July 21, 2008

Loopy feedback failure

Filed under: For Managers, Interviewing, Job Search

Do employers owe you feedback after a job interview? Jeez Louise. Could job hunters be more brainwashed? How could anyone even ask that question? You might as well ask, Does a job hunter owe an employer answers during a job interview?

Nah, let’s all just waste one another’s time and agree that our time is worthless and rude behavior is par for the course.

It’s not. And it’s not. An employer owes you candid, detailed feedback after a job interview because it’s the right thing to do. But a well-intentioned reader demonstrates just how pervasive the brainwashing is, and how loopy this feedback failure has become:

I am a subscriber to your e-mail newsletter and I wanted to give you some feedback. I disagree with the recent advice you gave in a column about, “Do I deserve feedback after the interview?”

The person who wrote to you was obsessing because they didn’t get feedback from a single interview. Why? This is par for the course. You advised the job hunter to contact the hiring manager to talk more about the job, and then to casually press for feedback about why he wasn’t hired. Then you suggested he go over the manager’s head to talk to his boss. This may just make the guy appear to be difficult to deal with.

It is much worse when you go on one, two, or even three interviews, spend a day or two, take vacation time off work, and don’t get feedback. From what I’ve heard, companies don’t want any liability surrounding providing feedback after an interview. I have never gotten any such feedback and I have interviewed with lots of companies. It is just part of the competitive interviewing world and people should just accept it.

You do have a point — not getting feedback after a job interview is routine. But look more closely at what you’re saying: “…companies don’t want any liability surrounding providing feedback after an interview.”

So, job candidates need to grow up. They believe they are treated badly, but it’s just part of the process.

Bunk. The answer is not to accept how companies behave. The answer is to raise our standards even higher and to expect more — and to let companies know it.

Employers expect people to spend their valuable time discussing the company’s needs, talking about how they would do a job, and sharing their experience and expertise. Employers want you to fill out forms, divulge your salary history, share your references, and even to pee in a cup so they can see whether you’ve been ingesting haloocinogeenic powders, sucking down steroid shakes, or tootin’ maryjeewanna.

They use all this information you kindly provide to judge you.

But they shun any responsibility for giving you feedback. They won’t tell you why they aren’t hiring you, or what they found in the cup. It might put them at legal risk. Well, if they make you a job offer, that’s feedback, too, isn’t it? It’s a judgment of you. What kind of risk does that create?

I’ll tell you. They make you an offer, your current boss finds out about it, gets ticked off at your “disloyalty,” and dumps you on the street. There’s the risk you take every time you go on a job interview. So, do you avoid interviews and the associated risks? Of course not. When’s the last time you consulted with your lawyer before going to a job interview?

Any business meeting poses risks because it requires exchanging potentially sensitive information that potentially puts us at risk. That’s why we make informed judgments; we try to do business with people who have integrity; we try to avoid bad guys who will hurt us and putzes who will do something stupid that will hurt us. We know that if we lawyer up all the time, the competition will eat us alive. (That’s why you go on job interviews.)

This must cut both ways. What we see here is a corporate policy for which there is no excuse. “We want to avoid liability because if we tell you what we think of you, you’ll sue us.”

Now cut to the HR department, which is checking your references. It wants your professional friends to tell what they think of you so the employer can make a sound judgment about you.

Whaddowe want — a double standard? It’s insane, yet the HR department tells its managers not to tell you why you were rejected, and not to give references to former employees, but to get references on job candidates, and to find out everything they can about you in the job interview. (Any manager with a brain is buying interview futures, and paying for them with candid dialogue.)

It makes me dizzy. If I’m going to go on an interview, I expect honest feedback about the business exchange we just had. That’s not to say I can’t survive without it. I just don’t like giving companies a flyer on this poor business practice.

Maybe it’s time to get the lawyers and the personnel jockeys out of recruiting, interviewing, and hiring. Maybe it’s time to be big boys and girls and just tell what we really think. Jeez, imagine the legal liability if we eliminated the loopy feedback failure from business.

As is often the case, the answer to the dear reader’s dilemma is right there in the statement of the dilemma. Let’s just rearrange a few words… Providing feedback is just part of the competitive hiring world and employers should just accept it — or smart job candidates are going to walk across the street to a competitor who gets it.

