video calls are the worst way to do job rejections

Imagine you’ve interviewed for a job you really and have been waiting to hear back. When the hiring manager messages you to invite you to a video call, you’re thrilled—this must be the offer, you think, so you clear your afternoon, make yourself look presentable, and log into Zoom … only for the hiring manager to reject you on live video.

At Slate today, I wrote about why rejecting candidates on live video is a spectacularly bad idea … but one that’s gaining in popularity. You can read it here.

{ 212 comments… read them below }

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      It also seems like a waste of everyone’s time. Unless the employer just really enjoys watching others process disappointment.

      1. Vio*

        Somewhere a psychologist is adding “Using video calls to reject job applicants” to a list, just below “Animal cruelty”.

    2. Potoooooooo*

      Nothing more than the title should need to be said.

      Sadly, that’s not the case, because not everyone has that level of awareness today.

      1. lost academic*

        Exactly, but if I could just get someone to repeat it verbatim over and over at whichever people or companies think they should do this, I feel like it would be great.

    3. "Meritocracy" My Big Brown Business*

      I think my problem is that I didn’t think this was a thing until now, and unless this stupid dutch-tulip style trend gets nipped in the bud, companies are going to be forcing their employees and rejectees to go through this because some CXO without empathy decreed it.

  1. What the what*

    The last one—the in-person face-to-face—would have been especially awful. I got a rejection call once—which I appreciated at the time—but the more time
    I had to think on it, I became angry. Couple that with the fact that the person hired her best friend seemed to be unnecessarily cruel. I now encounter the person in a professional setting and it’s the first thing i think of when I see them.

    1. Pam*

      The only time I got a face-to-face rejection was for an internal position. It sort of made sense in the circumstance, but it was AWFUL. I had to pretend to not be absolutely devastated, then go back and sit next to the successful candidate (yeah, our desks were right next to each other) and pretend to work for another 3 hours. I couldn’t even take a break to decompress because it might make me look “emotional”.

      1. SpaceySteph*

        Yeah it does make more sense for internal positions, especially if the other option is that they call you and you can like see their office from your cube, but it still is nice to be able to get the news quickly over the phone and then get time to react in (semi) private.

      2. Dasein9 (he/him)*

        I did get this once for an internal position, but they approached it as mentoring out of a genuine desire to see me move up from my entry-level position and it was fantastic. The person who did get that job is still there, two decades later.

      3. Willow Pillow*

        The job I took a few months before COVID struck laid me off in person – I’d been working from home full-time since March 2020, government grants ran out that June. It was so stressful! I had even asked for context on what I was asked to return to the office about and got a vague “the nature of your position”. The people who were still working in the office were pretty cavalier about social distancing while I think I was still washing groceries at that point (I’m high risk). I was so upset about being made to come in for that news that I couldn’t even drive for a bit.

      4. Distracted Librarian*

        I was rejected for an internal position last year. I was notified via email, then my current boss and grandboss both followed up with me in person later. I felt respected and valued, even though it wasn’t the outcome I was hoping for.

      5. Maglev to Crazytown*

        The only time I received an in person rejection, it was an internal position. It was a little bit of a pushing my comfort zone position, but one I had the experience and ability to step into…. if not beaten out by someone with 20 years of experience on me (who I didn’t know had applied, as he was looking for an internal role change too). I had enormous respect both for the candidate who got the role (ended up becoming his employee about 2 years later while he was in that role), and for the hiring manager who gave me positive feedback on the interview but the bad news too.

        It was awkward as hell at the time, and all three of us an an excellent working relationship for years to come. But yeah, I would almost prefer an email, or just a phone call, rather than an in person.

    2. Antilles*

      It’s especially baffling because the interviewer presumably works in that building and knows that there’s traffic, tolls, paid parking, etc. You’re literally paying out of pocket for the rejection meeting!

    3. SaltyAdmin*

      This happened to me too! And it was after a 3 month hiring process. I already worked for the company in another division, which is probably why it make sense to have a rejection call rather than an email, but I was pretty bummed and it was hard to stay positive on the call. I had a lot of direct experience for the role and it turned out the manager hired an external friend. Thankfully I found a job at another company not too long afterwards, but I’m still a lil salty.

  2. The Analyst*

    My first job rejection (in 2010) was a phone call and I was so devastated – AND very young/still in college, so was fully unprepared for how to be professional in that moment. I don’t know how I got through it. It was very long, and then I sobbed in the student union. I vowed that I would never put someone in that position – and I haven’t! Thankfully I have never encountered rejection over phone/Zoom since but new fear unlocked.

    If employers want to make rejections feel more “personal”, the way to do it is an email rejection opening the door for the candidate to request feedback, and then providing that feedback (again, through email). That is it. That is the only way.

  3. Caramel & Cheddar*

    This makes me want job applications to have a section for preferred method of contact for a) job offers, and b) rejections after an interview. You are welcome to video call me for an offer, but please just reject me by email.

    1. Willow Pillow*

      Not even just job offers! I don’t want a call about the ice-covered sidewalk I reported online either… It is an accessibility issue for me and it’s frustratingly neglected.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Does it offer a preferred method for the reason for contact though? If it’s the same for everything I’d default to email, but it’s the ability to set a different type for interviews vs offers vs rejections that I’d be interested in.

  4. Brain the Brian*

    IMO, this is part of a trend to turn everything into a video call, whether it needs to be or not. Pre-pandemic, my company used to do audio calls in Teams and its predecessors to coordinate between our branch offices. Now, they’re video calls — even though some of our branch offices and remote employees don’t have great Internet connections. Because video in particular requires a strong, stable Internet connection, we often lose offices midway through the call. And what is the point? Audio-only or email would have sufficed there, just as it would when rejecting candidates for a job.

    Similarly, I have friends who will FaceTime me with no warning. Why? It’s 10pm on a Sunday, and I went on a seven-mile hike. I am not camera-ready, nor will I be any time tonight. Just call me — or better yet, text me and ask if now is a good time to call and chat. This over-videofication of… well… everything is driving me bonkers (as this comment demonstrates).

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Facetiming without warning is just a level of wtf I do not understand, especially at 10pm on a Sunday! The only people who even try to video call me are my toddler niblings, and I only accept the call because they’re cute and the call only lasts two minutes before they get bored.

    2. BellyButton*

      The Facetime every time thing is really weird to me. My teen and early 20s nieces and nephews always Facetime, but they would curl up and die if you told them they had to call someone. I don’t understand.

      1. Cat Tree*

        Audio-only calls are the worst. We rely on many, many social cues in a conversation. Not being able to see someone removes so much context. But since it’s a live phone call, you still need to interpret and react immediately, instead of getting some processing time like you would with text or email. I’m an elder millennial so this isn’t some “kids these days” thing. Phone calls are the worst of both worlds: missing context but needing immediate response.

        1. Silver Robin*

          I definitely hear that, but I also feel like video calls are more disruptive to the people around you than phone calls are. Audio calls are less likely to accidentally include someone who is not the participant; by default, non-participants only hear one side of the conversation (you have to opt in to speaker phone); and tucking the phone to one’s ear takes up less space than setting up a reasonable video perspective.

          If I were going to choose a type of call to get unexpectedly, I would want a phone call. That said, I definitely understand people preferring video calls with their friends for all the reasons you listed. Maybe we should all be using dual-equipped apps and calling first, followed up with an ask to switch to video so more people get their preference? The norms around all of this are fascinating.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            All audio all the time. I get enough weird flirty old guys at my job without them seeing me and upping their “charm offensive,” thanks.

