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  • Writer's pictureJudith Moeckell

Not just good manners:

What does lack of candidate feedback in recruitment tell you about the organisation

Candidates are often left without information about the outcome of the

recruitment process. There’s more than common decency why hiring organisations should not ghost unsuccessful candidates.

If you want to raise the temperature on LinkedIn, tell a story about how you’ve been treated poorly by recruiters (agencies or in-house). The posts we’ve seen often attract hundreds of responses detailing how candidates have had one or even several interviews and then left in the dark.

The consensus among the comments is that if not every application (which may count in hundreds), at least every interview deserves an acknowledgement of the outcome, whether good news or bad. However, our anecdotal evidence suggests that it is almost rarer to get a regret message than not.

We’re not even talking about quality feedback about the candidate’s performance in the process as seen by the recruiting organisation.

While this will appear unprofessional and annoying from the candidate’s point of view, the hiring organisation should pause to think what does it say about the organisation’s culture more widely. Apart from lack of demonstrating respect, at worst there may be discrimination at play or – almost as worryingly – may be an indication that difficult conversations swept under the carpet. See our earlier blog post on the last point.

From the candidate’s point of view being ghosted consumes energy as it infringes the applicant’s status (‘I am not important enough to be told the outcome’), certainty (‘I haven’t heard from the recruiter, I wonder where the process is’) and even fairness (‘Am I being discriminated because it’s all gone silent’).

To cut the long story short: Unsuccessful applicants want to stop investing emotional and intellectual capital on the role they’ve been candidates for if they’re not going ahead.

So if just about everyone agrees that explicitly closing an application is common decency, why does it seem to be so difficult – even for most household names in the recruitment industry.

At JM Consulting we have been on the recruiting side of the process hundreds of times. We know from our own experience that there are three main reasons why it is tempting from the recruiter’s perspective just stopping any contact when the decision has been made not to go ahead with a candidate:

First, recruitment is a busy enterprise. Recruiters and hiring managers juggle with numerous candidates; screen them, schedule interviews, conduct interviews, negotiate job offers etc. It’s no wonder that once a candidate becomes a regret, there is little immediate incentive to close the position. It’s a very real reason but still only an excuse: a brief e-mail thanking for interest but it not leading to further action in this case doesn’t take a lot of effort.

Secondly, most of us want to avoid bringing bad news. People would prefer the other person to read between the lines rather than have to spell it out.

Thirdly, they are worried that the candidate will come back asking for feedback which will take time and saying the wrong things will lead into a lawsuit.

We make sure that every application is acknowledged, and we close each application either with a job offer for the selected candidate(s) and for the unsuccessful ones we send a brief written regret note at an appropriate stage in the process. And if we work with recruitment or executive search companies on behalf of our client, we expect them to adhere to the same standard.

This is because in today’s world you will stand out of the crowd in a positive way and even the unsuccessful candidates are likely to say good things about you rather than bad. Not only common decency but sound business sense.

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