26 Comments on “Loopy feedback failure”
By Jake Joehl
July 21, 2008 at 12:51 pm

Hello Nick. I think this goes back to the point you raised about just being nice. I also think that potential employees have a right to know how they did on an interview. I received some very positive feedback immediately after my interview for the administrative assistant job which I currently hold. I didn’t even have to go back and wait a day or two for a phone call or an email. The person interviewing me took time while I was sitting there, to tell me how things went. She even went further and asked me what I thought of the interview. Granted this is a nonprofit disability-related organization and we don’t have any kind of hierarchy of the sort you’d find at some jobs, but all interviewees should receive written or oral feedback. Can you tell I like this job? If so you’re absolutely right. I love working there because not only are the people great, but I’m learning new things on the job which I otherwise probably wouldn’t have learned.

By Jill Walser
July 21, 2008 at 1:08 pm

As a former corporate recruiter for a publicly traded company, I got an inside look at this process. HR, as you know, is the organization’s sheriff. They don’t make the rules; they just carry them out and insist others in the company carry them out as well. Without perspective and a bit of common sense, deputized recruiters can carry out HRs rules so far that they become counterproductive to the goals of the organization, i.e., appearing so ridiculous and inflexible as to turn off good talent.

I have found that for the most part it is the recruiters (who usually report to the head of HR) with little ability to think for themselves that are the most rigid with rules. It’s very important to know exactly what the rules are and why they were put in place and equally important to use good judgment when working with prospective employees.

The main reason HR doesn’t want managers telling interviewees why they didn’t get the job is to protect the company from a lawsuit. Disclosure used the wrong way is a loaded gun. However, a smart recruiter can disclose lots of helpful information without equipping candidates with ammo for a lawsuit – so long as that information is based on goodness of fit, job qualifications, problems during the interview process, etc. For example, calling out that the candidate answered questions about key functions of the job incorrectly or took 20 minutes to answer each question is helpful. Telling applicants that they weren’t selected because they were too old to relate to the rest of the team or telling them nothing is brainless and disrespectful.

As much as I liked recruiting, it’s much more fun to provide interview coaching where I get to tell job seekers about corporate HR’s true goals and provide them with ammunition to cope with the myriad of contingencies that arise during an interview. I also teach candidates how to interview the company. If a dimwitted recruiter with no judgment is calling the shots on behalf of HR, RUN! It won’t get better as you work your way up.

By Nick Corcodilos
July 21, 2008 at 2:33 pm

Jill:

**HR, as you know, is the organization’s sheriff. They don’t make the rules; they just carry them out and insist others in the company carry them out as well.**

That raises an important question. Just who is making the HR rules if not HR? Attorneys don’t make rules; they interpret law and advise policy makers. So, who is making those rules for HR? I contend it’s HR.

Your points are well taken, but if HR doesn’t trust managers and other employees to talk to job candidates because they’re holding a “loaded gun”, then lathe drill press operators should not be allowed to handle such equipment, either, because it’s potentially dangerous. Yet they do, because it’s their job.

I think that’s an apt analogy. It’s all about doing the job properly and respecting the tools and the job candidate.

I agree with your closing RUN! advice!

By JB King
July 21, 2008 at 2:53 pm

What does the employer gain in giving feedback to the potential employee? There is some work to figuring out the feedback and this could be seen as a waste since it isn’t adding to the company’s bottom line. While feedback can be good, sometimes it can also be a bit unnerving if you get to hear that yours was the only applicant and so you weren’t competing with other people to get the job which I’ve had happen a couple of times so far in my job hunting. I wonder to what extent are job boards just used as a way to pass time for some HR folk where they don’t see just how badly it works, e.g. getting a landslide of resumes or very few for a position.

By Russell
July 22, 2008 at 5:43 am

Nick,

You make some excellent points about why candidates should demand, and companies should provide, feedback following interviews. In the proverbial ideal world, that’s exactly what would happen. But your arguments have an ivory tower flavor to them. Consider these two counterpoints:

A large company may have hundreds or even thousands of candidates in the pipeline at any given time. It would take considerable time and resources to provide feedback to each interviewee, and you can bet that many who can’t handle the truth would want to argue the point, taking up even more time and resources. Inevitably it would devolve to a form letter with no learning value whatsoever.