          2. Good Enough For Government Work*

            I hate video calls and am the rare millennial who’s quite happy to do a telephone call. I find video calls exhausting because I’m constantly hyper-aware of what I look like in a way that I’m not when speaking in-person or by phone.

          3. Laura*

            Also, when people are video calling in public, they are almost never wearing headphones so I everyone around them has to listen to both sides of the conversation.

        2. Not on board*

          This explains a lot about why a lot of younger people like video calling and I can certainly understand that point of view.
          However, if I know a person and often even if I don’t, I can read context in their tone of voice and inflections. I also hate being on video – maybe I look like hot garbage but I can put on a friendly voice with the bare minimum of effort.

          1. Brain the Brian*

            Yep. Audio-only is better than nothing, which is what you’ll get if you FaceTime me with no warning. I am not of the genetic predisposition to look camera-ready by default.

        3. deesse877*

          This is interesting, and I wish I knew more about it. I’m old enough that landlines are my central telecommunicative experience and…I do agree that video calls are more data-rich, but I do not agree that the data is meaningful for every work/school context. Like, the callers can examine eachother’s expressions and so on, sure, but that’s only useful where one of the main purposes of the interaction is to build and maintain relationships. If the purpose is “sign the form before the end of the week,” then bringing one’s proverbial full self to the interaction just slows everything down and generates useless anxiety.
          I’m not even disagreeing, really; asynchronous communication is best in many cases. It’s just I never anticipated anyone WANTING a video call affirmatively.

        4. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

          I muuuuch prefer audio-only. No one needs to see my face processing and reacting. I can do without the face to face context just fine, especially since I’m still getting the tone and tenor of their voice.

          I only wanna do Facetime if there’s something specific I need to see (like my niece just made cool looking cupcakes, or my brother is showing off his latest home repair project). And even then, I’d rather get that as photos texted to me.

        5. Ex-Teacher*

          See, I’d disagree. I’m also an elder millennial, and I’d always prefer an audio-only call to a video call.

          An audio-only call doesn’t require me to be mindful of my facial cues. An audio-only call doesn’t require me to drop literally everything else I’m doing to face the camera, and in some cases the call monopolizes my body by making me hold the phone up so the camera gets my face in the shot. An audio-only call doesn’t require me to physically look nice. An audio-only call doesn’t require me to move myself to another environment if there’s something in my environment that I don’t want everyone to see.

          There definitely are times where a video call is useful but I avoid keeping my video on whenever I’m not required to have it on. I don’t want to be forced to be mindful of everything else a person could see on a video call to the point that it distracts me from the content of the call.

    3. Good Enough For Government Work*

      My best friend’s younger sister (who is, to be clear, THIRTY YEARS OLD) will facetime them without warning. Even/especially when she knows Best Friend is with people. It fully gasts my flabber every single time. WHYYYYYYYYY

        1. Good Enough For Government Work*

          (Best Friend uses they/them pronouns.)

          YUP. To be honest, I think the sister Facetimes them at any time she feels like it, especially if she knows she won’t see them for a day or two (e.g. if Best Friend is staying with me for a few days). The fact that they’re in company simply doesn’t factor into their sister’s thought process at all.

          1. Brain the Brian*

            Sorry that I didn’t catch your friend’s pronouns earlier! My mistake. :)

            This is what I call “lack of consideration for others,” and I — a person similar in age to your friend’s younger sister, to pre-empt any comments about generational whining — find it very annoying. Spend two seconds thinking about the people around you, for heaven’s sake.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        Eh. My mother and I have a 10pm call every so often (we’re both night owls), but only with audio. We usually do chores while on the phone catching up.

      2. Random Bystander*

        I’ll expand that a little to–if you are calling outside of our established norms for calls, I expect that either something is very, very wrong or very, very good (eg, someone close to you has just given birth).

    4. My Useless 2 Cents*

      Agree. Our “head” office has to be constantly reminded that the only video we have in our office is in the conference room; none of our work station computers have cameras and most don’t have speakers or mic’s either! But they always want to set up a video call. When we take the time to set up a call in the conference room, we are met with a view of one chest with a cut off head and a bunch of legs and feet coupled with poor sound quality. I always wondered about the benefits of video calls in old sci-fi movies as well. There was never any benefit and the story line most always featured the downside of someone popping in at an inconvenient time and seeing something they shouldn’t/didn’t want to see. I seriously don’t know who likes or wants video calls.

      I’m that way with voice commands too. I have no desire to repeat a command/request three times to Siri, my phone, my remote control, etc. when I could spend less time typing in a request or pushing a button. Voice commands are even worse in public spaces. I don’t want or need the entire store to know I’m price checking the cast iron skillet on aisle 3.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Your company’s lack of experience with making video calls could be contributing to your opinion. They aren’t my favorite either, but in a world where in-person travel is more limited than it used to be, it has been invaluable for me in establishing relationships with clients across the country. And everyone I work with or for has good sound quality, good camera etiquette, etc. After going through years of WFH, we learned how to get it right. The result is that I feel close to teammates I’ve only met a handful of times in person and my clients in other states feel more connected to me than if I were just a disembodied voice.

    5. Charlotte Lucas*

      We’re supposed to have our cameras on in meetings to be “engaged.” But how do you know if 45+ people are engaged?! Then people complain about tech connectivity.

      I’m OK with cameras on in small meetings or if actively speaking, but I don’t need to feel like I’m playing the World’s Worst Version of People Bingo on my screen. (And one of my coworkers leaves her camera on to blow her nose. Nobody needs to see that!)

      1. Brain the Brian*

        I was recently in a series of remote, group-based trainings where the organizer instructed us “cameras off when not speaking, on when speaking.” We each had our own camera, which alleviated the awkward-whole-table-crowded-around-one-camera phenomenon, and this helped us focus on the material rather than our facial expressions while still giving people a look at our facial expressions when they counted. And because the ground rules were set at the start, we all knew what to expect in terms of camera-readiness.

      2. Flor*

        I don’t do camera if I can help it. I am not engaged if my face is on the screen, because all my mental processing power is devoted to making sure my face looks right.

        I’m okay with my camera on in 1:1s with people I know, like my supervisor, because I’m talking more and feel more comfortable, but on normal meetings? I won’t hear a word being said because I’ll be too busy trying to look engaged.

          1. Brain the Brian*

            I am the same way. I wish that videoconferencing platforms had a setting that would keep me from seeing myself but allow others to see me. I find my “reflection” in the software quite distracting.

            1. Wired Wolf*

              IIRC Zoom does (can’t remember what it’s called); you can probably poke around in the settings of other platforms on your personal device and find one.

      3. JustaTech*

        I have one large standing meeting where I make a point of having my camera on for a couple of reasons, mostly because if I don’t the other folks in the meeting (who mostly have their cameras off) tend to forget that my entire department exists, and so the meeting isn’t visually a total dude-fest. (Somehow all the guys who have their camera on in this specific meeting all have basically the same haircut.)

        I also find that having my camera on forces me to pay attention (because it’s pretty visible when my attention wanders), but I’m also glad that most people in that 20 person meeting don’t have their cameras on.

    6. nnn*

      If people are going to start acting like being on a video call is no big deal, then we need a societal norm where not being camera ready, looking unflattering, etc. are also genuinely seen as no big deal.

      I know some video call proponents will tell you that it’s no big deal, but we still live in a world where people share unflattering photos of a person they want to speak negatively of.

