what to do when candidates don’t respond to interview invitations

A reader writes:

When I’m hiring, I email the applicants I’m interested in with an invitation to set up a phone interview. That usually works fine, but some applicants simply never respond to the request. After what I think is a reasonable amount of time (at least one week), I have been sending an email that basically says that due to their lack of response, we’re now moving forward with other applicants. Being responsive and communicative is incredibly important in my field, so if people aren’t responding, I doubt they would be a good fit.

However, what I’m finding is that upon getting this rejection, many of the applicants reply that they would like to interview if I have time now. I don’t generally take these requests because I can’t help but think: if they really wanted to interview, why wouldn’t they respond before this? Why would they wait until they get a rejection? Should I just use a generic rejection that doesn’t recognize that the applicant was previously invited to phone interview? If not, is there some verbiage that would work better than what I’m using?

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 190 comments… read them below }

  1. The Cosmic Avenger*

    I mean, if you have only a handful of people you want to interview, or even if there are only a handful (and I mean that literally, <=5) that didn't answer the email, I might call them, especially the most promising. And I hate the phone as much as anybody, but if the first email went to spam, or one email provider is even blocking the other (rare, but I've seen it happen many times over the decades), the follow-up may not get through either.

    But, of course, there's no obligation to do so, I would just hate to not give someone a chance for an unknown reason that might not have anything to do with them as a worker/applicant.

    1. CC*

      Yep. I know everyone hates calling, but in this situation, I would call, especially if you’re going to get upset about missed emails and since the interview will be via phone anyway.

      1. Cobol*

        Agree, i am a hate calling, but once you’re extending an interview invite i think an email and call, even if the call doesn’t come until a day or two later is warranted.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      That is what I was thinking as well. There are enough reasons that someone might not get the email that a phone call after 3 or so days makes sense, especially if this was one of the candidates that was at the top of the list. I don’t think I’d call everyone but if you issue 10 invites and 4 don’t respond and of those 4, 2 were in the “definitely want to talk to” pile and 2 were in a “must get to 10 candidates” pile, I’d call the 2 you really wanted to talk to.
      I know in one instance, a friend created a whole new email address just for job searching with wide open spam filters so she wouldn’t miss anything but on one application, she forgot to add the “.” between her first initial and last name (i.e. JBengel@email instead of J.Bengel@email) because her existing email and work email did not have that. Luckily for her, she was a perfect on paper candidate so the company called when they didn’t hear back. She was absolutely mortified and that came across in the call so she ended up with the interview and the job. She’s been there about 8 years now.

      1. Where's the Orchestra?*

        I actually had something similar happen from the sender’s side. The person setting up the interview via email mistyped my email address, and didn’t realize it had happened until they called me to follow up on the non-response. They took it in stride, autocorrect can do odd things at times.

        I was so glad that they called me, because I ended up getting that job and being there almost six years (and would have been there longer if we hadn’t had to move because of my husband’s job getting regionalized).

    3. blepkitty*

      This. Depending on the situation, there’s also the possibility that a typo occurred or, if it’s an online form, the applicant’s browser autocompleted to the wrong email address. Just the other day, a friend of mine got a call for an interview after she’d failed to respond to an email she never received.

    4. A Reader*

      I like the phone call idea, but would only add that it should be a way to schedule a future phone interview with the candidate. It shouldn’t segue into the actual phone interview unless the candidate mentions it’s ok.

    5. Adalind*

      This! After a recent update, my email suddenly likes to send almost everything to spam whether they are approved or not. I have tried to get in the habit of checking everyday but sometimes I forget so it’s totally possible to miss an email. I would hope if I missed it and I explained the situation the hiring manager may be more understanding. You can’t always jump to the “they are ignoring me and just plain rude” response. Some people may very well be, but not all. I too hate calling, but do appreciate those who call to confirm or schedule interviews.

    6. Toothless*

      Agreed! I almost missed an interview with a place that I ended up interning with because the person emailing me misspelled my email address when they sent me the interview invitation. In that case, I’d been told in-person that they wanted to interview me and the day, so I knew to call and see what was up, but if I hadn’t known that then I would have seemed like one of the flaky candidates in the letter.

  2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    I hate to suggest something that reeks of hand-holding, but would it make sense in the ad and application process along the lines of “candidates who pass our resume screen will be contacted via email for further discussions…”?

    1. CL Cox*

      I don’t think that’s needed, when candidates provide their contact information, they should reasonably expect a potential employer to respond via one of those methods and be checking regularly. And the standard employment path is that the employer will reach out if they are interested in moving further with you.

    2. Drago Cucina*

      I do this and still get emails weeks later that state, “I don’t check email. Can I still interview?” I want say, ‘No, because you already didn’t follow the basic instructions.’ I don’t, but by then interviews have taken place.

  3. Jessica*

    I suspect that the candidates in the bucket of people trying to ignore the issue without explaining it are embarrassed, and are simply hoping that they won’t get called out on it and the hiring manager will let it go. They’re the same sort of people who will use the “talk past the elephant in the room and hope it goes away” approach in dealing with day-to-day business interactions, which can end up having serious consequences.

    I’ll be the first to admit that fear of being embarrassed, “bothering” coworkers, and/or exacerbating an awkward situation were feelings that I had to get over, but that’s a necessary skill in the workplace.

      1. Jessica*

        I don’t think it is, given the facts. Missing someone’s email because you didn’t check spam or just didn’t see it while waiting on a job is a huge, egregious error that should be apologized for or at least clarified. I wouldn’t want to work with one of these people on a day-to-day basis when smaller issues are at play.

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          I don’t think it rises to the level of “huge, egregious error” and the “while waiting on a job” part feels like a lot. When you’re job searching, you can be waiting on dozens or hundreds of jobs. It’s not like you’re waiting on this one job and ignored the hiring manager. It could be that this will translate to day-to-day communications, but I agree with Mike C. that it’s a big leap. I think it’s safer to assume that this person’s written professionalism and email communication isn’t the best and I would definitely not move forward if those were crucial to their job. I wouldn’t assume they are really non-confrontational or meek.

            1. Triumphant Fox*

              Agreed! And yet, some do, or some use services that send out their resumes to many places. People are desperate, or haven’t job searched in a while, or think volume will get results. I would definitely side-eye the person running a pretty poor job search that way but it doesn’t mean they are afraid of confrontation or are that this is just SO SERIOUS when they don’t respond to an email and fail to be appropriately apologetic because they should have been waiting by their computer to hear about this job. It’s not great, but it says more about their professionalism than their courage or their inability to work with others.

          1. Massmatt*

            If someone’s search is involving dozens or even hundreds of applications, it’s all the more important to check your spam filter and junk mail folder thoroughly.

            And for god’s sake, check to make sure your voice mailbox can accept messages! I have frequently found VM boxes full, no way to leave a message.

