants (ideally from a “do not reply” email if that’s possible), and more personal emails are great when you’ve actually spoken with someone at the company, although it’s not always necessary to include a specific reason, and it’s fine to disengage with someone if they try to argue. That doesn’t mean I’ve ever felt entitled to a response, I know you should apply and “move on” mentally, but moving on is easier when an email, even an impersonal one, gives you some closure on that company.

    I hate it when my coworkers say “oh I don’t send rejection emails,” when we use an ATS and it’s ridiculously easy to send a form email with a click of a button.

  42. mcr-red

    So for a while there, I was doing freelance work. (Trying to be vague because I don’t want to get into all of it.) It was very common for the freelancer (me) to send out project ideas to multiple companies at a time to see if they would be interested. And it was also very common for the companies to ghost on you and never respond unless they were interested. Now if you, say, designed a sample for them, they would usually send a rejection email, but many times not even then. However, companies also got weird about whether or not you were “exclusive” to them. They would really prefer that you don’t send any other companies project ideas if you’ve contacted them, however, they are also likely to never contact you! It was weird.

    So I did what many freelancers did, and ignore the exclusivity, unless they SWORE they would contact you within a certain period of time. If they didn’t, then oh well.

    So after radio silence from multiple companies, Company #1 sends me an offer. I inform Company #2 and #3 (which I have never heard a word from, mind you) that they aren’t the only fish in the water, so to speak, so if they are really interested, they are going to have to send an offer. Company #2 understands completely, and sends an offer. Company #3 FLIPS OUT. How DARE I not be exclusive to them? Remember I’ve never heard a thing at all from them, but suddenly they were considering it, and they’ve wasted their time! I basically emailed them back and said sorry for wasting your time, but I had no idea whether or not you actually were interested since this is the first time we spoke. About six months later, I get an email from Company #4, which I had sent project idea to one year ago and had totally forgotten about, who ran into Company #1 at a trade show, saw my project, and wanted to know if I was still shopping the project, because now they’re interested. /facepalm

  43. Anonynewb

    This was so maddening when I was job hunting! Happened many times, but the worst was when I was one of the final 3 candidates – I had done a phone interview, plus two in-person interviews lasting AT LEAST an hour a piece – and they ghosted me. Tried contacting both people in HR whom I had been working with to set up interviews, and they both ignored me.

    I put so much time into preparing my portfolio & resume, studying up on the company (as well as their foundation and volunteer efforts) and prepping for questions they may ask/that I wanted to ask them. Getting left in the dust like this is super disrespectful, IMO. Plus, it makes your company look bad – I certainly will never apply for a job with them again, and I would discourage anyone I know from applying as well.

  44. Triplestep

    Alison, I’m glad you tacked this subject and hope some employers who ghost recognize themselves in what you wrote. But I wish that you hadn’t made the idea of “pushback” from candidates seem like even a halfway valid reason not to send rejections.

    I also hope that next time you write about this, you will mention that employers who ghost are hurting their brand. Job seekers are naming names on message boards and on glassdoor reviews, not to mention locally in their industry circles.

  45. mrs. peanutbutter

    I don’t feel like “People sometimes argue with us!” is a good reason to not send rejections to candidates you’ve interviewed. The employer is under no obligation to respond further. Leaving everyone hanging because you’re afraid someone will behave poorly is a bad move.

  46. MechE31

    I had this discussion today at lunch.

    My coworker and myself have both been ghosted by internal jobs where we’ve had interviews. Both of us had working relationships with the hiring managers. We’re both experienced enough to understand a solid no, but it is very frustrating to have a complete lack of communication.

  47. fieldpoppy

    I am a partner in a tiny consulting company working in a health/education in Canada, which means a ton of procurement rules. We do many proposals that take days and days to write (like 75 pages), and where the max number the client might receive is, say, 30. Even when there is a clear timelime stated (“unsuccessful candidates will be notified by…”) it is SHOCKING how often the procurement division can take MONTHS to communicate — if ever. We are currently in a situation where we are working with a client on a different project and we KNOW they’ve hired someone and been working with them for three months, the procurement contact INSISTS they haven’t made a decision yet. We also once got a notice that we were the successful candidate six months after we FINISHED the project.

