Is it Rejection or Just Bad Manners?

The abundance of job seekers, particularly recent graduates, has ignited a trend of bad manners from hiring companies.  I have often seen job seekers be invited for interviews, follow up with thank you notes, and never receive any response from the company or the individuals who met with them.  Does that mean that you were rejected?  Maybe, but not necessarily.  Perhaps there were other factors that influenced the outcome.

In my years of experience in executive search, I learned that there are many factors that affect hiring decisions.  Unfortunately, most job seekers don’t get any feedback about why the hiring process has derailed so the assumption is that you have failed to meet their standard.  And the constant rejection, with little or no feedback, can totally erode your confidence.

Were you really rejected or were there other factors at work?  Here are a few common scenarios:

  • The job was put on hold.  Even after jobs have gone through the internal approval process, recent financial results or other business related issues may cause the company to suspend their search, either totally or for some extended period of time.
  • The job was filled internally.  Sometimes a company will initiate a search before doing an exhaustive internal search.  Or, there are times when an unlikely internal candidate learns of an opening and shows an interest in being considered.  Or a company may want to compare potential internal candidates with others from outside the company to make sure they have hired the strongest contender.   In any of these scenarios, often the internal candidate is offered the position.
  • The job description has changed.  Sometimes, a company initiates a job search looking for a candidate with certain qualifications/experiences.  After interviewing a number of candidates, they will decide to modify the search and the profile of the person they are looking for changes, prompting them to re-start the search and reject all previous candidates who don’t fit the new parameters.
  • There has been a change in senior management.  Change at the top often trickles down throughout many levels of management in the company.  First, new managers are brought in and they are given the opportunity to look at their departments and evaluate their needs and their direct reports before they make any new hiring decisions are made.

As you can see, being “rejected” is only one explanation for why you were not pursued as a candidate.

While I admit that the outcome may be the same, perhaps there is some comfort in understanding that your performance on the interview may be completely unrelated to the outcome.  Of course, since many companies seem to have forgotten their manners and provide no feedback to the candidates (even when they request it), many are left to assume that they simply failed.  But the truth is that the employer has failed–not understanding that they are dealing with real people in a truly difficult job market who are frustrated by the rejection and who deserve the simple courtesy of an explanation so they can move forward in their efforts.


Lesley is president and founder of Priority Candidates, which prepares college students and recent graduates nationwide to get hired for their first jobs.   Previously, Lesley spent more than 25 years in executive search, working with candidates from entry level to C-Suite executives in organizations ranging in size from small, family owned businesses to large international organizations.  Her fundamental knowledge of what hiring manager’s look for is the core of what Priority Candidates does to prepare college students/recent grads to get hired now.  An alumnus of Duke University who is based in New York City, Lesley has been featured in USA Today, ABC’s New York Viewpoint with Ken Rosato, ABC News with Art McFarland, The New York Times, NY Nightly News with NBC4’s Chuck Scarborough, eCampus News and John Tucker’s Small Business Report on Bloomberg Radio.   Lesley always welcomes connections via LinkedIn, on Twitter or by email or phone, available on her website.

Related posts:

  1. Rejection – It’s Not Personal
  2. Accepting Rejection
  3. Mind Your Manners

One Response to “Is it Rejection or Just Bad Manners?”

  1. Thanks for sharing especially for new job seekers. That behavior has been around since budding authors submitted manuscripts. Let’s write about recruiters who refuse to connect with the UNemployed. How’s that for being rude not to mention stupid? I won’t go on as I like the advice to keep things positive online. Keep up the great work. sQs Delray Beach FL

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