Ironically, if a company was spending the money to do all that, a candidate suggesting they cut the practice would be doing a great job of showing how he or she could contribute to making the business more profitable!

Turning to candidates, I did exactly what you suggest following an internal interview some years ago. I sent the hiring manager a courteous e-mail requesting feedback so as to be a better candidate for similar positions in the future. No reply. After several follow-ups, I finally got feedback, but as another of your readers predicted, what I saw as initiative and personal growth was looked at by the company and that manager as being uncooperative and difficult. As you often say, that told me plenty about them but it was my prospects that suffered, especially since it was an internal position and the managers talk to one another.

Knowing the potential consequences, if I don’t get feedback, I just take the lesson about the organization or manager and move on.

By Steve Amoia
July 22, 2008 at 8:22 am

Pat Riley, the former basketball coach and motivational speaker, once said that “You can respect your opposition too much.” He was referencing the inability of the LA Lakers (many years ago) to beat the Boston Celtics.

Since the hiring process is seemingly adversarial, perhaps candidates need to keep his advice in mind. Many applicants are loathe to rock the boat for fear that it might upset someone or ruin their career. If they don’t provide you with feedback, provide it to them. As in “Here is why I would or would not work for you.” That can be done in a respectful fashion.

When I was 10 years old, I had a baseball coach who did provide feedback. He cut me two years in a row, but I didn’t feel that I failed. It was how he explained it to me and the other boys. He was a former professional player; however, I have always remembered his example. It shouldn’t be too much to expect as we become older and deal with more serious matters.

Most companies fail to recognize that anyone who walks through the door is a potential client. We have been conditioned to view the interviewing process as having a certain set of inefficient rules. I am glad that Nick reminds us that nothing is set in stone, and that respect in this process is reciprocal.

By Kent Vincent
July 22, 2008 at 9:13 am

If you’ll pardon the slight bit of cynicism, I can give you the company’s answer as to why you didn’t get the job, a wonderful one-size-fits-all answer: “We have identified other candidate(s)who more closely match our requirements.” Perfect. It’s true even if we never even met those other candidates; we just know they’re out there. Seriously, if the company thought you were a light weight or BS’s your way through the interview, do you think they’d tell you? And if they thought you were too good, too threatening, or too dynamic for them, would they admit to their shortcomings for you to spread around?

Sometimes there may be a specific point on which there was a mismatch or innocent mistake. That could be worth communicating about for the sake of good will, but usually there is very little upside in communicating the unvarnished truth, much of which is subjective. Even without lawsuits, negative word of mouth is not a good payback for the effort expended (mentioned by others above.)

Finally, just like blind dates or fix ups, most interviews are neither stupendous, nor wretched. They’re just okay, and ambivalence has a great way of manifesting itself through silence and indecision. Of course, none of us ever handled an applicant or a date that way, did we?

I’m all for candor and researching our way to the perfect company match as Nick suggests, but the human-based process is imperfect, and can only be improved in fits and starts in isolated cases. Those employers and recruiters may even shine through and set themselves apart, if they don’t say the wrong thing. A big if.

By Nick Corcodilos
July 22, 2008 at 9:29 am

Russell, this is where the rubber meets the road. You can’t have it both ways. Please look carefully at what you’re saying:

**A large company may have hundreds or even thousands of candidates in the pipeline at any given time.**

Does the company have so many candidates that it’s going to hire, or so many extras who are rejected? Either way, the company is blowing it. First, if these are all hireable candidates, the failure to follow up with them will cost the company a lot. It has already invested in recruiting; now it’s failing to invest in keeping these people “warm.” Not smart.

Second, if the company has so many rejects, then it has fallen prey to the “volume” fallacy. Recruit more because more respond to the online job postings. Companies waste enormous HR budgets trying to deal with all the marginal candidates who come through the portal. They can reduce the cost of follow-up by limiting who they recruit. Highly targeted recruiting is more effective and efficient than using the Net Dump. This goes back to over-acceptance of online job boards. They generate a lot of crap, then companies have to sort through it and clean up.

