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What if employers had to pay for job interviews? 

 
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-- Nick          
 

I just wanted to add to your history of the apparent rudeness that seems to be pervasive out there. I had a first and second round of interviews with a company recently. The second round involved four finalists meeting 12 employees over eight grueling hours. They said in mid-July that they would make a choice by August 1. I called the HR person on August 7 and got her voice mail. I said that I wanted to know their decision based on the timetable she provided and asked that she call me. On August 17, I e-mailed the hiring manager to reinforce my interest and asked if they had made a decision.

The next day the HR manager responded that they hired a candidate who started work the last week of July. She said that a formal notice would be sent to confirm this within the week.

August is over. There's been no notice. One of the other three finalists told me she has heard nothing at all. Are manners and simple courtesy totally dead?

Nick's Reply
The wait after the interview is perhaps the most clawing agony of the job hunt. Candidates appear on time for interviews; devote hours of unpaid professional time to an employer; and then wait patiently for a hiring decision by the promised time. Inevitably, a company ignores the timeline it committed to without any update or comment to the candidates. Why? Because candidates are free.

You could be bold instead of free. Send the HR manager certified mail with a copy to the hiring manager and the CEO: an invoice for your time.

"My time for our first interview was free, as it was an exploratory meeting. You requested more time for the second round of meetings, which I provided at no cost contingent on your company fulfilling its commitment to respond with a decision by the date chosen by you, August 1. You repeatedly ignored your own deadline,without notice.

"I am thus billing you for the eight hours of my professional time spent in the second round of meetings with your staff. As a professional, I would never dream of being irresponsible with the time of my clients, my vendors, or my employer. Time is money. I live by the deadlines I commit to, and I expect others to do the same. Anything less would be irresponsible to our industry and to our profession. None of us could operate with integrity if we ignored our commitments. This is not a joke. I expect payment within 10 days."

Does this seem extreme? It shouldn't. Is there a more polite way to notify a company that it has erred? Sure -- but you've already done that, several times. Every day, companies ignore these time commitments with impunity. Why is a deadline for a hiring decision any less important than a deadline to deliver a product to a customer? The company's ability to meet either deadline establishes its reputation. Yet, while companies worry plenty about dissatisfied customers, they don't give a thought to what professionals in their industry will say about them. A job candidate treated with disrespect can do as much -- if not more -- damage to a company's business as a dissatisfied customer. Do employers really think word doesn't get around?

Maybe hiring managers just assume that their HR departments handle all this stuff. But, just how accountable are HR departments? Does this company's public relations department realize that while it's spending millions on good press, the HR department is scuttling it? If you're a hiring manager, do you have any idea how job candidates are treated after they leave your office?

HR might explain that it takes time to process candidates, job offers, hires, and rejection letters. Tell that to your customer who cancels the order that's a month late, or to the prospect who's waiting for a sales rep to return her call.

The technology to keep candidates informed is there. The will isn't. Why? Because job candidates don't cost anything. Companies can get all your professional time they want, for free, without any obligation to you whatsoever. Fancy that.

What if employers had to pay for job interviews? Should you really send an invoice if they ignore their obligation? Good questions. Would it make any difference? It might, if you copy the company's public relations department and three leading industry publications. (Don't forget to add me to your list.) To paraphrase Arlo Guthrie's song Alice's Restaurant, imagine if 50 people a day sent interview invoices to employers. We might change the world.

This bad behavior is unbusinesslike and has just got to stop. I challenge any HR manager to explain why it's okay to ignore even an implied commitment to a job candidate. If your company shines in this regard, I'd like to hear from you, too. In fact, I'll gladly highlight your company in an upcoming newsletter. Respond here.

Wishing you better than you're getting,

Nick Corcodilos
Ask The Headhunter®

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