  48. LurkieLoo

    We do not send rejection emails to applicants we haven’t called in for an interview. We always send rejection notices to candidates we have interviewed (by phone or in person). We also respond to any applicants who were not chosen for an interview, but follow up with an email. The last group are the ones who seem to want to argue the most about how they should at least get an interview even though they meet literally none of the criteria listed in the posting.

  49. Macedon

    There is no excuse not to send out a generic, “We’ve decided not to move forward with your candidacy at this time” for everyone who’s spent the time sending in materials (CV, cover letter, whatever), let alone interviewing with your company.

    Never mind the human empathy element of the equation — it’s disrespectful not to acknowledge someone has invested at least half an hour in this process. Give them closure. If they hassle you afterwards, by all means, ignore them. But until that time, you are definitely not just too busy to send an automated e-mail, particularly as you’ll have all the applicants’ e-mails readily available.

    Your candidates gave you a minimum of half an hour each. You can give them collectively five minutes to set up automatic rejections in bulk.

  50. Book Badger

    Chalk me up as another person who doesn’t have to be turned down explicitly for EVERY job, but if I’ve interviewed more than once, I’d appreciate someone telling me that I’ve been turned down. I always assume I haven’t gotten the job until I’m told an explicit yes, and I don’t need extensive feedback (if I want it, I’ll ask), but something letting me know that our interactions have concluded is enough.

  51. Fluff

    I am solidly in the notify everyone who interviewed camp. When PTO, flying in, half day or more interviews are involved, in the world of professional politeness, the company does owe the interviewee a polite rejection.

    Companies that don’t may run the risk of a ding on their reputation within the interview field. Maybe companies that are very desirable do not mind that. More young (and some of us not so young folks) professionals do expect to hear back if in the process with actual in person on site interviews. And yes, word spreads fast if your company is one of those ghosters to interviewees. I have had to encourage some great candidates to apply at certain companies / universities that they were writing off because they knew of other candidates that put a ton of effort / PTO / airplanes / into the interview and did not get a “Thank you” rejection. It can come across as – heck, “if they can’t tell me that after this many interviews, what are they not going to tell me if I work there?”

    It is kind of like a thank you letter – it probably won’t help, but if your company doesn’t do it – it could potentially be a negative.

    1. voluptuousfire

      One thing to keep in mind is that a recruitment team isn’t necessarily representative of the company as a whole when it comes to rejection emails. I’ve worked with some not so stellar recruiters as a recruitment admin and it really sucks because they’re quite often the first contact someone has with a company. If they’re not good at their job, it can paint an inaccurate picture.

      1. Autumnheart

        A recruitment team is literally representative of the company as a whole. That’s their job description in a nutshell. If they’re not good at their job, fire them.

      2. Kat in VA

        Because of this, I literally just emailed my executive (after 8:00PM, ugh, I gotta stop working) and asked if we sent rejection emails to candidates that we passed over after an interview. I hope the answer is “Yes”, and if it’s not, my next question will be, “Why not?”

  52. bluephone

    I can understand not wanting to invite aggro from people upset about being rejection but I still think that if you’ve actually had an interview with a company (even if it’s just an initial phone screen), you’re owed an actual rejection. Radio silence *after* making it to the interview stage (ESPECIALLY the in-person interview stage) is particularly insulting and I’m definitely side-eyeing any company that does that (and hiring managers who try to justify the practice).

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

      The last place I interviewed with, I followed AAM’s advice and asked the hiring manager about the timelines. She said she didn’t know, and to ask their recruiter (the one that had initially contacted me). The recruiter said I’d hear back in about a week. It’s been seven months. I heard nothing. I will definitely remember that if they decide to contact me or my friends in the future for another opening. I get it that nobody likes to answer a direct “when will I hear from you?” with a “never”, but then you’ve got to follow up on the timelines you yourself gave the candidate. Or just be honest and say “never”. This throwing out of random dates, that no one intended to follow through on, was what annoyed me the most.

