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Monday, June 04, 2007

Why I Hate Recruiters, 3

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I'm a recent graduate of an MBA program. I was recently interviewed by a firm after spending 3 weeks getting documentation from companies I had worked with in the past. I was told the documentation was required just to start the interview process. This came as a surprise to other people who had knowledge of this company's application process as no one had heard of this requirement before. Finally, I got all the documentation together and had a brief informational interview, at the end of which a second interview was scheduled. The next day I was informed that my undergraduate gpa was too low to be considered for this position (I had reported my gpa to them almost a month earlier, so this was not news to anyone) and the second interview was unceremoniously canceled. Naturally, I feel the firm was not being truthful with me, especially since I was an experienced candidate with a graduate degree and not an entry-level kid. I feel that road blocks were constantly being thrown at me for the purpose of disqualifying me as quickly as possible. I don't mind being rejected for a job, but I do mind not being told the real reason.

This has grown very frustrating to me because this has happened before with other companies. Usually the company will just not contact me after an interview and not respond to any follow up e-mail or phone call. And I've recently heard that some firms claim to have a policy to not give any feedback on candidates. We need to know why we are rejected so that we can address these issues in the future. Why the secrecy? We put our heart and souls into these interviews. It seems the least a company can do is give us a good reason why we didn't get the job. I hope you can shed some light on this subject.

Frustrated Job Seeker

This is wrong on so many levels. Now, for the record, there are darn good reasons why companies don't like to tell you why you aren't hired. "You weren't a good fit for our culture" is a perfectly legitimate reason not to hire you, but if you happen to be in a protected class, you might think the real reason is your protected class status.

But, companies should not make any candidate jump through hoops that all candidates don't have to go through. If your GPA was of concern (who does that? I mean, sure, for entry level jobs, but your undergraduate GPA when you're finishing up an MBA?), they shouldn't have interviewed you in the first place.

I really can't tell you what is going on at that particular company, but I do think recruiters should (at minimum) do the following:

1. Tell candidates all relevant information. For instance, if the job is going to require lots of overtime, that should be laid out prior to the interview. That way, you don't waste your time interviewing when you aren't willing/able to work overtime.

2. Require consistent information from candidates. All candidates coming in for an interview should be required to fill out an application. This application should be the same for everyone applying for similar jobs. (Yes, you can have different ones for your sales force or your manufacturing team, but all sales people get the same form, all manufacturing people get the same form.) If you don't--and you happen to require something different of someone in a protected class, you are in big trouble, Ms. Recruiter.

3. Have the decency to keep every candidate who comes in to interview informed. I know, I know, you're busy. But, it does not take long to send an e-mail saying, "Dear Jim, Thank yo so much for coming in. The [insert position] has been filled. We appreciate your time and interest and will keep your resume on file for one year. Sincerely, Recruiter." It took me less than 30 seconds to type that and you recruiters can keep it on file and just copy and paste and change the name and the position.

4. If a decision is going to be post-poned, let the candidate know that as well. "Dear Jim, We wanted to let you know that no decision has been made yet on the [insert position]. We still consider you an active candidate and will let you know when a decision has ben made.

Candidates want to know why they weren't hired--and I think it can be valuable info to have--but I don't advise handing that information out wholesale. Something as stupid as GPA should have caused an elimination long before the interview process began. But, candidates, listen up--I would be shocked if you ever get this info from a recruiter. But, you may get it from the hiring manager.

It's worth a shot.


Anonymous said...

Providing a candidate with any information as to why a Company chose NOT to hire them is only asking for an arguement. So far I have not spoken with anyone who said "Yeah you're right I should not have been hired, Thanks!"

I agree that the reason MUST be legit and business related. Discussing why we chose not to hire is only "stepping into one."

Anonymous said...

I would tend to agree. I have been in this situation a few times, and I have given an answer only to get an argument, or the candidate trying to convince me as to why I'm wrong. Arguing only suggests to the company that they made the right decision. Now when I get this question, I stick to something very impersonal like "we enjoyed meeting you, but the successful candidate had X skills/qualifications/years of experience/etc. and that is why they were selected".

In the case of internal candidates however, I have had some really good discussions about interviewing skills, how to obtain additional qualifications, courses, etc. as we want to develop our existing employees. Employees tend to approach me with "please help me in improving my chances to get the job next time".

As to responding to candidates about being unsucessful, that is only respectful to advise the candidate that the job has been filled so they are not sitting by the phone.

Mike Doughty said...

