Many candidates tell us that they are extremely frustrated with companies and recruiters who do not acknowledge job applications or follow up after a pre-screen or an interview.

In a pre-emptive effort not to tarnish their reputation, most employers now place a disclaimer on job advertisements, like: “We wish to express our thanks to all applicants for their interest and effort in applying for the position; however, only candidates selected for interviews will be contacted.” Job seekers have become accustomed to this blanket statement.

However, after a ‘pre-screen,’ some recruiters forget or neglect to ‘close the loop’ – sometimes because these recruiters do not reflect the company’s stated values. Even worse are companies that do not follow up with candidates after a face-to-face (or Skype) interview, especially if they have promised to provide an update either way.

Naturally, the successful applicant is contacted immediately, but unsuccessful candidates are often ignored and left hanging for weeks or months. Recruiters and companies should update all candidates as soon as possible, so that they can proceed with other opportunities; neglecting to provide updates reflects poorly on the company or recruiter and affects their reputation.

Some candidates are forced to wait, patiently or impatiently: they need a job. One told us, “this is my life and my livelihood we are dealing with here and when they tell me that they will get back to me on Friday or in a week, they should keep their word.” Another candidate said she had an excellent interview and was told she’d be informed of the hiring decision within a week. The update never came. She said, “I thought we had entered into a relationship that gave way for the potential employer to keep their word. The week came and went, and I think the company has no integrity and doesn’t value my time or emotions.”

Recruiters and companies need to remember that they are dealing with human beings, and that their actions can have long-lasting repercussions for their reputation. Here are some simple guidelines:

  1. Create an automatic reply/response through Microsoft Outlook or your applicant tracking system to instantly notify applicants that you have received their application. Ideally, add details about your hiring process to the automatic response so applicants know what to expect.
  2. If your company is too busy to follow up with unsuccessful candidates after pre-screens or interviews, hire a dedicated resource such as an HR Assistant or Recruitment Coordinator to look
    after these finer details.
  3. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Be upfront and inform candidates that if they do not hear from you within a specified time, it means that they will not be proceeding to the next stage.
  4. After interviews, once you have made your selection, phone or email unsuccessful candidates.
  5. Remember: applicants should be treated with dignity, honesty, and respect.