Why Employers Should Always Follow Up During the Hiring Process

I came across a great article recently by Jeff Haden entitled “The Worst Hiring Mistake Any Company Can Make,” and being a recruiter, it naturally it caught my attention. According to the article, the answer is neglecting to follow up with each and every job applicant. Haden explains that the simple act of providing closure to applicants who were not chosen to fill the position (most of whom were not even interviewed) will leave them with a positive perception of your company and likely turn them into loyal brand advocates or referral sources. After all, every company could use more of those!

What Happens with No Follow Up

On the other hand, leaving candidates hanging for days, weeks, or months on end during the hiring process frustrates them because they don’t know what their next course of action should be. Should they keep reaching out to you until they receive confirmation that you are aware of their interest? Should they keep playing the waiting game? Or should they assume that because they haven’t heard from you, chances are good you’re not pursuing them as a candidate for the position; therefore, they should simply turn their focus to other opportunities. It’s not uncommon for a strong candidate to be approached by the company’s hiring manager months after applying for an open position, only for the hiring manager to discover that the candidate has recently been hired by the company’s competitor.

Establish a System for Follow Up

Like Jeff Haden suggested in his original article, I also recommend for companies to have a system in place for responding to every inquiry that is received, regardless of the applicant’s qualifications. If the volume of applications is too large for individual responses, then the company would be wise to invest in an automated system that thanks applicants for their inquiries, informs them of the next step in the process, or politely declines their candidacy if they do not meet the job requirements. This professional respect and courtesy that allows them to move on with their job search establishes good will, if nothing else.

The Importance of Status Updates

In the case of an extended hiring process, it’s just as vital to maintain frequent contact with the candidates in the running for the open position. Periodic status updates will keep them engaged and probably available for future interviews, which is especially critical when the top candidate does not accept the offer or when the job description itself gets changed in the middle of the process. It can be very costly to have to start over from square one because the majority of strong candidates, having heard no word on this position, continued their job search elsewhere.


The bottom line is that the little bit of extra time and effort it takes to communicate with job applicants and candidates will always be worth it. Try to incorporate it into your standard operating procedures for hiring, and I fully believe it will make the process significantly more successful.