**as another of your readers predicted, what I saw as initiative and personal growth was looked at by the company and that manager as being uncooperative and difficult. As you often say, that told me plenty about them but it was my prospects that suffered**

Honest, I’m not jabbing at you gratuitously. Please look at what you say. The manager’s reaction suggested he’s not someone you’d want to work with, but you feel your chances of going to work for him suffered. Say what?? This is all connected: How you behave and how they behave MATTERS. You did it right. The manager did it wrong. There aren’t 400 jobs out there for you; most will be turkeys. Don’t beat yourself up for knowing the difference. Move on to a better one. The good ones are not so common.

By Nick Corcodilos
July 22, 2008 at 9:37 am

JB,

**What does the employer gain in giving feedback to the potential employee? There is some work to figuring out the feedback and this could be seen as a waste since it isn’t adding to the company’s bottom line.**

This one is very simple, and the smart HR depts get it in spades. Every candidate a company interviews is a possible customer, an advertisement (positive or negative), a teller of stories about the interview experience. When they walk away, they are impressed, depressed, or unimpressed. And they communicate it. Take a look at this article: http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/halethalrep.htm

Companies that expect candidates to invest their time, then disregard them after “the act,” get bad reviews in the professional community from which they recruit. It’s that simple. If a company can’t afford to do it right, it should get out of the game, or expect adverse consequences.

Like your mother probably taught you, always say thank you and be nice. It doesn’t take much to provide decent feedback. It takes almost nothing to just send a note that says thank you. Few companies meet even that standard. I just don’t buy the excuses.

By Matt F.
July 22, 2008 at 10:23 am

Employers expect people to spend their valuable time discussing the company’s needs, talking about how they would do a job, and sharing their experience and expertise. Employers want you to fill out forms, divulge your salary history, share your references, and even to pee in a cup so they can see whether you’ve been ingesting haloocinogeenic powders, sucking down steroid shakes, or tootin’ maryjeewanna.

They use all this information you kindly provide to judge you.

This is certainly true in my experience. They do this because they can. Because they get hefty breaks on their insurance policies for drug and background testing. It isn’t right, but it’s all part of the imbalance of power between employer and employee. Candidate needs job to make the money necessary to live. Employer needs candidate’s labor but has hundreds, if not thousands of other candiates to choose from that will do the job. Unless you’re a rockstar, most candidates cannot say the same.

Much of your material that I’ve read is well-intentioned and seeks to empower the candidate. Frankly, its a breath of fresh air compared to other job-hunting resources. However, blithely ignoring the 800 pound gorilla position that the employer occupies doesn’t paint a realistic picture of the job market for most people. Refusing to jump through HRs hoops might make for good copy, but can be the kiss of death for a job that you need to make sure that you can put food on the table.

All that said, I’ve still found your material to be a breath of fresh air and will keep reading as long as you keep writing.

By Phil
July 22, 2008 at 11:46 am

Two ideas to suggest –

1) To continue the previous poster’s analogy, if a blind date didn’t end with stars in the eyes, how many people extend the misery with the formality of a “lovely evening but now go away” phone call? Feedback will be limited to candidates still enamored with the company and position, not the hundreds or thousands being churned through the HR mill.

Many interviews left me more informed and less enthusiastic about the company, intuiting information that may not be so readily available by other means. The interviewer’s bearing, the toxic vibe from employees with whom one wouldn’t share a cab ride much less a workspace, peer interviews with Stepford employees, the expectation that you process through six indecisive interviews like a piece of salami on a conveyor belt, or the administrator’s presenting the candidate with a gauntlet of paperwork probes to complete before even speaking with someone…these clarify the difference between the carefully crafted external public image and the internal rot of toiling away in a micromanaged “factory” environment.

If a company treats you like a commodity while you’re standing on the welcome mat, don’t expect it to get any better once the “first date” courtesies wear off. Accepting this treatment translates as your tacit approval of it; consider it a company’s way of testing your buy-in to their dysfunction prior to bringing you on board. And like a first date with a boorish loon, you had all the warnings you needed.

2) Researching companies can be a daunting task. It’s positioned in the newsletters and posts as being an investment exercise rather than a sales rep’s cold call. As with investing, and with personal networking, perhaps it should be an ongoing activity rather than a trick pulled out of the hat when the next job search is due.