            We hear so much about how people are adopting technology, and how this generation is the most connected in history, yet in too many cases people are actually reachable only by snail mail.

            1. Triumphant Fox*

              Definitely! And it’s definitely unprofessional not to acknowledge that you didn’t respond in the first place – it’s part of professional communication. I think we can conclude that someone who just breezes past the fact that they didn’t respond might be inconsiderate or just out of touch with professional norms. I don’t think this person should get hired. What I disagree with is that we can extrapolate that the person is weak-willed, unable to deal with any embarrassment with colleagues or will try to get away without confronting any of their errors in the future from this instance.

              1. Jessica*

                Whatever adjectives anyone wants to put on it, I think it means we can expect that same, as you put it, “inconsiderate or out of touch with professional norms” behavior in the workplace, and therefore they shouldn’t get hired.

                1. Mike C.*

                  Again, it doesn’t. You’re literally just asserting this without any evidence or accounting for the fact that emails occasionally get missed. You’re just looking for a shortcut to hiring and this isn’t a useful one.

        2. Mike C.*

          Missing a single email isn’t a huge, egregious error and it doesn’t mean that such a mistake will translate to the mistake happening all the time nor does it translate to the mistake being made in other areas in this person’s life.

        3. Mama Bear*

          I once helped someone get in the running for an internship and then HR informed me that weeks had passed with no response, so the candidate was not offered the position. I later found out that the person had put an email address on their application and failed to check email after that. Even accounting for the youth and inexperience of the person at the time, I can’t blame HR for moving on. If you don’t respond, you’re not interested enough.

  4. Jdc*

    I actually could use help with this. I received a call from a resume i submitted a few weeks ago. I have no voice right now, seriously only a squeak comes out. I have no idea of the company as the person calling didn’t specify. I’m debating hoping it’s a cell and sending a text. If I could email i would but I applied to more than one company so I have zero clue who this is. The phone number isn’t even an area code to where I applied so guessing it may be a cell.

    1. Jdc*

      Also considering asking my husband to call and just explain, ask for an email and set up a phone interview ASAP, once I’m able to be heard. I’d of course never usually have him call but i don’t have many options.

      1. Ashley*

        I would have someone call main switch board and ask for that persons email with a willingness to explain situation. Then I would email the I can talk.
        You could always try to text back directly and it becomes pretty obvious it is a land line.

      2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        I was going to suggest this. You don’t want to miss out on a potential opportunity because you literally can not speak at the moment.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Ah then it may be either an unlisted number for the company [since with multiple lines, comes multiple numbers that roll over in most systems.] or it’s a cellphone. So I’d suggest letting your husband call and get another contact number for you if you text and get no response.

          1. Jdc*

            Ok I sent a very polite and apologetic text and explained. Not an iPhone so I can’t tell just yet if it went through. Hasn’t bounced back yet. If I don’t get a reply today I’ll have husband call. Good grief I want my voice back. Never completely lost it before.

            1. Jdc*

              Well she replied and frankly was just rude about it, “how do you expect me to interview you if you can’t talk”.

              I get that it’s not ideal but people do sometimes get sick. Perhaps bullet dodged.

              1. Annony*

                That is pretty rude. IM would be an option. Or scheduling for the latest date possible to hope you got your voice back. Or writing on a notepad. I agree that you dodged a bullet.

              2. Ann Onny Muss*

                Well, that was a rude response. Even a “I’m sorry you’re sick but due to a tight timeline, we won’t be able to interview you,” would’ve been better. It’s not like you got laryngitis on purpose.

                1. JDC*

                  Ya. And hey, I was fine three weeks ago when I applied. Hahaha. Really not interested in working for her at this point. Plus, I mean did she expect me to interview today? There was no saying how long my voice would be gone but people don’t tend to loose their voices for months. Makes me think she also wasn’t about to have much respect for planning in advance.

              3. kittymommy*

                Geez lady, show some freakin’ compassion! I would definitely mark this as a bullet dodged.

                And I hope you feel better!

              4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

                Bullet dodged indeed. And depending on the job, bordering on discrimination.

                This is 2020, there’s a lot of methods for communication.

                1. JDC*

                  Ya I thought that too. What if I had a disability? She clearly wouldn’t accommodate. I really was thinking “what on earth would happen if I got sick and needed a day off!”

              5. Potato*

                What a lack of empathy on her part! And it’s such an easy thing to just schedule your interview in a couple days when your voice will most likely be back. I hope you feel better soon, and good luck with the rest of your job search!

              6. Kate*

                Really, “I have no idea of the company as the person calling didn’t specify” already sounds like a bullet dodged.

                1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

                  I would say that’s just a yellow flag, lots of people forget how to leave a proper voicemail. Including leaving their company affiliation. It happens daily for us.

                  Just like the people who answer their GD phones with ‘Hello.’ and no identifying factors. Did I get the right ef’ing number?! Awkward….

                2. Sled dog mana*

                  Oh so true about people who answer with no ID. Can we include the Vendor rep I had to call today? His voicemail message was the stock “you have reached #xyz”. Um I’m trying to reach a vendor rep about purchasing an $80k piece of equipment, at least put your f-ing name in the voicemail.

              7. Count Boochie Flagrante*

                Bullet: dodged.

                “How do you expect me to interview you” come on, it’s not like you got sick on purpose.

    2. Nancy Pelosi*

      Can you have someone call back on your behalf, explaining the extraordinary circumstances? Alison advices not to include others in your work, but I think this an exception.

      1. Lil*

        this might be slightly deceitful, but what about (if you’re a woman) having another female friend call and talk as if it were you, with you right there telling her how to respond? since it’s just setting up an interview and it’s unlikely they’ll remember your voice exactly. just to get around the awkwardness of this unusual situation.

        1. Jdc*

          Well I think we can tell my husbands voice from mine. Plus I was just going to have him explain and have her email me or vice versa if possible.

    3. Jdc*

      And thanks for the replies everyone. I’m sorry for asking a question in a letter but I can’t really wait until Friday and just keep blowing her off. Plus if it is the one job I hope it is, still don’t know the company as it was posted anon, I really want to be in touch.

    4. NoLongerStuckInRetailHell*

      Jdc, I think you dodged a bullet, not just because of her rude response, but also for the fact that she was so disorganized that she didn’t identify herself and her company in her original message to you! Especially calling from a number you are not going to recognize. Does she think you haven’t applied anywhere else and are hanging by the phone like a teen hoping to be asked to the Prom?

      1. JDC*

        In all of my years of job searching it does appear people think you only applied to one place. I constantly get “what made you want to apply to this job” within 2 mins of talking. Well considering you posted it anon I HAVE NO DARN CLUE since shockingly I applied to more than 1 job. And when I have asked for clarification as to which ad was theirs it’s always met with annoyance.

