Interviewing Candidates? Stop Acting Like a Jerk

Fact: Hiring Managers Need to Stop Treating Candidates Like Jerks
by Kit Warchol
December 08, 2016
You know there’s something wrong when Tinder horror stories sound less problematic than job hunt tales.
What is it about the digital era that’s made us so cold? The fact that the term “ghosting” exists is proof enough that, in the name of ease, we’ve taken a pretty dramatic step backward in the etiquette category. And just like it’s easier to just stop returning texts when someone you’re dating gets on your nerves, it seems like the professional world has wised up to the fact that, hey, it’s much easier to never get back to a candidate. 

Job interviewing. It’s a slippery slope. You have a good preliminary phone interview (or so you think), and the recruiter assures you they’ll follow up about an in-person meeting “in a couple days.” Yet somehow, that couple becomes more like…eight or nine and that’s not counting the weekends. When the phone finally does ring, you’ve almost forgotten that you were waiting for it. Fast forward to post-Interview #2 or #3 or #4. By now, you’ve met your future employer two or three times, plus her boss, plus her boss’s boss, plus countless potential coworkers. Maybe you've seen more of your potential future colleagues than you have of your mother in the last month. You know that Jim, the team's web developer, is an avid Arsenal fan and that Anita, the office manager, lovvves pasta carbonara. You're starting to feel a real camaraderie here. 

Then, you walk out of (what you hope) is your last interview, and someone says, “We’ll be in touch soon.” You think: Well, at least I’ll know either way. You head home and fire off your carefully crafted thank you notes and—



No response then and no response a week later when you write a follow-up that took you, oh, an hour to write. No reply period.This seems to have become the name of the job hunt game—the ultimate power play. For each interview, you scramble to complete custom projects and take hours or days off work to make it to each round. You turn down birthday party invitations to write cover letters. You miss weekend beach outings to email your references. And zero. Zip. Zilch. Nothing. 

Maybe if you’re lucky, in about six or eight weeks, you’ll get a formal email from the HR department informing you that the company’s moved forward with another candidate—but nothing personalized and no word ever again from Jim or Anita (or Barry or Clara or whoever).


Interviewers everywhere: we need an etiquette refresh. Sure, digital culture means that the art of the follow-through has gone down the tubes, but does that mean you should, too? We’ve all been there: the people waiting to hear back. We’ve had the anxieties associated with being out of work or in a job we hate, desperately clawing our way out of an emotional and professional hole. So, in the name of empathy, we beg of you: knock it off. 

They’re not always the candidate you want. But at some point, you weren't the candidate, and neither was I. But they're trying. They're spending their free time editing emails to send your way. They might even be worried about whether they'll be able to make rent. And by giving those emails, those appointments, and those rejection notes merely the same respect you give emails to your colleagues or clients, you make it just a little easier for someone who’s going through one of the most frustrating processes in life. 

So please, please: write them back. Spend ten extra minutes to tell them what to expect. Offer to provide them with feedback if it'll help. Just provide some human-to-human contact. Because whether you work in fashion or finance or marketing or media, one thing’s for sure: you’re not in the business of being rude. 

Let's start a sob club. Tell us your most terrible interview stories in the comments, and we'll respond with the perfect GIF you should send in response.