Financial advisors tell us to “pay yourself first”, socking a percentage away in savings every payday before paying the bills. Perhaps investing a certain window of time each week to research prospective employers long before the need arises would help candidates be more prepared. One wouldn’t give two weeks’ notice, then suddenly start trying to figure out how to accumulate five years of savings.

By Edward
July 22, 2008 at 12:37 pm

**That raises an important question. Just who is making the HR rules if not HR? Attorneys don’t make rules; they interpret law and advise policy makers. So, who is making those rules for HR? I contend it’s HR.**

I was recently working at a large Fortune 500 and yes, the lawyers did make many of the rules, the rest were made by managers for political reasons. They were constantly afraid of getting sued or getting bad press. For example, there was an unwritten rule that you do not acknowledge customer complaints or provide feedback to anyone outside the company, (that includes candidates). It is a dumb rule, when a customer complained and we were on the verge of losing a $40 million account, I took action. Saved the account, made them very happy and willing to do business with us, in most place I think you get a pat on the back for that. I was reprimanded for acknowledging the customer’s complaints. I was told that by acknowledging complaints or providing feedback, we open ourselves up to lawsuits and I had put the company at risk of getting sued because I acknowledged complaints by a customer.

I left that company; I knew it was the wrong place for me. I think it is important to address the needs and concerns of clients, be they multi million dollar accounts or a candidate in for an interview, who is a client of the brand of the company because why would they interview if they didn’t find something appealing about the company? Unfortunately, as I interview and research, I am finding a lot of companies do not see this simple point; candidates are consumers of the brand. I would never pursue a job at a company I didn’t like, I only go for the ones I find interest and want to provide my talents to in order to grow profits. Why on Earth do companies squander the opportunity to engage such people is beyond me, even if they don’t have a position, it’s still an opportunity to engage a candidate that may be of use down the road.

By Lucille
July 22, 2008 at 1:30 pm

Nick, What do you say to Kent. So far the philosophy of this discourse seems to point something like this: “There are systems of communication the employer uses to shut off communication”. “There are systems of communication that employees/consumers would like to use to break open information from a company.”. Kent seems to point out there isn’t much of a system at all. It is a human based channel that is (purposely?) missing or closed. People don’t talk about embarassing or uncomfortable things about others in order to spare their feelings.

By Nick Corcodilos
July 22, 2008 at 1:37 pm

As we can see, the problem of “feedback” blossoms to reveal other problems. Here’s one, as some have noted: Giving feedback can be costly. But less costly if companies interview only “the right candidates”. Who are they? Well, not every Tom, Dick & Jane who responds to the job posting “just because it’s there.” Companies beg for tons of resumes, then can’t afford to deal with them properly. No thank-you’s. No feedback. Thus we have public relations problems because companies recruit too broadly. The prescription is to recruit in a more targeted way.

Then there’s Edward’s point:

**Why on Earth do companies squander the opportunity to engage such people is beyond me, even if they don’t have a position, it’s still an opportunity to engage a candidate that may be of use down the road.**

See this short article: http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/crocs6opendoor.htm

Managers are taught to reject people who knock on their door. Yet, they may be some of the best candidates — for now, or for later.

By Nick Corcodilos
July 22, 2008 at 1:46 pm

Lucille,

Thanks for splitting open the awkward nut that must be cracked. Candid discussion. Employers are afraid to tell candidates what they think. Candidates are afraid to express their thoughts. Everyone is dancing around. Imagine if we did this when courting to find someone to marry. Don’t scrutinize. Don’t ask too many questions. Don’t bring up religion, having babies, or finances. Who are we kidding? I believe in being nice and polite, but whether you’re getting married and spending 10 hours a day together after work, or 10 hours AT work, THIS STUFF MATTERS. So, how do we break the ice and talk about it?

Yah, it’s a bigger problem than “the employment system”, which pretends we can all play footsies and take our chances without really candid discussion. It’s about how we talk about work and about one another.

So, how can a nervous job hunter tackle the tough topics without ticking off the employer and blowing an opportunity? Until we get to that, we’re getting nowhere.

My suggestion is very simple, and possibly simplistic: Talk shop. Talk shop all you can with the employer. This brings a focus on the work, which we can talk about honestly and maybe without too much negative repercussion. Although, as someone said, we can’t talk about complaints or problems or we might get sued. WE GET SUED ANYWAY.