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          I always attach a longer version of the job ad in my email and include the salary band in the body of my email so I can request all application materials when someone is interested in a position and has made it through the resume review. I still get cover letters with “I would love to work at NOT YOUR COMPANY” but not many, and I weed out a lot of responses from people just asking for basics or people who aren’t actually looking for this type of job.

          1. JDC*

            You sound like someone I would love to find out I applied to. (did that make sense? My brain is mush). I get expecting me to know if they weren’t anon but otherwise I am not a mind reader.

    5. learnedthehardway*

      I would just call and let the person know that you have a terrible cold and can’t talk at present. See if you can set up an interview for next week. If nothing else, the recruiter will KNOW for sure that you do have laryngitis, and that you’re interested in the opportunity.

      1. Jdc*

        Well it’s done now but I literally cannot he heard. No words are coming out so it wasn’t an option. I can whisper at best but even that barely

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          And stop whispering as much as you can! It’s just as much work for your larynx as talking is and will delay your recovery from laryngitis. Time to set up some flash cards for basic things around the house with your husband.

          –signed, a person who has had laryngitis more than once

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        For me it seems to be a 50/50 split between people who don’t identify themselves at all (“I’m calling about the job you applied to”) and over-identify themselves (“I’m Leighann with Corporation, and I am the hiring manager for the position you applied to on Tuesday, with the title of Senior Cat Herder here in City, at our City Facility…”).

        I’ve never really had an in-between. And I would much, much, MUCH rather have someone over-identify who they are with what company for what position in what city over someone who just calls me and thinks I’m going to remember what position I applied to 6 months ago off the top of my head (because it always seems to be the companies who get back to you super, super late that don’t introduce themselves).

  5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    You’re always going to get these non-responses, lots of times it’s because stupid sites like Indeed sends out resumes that aren’t really looking for jobs [sigh] and other times it’s because they’re resume spamming on the fly and aren’t seriously invested in the job search aspect.

    You’re doing everything right. I agree with Alison, there are those occasions you get someone who really is interested and haven’t looked at their email because of reasons/circumstances. I’m always receptive of people who say “I missed this email because I’ve just recovered from a bad flu and just now checking my emails. Is it possible to move forward, I really am still interested in the opening!” [Thinking of that person from yesterday who’s dad died suddenly and the job offer they received wasn’t responded to!].

    But otherwise just a “Oh no, I’m still interested, let’s do this.” without any backing of why you dropped the ball, no thank you. That’s giving you a look into what that person is going to do when they simply “forget” to check their work email or miss deadlines or make a mistake that they need to at least accept accountability for. No thank you, bye.

    1. kittymommy*

      This explains why I would get a rash of calls from people about the “job I applied for”!! What the what? I have’t applied anywhere in almost 10 years.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It took me like two job listings to figure it out. I was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo frustrated and was all “What’s wrong with people…” before I got the same resumes spit at me the next time and did some more research and figured out what the hell was going on! I HATE IT. Now I’m one of those jerkwads asking people not looking if they’re interested in our great job opportunity that’s probably nothing that they want actually. BARF.

    2. Anax*

      On an ancillary note, I’ve also had a few interview invitations on Indeed et al. which were so offputting that I didn’t respond.

      Some responses were written like Nigerian Prince emails – not people who speak English as a second language, who are very common in my field, but writing, formatting, and tone which were totally incongruous in a business context, which made me concerned about professional norms at the organization in general. If the face of your company is using 30-pt red font with fifteen exclamation points and a lot of misspelled words, and you don’t have enough online presence for me to confirm that this is just one weird hiring manager or recruiter… Oof. Maybe not.

      Some companies didn’t make it clear either from their online presence or their job listing that they’re a contracting company, and seemed to be actively hiding that fact until someone applied. I’ve seen quite a few predatory contracting companies in my field, who take a large cut of income but provide little to no added value, so companies which weren’t up-front worried me.

      And once or twice, I just got… really creepy vibes. Especially as a queer/trans/AFAB person new to the area, with those, I trusted my gut and ghosted – I’ve been stalked a few times, and when a hiring manager gives me those vibes, it feels safer just to nope out.

      In all of these, I felt like there was no chance I would take the job if offered, and I was concerned that further communication would lead to them trying to convince me and getting rather pushy, so non-response seemed like the safest option. Probably not ideal, and probably not what the LW is dealing with, but potentially interesting data for the hiring managers out there.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Oh I know the tone you’re talking about. BEEN THERE so many times, especially back in the day when Craigslist was the go-to for job ads and correspondence.

        And when you speak of 30pt red font, I’m screaming because I had a boss who did that [no red font though, just huge font] and all caps but turned out he was blind as a bat and constantly losing his glasses. Thankfully though, that wasn’t who dealt with his job posts/correspondence, heaven forbid if he did.

        So many contracting companies pull that move. And it’s the only red flag I need [and the fact I don’t do contracting companies unless I’m desperate and I’m rarely desperate.]

        1. Anax*

          Yyyyyyup, that Craigslist vibe – I’m too young to have used it professionally, but that’s very much the tone!

          And I feel so bad for folks who get stuck with terrible contracts through them; at least in IT, they seem to prey on folks who’re recent immigrants, and I’ve known too many good coworkers who were getting 10-30% of their pay taken off the top for no benefit.

      2. Environmental Compliance*

        Weirdly, I’ve gotten nothing but really good interview offers/communications through Indeed. Field difference, maybe?

        1. Anax*

          Likely! I’m in a VERY flooded market – literally IT in Silicon Valley. There’s enough candidates that almost any position will get applications, and a lot of startups and venture capital projects which may lack normal online presence and bend business norms.

          (It was a VERY weird place to apply, coming from the Midwest – Tons of openings I qualified for, but so many applicants that the hiring managers could afford to be very picky about their “wishlist” qualifications and experience. Back in the Midwest, the problem was finding ANY openings I qualified for.)

    3. Senor Montoya*

      I would suggest the OP make sure they have typed the candidate’s email address correctly, with the correct extension (autopilot might lead one to type “.com” when the email address is “.edu” or “.org” or “.net”)

  6. Oh No She Di'int*

    In last Friday’s open thread, someone posted a link asking about a particularly terrible piece of advice (IMO) floating around out there that if you miss an interview, you should simply contact the person with no explanation–because unbeknownst to you it may turn out that they missed it too. This letter is not an identical situation, but close enough that Alison’s advice would seem to put that silliness to rest. I’ll re-post the link in a reply.

      1. Glitsy Gus*

        Oof, yeah, that is not the best advice. I mean, there is wisdom in not necessarily revealing everything from the start, but this is too far int he other direction.

      2. chronicallyIllin*

        I mean, they do say “Instead, all I did was apologize and ask if we could reschedule.”

        That’s not as bad as what these people seem to be doing, which is not even acknowledging any issue. OP of that post did apologize, they just didn’t give any big explanation. Plus, I get the impression that they were in a position where they didn’t feel like the actual reason was good enough to be a valid excuse, so they might have lied. A simple apology, no explanation, and going forward certainly seems like a better tactic than lying, and possibly a better tactic than telling an unflattering truth.

