My friend recently went to an interview with a small accounting software company.

After she left the interview, she never heard back from them.

The thing is, she'd already talked with the owner on the phone several times, sent several emails back and forth, and spent the better part of a day on the interview. During the interview my friend was asked some personal questions and she feels upset that after all this they didn't even have the courtesy to call her back to say that the position had been filled, or tell her why she was not selected. She knows she was qualified enough for the first job.

Is it normal for companies to not tell candidates they were rejected for a position after investing so much time with them?

As a side note, she later got a different job with another company which pays more than what was offered at the accounting software company.

  • 6
    There is not really a problem to solve here. From the FAQ You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page. This is really just a do you agree this is bad question which is not a good fit for the site. Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 16:51
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    Worse, it's quite normal for some companies not to tell you that you're successful for weeks. I've been rung after 8 weeks in a new job by someone saying they'd posted me a physical letter of offer. I had to explain that after a week I'd decided they either weren't interested or weren't organised enough to know.
    – Móż
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 4:14
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    @Móż I was once contacted by a recruiter, who asked me why I had "declined" her client's job offer. It turned out the hiring manager had gone on vacation the day after the interview and had forgotten to ever make the offer. Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 9:55
  • I remember being told by my prospective manager I had been hired, then told by HR that I was no longer in the running. I got the job.......... Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 19:08

7 Answers 7


It is less than wonderful etiquette. It is also extremely common. Companies these days all too frequently never call the "unsuccessful" interviewees back. In general, they will almost never say why someone was not hired, for fear of lawsuit.

The ugly reality is that you don't have the job until and unless they formally call and offer it to you, and until and unless you formally accept.

It sounds like your friend did all right. She may well have dodged a bullet: if the firm doesn't do that basic courtesy, how are they going to be to work for, day to day?

  • 9
    In over twenty years, I've probably had 40+ interviews and obviously many of those were rejections. I recall only one callback that didn't involve a recruiter. It is very hard for people to reject people directly. No one wants to do it and so it is easy to let it slide. It's easier with a recruiter because you aren't rejecting the recruiter, and it is easier for the recruiter because they aren't doing the rejecting.
    – user749
    Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 3:44
  • plus the company has to let the recruiter know they need more candidates sent their way :)
    – jwenting
    Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 12:37

"Rude" a term normally applied to an action taken-- such as asking improper questions in an interview. Not doing something you're obligated to falls under "thoughtless", "discourteous" or "unprofessional."

All of those adjectives apply. Current practice is that an employer owes you nothing if you're not called for an interview. Once they talk to you, they're obligated to update you.

People don't do it because they don't like to deliver bad news... but it's part of being a manager. If you can't tell someone "I'm sorry, we found someone more qualified", you're not competent to supervise. This, plus the questions, means your friend was lucky. She is now free to disparage the company to anyone in her network.

At a large company with financial problems (or inter-silo warfare), positions sometimes get stalled. Nancy is mad Ted was allowed to hire someone before her. She complains to Stephanie, who can't get Nancy cleared to hire, but does get Carl to freeze Ted's position.

Companies hate to air this dirty laundry, but there's nothing wrong with telling a candidate "we've encountered an issue we need to address before we can hire anyone. I can't go into more detail, but you're still in the running."

(A white lie has become risky. Someone recently told me that the person who had to approve my firm's contract needed emergency surgery. I was unhappy to get the news, but pleased to be updated... until I noticed his Twitter feed is active.)

  • I don't agree that not liking to deliver bad news is a good reason to not do so. Many companies can lay off people when it helps their bottomline and they do it happily. So why not do the same thing for candidates who have been interviewed ? You can simply say that we have decided to move on with selection process...just copy paste that generic answer and let people know instead of leaving them hanging in there. Commented Jul 20, 2014 at 20:32
  • nice .... "until I noticed his Twitter feed is active"
    – Atur
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 7:50
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    if I was in Hospital my twitter feed would be very active except for the exact time I am under the knife and/or knocked out. Commented May 29, 2015 at 22:14
  • @BoratSagdiyev I don't think Geoff was suggesting it was a good reason not to do so. More that it was a bad reason, but the reason nonetheless. While companies as a whole may "happily" lay off their workers when it helps their bottom line, I think you'll find that the people who deliver the news to their workers don't like doing so at all. The same applies here
    – Notso
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 13:01

It depends on your local corporate culture. I'm from India, and given the high number of applicants for a single post, it is a rule that no one calls back unless you are shortlisted for the next round. The only exceptions are a few private enterprises which will send a standard email, or, public sector companies which hold massive recruitment drives, also by snailmail/email.