Imagine the company that said, “No more veils. Put it in the open. We’ll just talk about the good and the bad. Mind you, we’ll defend ourselves if you sue us and we’ll do it aggressivel, but we’d rather work things out. So, spend your money on your lawyers, or spend your time working with us to get the job done. You decide.”

Maybe it seems naive, but what companies do now isn’t working.

By santaclarite
July 22, 2008 at 2:34 pm

Actually it is worse. If a potential employer treats me without the common courtesy to give me feedback about the interview after the time and energy I (and they) have put into the process, I never again recommend that place to anyone else, not just for jobs but also for business as well.

Thus they just pay for it with some negative publicity.

Imagine the horror if the hiring manager took five minutes to talk to the interviewee, then it would lead to encroachment on the turf of the department in charge of publicity! In a typical dysfunctional bureaucracy, he could get fired just for that, let alone the risk of lawsuit!

By Nick Corcodilos
July 22, 2008 at 3:42 pm

santaclarite said: **I never again recommend that place to anyone else, not just for jobs but also for business as well**

Every corporate communications/PR department should read that very, very carefully. Then go ask its HR department how HR affects the corporate image.

Here’s the problem: Companies have several main interfaces to the world. Among them:

1. Sales, which talks to customers and prospective customers.
2. PR, which interfaces with the press.
3. Finance, which interfaces with the company’s banks, investors, etc.

And so on. What many people miss is the professional interface. Who interfaces to the community from which the company recruits? And, what does failure at that interface point cost the company? Is the board of directors aware of that interface?

By Jill Walser
July 23, 2008 at 2:46 am

“Just who is making the HR rules if not HR? Attorneys don’t make rules; they interpret law and advise policy makers. So, who is making those rules for HR? I contend it’s HR.”

I meant laws, not rules. Title VII, ADEA, etc. HR interprets them in accordance with their experience and judgement, or lack thereof.

I find it interesting that at many companies it is just the head of HR that is at the Director level when other department heads are at the VP level. The last head of HR I worked with had MUCH more experience than a couple of the company’s VPs, but was subordinate to them.

The boss yells at the employee who goes home and kicks the dog…

By Chris Hogg
August 1, 2008 at 11:48 pm

What an informative, and helpful, discussion.

I believe, and recommend to those I advise, especially at this level, that it is in the best interests of both the hiring / operational manager and the job seeker, in the arena of regular (non-contingency workforce) positions to do everything possible to avoid the HR department (like the plague) and to get together outside the “formal” hiring process, and then, if the chemistry is right and Nick’s “only question” is successfully answered, and only then, get HR involved in doing the paperwork for the hire.

What might that look like?

Hiring managers pro-actively talking to potential employees (associations, volunteering, visiting schools, opening the office to those who call for help, developing internships, starting an in-house interest group for the target skill community) before there is a job opening.

Job seekers getting directly to hiring managers three ways: 1) conducting face to face networking / informational interviews before there is a job opening, 2) conducting self-marketing telephone campaigns without even bothering about job openings and 3) using posted job openings (job ads) as a springboard to get to the hiring manager directly (i.e., do not answer the ad, do find the hiring manager and directly approach).

If a manager invites people in to chat and have a peer to peer professional discussion, and it’s clearly stated that this is not a job interview, it’s unlikely there’ll be any lawyers involved because of that.

If a job seeker sets up an information-gathering interview with managers and has a peer to peer professional discussion, and it’s clearly stated that this is not a job interview, it’s unlikely there’ll be any lawyers involved because of that.

If a potential employer and potential employee see each other at various meetings and workshops around town, and talk business, it’s unlikely there’ll be any lawyers involved because of that.

If during these discussions both parties end up at the whiteboard (or on a napkin) having an animated discussion about problem solving, it wouldn’t be out of the question for the hiring manager to get back in touch a couple of weeks later about a job that “recently opened up.”

For those of us who still believe that the only way to hire is to post an ad publicly and wait for HR to call with candidates or to engage a headhunter or staffing agency and wait for him or her to call with candidates . . . and that the only way to obtain employment is to find an ad, send in a resume, and wait for the phone to ring . . . the world is becoming a very dark and discouraging place.

But for folks who understand that those who go around “the system” and connect person to person, with both the hiring manager and the candidate having equally important and valuable roles to play, the world appears to hold almost unlimited potential.