  7. Amber T*

    Can I tell an embarrassing story from my first bout of applying to professional jobs? It’s one of those things where NOW I completely understand how silly I was, but it just did not compute then.

    I had a phone interview with a pretty promising job and had communicated back and forth with the hiring manager via email quite a bit. We were discussing me coming in for an in person interview, and I had say any time on Thursday would work for me. She replied, “OK, how does 11 sound?” And I… just did not respond. I distinctly remember doing a happy dance around my room because I got an interview and putting it on my calendar. But I didn’t confirm. In my mind, because I said any time on Thursday, her giving me a specific time was definite. She emailed me a few days later saying since I hadn’t responded, I must not be interested, and good luck to me. I was so mortified that I didn’t respond *again.*

    Now I make sure I follow up and confirm every little thing.

    1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      Did you see the movie Detroit Rock City? The kid calls the radio station and wins the KISS tickets. He’s so excited that he hangs up and calls all his friends before giving his info!

      1. Leslie Knope*

        There’s a funny SNL short film where a couple meet in a coffee shop and they hit it off. He asks if she’d like to have dinner and she agrees and says, “Ok, so I’ll see you tonight” before walking away. Then as she’s getting into a taxi he yells after her, “Wait! Where are we going?! What time?! What’s your phone number?!”

  8. Ann Onny Muss*

    I never knew there could be so many llama-related professional mishaps until I started reading this blog.

    More on-topic, I’m currently dealing with something similar right now. A former college texted me to say a manager is interviewing “next week.” I’ve been out of the country and without internet coverage for the past 10 days, and I let her know that. Granted, this is not the hiring manager, but I agree it’s professional and plain old good manners to briefly explain why you didn’t respond to an email or text right away. Although hopefully it’s because of vacation or wonky spam filters, not unprovoked llama violence.

    1. Where's the Orchestra?*

      Throwing this out there, is it possible to set an away message on an email address other than in outlook (honestly don’t know because I’m not the most technically inclined and haven’t experimented) if you know you are going to be away from reliable phone/internet service for a few days to help with the delay in getting back to someone?

      1. Ego Chamber*

        I can’t think of an email service that doesn’t have that option, it’s usually called “vacation response” or similar. I don’t think it responds to spam messages though, so if that’s part of the issue, you’re still screwed.

  9. Rabbit Rabbit*

    Is this a reflection that we are moving away from emails?
    I would certainly keep checking my personal email if I applied for jobs, but otherwise, I tend to forget about it. Friends know that if they email me something, to text me to alert me. I’m a tail end baby boomer but I see this kind of dropping away of email with (younger) coworkers too.

    Also, sometimes it can take weeks or longer for the employer to email me about a job/interview and I might have given up checking my email so often by that point.

    I have had the same email for so long that I get all the things sent to it and it is filled with so much no that I should probably get a new email and use that for close friends, family, and job interviews!

    1. Katrinka*

      That could be true. You’d think that people who are looking for jobs would be paying attention to all possible lines of communication, but there are generational/personal differences. I saw a Twitter thread last week about someone who almost missed out on the opportunity of their dreams because they don’t answer unknown numbers and don’t listen to voicemails.

    2. ellex42*

      More, I think, a signal that many people have multiple email addresses that they use for different things, and check at different frequencies. I check my main email address, which I use for bills, employer-related things that wouldn’t go to my work email, internet order/delivery notices, and have used for job searching in the past, every day and at least once a day. I have another email address for social/social media/etc. which I often only check every other day at the most.

      I’ve met people who have kept their college or university email addresses for social and family stuff, but in an attempt to seem more professional/less “just out of school”, have a gmail or similar for job search/official type stuff.

      Per the “phone vs. email” question the other day, a lot of people use email to create a paper trail, so if I was seriously job searching, I’d make sure to check whatever email address I supplied – including the spam folder – at least once a day.

    3. LCH*

      i think job interview invites and job offers have too much info to supply in a text message. although i’d be interested in seeing how it could be accomplished. i guess i’m old (late gen x/early millennial) but i don’t want to review offered benefits on my phone.

      1. Anax*

        Millennial here, and honestly, I prefer email for a LOT of things – typing on a phone is so much more annoying than an actual keyboard.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          Same, also supposedly a millennial.

          I like text for things (especially gif keyboards, I’m awful) but for professional stuff, and formal stuff – nah, you can email me.

          However, I also don’t hate calling people, so maybe I’m weird.

      2. PBS*

        I’m a late millennial/early Gen Z, and my first preference would be email, then calling. I would not want a text message, as there would be too much info for a text. I think texting is alright once you are offered a job and use it as a way to communicate with managers, coworkers etc.

    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Honestly I think if a recruiter/hiring manager is contacting an applicant for even just a phone interview it should be by phone. Follow up details/confirmation can be done via email, but initial contact should be by phone. I know people nowadays don’t like talking on the phone, but it’s a professional necessity in certain situations. And yes, people phone screen but that’s what VM is for…if you’ve applied for jobs and you’re not checking your VM, that’s on you.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I’m never going to get on board with that. It just seems a way to make the step harder for no particular gain.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          Yuuuup. My least favorite phone call is trying to schedule something by phone.

          “Can you do Tuesday?”
          “No, Tuesday doesn’t work for me. How’s Wednesday for you?”
          “Sorry, Wednesday’s no good. Thursday?”
          “I can do Thursday morning?”
          “Oh, nope, all the morning slots are full. What about Thursday afternoon?”
          “Nope, sorry. Friday?”
          “Okay, Friday is pretty open, what time would you like to talk on Friday?”
          “Mornings are good for me. Something like 9 or later?”
          “We have an open spot at 9:30!”
          “9:30 sounds great! Talk to you then!”

          Holy god this is my nightmare just send a calendar link via email please and thank you. -_-

      2. learnedthehardway*

        I’ve had the problem of responding to applicants whose voicemail is FULL. You would think that a person who is actively applying for jobs would ensure they are checking their voicemail fairly frequently, but apparently not always.

        Also, if I’m reviewing resumes in the evening, I’ll email rather than call someone at an ungodly hour.

      3. Ginny Weasley*

        The problem with the initial contact being by phone in this context is that you don’t know where the applicant might be or what they might be doing at any given time. It’s different from calling a business contact during business hours where you have a reasonable assumption that they would be at their office and if not immediately available, able to easily jump out and answer the call. I’ve had potential employers call me while I was actively checking out at the grocery store, during a doctor’s appointment, and while I was driving. Applicants answering the call in all of those scenarios are going to either be unable to answer the call or be flustered and be a little off their game at best, which isn’t a great start to the process, even if it’s just for setting up a call at a later date.