      1. bluephone

        Urgh, that sucks and I’m sorry you went through that. I definitely still remember the companies that scheduled me for interviews (which meant time off from my current job, commuting to the interview place, preparing, etc) and then never bothered to actually let me know one way or the other.

  53. Wild Bluebell

    I’ve recently received a rejection email from a “no-reply” email.
    So they let me know they decision, and I can’t write back and argue (not that I would want to do that).
    Easy.
    There’s no reason other companies can’t do that.

  54. 653-CXK

    I put the rejections and the ghosting by companies into two separate buckets.

    I find it more respectable and classy to get the “Thanks, but we’ve decided not to move forward” letter because it shows fairness to candidates, that the company is doing its due dilligence, that they know that every candidate isn’t going to be The One, and while they don’t give much information, I can move on to other companies that are interested. (Also, if they state, “we’ll hold on to your resume and if there’s anything else we can find, we’ll get in contact with you.”)

    The ghosting and ignoring by other companies I consider a bullet dodged. Ghosting is passive-aggressive – they prefer letting you hang rather than telling you outright, “We (HR, managers, supervisor) didn’t like you,” “You don’t fit our (toxic, micromanaging) culture,” “We contacted your references, and while you told us X, they actually said Y (e.g. you told someone you got laid off but you were fired for embezzlement)” To wit: “If the phone doesn’t ring, you know it’s me.”

    Also, if they’re not going to give you a second look, a call back, or an offer, imagine what other things would happen if you DID get the job. Cliques, gaslighting, second-guessing, micromanagment, stress…stuff that HR was so glowing about in the past has morphed into pure hell.

    When I follow up, I give it two weeks, follow up once, and then move on. If a company is still interested in me after a phone screen or formal interview, they know where to contact me. It’s OK to ask once, but if you’re not getting answers, write it off and learn from it.

    1. 653-CXK

      Addendum:

      (Also, if they state, “we’ll hold on to your resume and if there’s anything else we can find, we’ll get in contact with you.” they may well find you a position that does work out for you. I had an interview a couple of weeks ago where the job was not a good fit, but the HR representative stated she would hold on to my resume.)

  55. DaniCalifornia

    I got a rejection this past Friday night at 10:30pm. It was kind of a bummer, and I was surprised by how late it was, but I appreciated getting one and just thought “Well I’ve applied to job ads at late hours.”

    My husband jokingly pointed out that perhaps it was indicative of the culture there and maybe I’d dodged a bullet. Who knows?

  56. Anon Person

    The one that still sticks in my craw was where I’d interviewed for a job that was part of a group hire thing for a government agency. I was told I was a finalist, and they had me come in and filled out the I-9 form, I was finger-printed, and then posed for a photograph for an I.D. badge. I was told that I’d be getting a call to come back and pick up my I.D. badge, after which I was ghosted.

    I knew the job’s start date and phoned the H.R. department on the Friday before the job started, but no one was in the H.R. department on Friday, so I left a message. I phoned them again on the morning the job was supposed to start, but no one answererd and I left a second phone message. Around noon I got a terse one sentence email from an admin telling me that I was NOT a finalist, but inviting me to apply again for other openings in the future.

    I think they only sent it because I nagged them and followed up. I can even rationalize not being hired after coming into the office for the I-9 form, finger-printing and photo, but I really think that they should have notified me that I was not a finalist before the job start date. (It wouldn’t have hurt if they would have thanked me for coming in, filling out all the paperwork, getting fingerprinted and posing for a photograph.)

    Five months later I received an almost identical email from their H.R. department telling me that I was NOT a finalist and inviting me to apply again for other openings in the future.

