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A friend of mine recently interviewed at my workplace, and was shown around town ( we don't currently live in the same city) by myself and a few co-workers. After a week of not hearing any news from her whether she was hired or not, I decided to privately ask my manager, who conducted part of her interview, what her status was. He said that it was unlikely that she would be hired, and gave me the reason, which I won't share publicly. Another week later, and my friend got back to me saying that she got the official "thanks but no thanks" letter.

My question: should I tell my friend the reason why she was not hired, in order to help her with any future interviews that she will have?

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Will knowing the reason help my friend improve herself for future applications/interviews? -> Yes -> Will the reason portray my company negatively and/or get my company sued? -> No -> Then tell her. Any other case, keep it to yourself. (Example cases: My friend wasn't hired for reasons related to discrimination -> I wouldn't tell her, and I'd question myself working for such a workplace. My friend wasn't hired because she lacks skills in area B, C, and D. -> I'd tell her so she can work on those areas) – Adi Mar 22 '14 at 14:18
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Since you were not involved in the decision, you don't actually know the real reason(s), only what you were told was the reason. Keep that in mind too, especially if harm could be caused to anyone by disclosing it. – Spehro Pefhany Mar 23 '14 at 22:13
    
Your friend should ask the company officially if there is any way she could improve to become a better fit for the company. If she wants to know! – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Mar 6 at 9:15
    
Dang it I want so badly to know the reason. – piggy May 11 at 14:06

12 Answers 12

up vote 26 down vote accepted

Be careful if you decide to tell you friend the reason. There are many legal requirements around hiring and almost every company I know of will not give you a reason for risk of being sued. If the company gets sued you will likely be terminated. Consider your risks first.

Since you say you cannot share the reason publicly you likely do not want to share it with your friend and do not want to communicate it to your friend in a medium that creates a record.

This should not prevent you from helping your friend for future interviews. It certainly can be done tactfully.

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Is the suing because of a job you didn't get a US thing? Just seem really weird from a Swiss/European perspective... I mean if it was racial discrimination for example, yes, but... Maybe y'all should just stop suing each other over every little thing. :P – fgysin Mar 9 at 10:58
    
@fgysin law suit culture is a big issue over hear. Even if the person suing you is in the wrong and you know the courts will rule in your favor it can be a big, and sometimes expensive hassle (and that's not counting damage to your reputation) so most companies prefer to take extreme caution and avoid the whole mess to begin with. – Lee Abraham May 10 at 17:51

My question: should I tell my friend the reason why she was not hired, in order to help her with any future interviews that she will have?

It's rather sketchy that your manager shared the reasons for not hiring your friend with you. For me, that's a very questionable practice. Unless your friend explicitly indicated that this sort of information could be shared with you, it feels inappropriate.

It seems like it would compound the problem even more for you to then pass this information on to your friend.

Why didn't your manager convey the reasons to your friend? If he wasn't willing to do that, why would you think it is okay for you to do so? Would you feel comfortable asking your manager's permission to pass along the reasons for her not getting hired? If not, why would you think it's okay to tell her?

Give her job searching advice. Give her career advice. But don't relay the specifics of this job situation.

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I think this should be the selected answer... :) – unknownprotocol Dec 31 '14 at 0:08
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I would only add to Joe's answer that managers do not usually discuss the reasons for hiring or not hiring someone to another employee, even if they are friends. The manager might have done so "off the record" and as such it would be bad if OP told his friend without first consulting with the manager if it's ok, which often it's not. – unknownprotocol Dec 31 '14 at 0:14
    
I think you are assuming because the OP does share the reason publicly, it must be something embarrassing or personal. Usually companies don't volunteer why, because they have nothing to profit. It could be something as simple as "They didn't have experience in the areas we need". Hardly something a company would volunteer, but may not mind you telling your friend why. – Ronnie W. Mar 6 at 4:00

It really, really depends on a number of issues:

  • How close you are to this person (including how well they can keep a secret, particularly one which is hurtful to them)
  • The nature of the reason they did not get the job (not experienced enough? OK. "We didn't feel that a woman would be okay for the job?" Not unless you are about to leave the job yourself (frankly I wouldn't blame you) and wanted to give your friend ammunition for a lawsuit)
  • How otherwise possible it might be for the fact that you told them to come back to you (in this case, you have other friends at this place, it sounds like, and I'm not sure you can even trust a close friend to not commiserate with her buddies)
  • How constructive to future job offers the answer might be (if she misspoke in the interview or did something that can be coached, that's one thing. If the reasoning speaks to a deep character flaw which your friend is never going to be able to change, what's the benefit in telling them?)

