Candidates Get No Respect

Sharon had been through seven interviews, taken a coding test, and had developed what she thought was a good relationship with the prospective hiring manager. Sam, her recruiter connection, assured her the manager was excited about her joining his team she had the job. They were waiting for final approval.

It has now been six weeks, and Sharon is wondering if she did something wrong. Does she really have the job, or are they looking at other candidates? Should she wait longer, try to get in touch with the recruiter or hiring manager, or move on?

I hear stories like this all too often since the pandemic began.

When times are tough, candidates are often treated with more disrespect than usual. Many recruiters are swamped with candidates and act more impersonally than usual. Candidates, many of whom may be unemployed or very worried about their current positions, are supersensitive to how they are treated. I have heard from unemployed colleagues and many other candidates about the poor customer service they are receiving as the volume of resumes grows and the number of positions declines. Perhaps we can rationalize this because many recruiters have been laid off, and workloads have increased. On the other hand, we have never had more tools to help. Unfortunately, these tools are often poorly implemented or even increase the candidate’s sense of isolation.

Much of the technology that aids recruiters has actually increased candidate frustration and disenchantment. Recruiters hide behind electronic shields that are virtually impenetrable by ordinary candidates. Chatbots, of which I am a fan, are misused to replace human contact without offering quality service in return. Have you noticed that on e-commerce sites where chatbots are used, there is always a way to connect with a human fairly easily and quickly? Not so with recruiting. Candidates are made to answer all sorts of questions and then are left empty-handed and with no way to connect with a recruiter.

Mistreated, not communicated with, and frustrated candidates are not likely to say good things about our processes, us, or our organizations.

Candidates are not asking for a lot – just good communication, honest information, and a realistic timeline. Here are a few guidelines I would like to see followed - as would all candidates.

Honesty and Authenticity

Focus on ensuring that the status of a position is honestly stated. Make sure that all advertised positions are real and available to job-seekers. No more posting only to collect resumes. Be clear to state if the position is being promoted internally and indicate how committed the hiring organization is to fill the position with external candidates.


Focus on accuracy in describing the position. It would list the competencies, skills, or other specific attributes necessary in making a hiring decision. It would be clear whether or not the position requires relocation or whether it can be performed virtually. The best descriptions would say what skills or abilities previous hires have. Ideally, it would also contain some indication of how the organization will measure success.

Complete Information

Guarantee that candidates will be fully briefed on the organization, hiring manager, and position before any interview.  Provide them with links to appropriate websites or other information useful in preparing them for an interview. And, perhaps provide a biography of the hiring manager.


List the selection criteria and the step-by-step process the organization will follow. Explain who will make the hiring decision and approximately when it will be decided.


Let candidates know how soon after an interview they will be notified of the result and what that notification will contain. Provide those who have had interviews immediate or weekly updates on their status and provide them with a guarantee that they will be given a reason as to why they are no longer being considered. 

Anyone who has been told they will be offered a position should have the name and phone number of the recruiter, receive a weekly status update, a reason for any delay, and the approximate date when they will be made the offer.


Ensure that the information they provide will be kept secure and confidential. If any data is going to be shared outside the organization, get the candidate’s permission.

Final Thoughts

The lack of the ability to influence hiring managers, make promises that are kept, communicate honestly, or execute efficient processes underlines the sorry state of our profession. In these tough times when people are stressed, anxious, and perhaps unemployed through no personal fault, we should do our very best to follow these guidelines.

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Related Links

Why Being a Job Candidate Sucks

Six Ways to Reject a Candidate Politely

Hire Wisdom