  57. Bookworm

    I’m not going to lie, getting rejected for a job I really wanted sucks but at least I know.

    I can’t tell you many times I’ve had total radio silence even after following up with HR, doing what you’re supposed to do (thank you notes, polite follow-up but not pushy, etc.). Once or twice I’ve gotten really pissed and followed up with another email saying I still haven’t heard back (although I make sure the email is toned down) and still I never hear back.

    It’s time consuming and can be awkward, I get it. But it’s a really garbage thing to not let a candidate know in any way. It does say something about your organization and that can get around via gossip, Glassdoor, etc. Obviously feedback is helpful but just letting a candidate know you’re not proceeding any further in the process or offered the job to someone else can go a long way.

  58. Betsy Bobbins

    You know, there are parts of my job I don’t enjoy either but I still have to do them. Avoiding sending a rejection letter to a candidate who invested time and money (PTO day, travel, clothes, etc.) because they might have an unpleasant reaction is just plain wrong, full stop. While it’s unpleasant to receive a vitriolic reply, it’s part of the job that goes with hiring. If someone spends a significant amount of time interviewing, that investment of time on their part deserves a response and an e-mail rejection is the very least that can be done.

    1. Lucy Montrose

      Exactly.
      I’m glad the form letter examples shown here say things like “we decided to go with another candidate”, responses that don’t subtly make the applicant feel at fault (like “we hired a candidate that was a better fit”). It puts the onus on the decision or the company, not the applicant; and doesn’t leave the applicant with self-loathing on top of feeling rejected.

  59. Database Developer Dude

    This article wants to justify not sending rejection letters on the part of the employer, but if the potential employEE doesn’t communicate a rejection to an interested employer, all hell will break loose.

  60. Asenath

    When I was looking for work, I rarely got any kind of notice that I had been turned down, which I found incredibly frustrating, because I was left in uncertainty as to whether I still had a chance or not. For quite a few years, I did see it from the other side – admittedly, dealing with applications which were for positions quite unlike the ones I’d been applying for – and it was routine to notify those who didn’t make it to the interview as soon as possible – and those who were interviewed but weren’t accepted were notified through a computerized system a few weeks after the last interviews. For the first, and much larger, group, all it took was picking the names out of the spreadsheet with all applicants (re-checking them again and again because I was paranoid about sending someone the wrong email) and doing a mass email “I regret to inform you….”. It was really very little work. We did sometimes get follow-ups asking for feedback on their applications or if we can reconsider if someone on the shortlist canceled, but generally weren’t able to help and said so. We also sometimes got questions – polite, always – after the interviews from people we didn’t choose, but at that point we were highly unlikely to have someone withdraw creating an opening and everyone knew it.

  61. Friday Night

    My last job search was semi-international. The required documents for each job application were extensive at the level I’m at (In addition to cover letter and resume, another 10 pages of polished writing tailored to the specific location, and including descriptions of how you would integrate with unique units in the department – which changes with each job application). Still – despite the effort I put in just to send out a reasonable application, lets ignore everyone that didn’t get back to me at all….

    I got 10 interviews, at least a full day each, sometimes more. Most of them required multiple hours of travel (sometimes cross country ). Four of those places fully ghosted on me – not a word for months (even after a final attempt on my part to close the loop because I had offers).

    50% of the places that spent thousands of dollars to interview me just dropped off the face of the planet.

  62. Lucy Montrose

    Not getting a rejection response actually makes me more worried– that the reason I was rejected was a personality or character shortcoming. Something that gives me the impression that the only way I could become a better candidate would be to find a time machine, go back, and get better life experiences the second time around.

    Ghosting is not the same as “rejected for emotional or cultural reasons”, but the two do tend to go hand in hand, especially because that kind of rejection is too tough to deliver in any kind of manner that won’t burn the employer later.
    So, therefore, if I get ghosted, I assume the worst– the employer didn’t like my vibe, and therefore I am out of consideration in a way that’s more permanent than not being sufficiently qualified. (You can gain more qualifications. It’s a lot harder to get a new personality.)