        1. Another worker bee*

          yes, exactly this! I’ve had this issue so many times because recruiters are calling during the day, you know, when I’m at my CURRENT JOB. I’ve had this happen both for roles I have applied for and just out of the blue – usually I don’t pick up unknown numbers, but if I’m expecting a call from the vet or the car repair shop or something, I’ll just pick it up and then have to deal with being on the phone with a recruiter right in front of my boss. Not cool.

    5. Massmatt*

      Well, if people move away from email, what is the alternative? Phone calls? People answer their phones even less frequently than they look at their email. Texting? Not possible from landline phones, which are frequently used at work.

      I don’t see anything that can compete with the power and convenience of email. It’s not going away anytime soon.

  10. Kesnit*

    Make sure you have the e-mail address right. I once almost missed a chance to interview because the hiring manager read the lower case “l” in my e-mail address as a number 1. (Given that the e-mail address was firstname.middleinitial.lastname, and my name – including middle initial – was on my resume, I was confused on how the HM could make that mistake…)

    1. The New Wanderer*

      Not the same issue, but related: yesterday I couldn’t find someone in my internal company system because their last name had a number appended to it (presumably to differentiate from another person with the same full name). A search for the basic name turned up nothing because the previous person had left but no one updated the Lastname2 to reflect that. Also, what kind of monster codes a system where someone’s name has to have the number like that or it’s unsearchable??

      Big company, lots of email addresses with numbers at the end of them, but if you mean the number was replacing an l within your name, that’s just wacky.

    2. SweetestCin*

      All of this. I have multiple in-laws with the same first initial, and same last name, as I do. We all frequently get emails that are meant for a sibling or cousin because someone mussed up the email. (Its not a weekly thing, or even monthly, but honestly? I consider the 3-5 a year that I get for them, that are legit emails, to be a decent frequency. )

      And that’s not even working at the same company, but using one of the “big” address providers!

      1. Zephy*

        When I graduated in 2013, I set up email forwarding from my school inbox to my personal Gmail. I still get emails from my alma mater. Some of them might just be mailing lists that no one’s bothered to update, but recently I got some communiques from clubs that I never joined/that didn’t exist when I was there, so I think there’s just another student enrolled now with my same initial and last name who keeps forgetting they have a number in their email address (Z.Lastname2@college.edu vs Z.Lastname@college.edu, which was me).

    3. Captain Raymond Holt*

      I had a similar issue with phone numbers. I kept my old area code of “823” but moved to area code “873” – People saw the 1 and 3, assumed the middle digit was 7 (not 2) and called a number that didn’t exist. I’d then get some emails telling me that my phone didn’t work and have to explain to a potential employer that the area code was “823” not “873.” Some of them were quite rude about it!

      I know, should have changed my phone number/gotten a Google Voice number. Hindsight is 20/20.

      1. Lizzo*

        It’s amazing how people cover up their inability to pay attention to details with rudeness and won’t take responsibility for their own errors, no matter how small.

        It’s not uncommon for people to keep their numbers when they move to new areas.

        Point being: you keep rockin’ that 823!

    4. Where's the Orchestra?*

      I had a similar person who was setting up the interview misspelled my email address on the outgoing email, though they blamed autocorrect for the mistake (which is semi-believable). I was very glad that they called to follow up with me when I didn’t respond to the initial request.

    5. Environmental Compliance*

      Everyone misspells my last name. It’s kind of hilarious. Two L’s? Nope, just one. Where does the R go? There isn’t an R. And then of course it starts with the C/B/D/G/E nonsense that no one can hear right, and often aren’t listening when I do the E like Echo. D? No, E, as in echo. B? *sigh*

      I had a contractor recently get short with me because they couldn’t spell.

      My name isn’t even that difficult, nor long. My maiden name was much worse, but I had much fewer issues.

    6. Old Biddy*

      I have received an interview invitation from a medical cannabis company because there’s someone out there with a very similar email address. Making matters even funnier, my boss walked in when I was sending the ‘wrong person please check your records’ response.

  11. Margali*

    I’m amused because Alison’s recommended email script of “Since I haven’t heard back from you in response to the email below, I’m assuming that you’re no longer interested in the position. Best of luck in your job search!” is almost EXACTLY the one that I have autoprogrammed to send out when I’m closing out an application due to lack of response. I’ve sent hundreds of them, and I think I’ve maybe had 5, definitely no more than 10, people contact me apologizing for missing the first request and seeing if they can move forward.

    1. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

      I do something similar, though I usually explicitly ask if the candidate is still interested. The jobs that I am hiring for require a rather specialized combination of skills and interests; I rarely have a very rich pipeline of applicants, so I’m inclined to give people who fail to respond a second chance, if they still seem interested. If it turns into a pattern — and we do enough back and forth in our hiring process that there are plenty of opportunities for a pattern to form — then I become less inclined to continue.

  12. Leela*

    Definitely send your rejection e-mail in a way that leaves room for things you might not be considering! It’s very, very easy to fill in blanks yourself and go “oh they didn’t respond, they’re not good communicators” but they might have been hospitalized (I have serious food allergies and lots of other health issues, I have missed interview requests for this myself) or had some other catastrophe get between them and your e-mail.

    That probably won’t change anything about the ones who write back asking for you to re-consider if you have time but don’t give you an explanation, but I wonder if some of the responses you AREN’T getting are from good candidates who saw “due to your lack of response we’re moving on with other candidates” and figure there’s no point in circling back with you anymore.

    1. ACDC*

      I agree. The last time I was job searching, I went on a camping trip in the mountains where we had 0 cell service for 4 days. I came back and saw I had an email from a hiring manager wanting to set up an interview, with the email time stamped the first day I left town. I emailed them back as soon as I saw it and explained the delay in my response. They responded saying they didn’t think I was serious about this and we’re moving on to other candidates.

      1. Captain Raymond Holt*

        As a frequent camper, this is a fear of mine as well! I’m considering adding an OOO to my personal gmail on my next paddle camping trip if I’m job hunting.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        On the one hand – that was rather rude of the hiring manager.

        On the other hand – if you’re applying for roles, it is important to be contactable. In your situation, I would have left a message to the effect that I was going to be out of town with limited or no cell phone availability for a couple of days, but would be back on Month Day, and would respond to them then.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          That isn’t a realistic strategy. It often takes weeks (or months!) to hear from a company about interviews after applying, and I highly doubt employers would appreciate all applicants that haven’t even been whittled down yet calling or emailing with all the vacations they’re going on for the next 3 months. Even including this in application materials isn’t great, unless you’re going to be gone for a considerable amount of time. An away message on an email account, when possible, is a better strategy.

          1. Lizzo*

            +1 to away messages on email stating 1) no access to email until 2) a very specific date. Very easy to set this up on Gmail.

  13. Maria Lopez*

    If they give a credible reason why they didn’t respond to your e-mail (spam folder, out of town, etc) then I would consider the phone interview, but if they just want an interview without an explanation then no.
    And I wouldn’t ask for an explanation.

