Not Hired? You’ll Probably Never Find Out Why You Were Rejected

June 10, 2013  |  

You had an awesome  interview and you thought for sure the job was yours, only to later hear you were rejected. Why? According to The Wall Street Journal, that is a question you probably will never have answered. Many potential employees, in fear of discrimination complaints, won’t reveal the reason they rejected a candidate.

Most companies instead will tell rejected candidates that they have found someone “more suited” to the job. Such vague responses leave job applicants making the same mistakes over and over again in future interviews, WSJ points out.

Companies have become more reluctant to give constructive feedback since late 2012 when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission identified discrimination in hiring practices as one of its priorities for the next three years, Amy Fratkin, an employment lawyer, told WSJ. Individual complaints will be more likely to result in EEOC lawsuits if a pattern of discrimination by the employer has been established.

However many candidates don’t seek feedback. According to HR managers, around 10 percent ask for feedback. Only 4.4 percent of more than 2,000 job candidates surveyed in 2012 by the Talent Board, an organization focused on improving companies’ recruiting practices, said they received specific feedback from hiring managers and recruiters. A few companies throw caution to the wind and do offer rejected candidates feedback.

Elli Sharef, co-founder of HireArt, a website that matches job seekers and employers through video interviews and assessment tests, told WSJ that she has heard from hundreds of frustrated job candidates and recently decided to offer feedback, although her lawyer was wary. So last month, HireArt emailed 127 job seekers who had submitted video interviews for jobs in educational technology and offered the chance for a 15-minute personalized critique from Sharef herself. In less 10 minutes the 21 available slots were filled. But reactions to the feedback varied. HireArt now only offers a limited number of weekly feedback sessions.

Another possible way to get feedback would be via companies’ job-application software, suggested John Sullivan, a management professor at San Francisco State University, told the newspaper. These applicant-tracking systems score job seekers based on rough measures such as the number of keyword matches between a job description and a résumé. According to Sullivan, employers could theoretically send candidates their scores. So far no one has taken up Sullivan’s suggestion.

“If you scored 90 out of 100, you might apply again later. But if you scored a 20, you know you applied for the wrong job,” he told WSJ.

Would you want feedback from a failed job interview?

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