      We need a norm where looking bad on camera is genuinely, by everyone involved and everyone on the internet, seen as akin to wearing a bathrobe when you emerge from the bathroom after taking a shower – perfectly understandable under the circumstances and no one would mock anyone for it.

    7. Sc@rlettNZ*

      Uurg, I know what you mean, it drives me nuts as well. Over the last couple of years my workplace has moved to Teams, and no-one has desk phones any longer. I never turn my video on when I’m calling someone but it seems that most people do. The last time someone commented on it, they got a brisk ‘isn’t this the equivalent of a phone call? Besides you already know what I look like’

    8. IT video calls*

      I’ve had to do teams calls where the person has they camera up. I don’t need to see it and unless I’m troubleshooting video connections my camera is off. I also make a point to turn theirs off since most of my users have crappy internet so screen share, audio, and video really puts a strain on bandwidth.

  5. BellyButton*

    I don’t think I would be able to keep my face from reacting, my face speaks loud sometimes. “Uh, this could have been an email, thanks…”

  6. ugh academia*

    I am on the academic job market right now for a faculty position- it’s a really long process, a whole application packet, often a zoom interview, and then flying you out for a full 2 days of giving talks and meeting with people. I just got rejected by one of the jobs via (generic) email, which I’ve got to say I was kind of offended by- they couldn’t even be bothered to call me! But of course for these reasons maybe I wouldn’t have been happy if they had called either. I don’t know what the right way to do it is, but I’m still pretty angry about that email lol.

    1. BellyButton*

      I think there is a balance. If they decide after an initial screening to not move forward- generic email is fine. If you have interviewed with the hiring manager, and they aren’t moving forward- then let’s have a less generic email. If you have done multiple rounds, a presentation, or any sort of sample work, then a call– or at least a personal email.

      1. ugh academia*

        Oh definitely, generic emails make sense earlier in the process, especially since hundreds of people apply for some of these positions. But I know for a fact that only 4 people had onsite interviews for this position- so the rejection could have been a little more personalized at least!

      2. JM60*

        It should never be a call without a rejection by email first. A call should only be something offered in a rejection email, but never how the rejection is delivered.

      3. JM60*

        A call should only ever be an option given to a candidate in a rejection email. It should never be how the news is given to the candidate.

    2. Anon in the academy*

      I’m in the same boat. Post campus visit, I agree a personalized email rejection is warranted—but I think it’s important to keep in mind that sometimes university administration dictates how these things get handled.

      Also, I know that I would be livid if I got a call to reject me post-visit—because I would assume it was an offer until told otherwise. Generic emails suck, but at least I don’t have to handle my emotions in front of the search committee chair.

      1. Bumblebee Mask*

        I can still remember something like 20 years later being so upset because a company called and left me a message to call them back. I assumed that meant I got the job, or else they would have just left me a voicemail. I was so excited. I was devastated when I didn’t get the job. Just send me a dang TNT (Thanks, no thanks) email. Don’t make me talk to a human being about it.

    3. deesse877*

      In my field at least, “getting the call” is automatically assumed to be good news, so they may have wanted to avoid that. However, I agree that the search chair ought to have personalized the e-mail.

    4. Beebs*

      I hire at a college and I was trained to do phone calls to finalists . . . but I stopped a few years ago and now send a (as personalized as possible, which isn’t that much) email. I almost always offer to make an appointment to talk further, and candidates take me up on it pretty frequently if they are still interested in working at my institution or the system it’s part of. And while I definitely don’t hold it against a candidate if they don’t respond to the rejection email, sometimes people come back with a really thoughtful response that makes me hope I’ll see them in a future pool.

    5. A Simple Narwhal*

      I think there’s no good way to tell someone they’ve been rejected – it’s by nature bad news and you’re pretty much always going to have a guaranteed negative reaction to it. I think it’s very human to take umbrage at how the message was delivered as part of your disappointment at the message itself. And while there’s no good way to deliver the news, there are also definitely bad and worse ways.

      And a generic rejection email after so much interaction and effort is definitely one of them. I’m not 1000% convinced a phone call is the right way either, but at the every least a personal email was warranted. Or at least an email before the phone call so you aren’t blindsided.

      1. Boof*

        Yes; there’s no way to reject folks and have it feel good D: an email and an offer of a call is probably the best one can do to cushion the blow and still offer a personal interaction if able + desired

    6. Just Thinkin' Here*

      No, if you flew out for multiple days worth of discussions, they owed you a verbal call, telephone or otherwise. A generic email once an employer has interviewed in person is unprofessional. Unfortunately, it’s becoming as common as being ghosted. Both are terrible HR practices.

      1. Artemesia*

        I think a personalized email is better than a call in many cases — but certainly not a generic kiss off.

      2. Impending Heat Dome*

        I think a personalized email that references the things discussed in the in-person interviews would be fine. It’s the “Dear candidate, thank you for your application. Unfortunately, we went with a different candidate. Thank you for your interest in $Company! – This is an automated email address that does not accept incoming messages.” From That would be really offensive in my book.

    7. kiki*

      I feel with job rejection methods there are two overarching factors for how someone will feel about being on the receiving end of one and they’re often at odds. In my view, the two big factors are:

      – Do I feel like the employer rejecting me put in some effort/ gives a damn about the time and energy I spent on this process?
      – Which method will actually allow me to process this surprisingly emotional thing comfortably?

      A lot of people, especially if they’ve never had a phone call rejection before, think they want one because it shows the employer at least made the effort to call. But then if they actually have to process a rejection live on the phone, they may not actually enjoy the experience of it– having to contain your emotions, think of polite things to say, etc.

      Rejections just kind of suck. I believe that there are some people who really would prefer the phone call, but a lot more just want to feel like the hiring manager didn’t waste their time.

    8. Jess*

      I think there’s also a huge difference between a generic, obviously-from-a-template email, and one which is personalised and where someone has taken the time (one hopes) to speak in some detail about the strong parts of your application, thanks you for your time, and perhaps gives ideas of what you could do to be a stronger applicant in future etc.

  7. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    Were the sky writers all booked?
    Couldn’t get a reservation for the jumbotron at a Knicks game?
    If the logic is, “we are not asking the candidates to come in, isn’t that thoughtful?” they need to think about why it’s thoughtful.
    If you wouldn’t call the candidates into a meeting to reject them, why would you have a virtual meeting (either audio or video)?

  8. DannyG*

    Makes me wonder if they are recording the reaction for laughs. I can just imagine a hiring team sitting around, eating popcorn and watching the rejection reactions.

      1. Saturday*

        Yeah – a zoom call isn’t a good idea, but I really, really don’t think this is what’s going on.

      2. Rose*

        Ya idk how funny most people are? Even if you’re really messed up and enjoy watching people in pain. I’m pretty emotional but even I hold it together fine for the two minutes you need for a rejection call. Not saying it’s bad if someone is a crier or something (don’t make people do this on video!!), but I would imagine interesting responses would be rare.

    1. oh geez*

      I’ve sat on and/or led many hiring teams at multiple employers and never once could I imagine this. We all take it seriously and genuinely hope for the best for the candidates we don’t choose. Sometimes we even hope to hire them later if possible, so we would never revel in their loss.

    2. Antilles*

      Nope, nothing that nefarious, it’s simply pure thoughtlessness. They’re treating it the same as any other business meeting (many of which are now video) or perhaps just akin to the other interviews which were face to face so this one is too.
      The candidate’s interpreting the invite as a positive sign and getting their hopes up? Doesn’t cross their mind. The candidate spending time to get dressed up and prepare? Doesn’t cross their mind. The candidate having to hold it together after the rejection? Doesn’t cross their mind.