  14. DowningtownBill*

    Please, please, please double check that you have the correct email address. People get my address wrong all the time, even though it is just myname@emailprovider.com. Unfortunately, my name is very close to a famous historical figure and people’s brains go into auto-mode and just start adding letters that aren’t actually there when typing my name or email address. Then they call and are angry that I’m ignoring their email, which I didn’t actually receive.

  15. Reality.Bites*

    I once had an interview where I was reasonably sure of success – working for two people I’d been working with and/or for since 1989, at the third company we’d been at together.

    And after a few days I got a phone call, from the person I’d be replacing (who I’d trained at our previous company) why they hadn’t heard back from me. The job offer had ended up in my spam folder. I imagine if I didn’t have the 20 years knowing these people they might have never followed up.

    1. LunaMei*

      I nearly missed out on my current job because of the spam filter. Funny thing is, it was for a different position at my current workplace (a university), and I had received emails from the university domain numerous times with no problem. But I’m glad I was religiously checking my spam folder…I had applied to several jobs, so I was extra cautious. Ended up with the best job and boss I’ve ever had.

    2. Sled dog mana*

      I had a very similar thing happen. I had several back and forth exchanges with a prospective employer (who I worked for previously at another company). He said we’re making you an offer expect it by close of business (tomorrow). When I hadn’t received it by close on Monday I checked in (they were wanting a very quick start and I needed out of a bad situation so could accommodate). Emails from four others at company came through no problem, the offer got stuck in spam and I couldn’t find it. Fortunately they resent from one of the emails I was receiving. Ended up searching my inbox for the name of the person who sent the original email and found it but I wouldn’t have known to do that if I hadn’t followed up.

  16. Fikly*

    I always enjoy when people doing hiring complain about candidates they are interested in not responding to them, because 95% of applicants get no response from the people doing the hiring, even deep into the interview stage.

    Sucks when the shoe is on the other foot, huh?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s much more of a fleeting annoyance than for the job seeker. We forget about it within a few minutes and once the job is filled. So not really the same thing at all, I don’t know why you’re trying to act high and mighty right now, it’s just reading as petty.

      1. Amy Sly*

        It may not be quite the same given the power differential (though tone matters here: if this LW took the same high handed “I’m doing you a favor just to talk to you so you better dance, monkey, dance” attitude that the owner insisting on asking for salary expectations last week had, I’d be less than generous too), but I think it’s useful for hiring managers to recognize how irritating it can be to be ghosted and thus not ghost their own candidates. The Golden Rule doesn’t have a “unless you’re a business” exception.

      2. Fikly*

        Because when someone in a position of power is upset about something that is a tiny inconvenience to them, and they do they same thing to people they have power over and it has a far bigger consequence to those people, my options are seethe with rage at people in power abusing that power, or delight in their annoyance.

        I’m going to go with what lets me get through the day.

        It seems like you are arguing, well, it doesn’t hurt me that much, so nah nah. Yes, I agree, it’s nice to be the person in power.

    2. Jennifer Thneed*

      I have to agree with you! Yes, it’s all kinds of schadenfreude-y, but darn it to heck, I’m a human bean with human emotions and is *is* nice to see the shoe on the other foot.

    3. ...*

      Eh, not really. In my experience I just mark them in the system as no response and move onto the next candidate which there are usually plenty of….but I also never ghost applicants so

      1. Fikly*

        If you’re not complaining, then my comment is not addressed to you. In my experience, it’s the ones who behave badly who are outraged when they are subject to the same thing they do to others.

  17. Miss May*

    So here’s my question! I had an offer to interview that ended up in my spam folder, only to find out about it months after the fact. At the time I didn’t email back when I found out, because so much time had passed. Now, two years later, I’m interested at applying at the company again. Should I mention something in a cover letter? Or have my chances been squandered?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’d be interested in hearing some people’s opinions on this. It drastically depends on your internal controls of course but I don’t remember a damn person who never responded to our interview requests [there are plenty]. So I wouldn’t notice…

      But I know other places have tracking systems so it may be an issue or flagged on their side.

      I’d say don’t mention it. I don’t find it likely that they have that kind of intense tracking involved. Now if you had an interview and wasn’t offered the position, that’s more likely tracked because you are supposed to keep people’s application/resume on file for 3 years in case of litigation.

    2. LCH*

      i recently interviewed someone that had not responded to an interview request from one of my bosses in the past year. he mentioned it to me when i forwarded her materials when discussing my top candidates. but he also acknowledged his invite might have gone to her spam at the time. so you never know.

      1. LCH*

        i mean, she didn’t say anything about applying here before. i didn’t bring it up either. i agree about not mentioning it since it has been quite awhile.

    3. Marny*

      I wouldn’t mention it. There’s a good chance they won’t recall and didn’t note it anywhere– it may not even be the same hiring manager 2 years later. But there’s no benefit to reminding them it happened (or giving them negative info about yourself that they don’t already have).

      1. Where's the Orchestra?*

        And much more relatable for some of us as well. I don’t have premium TV (just the most basic level) so I was never able to watch a single episode of that show and all the references would just sail right over my head.

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          I did a google search on a couple of the names I kept seeing (Arya and Sansa, maybe?) and saw they were from GoT, and that’s as far as I went. I didn’t watch it, but I’m a real outlier in general about tv, as in, I don’t watch very much, and I get way behind on the shows I do watch. (Currently, Dr Who and Star Trek Picard, only I haven’t actually seen ANY episodes of the latter yet.)

    1. Curious_Llama*

      I love the mystery of it. We don’t know what the llama related incident was? Was it an assault? Llama originated disease? Was the llama galloping down the highway while intoxicated? Did a hoard of llamas take the non-responder hostage for a week? Inquiring minds want to know.

      1. Marthooh*

        Huh, probably just the usual boring “got up in the middle of the night and tripped over a llama on the way to the bathroom.”

        1. Aggretsuko*

          I have a no drama llama sticker from the Dollar Store in my bathroom!

          Note : a friend of mine who hasn’t been in my house later gifted me with a no drama llama mug and I was all “oooh, coincidence,” and then a month later a no drama llama came up on my new daily calendar.

          Llamas follow me around, as does drama.

        2. Jennifer Thneed*

          And that’s why llamas make terrible housepets, and people should just stick to alpacas instead. At 150 pounds instead of 400 pounds, they just take up so much less room. Plus they have cute faces.

  18. Meh*

    I have missed interview request e-mails before because of emergencies or spam folders, and they didn’t answer when I apologized for the delayed response and asked if they still wanted to set up an interview. So, now, if I didn’t see an e-mail for a few days for any reason I’d just ignore it. :/

  19. Bertha*

    Right around the time that GMail changed their sorting system and instituted those weird “sorting” folders, I received an email about a job and almost completely missed it. I was so upset because I VERY MUCH wanted that job, and I was mortified when I received a call from them a few days later that I had missed it! I was very apologetic and also thanked them for calling me to ensure I’d received the email. I didn’t end up getting the job, but my goodness I was grateful for follow-up. SO MANY THINGS can go wrong with emails, and I love the script here about “closing the loop.”

