A reader writes:
I am amazed at the number of times companies have stopped communicating during the interview process without explanation. In this era of email, I don't understand why a brief note isn't sent to let a candidate know they are no longer under consideration.
My most recent experience was with a company that flew me, at great expense, out to their HQ on the opposite coast for a round of in-person meetings with company executives after three earlier phone interviews. The hiring manager stated I was "on top of his list" and "I'll talk to you on Monday"; this was a Friday.
I immediately sent thank you notes to everyone I had met, yet received no responses. After a week I left a voice message requesting an update. After 4 more days I sent an email requesting a status update and including a proposed 30-60-90 day business plan, to which I received a brief email thank you and a promise of a call within two days. This was more than two weeks ago and I haven't heard anything.
I've heard similar stories from friends also in the market. What am I expected to do now?
It seems to be increasingly common, and you're right that it's inexcusably rude. It's just not that hard to tell candidates where their application stands, in every case but especially when someone has taken the time to come in for an interview. And to ignore you when you're explicitly asking for a status update is beyond rude.
I would try one more time, and I would be more explicit, saying something like, "Would you let me know when you expect to be making decisions? I'm extremely interested in the position, but I'm talking with other companies as well so would love to have a better sense of your timeline."
If you don't hear anything back, move on -- that's really all you can do. If they resurface in a month with an offer, you''ll have to evaluate at that point whether it's even a company you want to work for. And if they don't -- well, perhaps bullet dodged.
As for what companies are thinking when they do this, it's one of four things:
1. They are moving more slowly than expected and haven't ruled you out, but for some reason they don't think they need to get back to you until they have something definite to report. Rude, inconsiderate, and short-sighted (since candidates will have other options).
2. They have ruled you out and now don't feel like spending the time responding to you. Rude, inconsiderate, and short-sighted (since you may tell others how they treated you).
3. They are completely disorganized. Rude, inconsiderate, and a place you don't want to work.
4. There is a tiny outside chance that there's an innocent explanation, although I'm having trouble thinking of what it would be. That's why it's worth that one final try, and then write them off and focus on places that treat people politely.