      1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

        While I agree with most of the “it’s (probably) not malice” remarks, we have definitely seen employers who think this kind of thing would be HILARIOUS. (I’m thinking of the place where they publicly announced either a layoff or a pay cut, and let people turn white and panic, before going “April Fools, just kidding, nobody is actually fired!”

        1. Saturday*

          I agree that is seriously messed up, but it’s still way different than thinking it’s hilarious when someone is actually fired or rejected.

    3. Impending Heat Dome*

      I’d be wondering if they were taking notes on candidates in order to escape discrimination liability. This candidate was black, that candidate looked gay, this other candidate had pink hair, this last candidate looked kind of old.

  9. MidwestKing*

    This happened to me via phone phone call for my first job out of college, some 15 years ago. For any hiring managers out there who think it is polite – please change your way of thinking. I *still* can feel the disappointment from that call, particularly after such a good interview process. It colors all of my job searches to this day.

  10. Hiring Mgr*

    I did the reverse a couple of years ago – turned down an offer on a Zoom call and the hirer had the same reaction. So i think it goes both ways!

    1. Rose*

      TBH I find this pretty weird, and I think it’s odd that person made you feel bad. I have been disappointed my first choice didn’t take a job, but never as much as I was about not getting a job I wanted. Your ability to pay your bills isn’t on the line. Your whole life is unlikely to be significantly changed by hiring one person (unless maybe you’re in the process for hiring your own manager?) but starting a new job will often change your life in tons of big ways. The rejection is way more likely to be about something like money than a negative assessment of your skills (or at the very least that’s always a very real possibility you can use to comfort yourself), whereas a job interview is more about an assessment of you and your abilities. It’s just not as personal or significant on the hiring side.

  11. Echo*

    Thank you for this. When I was in an entry-level role and hiring for an intern, I was taught not to email someone who had invested time in interviewing with us because it would feel like an impersonal blow-off, and to prefer a phone call. I wish my manager and I had seen this then!

  12. learnedthehardway*

    What a waste of EVERYONE’s time!! Why on earth would you do a video call to reject someone?!??!

    Send an email – nobody wants to talk to someone who is rejecting them for a job, anyway.

  13. I'm Not THAT Evil*

    I’m in HR and pretty high up the ladder, so I interview to move to other HR roles. Twice, TWICE, people from other HR departments have set up phone calls, which means that I’ve had to interrupt my day TWICE to take these sadistic calls. There, I said it. That’s what they are. That HR people lack the emotional intelligence and don’t put themselves in others’ shoes makes me so F-ing mad. I don’t do it to people applying to my company and never will. They deserve a kind email if they were one of the top choices, with an offer to talk if they want (and ONLY if it’s something that’s on the table). Otherwise, form emails are best, and they come already pre-loaded on most ATS. And always, always follow up with those emails. They’re just one quick click. Don’t leave anyone hanging. Geez!

    1. FromCanada*

      At my company, we are required to call any internal candidates who don’t get the job. I’ve made it clear just how much I think that sucks but it’s policy and I have to do it. I HATE it (on both sides). We do not do this with external candidates, just internal.

      1. KTB2*

        I suspect that’s the case with my company as well–I think they are required to meet with the internal candidates who reach the panel round of interviews. I have had SO MANY rejection calls and it suuuuuuucks so hard. I could have kissed the lone hiring manager who actually just sent me a rejection email.

        In fact, it made the verbal offer call that I got a couple of weeks ago a little awkward, because I was so ready for the rejection that I was like “…eh, what?” when the hiring manager verbally offered me the job.

        1. Mairead*

          Haha, that happened to me too. It had been a very drawn-out process of applying for a job that went away and then a series of interviews for a different role. One of the recruiters called me and started with some chit-chat. I was completely expecting ‘well, that one didn’t work out but there will be other opportunities’. Then I heard something about ‘so happy for you’. Wait!!! What???
          I am firmly in the camp of email for rejecting someone. I don’t particularly care if it’s cut ‘n’ paste or beautifully crafted.

      2. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, my internal recruiter basically apologized to me for doing a rejection zoom, saying it was policy for internal candidates. It was not great!

  14. Dinwar*

    Okay, so as a hiring manager what am I supposed to do?

    If I don’t reach out to the employee I’ve ghosted them and am a jerk.

    If I email it’s impersonal and “corporate” and I’m a jerk.

    If I call them apparently it makes me a jerk, per comments up-thread.

    If I have a face-t0-face it makes me a jerk, per comments up-thread.

    If I videocall them it makes me a jerk, per the title of this post.

    The only solution I can see to not be a jerk is to not reject candidates, which is obviously nonsense. Alternatively, I can accept that I’m going to be the bad guy in whatever story the person I’m rejecting is telling, and find a way to live with that.

    1. Angstrom*

      As other folks said: If it’s early in the process and/or a large applicant pool, a fairly generic email is fine. If they’ve made it through at least one round, a more personal email with an offer for a followup. Give the applicant the option to choose the followup format.

    2. Not on board*

      I think you’re misunderstanding this whole topic. The point is that the rejection is going to hurt – and the more invested the candidate is, the more hurt they will be. It’s necessary to reject people because you can’t hire everyone and nobody is saying otherwise.
      They’re saying – don’t do video or in-person rejections because the candidate has used up a lot of time and effort thinking they’re getting a positive message, and then have to maintain their face and emotions during said rejection.
      A personalized email with the option of a follow-up phone call if the interview process was very involved and/or they were a very strong candidate.

    3. Wombats and Tequila*

      Nobody’s going to be happy to be turned down for the job.

      That being said, what would you prefer in their position?

      But bear in mind, if you have been secure in your position and haven’t had to apply to several hundred places in a tough job market where employers ask for multiple rounds of interviews for a position that pays entry level wages but wants senior level experience, you may not have the necessary perspective.

      Ghosting people is rude. Video calls, Facetime, and face-to-face all require people to react in the moment to the bad news. A phone call is okay if the person invested a lot of time in applying. But the safest alternative is to send candidates an email as soon as you know they’re not in the running.

    4. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Email is so clearly the lesser of all emails, at least to me. Form letters are obnoxious, but I totally get it. They’re necessary when you have a bajillion candidates. A more personalized email is appreciated when you’ve invested more time in the process, but I’d still take a form rejection email anyday over a call.

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        that should be “the lesser of all evils”

        email is the lesser of all emails!!! my brain is soup.

    5. HR Friend*

      A personal email. Express gratitude, briefly explain your decision, give specific feedback if possible, and offer a call to discuss further. Basically treat rejected candidates like you’d want to be treated, if you were in their shoes.

      1. In the provinces*

        Specific feedback can easily lead to a lawsuit. There’s a reason that HR and attorneys insist on generic notifications.

        1. HR Friend*

          This is pretty paranoid. I’ve been in HR for a loooong time, and never had someone try to sue me because I told them that their code needs work, or that another candidate came with skills we didn’t realize we needed. Being human far outweighs the risk of a frivolous lawsuit in the vast majority of cases.

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          Wouldn’t that also apply to a video call? I’ve rarely ever been rejected for a job without at least some feedback. (Excluding when I’ve been ghosted.)

    6. Echo*

      “Alternatively, I can accept that I’m going to be the bad guy in whatever story the person I’m rejecting is telling, and find a way to live with that.”
      It’s definitely a bit of that!

