Is It Rude Not to Contact Someone You’ve Interviewed When You Fill the Position?

Heck yeah it is.

It is extremely thoughtless not to contact candidates you have interviewed to let them know they weren’t chosen.

Job seekers need to follow up, so the employer knows they are still interested.   But once someone has been interviewed and has done this, the ball is in the employer’s court.

Think about it.  You have an opening.  You call in several people and spend time talking to them.  After a period of time, which could range from one week to several months, you choose someone.  You decide you’re too busy to let the other candidates know.   They might even have found another job by now, right?


Here’s why you should be considerate of your candidates.

The economy is pressuring everybody

Many people now are unemployed for longer periods of time than before the recession.  Unemployment statistics are skewed, because the Department of Labor isn’t counting those who have run out of benefits and haven’t returned to the workforce.  The facts are clear:  thanks to outsourcing and extreme downsizing, there are fewer jobs out there.  Even crap jobs aren’t hiring.

So there’s no guarantee.  Your candidate may be waiting to see if you hire him, or if he has to take that job cleaning fish.

The hours suck, but the pay is great.

Image:  Wikimedia Commons

Job seekers’ time is valuable too

Think you’re the only one who’s busy?  Think again.  Job seekers still have responsibilities.  They don’t want to waste time any more than you do.

Besides the actual meeting with you, preparation—reviewing your company, listing questions to ask, choosing clothing—is time-consuming and nerve-wracking.   It’s very annoying to go through all that and then hear nothing.

It leaves a bad impression of your company

If you don’t bother to call your candidate back after she’s taken the time to prepare for and attend an interview, she will probably wonder what you’d be like as a boss.  I guarantee it won’t be a very favorable impression.

A couple of times, I have actually been told I dodged a bullet when I told people which companies did this to me.


What are some efficient ways an employer can be more thoughtful?

You probably won’t have as many interviews as you received resumés.  It’s okay not to respond to every applicant.  It’s best to call, or write a personal message to your rejected interviewees, but if that’s impossible, you can:

Set up a template for reply letters, emails or postcards

This will save you so much time.  For mailed replies, all that’s required is a mail merge with the candidates’ names and addresses.  Something basic, like this:

Thank you for taking the time to interview with us.  After a thorough review of your qualifications, we have decided to select another candidate.   [IF IT’S POLICY TO DO SO] –We will retain your resume for [X amount of time].  We wish you the best of luck in your job search.  

A personalized letter is better, but in a pinch, a form is better than nothing.   As an admin, I’ve sent these out myself.  I would much rather be told I didn’t get the job than feel as though I’ve been blown off.

I haz a sad…


Click the link below for a really fantastic one at  It’s almost a pleasure to be rejected with a letter like this one.

Announce in your posting that applicants will only be contacted for interviews

This might seem harsh and impersonal, but it means an applicant can set a time limit on her wait.  For most people, that’s two or three weeks.  You might even put one in there, the way literary agents do.  Something like “If you haven’t heard from us in [X], please assume the job has been filled.”

You’ve also covered your butt if you know you’ll be too swamped to field a plethora of follow-up calls.  Most job seekers know you’re busy; we’re all too aware companies are cutting back.

Know that rejection is just part of the hiring process, and candidates know it too

Notifying rejected candidates is uncomfortable.  But ignoring it won’t make it any easier on them.   Everyone who applies knows they may not get the job.  They’re prepared to hear this, even though they’re hoping they won’t.

Now that the candidate knows something about the organization, he may be able to recommend someone in his network next time you have an opening.  That person could be the dream employee you thought you’d never find.  He’s much more likely to do so if your rejection was professional and kind.

“Have I got an applicant for you!”




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