Dubai: You’re finally called for the job interview you’d been waiting for. You suited up, aced the questions and felt you really made a good impression. But it’s been weeks since you faced your recruiter and you haven’t heard back from them.
Getting the silent treatment is harsh, especially if you did your best to win that coveted job. Apparently, you’re not alone.
In a survey among nearly 4,000 workers, CareerBuilder found that three quarters (75 per cent) of job applicants in the US did not get a feedback from employers — not a call, email or anything.
Employers, recruiters or hiring managers cite a lot of reasons for the lack of follow through and one of them is that they are deluged with hundreds of applications for one job posting.
“Unfortunately, in the UAE, there are some organisations who don’t operate with an ethical and ‘better practice’ mindset,” notes Gaj Ravichandra, a psychologist who is the managing partner and co-founder of Kompass Consultancy.
“The usual excuses provided in the UAE by hiring managers or recruiters are lack of time, lack of resources or ineffective systems to close the loop on the application,” he says.
Jenifer Pinto-Suares, an expatriate in Dubai who is currently employed recalls her bad experience as a job applicant: Only 10 per cent of her unsuccessful job applications yielded feedback from the employer.
“Silence can definitely dispirit you,” she says.
“Sometimes, you send out your CV to the portals who advertise a particular job and there is no acknowledgement even to say that they have received it, although the others actually take the time to pick up the phone and go through the process.”
She says applicants deserve to be notified if they have not met the expectations of the employer “so they don’t keep wondering about the role they applied for.”
Melwyn Abraham, another expatriate, shares the same experience when he was looking for a job in the UAE. “In most cases, the recruiters never get back to you, unless you follow up with them and many a time, they never give you reasons. There are cases where they even avoid calls especially if you have submitted assignments to them.”
Adam Kingl, director of learning solutions for executive education at London Business School, says candidates deserve feedback in exchange for the time and energy they have invested into the application process. If companies provide the reasons for turning down an application, they might help candidates become better as professionals.
“A job interview should be a social contract in an ideal world. The candidates will put forward their case to be employed, and in return for that reflective and intense process of interviewing, the candidates’ self-awareness should be enhanced, which in and of itself develops them as professionals,” he says.
Recruiters are aware of the disappointments unsuccessful applicants go through. In most cases, given the volume of applications they get for each advertised role, they don’t have the time to reply to each of them.
Sources in the industry say that while recruiting is a time-consuming process, job applicants have the tendency to indiscriminately apply to every job posting and the hiring manager is left with hundreds of applications to sort through.
Some candidates send multiple applications for one vacancy and insist on applying even if they fail the basic requirements, such as Arabic speaking skills. “I get 500 letters for one job opening,” says one human resources (HR) expert.
Other recruiters, however, claim they send an automated thank-you note to all applicants, informing them that applications are deemed unsuccessful if they don’t get a call or email after a specified period.
Kingl, who will be speaking at the London Business School’s Global Leadership Summit in June, says whatever reasons employers have for rejecting an application, candidates deserve a feedback even if it’s negative.
“A candidate cannot improve their own interviewing skills, and enhance knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses, how they come across to others, unless they receive feedback. Not to ask for feedback may perpetuate some easily correctable weaknesses,” he says.
“The job applicant should always ask for feedback as this will educate them on what they may need to change in their approach for future roles,” adds Ravichandra.
However, Kingl says in some cases, employers choose not to notify the unsuccessful applicants to avoid being sued. “An employer may feel there is a degree of legal risk if they were to give a reason why a candidate is unsuccessful that can be interpreted or misinterpreted as prejudice or bias,” he says.
But he says this can be easily overcome with “a modicum of sensible thought before giving the feedback.” “Sometimes, a candidate is not offered a job for vague reasons (eg. ‘I didn’t have a good feeling about them, though I can’t put my finger on it’). It is therefore difficult to deliver that feedback, but this forces the HR department to raise its game, be more thoughtful and specific in its interviewing and reasoning.”
“It may also improve their ability to interview over time, as they will be forced to follow up on questions in their mind, rather than leave doubts or concerns unexplored. This may also assist the employer, as better interviewing will yield the right candidate being successful,” adds Kingl.