      But I think the kindest thing to do is to send a personalized email if possible, like (completely fake example): “Echo, it was so nice meeting with you about the designer position and learning about your experience with traffic sign design and lettering. Your approach to the work simulation was one of the most creative I’ve seen – I laughed out loud when you made our logo ‘talk’! Ultimately, we decided to go forward with a candidate who has worked with telecoms clientele for several years; their deep knowledge of the industry is something that will help them hit the ground running in this position. That said, I appreciate you taking the time to interview with us and wish you all the best of luck in your job search.”

      This would only be for candidates who went through the interview process. A polite form letter is absolutely fine for candidates you didn’t select to interview!

      1. Runner up*

        I got a rejection email like this during my last job search – the hiring manager reached out to say that I was a strong candidate, etc., they went with someone who had [specific experience I didn’t have], good luck, and something like please apply again if we have another opening. By the time I got the email, I had assumed that I wasn’t the selected candidate, so wasn’t really surprised, but appreciated the personal response. I later learned that this particular organization frequently has repeat applicants who don’t get hired the first time, but reapply and are successful later or for slightly different roles – so letting people down gently can pay off later (in addition to just being polite).

    7. Antilles*

      Not all forms of “I’m a jerk” are equal though. Making someone get dressed in a suit and prepare for a video call (or drive to your office and paying for parking, which is an actual example from the article) is WAY more of a jerk move than an audio call. Listing them all off and shrugging it off as “meh, I’ll be the bad guy either way” is ridiculous.

      Is there a good way to reject someone? No. If there was a perfect way to decline someone without ever hurting their feelings, humans would have figured that out millennia ago.

      But there are still some ways that are worse than others. You should be trying to do the best you can…and the impersonality of an email seems to be generally considered to be the least-awful way since it lets the recipient process the emotions on their own time in their own way rather than having to react in the moment.

    8. CB212*

      According to both the column and all the comments up above, you should send an email.

      All the examples given about email being impersonal and corporate are about how people mistakenly think that, and how this results in terrible alternatives. Nobody is reinforcing that idea! (There is one comment about a template/generic email after a flyout final interview and presentation, but take that as a remark about putting in the work on your side to match what they offered you)

      If it’s a candidate who has moved somewhat far along in the interview process, make it a personalized email and offer a call if you wish to, but the initial outreach should be in a medium where you aren’t privy to their live reaction.

    9. Dasein9 (he/him)*

      1. With people who’ve gotten to the later later stages, be a bit human about it. This is someone you’ve conversed with, maybe think of them as potentially part of your network now, even if on its fringe? So email is fine, but take a few minutes to do more than a form letter.

      2. Think about the burden you’re placing on the candidate. Making people do extra laundry, much less pay tolls and clear their schedule, just for a rejection? That’s treating someone poorly. Remember, they don’t work for you.

    10. Angstrom*

      Doing your job and rejecting people deoesn’t make you a jerk. Most candidates know that a job application rejection isn’t personal, despite how it feels in the moment.

      It’s going to hurt no matter what you do. Give folks time and space to process that. Don’t force them to do it on camera.

    11. LCH*

      we want some sort of notification by email. i actually don’t care if it is impersonal although you probably want to get the candidate’s name/job applied for right. i see why someone would want a little more if it was a long interview process, but overall, don’t ghost, don’t reject in real time, done!

    12. jane's nemesis*

      You skipped right past the solution – a non-generic email. Or at least a kindly worded one, if your applicant pool was large and they can’t be personalized much. The further along a candidate got, the more personal the email should be – it’s fine to be standardized and informal if they didn’t make it past the initial phone screen, for instance.

    13. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      email – always email

      Don’t make a candidate have to take additional time off work to be rejected. Not everyone can just zoom in at any time.

    14. EmmaPoet*

      A non-generic email for candidates who got to the interview stage would be OK with me. Even a generic email is better than silence. Calls/video calls/face to face meetings require the person being rejected to take it calmly and without getting upset, email is kinder IMO.

    15. londonedit*

      Definitely send a personalised email. Of course no one is going to be thrilled to receive a rejection, and of course you’ll get some people who’ll object however you go about it. But I think the vast majority of people will be perfectly satisfied with an email that’s at least in some way personalised (even if it is just ‘Dear Name, thank you so much for coming in to meet the team on Monday. We were impressed with your experience and feel you have a lot to offer. Unfortunately, on this occasion your application has not been successful, but we wish you all the best in your continuing search’).

      Phone rejections are crushing because you can’t help but expect good news if someone’s taking the time to ring you – and then not only are you put on the spot by the ‘Sorry…’ but you’ve got to compose yourself and be polite and breezy and say ‘Oh, that’s fine, thank you for letting me know’ even though you might be horribly disappointed. At least with an email you can read it in your own time and let it sink in and do a bit of private swearing without having to worry about being professional.

    1. CSRoadWarrior*

      This. Also, what about gas or public transportation (if they took one)? Or Uber or Lyft? Either way, you are paying to get to the company and whatever you pay makes no difference. It is still spending money to get there.

      It is very rude. Especially if the person is unemployed. Making them pay for these things when they have no income does not help.

    2. Potoooooooo*

      That last one makes me think the title here is wrong.

      Video calls are the second worst way to do job rejections. Making the person come to your office for a rejection is the worst way to do job rejections.

      1. linger*

        To summarise the hierarchy of responses:
        Rejections are the worst bad.
        Less bad if personalised and leaving some wiggle room (you’ll be considered for future openings or if the frontrunner drops out).
        Rejections by impersonal email, still bad.
        Rejections by phone, they’re worse.
        Rejections by video call, they’re even worse.
        Rejections in a dedicated on-site meeting, they’re worst of all.
        (Unless you’ve been called in to be offered an alternative position. That’s the only possible excuse.)

  15. Scarlet ribbons in her hair*

    Alison said, “Although live video rejections might sound like a deliberate act of cruelty, they’re not intended to be.”

    I strongly disagree. What is kind or thoughtful or compassionate about inviting someone for a video call so that you can see their reaction to being given bad news, especially when, given the circumstances, they were expecting good news?

    1. Potoooooooo*

      Hanlon’s razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

      Or, in other words, they probably weren’t thinking of that.

      1. Scarlet ribbons in her hair*

        So are you saying that the hiring managers and HR people who do this are stupid?

        1. Parakeet*

          While I wouldn’t say it makes them stupid – just not thinking through implications – “stupid” still seems more likely than chortling to themselves like comic book supervillains in maliciously joyful anticipation of the crushed look on a candidate’s face. The latter is just a very odd assumption!

        2. linger*

          Not exactly stupid, but thoughtless. And, not an excuse, but it’s perhaps understandable if a candidate not being brought into the org is, by definition, not the main focus of attention for org staff.

    2. Michelle Smith*

      The point is that hiring managers may be misguided in thinking it’s more personal and therefore polite to do a video call. Sure, you can choose to believe people are being deliberately cruel but I don’t understand why you would.

    3. SpaceySteph*

      I think a lot of people think that delivering the news while looking someone in the eyes is better than doing it in a removed way. Based on an outdated sense of how you do business, probably.

      I dont immediately suppose they have negative intent, just misguided.

    4. AngryOctopus*

      Because they’re not thinking “this person will be expecting good news!”. They’re thinking “how kind we are to speak to the prospective employee in person rather than a generic email! We are kind and human!”.
      Misguided but not malicious.

