Land Your Dream Job
Careers that help you move from intention to action

Should Employers Let Job Seekers Know Why They Weren’t Hired?

A man in a suit covers his ears with work papers.

When we surveyed job seekers for our 2012 state of the sector report, many shared that they want to hear from employers. Not just acknowledgement that an application has been received, but also any information that will help them create a better resume and cover letter or avoid certain mistakes moving forward. While we often assume that employers are too busy to offer such detailed feedback, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, two additional elements make sharing such information with rejected candidates difficult: legal challenges and upsetting reactions from job seekers.

"Linda Jackson, a partner with employment law firm Littler Mendelson, says she advises her clients against offering specific feedback to job candidates. For instance, telling someone he has too much experience for a particular job might be interpreted as age discrimination, she said. “Is it the basis for a claim? It might or it might not be,” she says.

Then there is the discomfort of relaying hard-to-hear information. Some hiring managers are so uncomfortable at the prospect of these conversations that they refuse to bring their business cards to interviews, says Amelia Merrill of Risk Management Solutions Inc., a risk-modeling firm in Silicon Valley.

Despite how awkward it can be, Ms. Merrill expects her recruiters to call finalists to let them know they weren’t hired, giving those applicants a chance to ask for more information. She wants even rejected candidates to leave thinking they want to work there.

On rare occasions, she added, a rejected candidate will argue with the recruiter or insist he was the right pick for the job."

The article goes on to share how HireArt—a company that matches employers and employees—tried to share feedback with rejected candidates, and were met with mixed responses, leading them to wonder if job seekers can handle constructive criticism. Also, giving feedback can be challenging when many employers are increasingly using applicant-tracking systems as an initial screen.

Explore Jobs on Idealist