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I was in contact with a recruiter about a job and everything seemed to be going well. We did a phone interview, I visited one of the store locations, and we set up the first interview at the company's head office. Then a week before the interview, the recruiter sent an email stating that they would not be moving forward with my application. I felt blindsided by this, so I have been calling the recruiter to get an explanation. My question is:

Is the company obligated to give me a reason for not moving forward with my application?

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    Keep in mind this goes both ways -- if a company offers you a job, you may decide to turn it down without giving them a reason, using a vague statement like "I've decided to withdraw my candidacy for this position". They could press you Did another company make you a better offer? but if you've already decide not to disclose your reasons, such a line of questioning will probably just annoy you. It is likely the same situation from their side. – Brandin Sep 19 '16 at 14:05
  • Only if you're closely related to the CEO – Kilisi Sep 19 '16 at 14:41
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    The blunt answer is "no". Can you point to a contract that you and the company signed that says otherwise? Has the company made any representation to you that it owed you an answer? – Vietnhi Phuvan Sep 19 '16 at 15:05
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    @VietnhiPhuvan - in many locations there are laws that control legal hiring practices and many cannot be given-up even in a contract (many human rights come to mind). It's safe to assume the OP is inquiring whether or not this falls into that category. – user8365 Sep 19 '16 at 17:13
  • If they're asking a legal question, that's officially out of scope for Workplace. But it is extremely unlikely that the company has any obligation to say more than "we liked another candidate better" unless you have direct evidence of prejudice... and even then, proving a single instance is not easy, requires working with a lawyer and the courts, and won't get you hired in any case. – keshlam Sep 20 '16 at 2:57
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No, they don't need to give you a reason. It's not enforceable anyway. They could just say "we hired someone else" or "the position is no longer available" anyway.

No, it's not illegal to keep calling them. It will make them really dislike you, though. And you likely still won't get an answer.

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    Call enough times/frequently enough and some might consider it harassment. – alroc Sep 19 '16 at 14:07
  • Yes, it might become illegal, but they'll let you know through harshly worded restraining orders. – Erik Sep 19 '16 at 14:10
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Is the company obligated to give me a reason for not moving forward with my application?

Simply put, No.

The company likely won't give a more specific reason than you "were not the right fit". Being specific opens them up to litigation. In reality, it could be for some reason that wouldn't affect job performance(your appearance, your race, your gender, your sexual orientation). Of course this is wrong.

Having been in that situation a few times, I can tell you this.

Let it go

You will probably never know. It's best to move on. Don't make yourself crazy wondering why. You can't control it. Find another position and move on.

Is it illegal for me to continue calling the recruiter for an answer?

Although this is a legal question. I don't think it's illegal to call someone, unless they have specifically asked you not to. But to be frank, you should not do this. The recruiter may ignore your calls.

It is best to accept the news gracefully and graciously. You may deal with this company in the future. If you "throw a fit" the company will be less likely to hire you in the future because they know how you act when things don't go your way.

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Is the company obligated to give me a reason for not moving forward with my application?

No. There is no obligation on the part of the company for giving you a reason. You can ask, but they don't have to answer.

Basically, they either don't think you are good enough, or (more likely) found someone better.

Time to move on.

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A prospective employer does not need to give a reason for not hiring you.

I asked this same question once to a friend who has been on the hiring manager side of the scenario many times, and he mentioned that providing a reason can actually invite problems for the company. Providing a reason gives the candidate an opportunity to argue back and try to negotiate their way back in. It lets the rejection process drag on and become uncomfortable for all involved. In a worst-case scenario, a rejected candidate might be able to use the provided reason as the basis for a discrimination lawsuit. Some companies actively instruct hiring managers and HR to send rejections only using pre-approved form letters to limit liability and risk of problems.

I certainly agree that knowing the reason for a rejection would be immensely helpful information for a job seeker. From the employer's perspective, they gain nothing from it except a risk of problems, so it's unlikely you'll ever get that information unless you know someone involved in the decision.

  • This is a pretty epic bump of an old post. But I would point out that in Europe at least, you have the right under Data Protection legislation to see everything stored about you, e.g. xperthr.co.uk/faq/… – Joe Stevens Feb 13 '18 at 15:23
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You asked about legality, which I won't address here.


No, a recruiter is under no obligation to tell you why they are no longer progressing with your application. It could be for a huge number of reasons, e.g. the job description has changed, funding has dried up, the CEO's nephew has just graduated etc.

On that basis, I would advise that if you cannot receive feedback from the recruiter, to chalk this up as experience and move on with your job search.

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To answer your question (in the US, at least). No, there is no obligation to say why.

There could be any number of reasons for why they didn't move forward:

  • The hiring manager could have changed his/her mind about you.
  • The hiring manager could have changed his/her mind about the job requirements.
  • The company could decide not to hire anyone at all.
  • The company could decide that somebody else would be a better fit.

etc.

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You are owed nothing. Interviews are not about determining if you can do the job.

Interviews are not about determining if you can do the job. They already know you can do the job by your resume. Interviews are to see if you are a good fit, and there are thousands of intangibles that go into determining that. Some make sense, some don't.

Most countries, states, regions, provinces, and even cities have their own labor laws, and by revealing a reason to you, the company may be inadvertently either violating one of those laws or revealing to you that they have. It is not in their interest to reveal anything to you.

Given the tone of your post, if I had to wager a guess, I'd say that your attitude may have had something to do with why you were rejected. Keep in mind that you are owed nothing at an interview. It's the way that the working world works. The sooner you learn that, the better off you will be.

It's an old saying, but it is true: It's just business. Dust yourself off, move on, and never think of that company again.

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