    1. TiffIf*

      Yeah I’ve disabled all of those auto sorting and tabs in gmail for this reason—things getting lost without me realizing it.

    2. Triumphant Fox*

      Yeah, gmail is weird. I got a response to an email I was waiting on from my aunt and it categorized it as “music,” which I didn’t even know was a folder, so I had no idea until she called me. I think I’d set up a job search only email and remove those sorting folders to simplify.

      1. Zephy*

        Just before I started CurrentJob, the hiring manager told me to check my email for my onboarding documents and get those completed ASAP. I spent 6 hours refreshing my Gmail inbox, then on a lark decided to look in my Trash folder(!). There sat the email from HR with the onboarding documents, from five and a half hours ago.

  20. weasel007*

    Totally an off topic comment here, but that graphic on your article is HUGE!! It nearly knocked me out of my chair when I opened the page!

  21. RP*

    Confirm you have their email account correct. Usually when employers email a candidate for an interview they are typing the email but the rejection emails are sent from the email you put in the system. My name has an E that is not in the usual spelling. I find many employers have typed it wrong and realized the mistake. The problem is there is a real email in gmail with the usual spelling so they don’t get a bounceback. It makes me wonder how many interviews I miss because they emailed the wrong address. But yeah – check email spelling.

  22. Elenia*

    I came to comment on the llama which really tickled me. I have walked with llamas, hugged llamas, fed llamas. They are pretty mild creatures! I don’t know what it would take to have a llama related incident, because they are the sweetest!

      1. Curious_Llama*

        Is the llama necessarily the aggressor? Perhaps the applicant was so eager to interact with a crowd of llamas that they accidentally fell off a cliff. Or perhaps they were protecting the llamas from aggressive alpacas.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Well, they ARE used as guard animals for alpacas, so there has to be some level of fierceness to llamas.

    2. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I am the survivor of a lama incident. When I was 10 years old, we went to a zoo and one spit down INSIDE the front of my shirt. It was gross and terrifying.

  23. Alice's Tree*

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’d love the OP to clarify that s/he’s sending them a letter of invitation, and not a calendar invite. The way it’s worded is ambiguous to me. If I got a calendar invite from an email address I didn’t recognize, I’d ignore it.

    If I were experiencing a lot of non-response like this, the first thing I would be looking at is how my subject line is worded. Are people mistaking it for SPAM? Is it vague and getting overlooked among busy inboxes? I’d try changing that up and see if I got more response.

    1. Calendaring Is Weird*

      I was initially going to comment about e-mail filters, because certain companies *cough Microsoft cough* host reputable and well-known free e-mail services that don’t even let you control the spam filters and are notorious for filtering clearly legit messages…

      Then I saw this comment, and it reminded me of a hilarious problem from when I was a student employee while still in school. At the time, students (and student employees) on campus got a very basic e-mail service, while staff were provisioned on Exchange (the server component to Microsoft Outlook on your computer). Of the staff who successfully used calendaring in Outlook, some of them just Would. Not. Learn. that if you tried to invite a student via calendar, it would show up to the student as a wonky e-mail with a weirdly worded subject (that eventually included the name of the calendar “event”, but only after some computer-y gibberish) and an attachment that was the calendar invite. The student e-mail had no calendaring extension installed, so… yep, it just looked like a weird glitchy message that most non-tech people would not be able to interpret.

      Since I knew enough about technology by the first time I got one of these to figure out the attachment was technically just a plain text file with an ICS extension (and verify it was safe, and open it in a way that wouldn’t harm my computer, and so on), I was able to gather enough to explain to the first person to invite me to an event what happened and how this could totally confuse people. This led to an amusing realization why some students just wouldn’t respond, and I didn’t get another invite via calendar for a while… until I did. I think it was ultimately 50/50 who understood why this system didn’t work and who couldn’t remember and kept sending wonky “e-mails” to students, but yeah, reasons to avoid using a calendar invite cross-e-mail-systems: this.

      Thanks for mentioning this. I totally didn’t even think of the term “invite” as ambiguously possibly meaning through calendar instead of as a message, but if that’s totally why the wordage changes between the invite and the follow-up, then this could totally be a case of people legit not getting what looks like an invite if the workplace uses one calendaring system and the applicant uses another with a different system (or even a service that just doesn’t have integrated calendaring).

      1. fposte*

        The OP says “email people,” though, so I think she means emailing people.

        (I don’t have integrated calendaring on my main email either, so I know the messages of which you speak!)

        1. Alice's Tree*

          OP said “email… with an invitation.” You’re probably correct that s/he meant “I am sending them an email and inviting them to schedule a call in the body of the email.” But that could also be read as “sending a calendar invite via email.” I hope it is the former, not the latter!

    2. Anancy*

      Agree—my first thought was that if this happens frequently, take a minute to look at your email language. Or have someone else glance it over. Make sure that your email is clear that you are inviting them for an interview and what times are possible, etc, and that you will wait for a response from them, and how they can get in touch with you, etc.

  24. Hey Karma, Over Here*

    I’ve read through the comments but didn’t find anyone else who is wondering if this a some new gimmick people are being told to do. “Don’t call them! Force them to call you/email you again and then offer to interview on the spot!”

  25. Anonny*

    Just another idea… if this has happened frequently, you might want to check into your own company’s IT settings. We had an ongoing project that was seriously hampered because apparently our servers will switch up IP addresses, which makes it seem like our emails are coming from different countries and then trigger recipient’s spam folders… even to people we’ve successfully emailed before.

    1. I'd Rather Not Say*

      I was going to suggest something similar. Our company’s filters can be a bit aggressive, resulting in delayed and blocked email responses to something I’ve sent out.

      I sent some information to a vendor’s tech support, and when I hadn’t heard back, I called them and was told they’d sent the email hours ago. I called our IT department, and learned their email had been blocked. It wasn’t even in my spam folder, it had been completely blocked.

      So it’s possible, some of these candidates have replied and the emails never made it to you. If there’s someone especially promising that you haven’t heard from, check with your IT department to make sure their reply wasn’t blocked.

  26. Elsie432*

    A long time ago, about a decade into my professional working life, I found myself out of a job after the organization I worked for closed. I became increasing desperate as time went on and was reduced to the Shotgun job search approach… I applied to every position I saw that had the word “llama” in the job title.

    I got an e-mail from a company that expressed interest in my resume, but when I reviewed the job description, I thought “OMG, why did I even apply for this job? I know about llamas, but I know NOTHING about grooming!” I didn’t reply to the e-mail because I was embarrassed. Despite my lack of response, the hiring manager followed up, eventually interviewed me, and I got the job! They trained me, and the job was great.