I don't think this is an easy decision to make in any case but there are at least some criteria you can use to help decide.

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Back when I was last looking for a job, it was perfectly acceptable for a rejected candidate to contact the lead interviewer or hiring manager and ask them for feedback on why they were unsuccessful. Not all replied of course, for various reasons, but I'd have no qualms about doing it still, and that's what I'd recommend to a friend in your situation as a first course of action.

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You could make a general statement like "In my experience, some people don't get hired because ..." and state the specific reason why she was not hired without implicating either you or your firm. If she starts to dig, simply tell her "I am making a general statement, that's it" If the reason is interesting such as she is short on an objective not subjective qualification that she would have to meet on other interviews, then it's worth it to say something to her.

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What does "without implicating either you or your firm" mean in this scenario? – panoptical Mar 22 '14 at 0:29
    
It means "without disclosing to your friend that the firm is your firm, and without admitting that you found out through your back channel at the firm why your friend's candidacy was rejected - And you are doing it in this way so that you can deny to your firm that you disclosed that information - after all, you never identified your firm as the source of the information" Am I devious enough for you ? :) – Vietnhi Phuvan Mar 22 '14 at 2:13

If you think you can spin it in a way that might help your friend get a job next time, then it's probably Ok. For example, if the reason was poor interview skills, you could try to offer constructive tips that could help in the future.

If the reason is something that will only anger them to hear it because there's nothing they can do, then don't tell them since it won't help.

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Yes though be sure that you ask her if she wants the help. Not everyone will be open to feedback and so it can be useful to ask about this first. If she believes she'll find the right job at the right time and doesn't want to hear things, then it may be better to keep it to yourself.

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I would say no, do not tell your friend why she was not hired unless your manager approves of you doing so. Separate the confidential company information from helping your friend.

You could ask your manager what, if anything, you could share. You may be pleased...or not.

If you still feel that you have constructive knowledge that can help her in the future, then try to find the best way to communicate suggestions to her without breaking your company confidentiality.

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My question: should I tell my friend the reason why she was not hired, in order to help her with any future interviews that she will have?

It's entirely dependent on your friend and on the specifics of the situation.

First - Size up your friend. Does he/she have thick skin? Can he/she accept constructive criticism? Does he/she recognize that at the end of the day, the hiring process is predicated on a myriad of factors and is inherently subjective?

Second - Consider the situation. Did your friend get a fair shake? Or did he/she get a raw deal? Would there be any legal considerations in divulging the specifics of the decision? [Warning: This can be tricky, so if you have any doubts, say as little as possible.]

Ultimately, if it's likely that your friend will be able to handle the particulars of the decision, then it may be appropriate to tell him/her for two reasons:

  1. He/she may learn from the experience, and prepare better next time.
  2. He/she will appreciate your honesty and may return the favor in the future when the roles are reversed and you're the job applicant.
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Rather than tell your friend something you've been told (but don't have first-hand knowledge of) I'd suggest you talk the interview over with your friend. Chances are that, given some time to talk it over, your friend can work out for herself where she failed to meet the hiring manager's criteria.

This way you get to be a friend, not a gossip, and you don't need to put your company (or your employment at it) at risk.

Alternatively, as others have said, remind your friend that she's quite within her rights to ask for feedback from the hiring manager. Feedback that you're in a position to lobby that manager to provide...

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I assume "friend" means friend as in "I have less than 5 friends" and not "I call everybody who hangs out with me a friend".

Do you agree with the evaluation in general (e.g. they need some outgoing communicator, and you friend is shy)? Can you put it in context?

Then don't tell your friend that they told you a reason, but indicate the direction like "I don't know the specifics, but I believe they expected somebody more extroverted on this position". Clearly distinct for you friend if you believe she needs to change sth for future interviews, of if this was just an unsuitable task for her.

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No don't, tell your friend the truth.

You can say something like, "You did Very well, but there's too much completion out there and the company is fussy, personally id hire you on the spot"

That way you keep things simple, boost your friends confidence, and if their is anything else you can help your friend to improve her chances of a getting a job, somewhere else, now at least you got some pointers from your manager you can use.

No one wants to hear bad news, and your friend got some already, so why give her more.

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Saying nothing is better than saying something that isn't true. – alroc Mar 22 '14 at 11:35
    
When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie. – Tasos Mar 22 '14 at 17:25
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@Tasos A cute saying, but it has little place in reality. Deliberately hiding material facts that should be disclosed may be tantamount to lying, but simply not bringing something up is not. It's also not automatically immoral - in much the same way that there is only one answer to your wife asking 'How do I look?" I'm not saying what the OP should do, but I doubt making things up will help. – Dan Mar 22 '14 at 23:37

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