HR Recruitment Etiquette - HR and non-HR-types welcome

As most of you know, I graduated with my master’s this past spring. I’ve been looking for a job. I’ve had a few callbacks here and there, but nothing so far.

However, one large company I’ve applied to has me concerned. I’d applied for several positions with this company through an online job fair sponsored by my university’s career center. I got an immediate response from a manager for one position, and we scheduled an interview for the following Monday. However, she was too busy to interview me, so she passed me off to a lower-level manager with the promise that she’d call me to re-schedule with her. I e-mailed the following day with a “thank you” and to let me know when I could meet with her. I have still not heard back and it’s been six weeks.

The other thing is that I was to have a phone interview this afternoon with another division of the same company. The person who was to interview me had to leave suddenly, which I understand. But she didn’t call me to reschedule, nor did she have anyone else do so. I would’ve been kept waiting until she or someone else got back to me, assuming they did so. I got the number from my cell phone and called them to reschedule, which makes me wonder just how efficient their HR department is.

Given both experiences, I think I was treated rather disrespectfully by this company.

The question is, with all the advice given to job-seekers about showing courtesy and deference to the hiring managers of companies they apply to, is there a minimum standard of courtesy that job-seekers should be able to expect from hiring and recruitment managers? My experience with the above company is teaching me that courtesy is a one-way street; that I should show it to the company, but I have no reason to expect it in return.

Am I wrong in feeling this way?


Absolutely not. How you are treated during the interview process can say a lot about how the companies treats its employees overall.

Their attention to you is a good indicator of whether or no tyou’re getting the job. Holding all calls is a good indicator, but so is suddenly having appointments.

If my experience is anything to go by, the behaviour of hiring managers is linked to the size of the applicant pool. If there’s a surplus of applicants, you can fully expect to be treated like dirt. The hiring manager’s job is to reduce the stack of applications to a small pool of interview candidates, after all. If some applicants just go away on their own, less work for HR - wouldn’t you rather sift through 20 than 200 resumes?

(This is, of course, the underlying reason for the manic insistence of perfect spelling and punctuation in resumes and cover letters. Finding a spelling error is so much easier than actually reading a resume in enough depth to get an idea of the applicants qualifications.)

In a nutshell. When you’re job-hunting, HR is a hurdle to clear so you can get in front of the people who know the job and can make the decision to hire. Don’t expect hiring managers to play a constructive part.

Courtesy is definitely a two-way street; unfortunately I’m learning that many employers don’t see it that way.

Recently I applied for a position as a legal assistant with a small law firm. They called me for an interview and I did a LOT of preparation for it.

The interview consisted of two attorneys giving a brief rundown of the job duties, and then a curt “So why are you here?” I gave a brief summary of why I wanted the position - I was totally ready for more questions. Turns out that was it! They told me they were trying to keep the interviews short and shuffled me out the door. Another candidate was waiting outside, indicating they had scheduled these interviews only ten minutes apart. WTF? Why did you people even call me in if you didn’t want to talk to me?

Treating their interviewees like cattle is another indication that the company isn’t so hot.

Oh, man. With all due respect, I cannot disagree with that more strongly. I can generally tolerate a few errors; however, if an applicant expects me to be the one overlooking his mistakes, then that speaks volumes about the applicant himself.

Well, if you tolerate a few errors, you’ve probably put yourself in the minority - good for you, for potential applicants and for the organization you work for, incidentally. But there are threads to be found around here with people gleefully describing how they discard applications on spotting the first typo.

Obviously, if the position is one where language and writing skills are highly important, the quality of the resume and cover letter has direct relevance. But speaking as someone working in a technical capacity, I’d much rather work with someone who knows his stuff, even if I have to work around the occasional typo. (Anyone who knows that they have problems in that regard will get help with their resume, anyway.)

As far as I’m concerned, there seems to be a disproportionate focus on form over content as regards resumes, cover letters etc.

The process is turning almost ritualistic - just like you rehearse a plausible answer to the ever-present “Describe your biggest weakness” interview question, you extend the needed effort to come up with a reasonably competent-looking resume. But unless your job description involves coming up with suitable replies to trite questions, it’s not really doing anything to match applicant qualifications and personality to job requirements and culture.

It is my understanding that the old Chinese awarded civil service posts based on examinations that involved calligraphy and poetry writing. For a lot of jobs, the ability to craft a letter-perfect resume is about as relevant.