The BAD Candidate Experience: Alive & Kicking

A businessman in office waiting for a call
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The Bad Candidate Experience

Alive & Still Kicking Job Seekers in the Face

Every time I think we are past it – over it – ready to mark “the bad candidate experience” as a bad part of HR history, I hear another story.  Every single time. 

The Sign-Off

Telling candidates they didn’t get the job

It is quite discouraging, actually.  I wish I could be fed up, but being fed up means you will not tolerate it anymore and I really do not have a choice.  Why is it that hiring authorities cannot exhibit simple manners when it comes to creating a candidate experience that is simply not bad.  It confounds me.  Yes, it’s hard and yes, it requires a step outside of one’s comfort zone to create a better candidate experience.  The worst part of my job as a recruiter was telling candidates that they did not get the job, but I did it.  Yes, I felt bad about it, but I did it. Sometimes, you have to do the uncomfortable.

From a recent conversation with a job seeker,

“Not cool to leave me hanging. I would like to move on with my life. Can’t they just say ‘the process is ongoing’ – why are they just not answering? Maybe they offered it to someone else and they are just keeping me on the line in case the other person falls through. It’s souring me a bit.”

This job seeker had been flown across the country for final round of interviews and was given an exact date when she would be notified as to whether or not she got the job.  Ten days later, after the time she had been told she would be called – still no call, one way or another,

“And if they give you a day for when you should hear whether or not your entire life is about to change, they should stick to the day or at least let you know what’s going on.”

Does this sound familiar? Have you been through this yourself, as a candidate? Perhaps you have treated a candidate this way? NOT telling is worse than giving bad news. Just pick up the damn phone and deliver the bad news.  Only a coward avoids a sign-off call. No one likes to do it, but it’s part of being a decent recruiter, hiring manager, or HR professional.

Just a bad date?

It reminds me a lot of Clark – a boy I knew when I was a kid. When I was just 15, I asked Clark to a Girls Ask dance at my church. It took a lot of guts for me to call him and Clark hemmed and hawed on the phone. And then, as if to offer me some kind of condolence, he said, “Well, if Suzanne doesn’t ask me to the dance, I’ll go with you, deal?” I declined his kind offer and thanked him for taking my call. It hurt my feelings, but do you think I was going to let Clark win? Uh – no.  I called Lance and he said he would be happy to go with me – we had a great time.

Job seekers can take it.

Give job seekers a chance to pick themselves up and dust themselves off. Trust that they can handle the truth – give it to them. Don;t keep them dangling, like a fish on a hook – with their life and zest for their search slowly draining out of them.
They can take it – they deserve the truth.
Be brave enough to deliver it.

by Rayanne Thorn

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  1. I sorta kinda hate LinkedIn for this reason. I’ve recently applied to a position with a local company on there and the hr manager has clicked through my profile 2 different times in the first week, and again after I followed up a week later. But still has yet to even send a generic “thanks for applying but…” Email.
    Heck, most times I’d appreciate even just a copied and pasted form letter that rejects me over never hearing anything.

    Garret |
  2. Garret —

    You are not the only one I hear this from. I am sorry that the waiting game is still being played by HR and recruiting… drives me mad and I hear it over and over again…

    Thanks for commenting – sending wishes for happy employment soon!


  3. Rayanne, it isn’t hard to set up an ATS to do some of the really elementary things to give candidates closure. There’s a saying in call centers: people want to be heard. This desire needs to be acknowledged & wherever possible, granted. This is not to say every candidate’s experience with me was always golden: I have had to deliver non-news more than a few times–but I always delivered it, acknowledged emails/vms. Their time is valuable, too. And I think a lot of people not actively in a search forget that time flows very differently when you’re the candidate.

  4. In the past 6 months, I’ve been surprised to have two HR pros / recruiters call me to tell me I didn’t get jobs and to tell me WHY. I was so grateful. Yes, it hurt, but I really appreciated getting closure and hearing ways I could improve. Because of the feedback they gave, I have a list of things to work on about myself that might help me get the next job.

    Jenny |
    • It really makes a difference doesn’t it? to be treated like a human rather than a fax machine.. waiting for a call that will never come.

      We know what is going on, but it’s nice when people actually CONFIRM it rather than just make you wait forever…

      Richard Parker |
  5. I have my own experience similar to this. my wife is going through the same thing right now. They told her she would be notified this week. It’s Wed. Most people would say “give it time, it’s only been a couple of days”.. but the point is we are making excuses for people and their lack of courtesy.

    If you expect to call a candidate back at least have the decency to say hey we don’t think you are a good fit. Thanks for applying, we will let you know when something changes.

    Good news is not like wine it does NOT get better with age. So just be up front candid and even if you have to error on caution I would rather be given BAD news then wait around forever, because that just makes me more upset.

    Be straight with people, have the guts and professionalism to tell people NO. Why do people reliate it’s NOT because of the news it’s because you LEAD people on. Tell them the truth, be truthful and point blank. You will find people will respond to that.. not to oh yeah sorry didn’t have time to call you back… or some BS story about oh they didn’t contact you?!? Sorry about that, yeah sorry I guess they didn’t accept your application.

    Sorry?!?! You KNEW they didn’t call back why even try and cover it up?

    Do NOT take people for fools, we know what is going on, just be HUMANE about it and stop trying to dodge the responsibility of telling people the TRUTH!

    I don’t see a problem with that.

    Richard Parker |
    • >>Good news is not like wine it does NOT get better with age. <<

      Should be BAD news is not like wine . . . . . .

      Richard Parker |

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