Are Your Hiring Tactics Unethical?

I was recently turned down for a position with an American company overseas for a management role following a six-month process and 32 interviews over the phone, during a domestic trip to their headquarters and a trip to the company’s site in central South America.

Combined, the two trips for interviews took eight full days of my time. My direct travel expenses were covered, but I had to take unpaid time off work. The icing on the cake was the silence when I got home and thanked them for their time, and more silence when I politely requested brief feedback on what was lacking in my candidacy. I was simply told by the internal recruiter that I did not get the offer, without any explanation.

While understanding that companies must manage risk in interactions with candidates and may have policies against providing feedback, from an HR perspective doesn’t blowing off a final round candidate carry far more risk of harm to the company?  While seemingly not the best fit in the end, I was obviously a pretty good general match and might have considered other positions with the company or recommended it to similar colleagues, if not for the above. Instead, I am now inclined to never consider any position with the company and actively warn friends (in a narrow field) away from them.

Finally, 32 interviews seems to me to verge on the absurd. At what point do you see diminishing returns with the number of interviews in screening a candidate?

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11 thoughts on “Are Your Hiring Tactics Unethical?

  1. Sadly, not only is it not “unethical” it is pretty typical of searches run by HR. Recruiters, especially “internal” recruiters are typically nothing more than HR functionaries. Search Professionals are experienced Sales Professionals who know how to manage a sale (which is all it really is) and close the deal.

    32 interviews? Huge red flag. Feedback? Rare. The bad news is that the vast majority of companies have no idea how to lead an effective and efficient search that leaves candidates feeling anything other than taken advantage of. And they will share the negative feelings about the company with everyone at every opportunity. Companies have, seemingly, no idea how badly they hurt their companies reputation and brand by the ridiculously unprofessional way they look for talent. They treat it like checking melons for ripeness at the local grocery.

    The good news? These poor excuses for a search and the people that run them are easily manipulated by even a half hearted strategy. Turn the tables on them. Remember, the only person who knows less about hiring than an HR recruiter is typically the VP of HR.

    1. I honestly don’t understand why companies don’t see what terrible damage they do to their reputation when their recruiting practices are so awful.

  2. Suzanne,

    My favorite line is “candidates were stupid not to understand how hiring really works.”

    That really encapsulates the fundamental problem with HR: HR is never wrong. It’s everyone else who is wrong because they expect better from HR.

    You were so wise to choose the title of Evil HR Lady. So appropriate to the industry.


    1. Yeah, well, the title fits, unfortunately. HR can do great things. Honestly, it can. But, things like this drive me nuts and they do damage to everyone else who works hard.

  3. WOW.

    I’m…speechless. I think I would have drawn the line at five. A company that can’t make a decision after four or five interviews (and even that seems excessive to me) isn’t one I want to work for. I can only imagine what requisitioning a pen would entail.

    1. I’d like to think I would have too, but the thing is, they never say, “We’d like you to have 32 interviews.” They say, “Can you come in one more time?” or “We’d like you to speak with Jane.” And by that time you’ve already invested so much time and effort into this thing and it’s just *one* more…

      It’s so unethical.

  4. My friend and 3 others just got rescinded for jobs going to Germany 5 days before he and his family were scheduled to fly there. He gave up his apartment, sold all furniture, his car, took their kid out of school. Married his GF since they don’t have insurance for sig others. Other guys sold houses, uprooted lives, got married, sent stuff to Germany. They had contracts and were going through visa process, then they each got a text ‘don’t come’ 5 days before their flights. They are suing.

  5. I’ve come to realize over the past 5 or so years that 80% of the reason for the longggggg drawn out hiring process has nothing to do with vetting a candidate, but all about job security for the individuals involved. It creates a sense of job security in this shaky market for the HR department to persuade a company that they MUST have this ridiculously cumbersome process so that 18 HR reps are required to carry it out. It’s even better if no one is hired because then they get to do it all again. When a company is serious about hiring it’s pretty obvious. When they are jerking you around you wind up with 32 interviews.

    1. Isn’t it ironic that HR, who should be concerned with aligning benefits with corporate goals, should have their benefit (job security) aligned with such wasteful practices as excessive, futile rounds of the “hiring” process. If this is truly the motivation, that company is indeed in a sad state of affairs.

      1. HR staff, like everyone else now, is most concerned about preserving their own jobs. If you have stupid upper management and a shady HR head you wind up with 32 interviews as a company standard.

  6. 32 interviews and no offer? I guess one can look at it one way or another. That other way is to consider whether one would want to work for an organization that is not able to make decisions in a reasonable period of time. Being a leading edge company that is the envy of everyone in it’s industry means being decisive, smart, informed, and well managed. 32 interviews for one position? Honestly, does that sound like a well managed organization?

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