Why Employers Don't Give Feedback to Rejected Candidates

Legal concerns, limited time top the list

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The majority of employers are not legally required to supply job candidates with information about why they were not hired for a job. Exceptions to this may exist when an employer is a governmental agency, covered by civil service requirements, or if the employees have a collective bargaining agreement that outlines the process for promotions or transfers.

So, if you are seeking a job in the government or a workplace with a union contract, make sure you understand the rules that pertain to hiring, promotions, job transfers, and other conditions of employment. In these cases, it is best to seek legal advice for what is required in the city, state, or country where you live.

Even though feedback is not legally required, if you were not hired for the job after participating in an interview process, you can ask for feedback—and it's generally a good idea to do so. You might not receive any helpful information, but sometimes even generic responses can offer a clue.

Why Feedback Is Uncommon

Legal concerns and limited time are among the top reasons you might not get feedback if rejected for a job. Many attorneys recommend that employers provide little feedback to job candidates. They are concerned it can be used or misconstrued by the applicant to demonstrate discrimination in the hiring process. Many employers follow this advice and consider it safest to avoid providing any feedback.

Beyond legal concerns, time is limited. A form rejection letter still takes staff time to develop and send and providing feedback to a candidate takes additional time. On top of that, most employers want to avoid what can be a difficult phone conversation. They don't want to take additional time coping with a rejected candidate who becomes upset or angry. By the time you find out you've been rejected, hiring managers or human resources have already moved on from you as a candidate, so spending more time on you is not a priority for them.

In addition to a lack of time, most hiring managers want to avoid questions from rejected candidates about how they can improve their resumes or interviewing skills. HR employees know their own hiring practices, but they only can guess what other companies are seeking and don't see themselves as qualified to offer such advice.

Feedback That Might Be Provided

As a job searcher, you likely are hungry for feedback. The longer they’ve been searching for a job, the more desperate you might be to find out why you are not getting the job. An employer who is willing to take the time and can offer constructive, actionable feedback is a welcome gift.

Unfortunately, 70 percent of employers surveyed by job recruiter Gerry Crispin in 2012 did not provide feedback to candidates who are not hired. The survey included 100 American companies most admired for their HR practices. Still, several reasons why employers might want to provide feedback to a candidate were cited in the survey:

  • They like a candidate and believe they would hire her for the right opportunity in a less competitive recruitment.
  • They want to create an environment of goodwill for the company in which candidates will tell friends and social media positive things about interviewing with them. Reputation plays an important role as talent becomes scarce. The company's reputation as an employer of choice is dependent on how they treat candidates as well as employees.
  • They want a candidate to experience the company's integrity and transparency in its hiring practices so he is less likely to target the firm with a lawsuit.