    5. londonedit*

      Yeah, it’s not like people are sitting there rubbing their hands together in glee going ‘How can we make this completely horribly terrible for people??? I know!! Video calls!!!’ There are just some industries/companies where everything’s done by video, and the culture is that video is ‘more personal’ than a call or an email. There’s no way there’s any actual malice or cruelty involved, it’s just a mismatch between what the company thinks of as ‘warm and personal’ and the fact that no one actually wants to have to compose their face on video while they’re being rejected for a job.

    6. Ex-Teacher*

      >What is kind or thoughtful or compassionate about inviting someone for a video call so that you can see their reaction to being given bad news, especially when, given the circumstances, they were expecting good news?

      The thing that is “thoughtful” is that the employer is taking time to communicate personally and directly with the candidate, instead of sending a “cold, impersonal” email.

      It’s misguided, and its more about making the company feel like they’re doing a good thing than it is about actually doing a good thing. It’s very much like the person who ignores the rules of the road to wave someone else through an intersection- they’re being a real jerk by driving unpredictably and putting people in danger, and it’s all so the driver can feel like they did a nice thing.

  16. JTM*

    Yes, thank you for sharing this! I gave this feedback to my company, when I applied for an internal promotion and was turned down on video call. It was so difficult to try to remain calm and keep my face neutral while feeling absolutely crushed inside. I reminded both leaders and HR that pre-COVID, we wouldn’t invite someone to a face to face meeting to turn them down, we’d call or email. Since we couldn’t meet in person, and video call was our proxy, we should remember our pre-COVID norms and not make everything a video call.

    1. BellyButton*

      I struggle with what’s right for an internal candidate. I do think a video call is too hard on people– internal or external. However, I feel like an internal candidate would want something more personal than an email. Would you have been ok with an audio call?

      1. AnonPi*

        I can’t speak for JTM, but I’d still be fine with an email if it were personalized, not just a standard form email. Or even include the offer to talk for a minute if getting feedback is a possibility. Otherwise phone call is fine too.

        I’d say at my company, maybe 70% of the time internal candidates are given a phone call, which is later followed up by a standard rejection email. It’s getting only the standard rejection emails that are irksome.

      2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Personalized email to the candidate (@Echo has a great example) then either:

        a) Offer to sit down with them to give feedback after the candidate has had time to process.


        b) Attach a calendar invite to the rejection email to chat through feedback a week or two out, to make it clear the chat is a real offer. But with a note that you can move the meeting sooner or later if the internal candidate wants.

    2. Beebs*

      For internal hires I usually send an email with an offer to talk, but occasionally, when I have a closer working relationship with someone, I go their (private) office to deliver the news. But that’s pretty rare–for those cases where even a personal email seems distant based on how well we know each other.

  17. NotARealManager*

    My husband was flown into the company headquarters for a full day of final round interviews for a job he really wanted. A couple days later they scheduled a phone call with him and it was a rejection. It was so much more devastating than an email, especially because he was thinking “surely after they flew me in AND are scheduling a call with me, it’s because they want to keep talking with me?”.

    This was pre-pandemic, so video calls were not as prevalent. I like the suggestion of the email with the offer of a follow-up call. It still gives the candidate a lot of dignity in the process without the shock of having to process in the moment (after wondering all day if the zoom invitation is a good sign or a bad sign).

  18. LCH*

    Question: Pre-email, were rejections generally by mail letter or by phone? I could see the argument for phone since it would be much faster and a way to let a candidate know immediately. But would we still have preferred by mail?

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        This! It really depends on the type of work. When I was in the service industry (retail and fast food), you often knew by the end of the interview. Otherwise, you would generally either get a phone call or never hear from the place again.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          And a phone call generally meant you got the job. A really big chain might send a rejection letter, but not a small, local place.

    1. Helewise*

      I got both letters and phone and don’t really remember getting neither – it seems like it used to be more normal to respond to applicants in general. I feel like if I’d made it to the interview stage the rejection was more often by phone, and personally really appreciated the conversations I had after getting the unwelcome news.

    2. Jess*

      I remember ~15 years ago, sending rejections by post (to people who’d come in for interviews – people who didn’t get to that stage received generic emails). It struck me as slightly awful, since post isn’t really terribly quick, even back then! Time absolutely *drags* when you’re waiting to hear back after an interview, it seemed mean that someone had already been called to offer them the job while other people were waiting days and days on mail.

      So glad once we started emailing instead!

  19. LilacLily*

    I had a similar but surprisingly worse experience to the last person Alison quoted in the article. I was either 20 or 21, had just finished my internship and couldn’t find a job for over six months. I finally landed an entry level support job at a large IT outsourcing company, but the Friday before I was meant to start I got a call from HR, who looking back sounded cagey and anxious. She asked me to come to the head office on Monday on my first day rather than the client site and quickly hung up. I was confused but figured everything was fine. You know where this is going, right?

    I got there bright and early on Monday, they brought me to a meeting room, sat me down and told me that the role had been cancelled and they only needed me there in person to return my employment booklet (a physical legal document the size of a passport that my home country uses to keep track of employment). I was floored. I asked them why couldn’t they have told me this over the phone the day they called me, that I’d spent a LOT of money that I didn’t have on public transport to get to their office that day – something they were aware of because we discussed travel costs reimbursement – and my sister, who worked nearby, could have easily picked up my booklet for me. They had no answer. I excused myself to the bathroom, where I sobbed for about ten minutes, and when I finally calmed down and came out the HR lady sheepishly gave me enough money to cover the bus to and from the office that day. I thanked them and left.

    Between getting ready, waiting for the bus, getting the bus, arriving at the company, then coming back home, I wasted 3 to 4 hours of my day just to be rejected. It was fucking brutal.

    1. jane's nemesis*

      Oh my god, I’m so sorry. But good for you for speaking up and explaining to them how terrible this was of a thing to do to you!

  20. CSRoadWarrior*

    I never experienced this. Or even a phone call. I always got emails when it was a job rejection.

    But I totally agree on this. Video calls should never be the way to do a job rejection. There is nothing more than a buzzkill expecting an offer or moving on to the next interview, only to get a rejection. It only rubs salt on the wound.

  21. Aggretsuko*

    We had a lovely temp that applied for the permanent job here. She found out she’d been rejected first in the morning staff meeting when the head of the office talked about getting back her computer. THEN she had to do a video call for the rejection in which she was told she didn’t get it because of her lack of a college degree, and apparently the upper manager just went on and on about it until the temp started crying and had to turn off her computer. BUT they said they’d keep her long enough to train the winning candidate! Just spectacularly awful all around.

    The good news is, she got hired elsewhere literally a week later and I was so happy for her.

    1. I Have RBF*

      She wasn’t good enough to go perm because she didn’t have a degree, but she was good enough to train the person who did have degree? Oh hell no, that’s just awful. I hope she left with no notice.

  22. AnonPi*

    I got a video rejection call as an internal candidate, where it is pretty much the company norm that you only make video calls when you have an offer. I knew I was a strong candidate, so when I get an email to call the manager back on teams asap I was all hyped up thinking I’m getting an offer. Only for the hiring manager to reject me. Guess they didn’t get the memo?

    Oh and they needed me to call back asap because they planned to leave work early for the day and wanted to get this out of the way before they left :/

  23. Pam Adams*

    “We don’t want to give the news in an impersonal email.” So take 10 minutes and craft a good email that breaks the news, and, if you can, offer the opportunity for feedback.

    You can probably save the email draft for other rejections.