By Jake
August 3, 2008 at 4:42 pm

Very good post Chris. In essence this is what discouraged me from ever seeking employment with the help of my state VR agency. I received an invite to a mock interview clinic several years ago from my VR counselor. This clinic was to be conducted by the state VR agency, and recipients from practically all over were in attendance, and various companies were represented that were deemed “disability-friendly.” At the end of the day-long clinic everyone was to receive detailed feedback, which they did. That is to say, everyone but me received detailed feedback. All the “feedback” I got was that my resume “looked good” and that I demonstrated a willingness to work. Never was I told specifically about my resume, i.e., what parts were good and what parts I needed to work on. All the employers with whom I met that day briefly told me about their respective companies, but none of them asked me any questions nor did they ask me if I had any questions for them. Nobody ever bothered to respond to my or my mother’s phone calls or letters inquiring about the lack of detailed feedback from the clinic. I had other problems with my state VR agency and still do. I obtained both my current jobs through networking, and I obtained a previous job through networking. When I was in high school I was in a work-study program and although that was kind of a different situation, I’d say it was a good experience. Finally, I was in a short-lived summer employment program which offered me good work experience. But funding for that program was very poor and it eventually shut down. If others have good luck obtaining employment through their respective VR agencies, I’m happy for those people and I’m sure they are too.

By Jake
August 5, 2008 at 5:55 pm

I’d like to give one more voc/rehab-related example. This happened when I was still living with my parents. We were all getting ready to have dinner, and my dad was going through the mail as he almost always does when he gets home from work. On the top of the pile was an envelope marked Office of Rehab Services, or some similar wording. I don’t recall exactly what it said. But anyway, my dad opened it and inside was a survey, and mind you this was the first survey from rehab services that we had ever received. The survey was not in Braille or another accessible format, so someone had to read it to me. My mom ended up getting lucky enough to do that. In short, we filled out the survey with what we thought would make the state VR system better and there was a contact name and phone number for questions/problems. However, the number had apparently been wire-tapped or something because we never heard back from anyone. So we got a survey specifically designed to provide our feedback, and then what happens? Nobody ever uses it? This appeared to be the course of action in our case. BTW, I have a sick joke about voc/rehab but I don’t think I can share it here.

By Karsten
August 7, 2008 at 11:01 am

“Much of your material that I’ve read is well-intentioned and seeks to empower the candidate. Frankly, its a breath of fresh air compared to other job-hunting resources. However, blithely ignoring the 800 pound gorilla position that the employer occupies doesn’t paint a realistic picture of the job market for most people.”

Which, IMHO, is a strong argument for forming labor unions to counterbalance the gorrilla weight.

By A Lesson in Respectful Hiring Practices — Marian Schembari
January 28, 2011 at 9:56 pm

[…] “An employer owes you candid, detailed feedback after a job interview,” states Nick Corcodilos, a seasoned headhunter and management consultant and author of How to Work with Headhunters & How to Make Headhunters Work for You.  Why?  “Because it’s the right thing to do.” […]

By Ask the Headhunter: Insider Secrets to Landing the Job »
October 16, 2012 at 6:47 pm

[…] (This essay about nonchalant employers — “Loopy feedback failure” — includes some good recommendation from a career advisor in one of a comments. Look for a recommendation from “Phil” here.) […]

By jimp
October 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm

I must also speak about this. I realize this article is now about 4 years old, but it still has some real relevance to today’s job market.

I understand that employers don’t want to be open to lawsuits. I also understand this:

I am more likely to retrain myself and become a better candidate if I got feedback from an interview. I am more likely to recommend a given employer to other folks like me – if I was told “We’d like to continue a conversation with you.” or “Sorry, we’ve found better-qualified applicants.

By Nick Corcodilos
October 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm

@jimp: When you consider that references are the coin of the realm when hiring, and that many companies have a policy of not providing references because of fear of litigation, you realize how loopy the whole thing has really become. But a company could get sued just for shipping a product to a customer. Savvy business people behave prudently and count on the personal element as what makes business work. In the end, you must judge people and act accordingly. Some aren’t worth referring friends to — for jobs, or as customers. We’re all free to move on. You make a very good point.

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