    I’ve moved on several times in the years since then, but my entire subsequent career has been built on a position that I didn’t think I deserved. Thank you, Hiring Manager, for your persistence!

  27. Admin in Arkansas*

    This makes me feel insanely anal retentive. When I was job searching, it was part of my daily routine to check every folder and subfolder that I had to see if I had any communications from anyone. I stopped screening my calls – every single one got an answer on the chance that it might have been a job offer. I just don’t understand how someone applies to a few positions and just assumes communication will be flawless. Leave no stone unturned! (I also kept an Excel sheet of the different positions and companies I had applied to, if for nothing else for the satisfaction that I was trying. …was also nice to send to my parents to confirm that no, I was not being picky and that yes, I was being turned down from serving/bussing/McDonald’s because a college degree was overqualified.)

    (P.S. I have never set up a voicemail and never will. Either call me back because its urgent, call later on the chance that I’m free, or email/text. I don’t need yet another repository for the chance to mis-hear your message or for you to not leave your name and number.)

    1. Mill Miker*

      This makes sense, until companies start taking months between the application and any kind of follow up. Especially if you’re just passively searching, at some point you have to take the email-checking back to a more reasonable level, and stop answering the 3+ spam calls all day.

  28. Cupcake*

    I almost missed out on my current (and wonderful) job because I never received the email that invited me to an interview, and I looked like a no-show.

    Recruiting called me back eventually to give me another chance since their other candidate wasn’t right for the job.

    I found out about a year later that my email account was set to delete all suspected spam from the server instead of putting it into a spam folder for me to review. I’m assuming that the interview invitation got flagged as spam.

  29. Nesprin*

    I gotta note that since OP describes her job as requiring strong communication skills, it seems deeply ironic her communications are not reaching their intended candidates the way she wants them to.
    There’s so many reasons why a candidate would not respond immediately to a single email (or worse a calendar invite).

    1. Dan*

      Yeah… I sort of have the opposite problem. A few years back, I applied for a job with the river place that everybody buys stuff online from. They didn’t interview me for the position that I applied for, but they kept my name in the database over the years. Every so often, a different recruiter will now cold call me about interviewing with them, which I just ignore, because I’m not on the market at the moment. Except… they always send me three emails, and the last one is really… offputting. It reads something like, “we’ve reached out to you *three* times, and haven’t heard anything. We can only assume you aren’t interested.” That language is fine for someone who indicated recent interest in an opening and now seems to have “ghosted”, but I find it offputting for something that is essentially a cold call years later. It would be much more tactful to write something like, “we’re sorry that you’re not able to chat with us at the moment. If things change, don’t hesitate to reach back out to us in the future.”

  30. AnonyNurse*

    Another side: I have a ‘difficult’ name and my email is first initial.last name@… I recently got a call from an agency who claimed they’d sent an email invite that I absolutely did not receive.

    My guess is that they misspelled my email address and either a) it went to an actual other person’s email who ignored it, b) they got a bounce back but missed it, c) the bounce back went to their spam.

    Fortunately, they did make that call when they didn’t get a response they expected. Email is imperfect and very prone to typos.

  31. BTDT*

    I’m a business owner and quite frankly, I have gone back to both call and email. INDEED, the platform we use pretty often, sometimes doesn’t send notifications, or randomly batches responses, etc. I call, leave a message to look for an email or feel free call back to set up an interview. Has dramatically reduced the missed connection problems.

  32. voluptuousfire*

    I run into this in my current role. If they don’t respond to the first email sent from our ATS, I reach out by copying and pasting the email I sent to them directly from my inbox a few days later. That usually does the trick. If I don’t hear from them after that, I close them out. Simple.

  33. Mme de Poppadom*

    Oh man, OW just added cold sweat to a nightmare situation… I would not be working at my current job for dream employer if the hiring coordinator didn’t reach out to me a second time.
    I never got their 1st interview invitation… it didn’t even go to spam folder. Did a search on the email keywords on their retry email, which clearly showed was sent, but nothing matched prior to the resend.

    In this world of simply not hearing back if passed over for selection, my days of excited anticipation of a call would have faded to resigned sadness were it not for their saving grace.

    So just imagine, instead of getting a second chance to come in after days of hopeful anticipation, I got a snotty email about how I’m clearly not interested.

  34. TeapotNinja*

    I’ve also had incidents where I haven’t been receiving emails, including emails from prospective employers when I was job seeking, I know have been sent. Email just isn’t a reliable communication mechanism.

  35. nonegiven*

    I just jacked up Outlook about not getting email from a specific domain. Suddenly my spam increased to about x 30 what I was getting before. They block and bounce a lot of stuff that never makes it to your spam folder, some times it is email that you want.

    1. What Was the Fix?*

      Just curious, what process did you follow to get Outlook to do that? I’ve also got an account and (like many others) it seems like sometimes I might well just not be getting legitimate e-mails.

      When support sends me to suggest a fix to this, I see folks complaining about not getting things like official government e-mails from official government support programs and stuff like that, and I almost don’t even want to imagine what kinds of important things I might’ve missed. If there’s a way to get the Outlook folks to modify an account to turn off the “you don’t even see it” filter and just start seeing slightly more spam, I’d love to opt in to that too.

  36. Chabas*

    It may be worth checking your phrasing on the invites. I recently received an invitation to a job interview the ended with a request to please inform them if the time and date mentioned did not work for me. I read that as a request to ONLY contact them in that case, and they would expect to see me at the interview if they did not hear back. I got an e-mail two days later asking about the non-response, and immediately confirmed I would be happy to be there. I will err on the side of confirming next time, but several friends agreed that they had read the phrasing the same way – I just assumed they had a lot of applicants and did not want their inbox to get flooded.

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      That kind of “rsvp regrets only” works for a social setting, but for a business meeting, it’s not confirmed until both sides say it’s confirmed. Because – as you have seen in people’s comments here – lots of emails just don’t get thru, or get mysteriously delayed.

      In any case, confirming is never wrong. I’ve even taken to repeating back the day AND date, as a double-check that nobody has mis-scheduled something. So in response to an invitation to come at 10am on March 6th, I’ll say something like “I’m looking forward to seeing you on Friday March 6 at 10am.”

  37. boop the first*

    Is there really anything you SHOULD do? It sounds like your system is working as intended: you send invites, you interview, you hire.

    The applicants that missed out have their own system: apply, schedule, suffer. If their system is failing at the scheduling stage, they need to adjust their system.

    If there’s anything you can do, is to not update applicants who seem to have dropped out. I missed out on an interview once because the hiring manager called me just after I left for a 4-hour shift. Four hours. I called back as soon as I could but the interview slots were full. Four hours!
    I don’t think “it’s easier to get a job when you’re employed” applies to my class of people. It’s completely the opposite. Snooze, lose. Seriously, four hours. No rational person is waiting a whole week to respond.

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