  63. Gumby

    I’ve been ghosted multiple times and barely remember them though I was annoyed at the time. But the one time I was almost sorta-ghosted is the one that sticks in my head.

    Sent a resume, got an email asking about a phone screen, responded with availability, realized a few hours later my response went to one person rather than the HR email so re-sent it to the general HR address. For context – said company had a blog and a prominent post on it was the CEO talking about business etiquette and the importance of follow up emails and clear communication. After I sent the second email the CEO contacted me to set up a phone screen. During the phone call he said he hadn’t planned to get back to me at all but my second email changed his mind because: follow through. I was pretty annoyed at that since it made it clear that the vaunted importance of follow up applied only one way – he would have been fine ghosting me after asking for my availability for a phone screen. I really should have said something to that effect “Oh, I see, so when you wrote about etiquette in your blog post you meant that people needed to treat you that way, not that you should extend it towards others. Thank you for your honesty; that is useful information to have. I do not believe this is a good cultural fit but I wish you all the best in finding a candidate.” But I didn’t and thus endured a phone interview that did have a few okay points, but during which he also laughed at me twice – in a clearly mocking way. Pretty sure they ghosted me after that too though I was relieved at that point. To be clear – I in no way expect a response to applications but if *you* ask for a phone screen interview then I do think you owe me a response once I tell you my availability, even if it’s that you changed your mind.

  64. Ok_Go_West

    When I hire, I believe that I am representing my company to the public–the section of the public that is applying for a job with us. I do not work for Google, Amazon, or some other highly desirable workplace, so I cannot afford to alienate anyone. I make an effort to respond to all job applicants, even those who just send resumes, to let them know they have not been selected (I do not believe this is absolutely necessary at this stage, but I do it anyway). Not contacting someone whom I met face to face is unimaginable.

  65. Claire

    As a project lead in IT, I always sent a rejection, even if it was a form. I’m also a novelist, and in publishing, it’s become more common that no response means no. Part of that is because any kind of feedback often leads to an argument. More than once, it’s led to desperate authors tracking down an agent or editor and attacking them.

    1. turningheads

      It will only lead to an argument if the HR employee entertains the argument. If she ignores further contact after the rejection letter, there won’t be one. An argument requires the participation of both sides.

      Through years of working in customer service, I’ve learned the best way to deal with arguments with people is to say nothing so you don’t give them what they want: A confrontation.

        1. TardyTardis

          That’s the excuse that publishing *uses*. It doesn’t actually happen any more than people rob banks.

  66. turningheads

    I even got to the background check stage of the interview process somewhere, and then I was ghosted. I have no arrests or convictions on my record either.

    My suggestion to employers is to use Martha Stewart’s line: “You just won’t/don’t fit in here.”

    She also tells people that when she fires them.

    1. Casper the friendly ghost

      You were probably a runner up candidate. They ran your background check in case their first choice had some issues with their background check.

  67. Amy

    I deleted a much too identifiable comment.

    tl;dr If you do leave a candidate on the back burner as a 2nd choice for reason X, that can backfire even if they’re eventually hired. If that candidate is ultimately brought onboard, he may never stop worrying about X. An employee who worries about their long term potential with a company behaves in a more self-focused/future-focused manner. If that’s not what you want, don’t keep people hanging at all, just cut them loose.