  24. Wendy the Spiffy*

    I’ll never forget being rejected for an internal role where the hiring manager set up an in-person meeting with me titled “Update.” The company had 7 buildings scattered through downtown Seattle’s most touristy area, and the location was in her building, a 15-miute walk away. I hustled over with high hopes, got turned down, and then had to walk back through the hordes of people while fighting tears. I made it to the bathroom in my building before I cried. And then I had to go back to my desk and finish my day.

    I’m sure she did it with the best of intentions but it was awful.

  25. SusieQQ*

    I agree wholeheartedly with Alison’s advice… when there’s no personal relationship with HR, the hiring manager, etc. I was once rejected over the phone by a hiring manager that I had developed a somewhat personal relationship with (for the very first interview he took me out to coffee and we talked for a long time and both indicated that regardless of the outcome of the interview we wanted to connect on LinkedIn and have many more future conversations).

    I was very touched that he called me and rejected me over the phone. He gave me good feedback about why I was rejected, and I felt comfortable enough with him that I didn’t care that he could hear me crying. To this day I consider it one of the kindest things anyone has done for me professionally.

    But the experiences Allison mentioned from other people… those sound like one of the cruelest things. I just wanted to point out that I think there are some cases where I think this makes sense and is actually kind.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I’m curious, would it have soured you to receive a personalized rejection email with a genuine offer to discuss feedback for you later?

      1. SusieQQ*

        Nope, would not have soured anything at all. I would have been perfectly fine with that too. But it would not stand out in my mind as a time when someone went out of their way to show me some kindness.

  26. ForestHag*

    I was rejected for a job I really wanted last year, and I’m soooo glad they emailed me, because I burst into tears when I read that email. I was one of the two finalists for the position, and I really wanted the job – not just because of the job itself, but because I’ve been going through a really stressful time the past few years, and it seemed like I finally had an “out” from my current job and things would be turning around. I’m not sure I could have held it together if I had to receive that news during a live conversation.

  27. Potoooooooo*

    If the hiring manager reached out to reject me from the current position I’d applied for with the added information that they were actively trying to open a position for me, that’s about the only way I could see a rejection call being warranted. If that’s the case, be sure to give a time-frame for a decision being made on the new position, and be sure to follow up again then either way.

    A personalized email is otherwise sufficient, an actual mailed letter if you want to be fancy for some reason. Offer me the opportunity to receive or even give feedback if I’ve been through multiple interviews, but that should be separated from the rejection itself.

  28. Salsa Your Face*

    During my last job search, I was trying to hide the fact that I had a small baby at home (since you never know who’s going take that as a negative.) That meant that for every interview, I had to make sure to have someone come to my house and watch the baby–and if I wasn’t able to find a family member, I had to pay a babysitter. Not to mention somehow find the time as a SAHM to actually shower, make myself presentable, and put on clothes without milk or food stains on them. If someone had made me go through all that just to reject me I would have been absolutely livid.

  29. Alex*

    I remember I once played phone tag for an entire week with the hiring manager, and when we finally connected–after I made room in my workday to take the call at a scheduled time, because the only time she could call me was during her workday, which was also my work day–she delivered the rejection. I guess it was policy to speak to rejected candidates directly? Just leave a freaking message!! Or email!

    It was a good thing I wasn’t too tied to that job emotionally or else I would have been pretty angry. Fortunately I wasn’t at all sure I was even going to take the offer so it was more just ridiculous and annoying.

  30. Ruthie*

    Literally today I was rejected from a job I interviewed for months ago. It was a very kind and respectful email: they appreciated my time and interest, very strong candidate pool, hope I would consider applying for other positions in the future, etc etc. It was perfect, didn’t feel impersonal at all. I would have HATED to receive this same news by video conference or even phone call.

  31. roisin54*

    Many years ago, I was rejected in person for an internal role. The two people I had interviewed with (my boss and my grand-boss), spent about 15 minutes detailing everything I had done wrong in the interview. I’m an easy crier and to this day I have no idea how I managed to keep it together until after I left the office. Someone must’ve seen me crying though because suddenly my boss approved a leave request that she’d previously rejected.

    The kicker though is that I was the only person who applied for the role, and they never filled it. I’m pretty sure I know what the actual reason for the rejection was, based on what people in a position to know have told me, but that’s way too much to get into here. Hint: it wasn’t my allegedly lousy interview.

  32. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    I was phone rejected for an internal job I really really thought I had nailed. Ok fine, phone was pretty standard in that industry. The only problem is I had less than an hour before I had to be at a meeting with the person who rejected me who then took all the time before the meeting defending her choice so that it became my job to make her feel better about her decision.

  33. ScheduledVsUnscheduled*

    I think the key thing is the scheduling. I’ve been totally fine with getting phone calls on the fly where, when I didn’t pick up, they
    left the news in a voicemail. A voicemail asking me to call them or a scheduled call to be rejected is nasty, but the calling randomly without requiring the candidate to pick up is totally fine. Email is fine too. I don’t want to schedule something to be rejected. That’s the bridge too far in my mind, and being asked to call back is not much better.

    1. Jess*

      I think, being the person who’s had to deliver similar calls, there’s a problem with voicemail which is that some people just never listen to the messages. Either because they’re in the habit of immediately returning calls, or because it costs money to retrieve messages etc.

      If I’d previously had a voice message picked up, and they also had a proper greeting I might have risked it, but if it were a generic default message I think I wouldn’t even bother, too much risk that the important information might have gone unlistened-to. (I would have just hung up and tried calling later – but not *too* frantically because ‘omg I’ve got five missed call from Possible Employer’ is also going to send totalllly the wrong message…)

  34. Aleigh112*

    This happened to me recently, I was led to believe it was a second round interview, made myself all presentable, only to find out all they needed to say was “we went in another direction”. What a waste of time.

  35. OhNoYouDidn't*

    I had a phone call to let me know I didn’t get a job once. It was between me and one other person for a company I was already working for (though I didn’t previously know the hiring manager). I appreciated the personal call. A video call would have been more difficult because I would have been much more concerned about any verbal cues I’d have given off. So, I think it depends on the level of the job as to whether a phone call or email/letter is better, but I don’t think a video call is ever the right choice.

  36. Katy*

    I agree about video calls, but I did once get a phone rejection that I really appreciated. I had been applying to endless teaching jobs with very few interviews and no success, and I was starting to think I would just never get hired in my preferred content area and i should give up. Then I interviewed for a job at the kind of school I really wanted to teach at and got a call back saying, “We went with someone else but we liked you and encourage you to apply again if another position opens up,” and after that the whole process felt more hopeful and less like sending applications out into the void.

  37. Pizza Rat*

    The subheading says it all. This could have been an email.

    I do like the idea of offering a call, though I wouldn’t take someone up on it.

    1. Still Searching*

      I’ve been offered calls a few times, but they never respond when I say “yes, I would like one.”

  38. Please Engage Your Brain*

    This sounds like an over-generalization of “don’t break up with your long-term girlfriend in a text”.
    The phone and video call rejections are awful and the in-person ones are worse.
    If I had taken time off from my current job, put on a suit and drove to the rejecting company for an in person meeting, I would have been be hard pressed not to say “do you realize I had to use a vacation day to drive all the way here just to have you tell me I didn’t get the job? What were you thinking?”

    Burnt bridges be damned. There are times when expressing righteous indignation is appropriate.

