The Post-Interview Black Hole

The Post-Interview Black Hole

Today, you are a human resources professional. Today, you interview candidates for positions at your firm. But not that long ago you were a candidate. And you did what every good candidate does. You did your homework. You prepared. And it went well. Everyone was friendly and encouraging. You thought, “I have a real shot at this job.” Everyone shook hands and you went home and waited. And waited. And what happened? Nothing happened. No phone call. No email. No note. No text message. No nothing.

We’ve ALL been there. The Post Interview Black Hole. No feedback. Just dark matter.

As an executive recruiter it’s my job to set up the “first date.” Then I need to know how it went. Will there be a second date? Is this person right for you or not? Why? I want to “fix you up” with people you’ll like. Appropriate feedback helps us be more effective on your behalf.

Unfortunately, we often have to chase after that feedback. And sometimes that feedback is just the bare minimum: “not a fit” doesn’t constitute a helpful response. It won’t help us improve our performance, either. It won’t help an internal or external recruiter—and certainly not the candidate.

Just as importantly, it won’t help us increase our chance of matching you with “mr. or ms. right” the next time. You need to fill in the picture: let us know why it’s “not a fit.”

And by the way, it’s good business, too. Good relations help maintain a good public image for your firm. After all, the person sitting across from you today may be working for your competition tomorrow. Who knows, the candidate you are interviewing today may be interviewing you tomorrow—it’s a small world.

And, yes, executive recruiters are guilty, too—of not getting back to our candidates when we do get appropriate feedback. We definitely have to work harder on this missed opportunity for helpful communication.

We think this is an important issue. We welcome your opinions and feedback. What have your experiences been like? Let us know. And if you think this is all feel good nonsense, let us know that, too. We want to have a dialog with you. We want to know what you think. We value your opinion.

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Victoria is an accomplished direct marketer with more than 20 years of industry experience. The Founder and President of Victoria James Executive Search, Inc. direct marketing search firm, she has had a successful and accomplished career, holding senior level sales and marketing management positions in companies such as Citicorp Diner’s Club, Donnelley Marketing. Victoria understands the need for premium talent in the Direct and Digital Marketing industries, is an active member of the Direct Marketing Association, NEMOA and other associations, and holds an Executive MBA from Bernard M. Baruch College. Contact Victoria today to learn how her team of recruitment experts can accelerate your efforts and help you quickly accomplish your goals.


  1. stephenb 3 years ago

    It’s the truth, there is a black hole!

  2. Debbie Norris 3 years ago

    Valid comments – we need to remember that when we are on the other side of the desk.

  3. Judith Hummel 3 years ago

    As a candidate who was paid to travel to sites, and then hear nothing from the recruiter was both disheartening and aggravating. I would have appreciated even a “no fit”. Complacency? Busyness? Lack of resources? (And no, the recruiters weren’t from Victoria James, so take a breath of relief).
    It still is the employer’s market (contrary to what I read), and there is still an overwhelming number of people who are applying for jobs, again despite the glowing reports of the unemployed workforce percentage dropping. I’m a HR manager, and can attest to seeing high numbers of responses. However, as your article pointed out, those people who are seeking a job may at some day interview me. I think it would be nice if companies and by extension, their recruiters would offer a courtesy to the applicant by responding.
    I had been out of a job for nearly 1.5 years, and can personally vouch for lack of responses.

  4. kathryn nicolato 3 years ago

    There are a growing number of employers who provide no feedback. It seems like the qick email or phone call to applicants has gone the way of the ‘thank you’ note…—nearly extinct. I believe the follow up sets an employer apart—above the rest. It does leave me with an impression of the employer. I support a return to employer feedback and follow-up for applicants. It’s the right thing to do!

  5. Rich Henquinet 3 years ago

    As an HR leader who has done a lot of recruiting my philosophy is that all the candidates we engage are immediately told when they are no longer in the game. This way we give them closure and let them move on. But more importantly, they quit pestering us with emails and calls seeking updates. And yes, it is our duty and responsibility to let them know why they’re out of the game. Not doing this only portrays us as being disinterested and lazy. If you took the time to engage them, take the time to disengage them.

  6. Phillip- Johnson, PHR 3 years ago

    In January of this year, I was recalled to return to the role I had been laid off from in February 2013. However, the recall is not permanent ,so I am actively seeking a new “home” that will (hopefully) be at least half as amazing as my current employer.
    I have interviewed with a few companies. The “Candidate Experience” has been disappointing in most cases. Not because I didn’t fact in three instances I removed myself from consideration because of issues I discovered in the interview process (not a place for me)- but in one situation, I was told by the final interviewer that I was going to be recommended for hire (and yes I realize she may have been speaking out of turn), then the Recruiter (outsourced) went on vacation. It is obvious, I fell through the cracks, and the last I heard was ” I think they put the position on hold but I know they have you in their system”. And then there are the situations where application is submitted and then… crickets. Not even an ATS generated disposition email.
    I work to ensure that this is not the experience applicants and candidates for positions have with my current organization. I refuse to be “That HR Person”.
    There is an epidemic amongst HR and Talent Acquisition professionals. They are apparently forgetting that they are the face of their organization to everyone with whom they come into contact. HR and TA are THE front line Brand Ambassadors. The candidate in the selection process today may be a decision maker working for a potential client tomorrow, or may even be a resource for getting to a great fit candidate for that hard to fill requisition. Every applicant and candidate should be treated like a VIP. They should be given thoughtful consideration and, even if they aren’t selected, be able to walk away from the process with a good feeling about the organization. If your ATS isn’t configured to auto generate a nicely worded email once an applicants resume is rejected, then take the time to leverage the full capability of your technology! If you aren’t reaching out. personally, to candidates who are not selected, you are doing a great disservice to yourself and your organization. Taking a couple of minutes to do so will equate to impacting your organizations bottom line at some point down the road.

  7. Josh Rickert 3 years ago

    As a Department of One it is very difficult for me to respond to each candidate that applies for each position, however, when I do speak we a candidate, either on the telephone for a preliminary interview or after they’ve been onsite, I would make it a priority to contact them back, especially if we are not considering them further. This helps close the loop and then both sides can move on. As for candidates still being considered, I do reach out to them periodically (even in a quick email), to let them about the process and that we are still considering others, have not yet made a decision, but, are very interested in that particular candidate. I’ll even set the stage with a candidate to inform that this process is projected to take X amount of days/weeks, so they should not be too bothered by being in the Black Hole for too long.

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