Personally, I think the Evil One is completely correct in her comments. Too many people simply ignore candidates after the interview and the decision not to hire them. I once complained to our corporate people about what I considered their cavalier treatment of candidates, telling them that they had a moral responsibility to at least get back with people. Their response was to smile and say "Oh, that's so old-fashioned". Maybe, but common courtesy never goes out of style.

Its MY Day :) said...

This kind of thing drives me crazy!!!! I had a long long long series of interviews with one very well known government contracter.

I had an initial interview for info, I had an interview with a panel of 3, then I had an interview with the team I would be working with when hired.

Then a final interview was scheduled with the direct supervisors/team leader/ and some higher ups.

About 4 days before the interview I recieved a call from a woman I had not previouslly heard of telling me, "It won't be necessary for you to come in for your final interview, you don't experience with XXX, which disqualifies you from consideration".

Excuse me???? This tri interview process took me over a month to complete, you'd think if that knowledge was critical to the position it would either have (a) states that requirment in the ad for the position so I would not have applied or (b) come up at some point of my over 6 hours of time spent interviewing with this company.


she said: said...

I hate to go against the grain yet again. While it would be nice to know why you didn't get a job - this only opens companies up to lawsuits. I think the best you can hope for is "you weren't a good fit for the position". Which doesn't tell you anything at all.

Not knowing if or why you didn't get a job isn't new. My whole working career there were tons of jobs where I never heard back from companies. It always sucked, and still does.

I agree they shouldn't bring you in for interviews if you clearly don't fit the criteria. But I wonder if once again the law makes it so you have to at least interview a candidate once or face whatever discrimination charges a person can dream up.

Evil HR Lady said...

She Said--

I agree that you shouldn't expect feedback on why you didn't get the job--and companies would be stupid to offer. However, I do think you should expect to hear back, one way or another.

It's my Day--that is inexcusable behavior.

Founder: Lea Setegn said...

One of the things I love about my company (and I work in the HR department) is that we send snail mail letters to EVERYONE who sends us a resume -- whether we contact them for an interview or not. It might seem old-fashioned in this day and age to do this, but as someone who spent six months job-hunting recently, I can say that it's something candidates truly appreciate because it's so rare.

Anonymous said...

Wow lea, that must be an awful lot of letters. :-)

ObGynThoughts said...

Dear Evil HR Lady
I do not hate recruiters, no,
I admire physician recruiters!

Here are the top reasons why I admire recruiters!

They have a "positive mental attitude" (as written by Jim Stone of They are able to see a "great place to raise a family" and a "great place to build a practice", where I see just, well, Desert Gulch, a place where I would neither want to exile my family nor would want to build a practice. And where in general I would not want to be caught dead after sundown.

They have magical, mystical, truly superior means of transportation, very much like Harry Potter's broom. A town they see as "only a short drive from LA" to me is 75 miles away and it takes me an excruciating 3 hours on a good day to get to the city.

While they can "enjoy all Boston has to offer" from a small town on the New Hampshire border, I get frustrated with all the woods and rocks. And for me the hour plus drive to Boston pretty much takes the fun out of it. I believe one-hour commutes are overrated.

They know much better than I what to do on the Internet. They know that you best use Google to "find physician recruiters where you want to go to" (Healthcarerecruiter blog), while I merely have been able to find employers that offered me jobs.

They know that the "best practices" are located far outside the city, while I sheepishly was looking INSIDE the city for a practice.

They know that a good job search starts by contacting a recruiter, one single recruiter, preferably in a small firm (recommended by recruiter Rebecca Gresham on a product-placement article on the otherwise very respectable MomMD), while I erroneously thought that starting your search by contacting recruiters is the equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot.

They know that it is much more ethical and professional not to tell your clients about your limitations and they know that it is absolutely wrong to refer your clients to someone that might be better able to help them than you are. Meanwhile I am still making the horrible mistake of sending my patients to a specialist or a more appropriately talented or equipped colleague as soon as I cannot solve a specific problem myself.

Imagine that!

Anonymous said...

NET-A PORTER /MATCHES/ and various other fashion related companies I applied for appaled me with their shoddy approach to HR.

Net-a-porter herald themselves on a motto of TRANSPARENCY, yet they couldnt be bothered to inform me of the outcome of my interview despite several attempts to attain that information.

All I received from net-a porter was a juvenile response of "we'll be in touch as soon as..." blah blah blah. I never want to work for them nor will I buy from them or recommend clients to buy from them again.

I now have job at one of their competitors so bad luck them, you see these companies should consider that candidates are also potential custom who will determine to give them bad PR.

I am certainly working on that.!