  39. LilPinkSock*

    Why. Why why why would anyone do this. I was advised several years ago to call candidates with rejection news, because emails were “too impersonal”. I did it exactly once, because I could hear the hope in her voice and then the stunned disappointment. TAcking on the visual component so you can also SEE the emotions seems almost cruel.

  40. Veryanon*

    I used to work at a company where it was the norm to notify internal candidates live, either by phone or in person, that they were not selected for a role. I’ve never been a fan of this practice – send an email and let the person process the news in private. The hiring manager can then offer to follow up with the candidate at a future time (presumably when the candidate doesn’t feel like their skin was just peeled off).
    My current employer does this too, and again, I’m just not a fan of this practice. I wish I knew where the idea to do this had originated.

  41. KTB2*

    I LOATHE video call rejections, which are the norm for internal candidates at my company.

    That said, I did once have a phone call rejection with a hiring manager that not only gave me really useful feedback, but he also ended up connecting me with a new job at a different organization about a year later. So he clearly meant what he said about really liking my candidacy.

  42. DramaQ*

    I had one of those recently and I did not like it. It’s really really hard to keep composure.

    It’s the norm here too. I really didn’t appreciate the one who told me if I was interested in this job I should have pursued an internship and how it is a waste of time for everyone for me to be applying for a job that I am not 100% qualified for.

    Yeah let me just go ahead and wind the clock back 20 years to do an internship. Or let me totally quit the job that pays my bills to become an undergrad so I can apply.

    The other one went better than that but it still really felt like being called on the carpet. I don’t need to have you discuss face to face with me everything that is not a good fit about me for the job. I am okay with if they want to offer guidance/feedback but follow up a few days/weeks AFTER you reject me. Don’t reject me and expect me to sit there composed nodding thoughtfully while you explain why I am not a good fit. Or just put it all in an email so I can read it and process it in my own time.

    I almost started crying after both rejections. It was exhausting having to sit there and hold it all in while being chatted to for almost 20 minutes.

  43. Mimmy*

    I’ve told this story a few times. It was over 20 years ago, but every time this topic comes up on AAM, it makes me sore all over again.

    I’d applied for an internal position in a different department. The HR rep emailed me to set up an in-person meeting to discuss the position. I saw this as a good sign. Imagine my disappointment and frustration when the rep tells me that they promoted someone in the department. I probably wouldn’t have minded a phone call–at least it wouldn’t have involved me planning my afternoon around this meeting (it involved a short walk to a different building), but it definitely could’ve been an email!

  44. Sharkie*

    Its even worse when you are an internal candidate… and they person who accepted the job is also on the Zoom with the hiring manager…

  45. amoeba*

    I’ve had a video call in which I was told that I was their top candidate but the position was put on freeze indefinitely – in that case it absolutely made sense. (They wanted to stay in touch, we did, and I actually started there a year later! Also, even if that hadn’t happened, it was nice to have the validation of them telling me they really wanted to hire me, even if it wasn’t actually possible in the moment.)

    For an actual rejection though – nope, nope. I’ve had phone calls for that and don’t love it, but it’s definitely less bad than having a video call scheduled! Talk about getting your hopes up…

    Now, sending a rejection by mail first and then offering a phone call or if you like even video call for feedback a bit later if the candidate would like to? Sure, that would be great! Never encountered that though, sadly.

  46. JubJubtheIguana*

    I agree, video rejections are a new level of hell. But I don’t think people are being intentionally cruel, just clueless.

    The one time I got a video rejection it wasn’t exactly a job rejection (meaning it wasn’t for a job where they just hired someone else). I had an art thing which had been very successful in London and I was pitching it to lots of regional arts venues for a transfer – this is a normal regular part of my job. One arts venue asked me to video chat, which I assumed meant a yes, only to tell me, “We aren’t able to consider any outside proposals at all right now because we have no money and can barely keep the lights on, so we can’t even look at your proposal, but I respect you too much as an artist to send some impersonal email, I wanted to do you the respect of looking you in the eye to tell you face to face that the rejection has nothing to do with you or the quality of your work.”

    Which is like, that’s nice but an email is FINE.

  47. K*

    This contradicts your advice about firings and layoffs. If rejecting a job candidate on a call puts them on the spot isn’t the same true for a fired employee? I wouldn’t care for being expected to remain professional while being let go. I’d rather get the news in writing.

  48. LB*

    Over the summer, the hiring manager for a job I’d applied for messaged me on Teams and asked if we could grab a room for a few minutes. I was positive it was to offer me the job. But instead she told me to my face that she was going with another candidate, and then, when I thanked her and stood to go, she insisted I stay and talk about it. I was so upset that it upset her as well and she started telling me how guilty she felt and how she was afraid she’d made a mistake. I ended up comforting her and assuring her I would be fine and that I understood. It was, and I cannot stress this enough, absolutely awful.

  49. borealis*

    One of the letters quoted in the article says

    With a phone call, your mind’s automatically going, Oh! They wouldn’t call unless it was good news, right?

    No. No, that would never occur to me, ever. With a phone call, a letter, or an email message from the place I’ve applied for a job at, my mind’s automatically going Oh well, here comes the rejection.

    That being said, I also dislike getting the bad news over the phone (I’ve had my current job since before video calls became a thing), but I would not reflect on it not being normal. When I was rejected for an internal promotion (which had another applicant who was obviously more qualified) I was given the info in person; again it wasn’t exactly fun, but TBH it would probably have been worse to be told about it in an email.

    I would like to second the question asked above: Why is it considered to be a bad practice to fire people by email, but good practice to use that medium to turn people down for a job?

  50. borealis*

    One of the letters quoted in the article says

    With a phone call, your mind’s automatically going, Oh! They wouldn’t call unless it was good news, right?

    No. No, that would actually not occur to me. With a phone call, a letter, or an email message from the place I’ve applied for a job at, my mind’s automatically going Oh well, here comes the rejection.

    That being said, I also dislike getting the bad news over the phone (I’ve had my current job since before video calls became a thing), but I would not reflect on it not being normal. When I was rejected for an internal promotion (which had another applicant who was obviously more qualified) I was given the info in person; again it wasn’t exactly fun, but TBH it would probably have been worse to be told about it in an email.

    I would like to second the question asked above: Why is it considered to be a bad practice to fire people by email, but good practice to use that medium to turn people down for a job?

  51. Ніколи*

    I’m surprised at all the hate in the comments for normal phone calls. I really strongly dislike using the phone but I’ve appreciated the genuine feedback that I’ve received by phone. Being rejected will (nearly) always be a disappointment but should never be a shock. If you were guaranteed the job it would be an induction, not an interview.

  52. mgguy*

    Way back in 2019 I was interviewing for a fairly niche position at a big company. I was actually super excited about the position-I was wearing a bunch of different hats at my then-job, and this position was basically taking my favorite part of my then job, making it a full time job, and turning it into a field position.

    The interview process was 4 rounds total, and I got cut after the 3rd round.

    They did call to tell me, but thinking back on it I think their handling of the call was overall good. At that point I’d communicated with the hiring manager enough to build a bit of rapport, so appreciated them making it a phone call. The key with this, though, was it a cold call at the end of the day(so no getting worked up about it). I missed the call due to spotty cell service, and they had the courtesy of at least leaving a voicemail with the news so I could process it on my own.

    As I said, at this point I was pretty invested in the job, and the hiring manager’s tone in the voicemail seemed to convey that it had been a tough decision to cut me but also very enthusiastically encouraging me to watch for future openings. I think I actually felt a little better about the rejection than if it had sent me an email.

    A video call, though-nope, bad all around.

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