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Part of the reason is that rejected candidates tend to ask why they were rejected, which is a massive time sink. The logic goes that it's better to black hole than it is to be inundated with requests for reasons.



When recruiting, I chose to reject thousands of people.

For obvious rejections, I sent an auto generated email that looked like it could be from a human. If someone asked why they'd been rejected, I'd simply say the hiring manager chose to focus on more obvious matches for the position, and that was the end of it. Maybe 1 in 100 asked for feedback, but I didn't keep stats.

For a few candidates who were unlikely to be a fit, I'd reject them, and say why I didn't think it'd a match. Usually if I heard back, it was simply to say thank you for acknowledging them. For one position, I was recruiting a CTO. I rejected one Craigslist sourced applicant, and gave him reasons why he didn't fit the CEO's list of filtering bullet points. He responded with information that flipped him from a no to a yes, he got the interview, and eventually got the job!


I'm surprised that you posted a c-level position on Craigslist. I've always thought of cl jobs as entry to slightly above entry-level jobs. Did you get good candidates for the job from cl in general?


I was mostly focused on individual contributor roles for engineering and operations. I was filling the jobs so fast, there was a massive surplus of jobless talent sloshing around during the recession, that I was running out of stuff to positions to fill.

The CEO was kind of cheap, and didn't want to pay a retained search firm. I was working on a part time contract at an hourly rate, so he asked me to take a crack at the CTO position. I tried filling the CTO role like I filled every other role, by starting with an ad on Craigslist, and it worked out.


>For a few candidates who were unlikely to be a fit, I'd reject them, and say why I didn't think it'd a match.

I read that a lot of people don't do this because they are afraid of $RANDOM lawsuit.


So let's say you begin working with a hiring manager, and that manager says "I want a young, full stack developer who will work 70+ hours per week."

First, if you don't push back on "young", you're asking for trouble right from the start. You gotta say, "I can't screen based on age, that's going to get both of us in trouble." The second a not-too-bright recruiter says, "I can't hire you, you're too old", everyone loses. So don't get yourself into a position where you're screening for young in the first place. It's fair to ask the hiring manager why they want a young person, and it may simply be that the job isn't something anyone with real experience would tolerate. Then you can describe the job in such a way that it highlights the requirements for someone at that level... "We work hard, day and night, to ship stuff as fast as possible, fueled by Mountain Dew and dreams of glorious stock options."

Once you've craft a job pitch that only someone who wants to work day and night would apply to, if a more experienced person applies to the job, you can reject them by focusing on the culture... "Hey, I don't think you'd be a fit here. Your skills look great, we'd love to have you, but do you really wanna work 70 hours a week? We're an adrenaline fueled sweat shop, and you've been at a cushy B2B SaaS company for a few years. If I'm wrong, let me know!"


I always assume this is just an excuse - they don't give you a reason because there is no reason for them to give you a reason. If there was some benefit for them to giving you a reason they would not fear the lawsuits. Maybe some people from Europe can talk about whether companies give them reasons, I suspect even in Europe companies don't tell applicants why they didn't hire them.


If you're rejecting someone for because they'd never get the job, it's not worth explaining why. Reasons include the candidate wasting their time to impress you in a way they will never work, getting sucked into a sob story about how they really need a job, and the candidate starting an argument, etc.

Here's an extreme example. I rejected a candidate, and felt bad for him. I gave a specific reason why he'd never get the job. A few hours later, he showed up in the lobby of our office building, coked out of his mind (that's what it looked and felt like, but he was probably just intensely upset). He started demanding to see HR. Shit went from chill to super uncomfortable in 0 seconds flat. I walked up to him, suggested he leave, at which point he realized I'm twice his size, and he departed. Yikes!

I stopped giving invalid rejection explanations after that. It's just not worth it, and that's part of living in the world that sucks more than I'd like it to.


>I suspect even in Europe companies don't tell applicants why they didn't hire them.

They usually don't. The same reasons apply. In Europe there's less fear about random lawsuits, but there are so many rules about hiring that it's just a minefield with lots of material for very legitimate lawsuits. You didn't get the impression that the applicant is a good culture fit? You better hope his name didn't sound Turkish, or that quickly sounds like unlawful discrimination.


A clearly automatic rejection with some corporative language is not particularly nice or warm, but fulfills the role of notifying the rejection without any room for this time sinking demand.


Seriously. All it takes is a form letter, and then you know for certain.

Dear Applicant, We're sorry but we have decided not to go forward with your application at the present time. We will keep your CV on file for 6 months in case our needs change. Best of luck in your future endeavors.


No, it is a status and power play. People that apply are unworthy of a reply. You really want to be head hunted, or get a warm intro. I have personal experience being black holed when applying and hired when introduced, and know others for which the same has happened.


Yeah, god forbid corporations show some common courtsey lest it cost small amounts of money.


Unless your applicants become your prospects or customers. At that point, it's going to be incredibly hard to get over any negative sentiment. The hiring process is as much a communication and marketing process as anything else and needs to be treated as such.




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