  68. lnelson1218

    I understand as a job hunter in this age of automation that when submitting a resume on line and after getting that automated response “if we decide to move forward with your candidacy, etc…” that is all you get.
    But correct, if one puts in an actual interview, especially in person, it would be common courtesy to at least get an email: thanks but no thanks.
    I read somewhere that candidates were beginning to start to not show up for interviews without a word, or not start jobs. While continuing that bad behavior is not correct, there is a certain amount of “do unto others….” If you the employer ghost all the candidates, they might not be so eager to turn to you when the other guys actually shows them some attention, like actually responding to your email.
    As an HR person there are some recruiting agencies that I will not use based on how they treated me as a candidate. Which includes only sending me “crickets”

  69. Nonprofit whisperer

    Confession: I have been the hiring manager that doesn’t let people know, or took forever to do so. It 100% has nothing to do with the candidates, and everything to do with my own shortcomings and the way the process goes. Here’s the thing: the interview process can take weeks, especially if there are multiple rounds with different committees (pretty common at lots of nonprofits). Then you’ve made your decision, but you don’t want to let people know they weren’t hired until your chosen candidate officially accepts. That can take another few weeks, depending on HR, how long it takes the candidate to decide, how long it takes to get them the offer letter and have them sign it, etc.

    So that can easily be 6-8 weeks. And then … it’s frankly just really easy to move on and forget to to notify people, even if they interviewed and were strong candidates. Especially if you have a ton on your plate and now you’re thinking about onboarding a new person. I know that’s shitty, but it’s true. (This is why HR often handles this, because they know they can’t trust hiring managers to do it)

    Not excusing this at all, I still cringe at the memory of the people I took forever to notify or didn’t notify at all (the latter is a small group, from my first year as a manager, but still, ugh). But man, I wish I’d understood all of this when I was jobseeking myself! (I’m now a consultant, and potential clients are even worse! They’ll ask you to submit a proposal in the next 5 days because it’s so urgent and then take months to get back to you, or just not respond at all – I guess it’s my karma …)

  70. JulieCanCan

    In one job I held, recruiting was one of six hats I wore (HR, Operations, Accounting, Payroll, Recruiting, IT), and I was hiring assistants that were always very fast turnover positions (held for 1-2 years max), often with 2 weeks to interview, hire, and hopefully train a new hire while the outgoing assistant was still around. I’d need to very quickly post a job, review 100-200 resumes, schedule 20-25 interviews with the top candidates (depending on how picky their potential boss was), interview them all and figure out who to move to the next step – all while doing everything else my regular job entailed. My plate was overflowing when hiring wasn’t happening and interviews weren’t part of my daily schedule.

    I would tell people after interviewing them that if the manager (potential boss x) was interested in meeting them, someone would contact them within the week. Meaning, if you don’t hear from us in 5 business days, it’s not going further. I barely had time to breathe, so the thought of contacting every single person we weren’t bringing back wasn’t even a thing I considered. They could call me after 10 days if they needed more concrete closure. With the 5-7 people who DID come back to meet with the manager (potential boss x) that we were not going to hire, I’d email them to say “Thank you for coming in, it’s not going further with Potential Boss X but I’ll hold on to your resume in case anything opens up in the near future.” Feedback? No. I didn’t have the time or resources to spend time on giving detailed feedback (and I didn’t really have any – at that point it was all based on Boss X’s preferences and it was 100% his decision). Sometimes when there was a candidate who was pretty pathetic (despite looking good on paper) and it was to the point where I almost felt sorry for them, I’d give them honest, to-the-point suggestions to improve their hope of even landing a job while they were still sitting across from me in my office. I wouldn’t word it that way obviously. But there were some kids who would act so cocky or dress quite inappropriately or just miss the mark in such an obvious, glaring way that I felt it was my duty as a semi-decent human being to at least clue them in. What they did with that information after that point was up to them. I just wanted to steer them in the right direction.

  71. HailRobonia

    In one of my previous jobs at a university one of my duties was supporting the faculty searches. They were very cyclical; applications start in September and then run through the fall, and by February the candidates were selected and invited to interview. I was responsible for sending out the rejection emails to everyone but the tiny handful of interviewees, and on more than one occasion these were sent out on Valentine’s Day. I joked that the letters should be e-cards with the saying “roses are red, violets are blue, we’re going to hire someone, but that one isn’t you.”

    On a serious note, the only responses we ever got were people thanking us for letting them know, and more than one person mentioned that were especially appreciative because other schools they applied at had never responded to them at all.

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