Hiring Managers: Stop Insulting the Job Candidates

Hamster in a ball

Some blog posts take on a life of their own. I was humbled that 50,000 of you took the time to read “Job Candidates: Stop Insulting the Hiring Managers” on LinkedIn.

More than 200 readers continued the conversation, sharing their experiences and offering their perspective on the rather touchy subject of job search etiquette. Several comments stood out.

When on the job hunt, no matter how stressful, candidates should refrain from pestering and insulting the hiring managers. It is difficult when one takes so many steps and doesn’t even get a callback, but patience goes a long way.

The hiring process can feel like a waiting game. But jobseekers who are patient demonstrate maturity (another way to stand out to hiring managers). Ironically, incessantly pestering the hiring manager about the status of an application may be the reason for rejection.

Another reader called out a few more ways that candidates insult hiring managers:

A candidate takes a week or more to respond to a member of the hiring team’s call/email, doesn’t take time to follow instructions on the job posting, shows up late to an interview without calling, thinks they are above following the screening and interview process, and is rude when they come in for the interview.

Rude behavior certainly does not make for an appealing hire. But comments like this one started me down a different path:

Here’s a dumb thought… why don’t both candidates and hiring managers, recruiters, etc. treat each other like HUMAN BEINGS for a change, using common courtesies and some compassion?

Strong words, but this reader makes a valid point: Perhaps some hiring managers need to step away from the resume pile and sign up for a refresher course in manners. And it is likely true that hiring managers insult candidates more often than being mistreated themselves.

Hiring managers do not have an easy job, to be sure, dealing with hundreds — sometimes thousands — of applicants for a single position. Vetting applicants is tough and important work that will affect the future of the company.

But some hiring managers may inadvertently insult jobseekers when they:

Exaggerate the role
Some job descriptions list so many requirements and qualifications that only a superhero could do the work described. Hiring managers should share a realistic and accurate description of the duties and expectations — not a fantasy. This way, both the hiring manager and applicants can make well-informed decisions.

Ignore qualified applicants
Many hiring managers rely on software to screen thousands of applicants. But jobseekers complain that their qualifications get lost in these systems, offering them little hope that a human on the other end will ever see their resume. In fact, one company reportedly received 25,000 applicants for a routine engineering position, but their screening software yielded no qualified matches. What?

Skip their homework
Some hiring managers do not take time to glance at a candidate’s resume or Linkedin profile before an interview — and the lack of preparation is stunningly obvious to the candidate once the questions begin. The candidate leaves the interview feeling shortchanged and a little slighted.

Interrogate candidates
Rather than treating the interview as a conversation, some interviewers use it to root out the truth (and nothing but truth.) For the sake of convenience, they put the candidate through a one-day barrage of aggressive back-to-back interviews with different managers that seem more like a trial by jury.

Fail to follow up
Some hiring managers never follow through and notify finalists of their status or hiring decision — even if the answer is “no.” While companies expect to receive follow-up notes from candidates, they often do not extend the same courtesy. Showing appreciation and letting candidates know the status of their application helps them gain closure and move on with their job search.

A job search should be a two-way street of mutual respect. But from what I am hearing, it does not feel that way to jobseekers, who walk away feeling undervalued, ignored, frustrated, and no closer to landing a new job.

Maybe it is time for hiring managers to see if they can restore some humanity to the process — not just because they may be losing out on good candidates, but because it is the right thing to do.

What is the most rude thing you have seen a hiring manager do?

About Brian and Aha!

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 roadmap software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the adventure of living a meaningful life.

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  1. Maria

    It is indeed a two-way street, hard on applicants as well as hiring managers. To answer your question, though, the rudest hiring manager I’ve ever encountered was when I was submitting for a contract project. I was stunned when first, I was called by the wrong name continually, even after I had corrected the manager and second when the manager made a weak joke about how an older person in the workplace should refer to themselves. Apparently, the manager was pointing out that she could tell from my resume that I was older than most candidates. Of course, I could have made a big deal of that, but instead, I chose to end the conversation, and I crossed them off my list.

  2. withheld in PA

    Job seeking is tough for both parties. … I’ve seen BOTH sides behave poorly, at times. Let’s be fair though, it is the candidate who is often at risk of losing house and home if they do not find a match, usually not the other way around.

    The worst I’ve personally run into? An interviewer told me, seconds after meeting me, that he’d done an extensive search for me online, dug up information about my hobbies and family -WITHOUT FIRST OBTAINING MY CONSENT FOR A BACKGROUND CHECK. I was speechless. This was when the internet was still a new thing, pre-google. I felt a line had certainly been crossed. Why SO suspicious of a 20 something college graduate who wants a full-time job? Years later, I am still hypersensitive about my privacy.

  3. Christel Lee

    I was told on my face my credentials and experience is almost impossible to get my foot into the field which I NEVER APPLIED FOR. This self-proclaimed HR practitioner boasted of decades experience is insanely proud of his judge of character. I declined the invitation for the interview. For a person who is not only clueless about my career goals, by pushing me into a field when I have zero interests in clearly reflects he profound lack of HR professionalism.


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