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The silence killer: Why hearing nothing after job interviews is so damaging

We all know that job interviews are some of the most stressful things we do. Many of us go through life having very few of them (which is why they are so hard), but others have more over time and at the start of our careers we can end up having dozens of interviews in quite a short time. However experienced you are, they always require a lot of energy and focus, as well as preparation. Given how much time we invest in them, it is staggering to see how often employers fail to get back to candidates afterwards. Not hearing after an application is forgiveable, especially if you have hundreds of candidates. But failing to get in touch after an interview is not only rude and unprofessional, it also has a big impact on the candidate's mental health.

If you hear nothing after spending the time and energy to complete the interview (whether in person or online), it leaves you with a void that gets filled with self doubt and insecurity. Last year a poll on my X account revealed that most people do not hear back after an interview. MOST people. That is a disgrace. When I discussed this again recently on X, there were some extraordinary stories shared. As Craig (below) called it, it is soul destroying.

When I was involved in hiring staff, I was told by HR that it was surprising and unusual to have someone care so much and be so involved. I cared because I wanted to hire the best person for the job but also because I knew how stressful it is for candidates. It was essential to make sure they had unique feedback after an interview. I don't mean the generic 'we went for someone with more experience' feedback, I mean proper personal feedback that would help them in future applications and interviews.

But the process of recruitment is not an efficient one from my experience. On one occasion the best candidate for the role had not even made it to the HR shortlist. Had I not known they had applied their application would have become one of the dozens (sometimes hundreds) that receive a radio silence. I would also receive CVs from people clearly unqualified for the role. Often this is because in media the HR team has no clue what the job is they are hiring for. Why would they? They work in HR not media. They are relying on tick sheets of qualifications and skills given to them by the hiring manager.

To confound the issue, hiring managers are often too busy to get fully involved in the process until the interview. Once the interview is done they go back to their (often stressful) job and unless the staff position is critical, there can be weeks before they make a final decision. The recruitment team should be pushing for quick and clear decisions. Leaving anyone hanging on for more than a week to ten days after an interview is poor. If it is going to take longer, they need to make sure all the candidates know this at the interview or soon after.

If it is your job to hire people, part of that job is clear communication with candidates. That means letting them know how the recruitment process is going and when they will hear back. Getting feedback from the hiring team is also essential. Maybe in smaller companies these people are doing several jobs, but it still seems pretty basic stuff. Many recruiters appear to be going through the process to get the person hired and not worry about the 99% that miss out.

What is remarkable here though, is that if a company values its staff and its reputation then how you hire people is key to that image. If you cannot do that properly how are you going to treat people when they are working for you? There must be a better way to recruit than this mad feeding frenzy. Improving how it is done will not only make the company look better, it will protect the mental health of thousands of job seekers each year, who are left feeling lost and confused by this silent rejection.


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