HR Fail: 7 Lame Reasons You Never Get a Call Back

hr fail no call backWhat is the biggest HR fail? Not calling back after you thought you rocked the interview.

I receive emails almost daily from frustrated job seekers asking me what they should do when they don’t receive a follow up call from potential employers.

Frustrated, mad, disappointed, offended, tired… can you relate to any of those feelings? Those sentiments often fill my inbox, along with the question,

“What is really happening when HR doesn’t call me back?”

Pulling from my 13 years of recruiting experience, I wanted to shed some light on what is actually happening behind the scenes when a recruiter drops the ball. So here are seven lame reasons for never getting a call back from HR.

HR Fail No. 1: Slacker Decision Makers

Corporate HR people and search firm recruiters are simply middlemen (I know this, since I was one!). Most are well-intentioned and want to move candidates through the process to get the open job off their desk. To keep the candidate hopeful, the recruiter might say things like “I will let you know by Friday” or “I am expecting the manager to get back to me ASAP” with full intent on making that happen, but being unable to do so.

Then the manager, the final decision maker, does not get back to the recruiter, leaving the recruiter in an awkward and frustrated position.

HR Fail No. 2. Poor Process-Management

Some recruiters (corporate and search firm recruiters) simply manage the process poorly. They tend to react to what job process is moving forward and forget about the ones that are moving slower or have stagnated. These recruiters tend to hold all the reigns of communication and, as indicated in the previous point, set up unrealistic expectations that they will get back with everyone with updates.

Sad to say: many recruiters do not have adequate personal work systems to ensure communication is consistent.

HR Fail No. 3: Lack of Control

The reality is most recruiters, those middlemen, have little to no control in the process and often make promises they cannot keep. I dealt with this by telling my candidates, when it was applicable, “I hope to hear by Friday. If you have not heard from me by Monday or Tuesday, please feel free to check in with me. But know that if I hear anything, I will let you know.”

I was honest about what I had control over and did not have control over. Not a perfect solution, I know, but I tried my best. I hated candidates not knowing what was going on.

HR Fail No. 4: Hiring Managers Don’t Know or Don’t Care

Hiring managers (or line managers) that are responsible for pulling the trigger often have no idea that a communication deadline was made to the candidate. There are also hiring managers that know this, but just frankly do not care. They often do not get back to the corporate recruiters or the third party recruiter in a timely fashion.

Last, but certainly not least, I have come to learn many people, even the most experienced and passionate recruiters and HR professionals, have a hard time with these items:

HR Fail No. 5: Giving Bad News

“The manager chose someone else.”

HR Fail No. 6: Saying They Were Wrong

“I’m sorry that I said I would have an answer for you by tomorrow. I was wrong, and now that tomorrow is here I do not have an answer.”

HR Fail No. 7: Admitting They Have No Clue

“I must admit the manager said this was a priority, so that is why I communicated urgency to you. I have no idea why they are now not responding on the next step.

With any of these scenarios, many choose to just avoid the situation. Instead, they never make the phone call or send an email. This isn’t an acceptable excuse. It’s just our reality within a broken hiring system.

When this happens to you, put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter. Understand what they are going through. Show empathy. And, of course, keep doing everything you need to do to keep your job search moving forward, even when you don’t get a timely call back.



For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Chameleon Resumes.


chameleon resumes


Lisa RangelAbout the AuthorLisa Rangel, founder and managing director of Chameleon Resumes, a Forbes Top 100 Career Website, has helped hundreds land the exact job they wanted. A former recruiter, she is a 7-time certified resume writer, job search consultant, and one of the few resume writers performing resume and job search-related work for LinkedIn. Lisa has been featured on Forbes, LinkedIn, Investors Business Daily, and many more publications. Follow Lisa on Twitter!



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