Even if it is a one-on-one hiring instance for some specialized position or for a higher-up post recruiters rarely call for fear that the polite interviewee may change his colours and respond with rage.


Rude is in the eye of the beholder.

You don't define recently. Some people worry about responding too fast, others wonder if a week is too quick or too slow. Some won't contact candidates until all the interviews are done.

I have known of situations where the delay was an attempt to slow down the process because they to were waiting for confirmation from the customer. They felt that some would view the silence as "no news is good news." If you contact the candidates you have to tell them something, and they weren't ready to reject anybody until the requirements stopped changing.

You have no obligations to the potential employer. Keep looking until somebody makes you a solid offer in writing.


I'm new to The Workplace, recently graduated (two months back) and went through a few interview processes, and I had a similar experience that I want to share to make my point;

I was called by a firm and a technical interview was conducted in which I was able to answer all the questions easily, but after so many days, when they didn't contact me, I talked others about my interview and came up to the point that the salary package I wanted was more than the firm wanted to offer. And they didn't communicate and inform me anything. I think this thing can be negotiated later on. They should have at least inform me about that.

But I have came across many incidents when companies (not the start ups but the established ones) do inform the candidate about their application status which is a good trend to follow!


  • The problem you ran into is that the company has no way to know if you were just asking for the sky to see what would happen; or would walk if they couldn't meet your number. Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 12:38
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    Sure they did. They can make a counter-offer, and see what the guy says. The worst that can happen is he says "No." and that's exactly the same result as not asking. Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 18:47
  • @JohnR.Strohm, why would they bother unless you really wowed them. Why make a counteroffer when there were plenty of qualifed people in the price range they wanted to pay?
    – HLGEM
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 19:24
  • Yea, I agree to what HLGEM said, there is a large queue of candidates. I think it is just that one has to prove out his worth and then put a counteroffer! Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 8:33

A small company should take a little more pride in using a personal touch in business matters. They also tend to fill fewer positions. At the bare minimum, any size company can put together a form letter or email to all job candidates who did not get the position.

If you have candidates that are working, they probably gave permission to call them at home in off-hours, so not having enough time is just a poor excuse.

Not contacting candidates back in and of itself is not going to attract a higher quality employee, but just shows the company cares enough to pay attention to details and do what is right.


In over 30 years in the workforce, I have only once been called to tell me that I was not hired. That wasn't because it was the only job I ever did not get. Companies only rarely tell people they weren't selected. It is such a common practice to only contact those who are going to be hired or to continue on in the process, that I would accept that as the default behavior. So many worse things to get upset about, I wouldn't waste any energy on that one at all.

Remember companies aren't interested in you if you didn't get hired, so why should they spend several extra hours contacting people many of whom will try to convince them to change their minds. Why should they take the risk that in the course of such a conversation, they will say something that could get them sued? Is there a need to maintain a relationship with someone you aren't interested in hiring and will in most cases never be interested in hiring? And remember at some stages of the process, you may have several hundred candiates to contact if you did contact them.

There is no upside to the company to call back the people they didn't select. From the company perspective it is a waste of time and money especially since HR personnel have been cut drastically over the last ten years as well.

  • 3
    I doubt that many will try to convince them to change their mind. It can also just be an email not an actual phone call (question says "contact you" in the title). With tech today like glassdoor, crappy interviewing processes are being exposed publicly Commented May 29, 2015 at 22:21
  • 2
    Also a good glassdoor interview reputation is definitely an upside. Commented May 29, 2015 at 22:22

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