Further Questions: Do You Notify Rejected Applicants?

Not to be harsh and use the “R” word, but this week, on the suggestion of a reader, I asked people who hire librarians:

What notifications do you (or your library) send to applicants?  Do you acknowledge applications?  Share your timeline? Notify rejected candidates? If you do, is it over the phone, via email, or by mail? Do you think employers have any obligation to do this? Or are there practical considerations that make it impossible?

Terry Ann LawlerNotifications, summarized: We have an automated system that tells you if your application has been accepted.  Once the hiring process begins, you may or may  not be called for an interview, there is no notification if you are not called.
Acknowledging applications: Yes, but only that their resume and application have been received.
Share your timeline?  – it can be sooooooo long!  We have pools.  You apply for the position pool when it opens.  After it closes, you can be called for an interview by any library in the city.  If you put preferences for a specific part of the city (north/east, etc), you’ll be filtered out of the other parts.  This doesn’t mean you won’t get a call for an interview, but you might have to wait until there are openings in your part of the city.
Notifying rejected candidates:  You will get an automatic notification if you don’t make the pool.  Say you don’t have a college degree and you applied for a position with that as a requirement.  Then your application and resume will be rejected.
If we actually interview you and you are not chosen for the position, then we will either call or email or mail, depending on the situation.  If I did a massive amount of interviews and I have 20 people to notify, I might rely on mail.  If I had a short round and only 2 or 3 people to notify, I’d call.  If I can’t get ahold of someone by phone and have been communicating by email with them already, I might pick email as a last resort.

On employer obligations/practical considerations:  Yes, I think they do.  If you interviewed and were not chosen, you should get notified.  If you are in the pool, you stay in the pool until it opens again, usually 2 times per year.  So, there isn’t really anything to notify you about if you haven’t yet been called.  Unfortunately, the automated system makes things a little less personal and leaves the candidate wondering sometimes.

– Terry Lawler, Assistant Manager and Children’s Librarian, Palo Verde Branch, Phoenix Public Library

Yes to all of the above.  

We communicate by e-mail.  We point out the shortcomings in submitted MARC rceords.


– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging

Laurie PhillipsI send acknowledgements of each application received. I confirm that I have received it and that I have the proper attachments. I don’t share the timeline with the larger pool – only with those who interview by phone, Skype or in person. If someone contacts me to ask about where we are in the process, I will answer, but please don’t contact me before the deadline to ask if we have made a decision. Academia doesn’t work that way. We don’t review applications until after the deadline. I will notify rejected candidates by email if we haven’t interviewed them in person. I try to notify candidates by phone who were not hired after a campus interview but I have been told by job seekers that email is better because it’s less emotional and I can put some thoughtful information into it. I offer to provide feedback and a few people have asked. What I heard from job seekers is that if they saw a call from me, they would assume that they were being hired and would be even more disappointed. At any rate, yes, I do think we have an obligation to notify especially those who have taken time to interview us. It’s just common courtesy. We generally do not notify anyone of their status until a job offer has been made and accepted. Until then, all candidates are still considered viable.

– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

As a recruiter I acknowledge all applications to register with The Library Career Centre.  This is initially in the form of an email, asking for a range of standard information (salary requirements, location, type of industry, type of job required) where this wasn’t included in the cover email sent along with the resume.
I also ask to set up a registration interview (which may be by telephone, skype or in person depending on distance).  On the rare occasions that someone applies to register who doesn’t have any relevant skills, qualifications or experience for library work (or who hasn’t expressed a sincere desire to move into this type of work), I will reply to let them know that I am a specialist recruiter and won’t be able to help them find other kinds of work.
Once I’ve approached a candidate about a job with one of my clients, and submitted their resume, I will let them know the outcome as soon as I hear back from my client.  This can take anything from hours to weeks!  If it’s a client I’ve worked with before, and so have an idea of their usual process and timelines, I will let the candidate know how long we may have to wait to hear some news.  Feedback on whether a resume submission has been successful or not is usually by email.
I’m afraid to say that, in some cases, a client may never reply to me about those candidates they don’t wish to shortlist, and I’ll only hear back from them if/when they do want me to arrange an interview.  This is frustrating all round, not just for the applicant who is waiting in hope, but also for me since it means I have no information on *why* that candidate may not have been suitable and so I cannot modify my search to find more closely matched people!
Where a candidate has been interviewed, I will get back to the candidate over the telephone to let  them know the outcome, and to talk through any feedback the interviewer may have given me about their interview performance.  Similarly if a client wishes me to make an offer to an interviewed candidate I will do this over the telephone.
For employers hiring directly, I think that sometimes they are overwhelmed with the sheer number of responses and it may not be practical for them to reply to everyone to say they haven’t been shortlisted for interview.  However, if that is likely to be the case I think it should say so in the job announcement / advertisement, so that applicants have realistic expectations of whether/when they might hear some news.
– Nicola Franklin, Director, The Library Career Centre Ltd.
We abide by the California civil service process.  All applications are acknowledged by our HR department and the applicant will receive a letter stating whether they met the minimum qualifications or not.  After that there is an oral examination and depending on how applicants do they will be notified whether and where they are on the final list and what their score was.  Everything that happens from there is dependent on their spot on the list.  There may not be any further communication if the candidate isn’t in the top five.
After these steps it is up to the hiring department.  We are required to interview the five highest scoring candidates.  All of the top five will be notified of the outcome by letter or phone if they’re not selected.  If we have a final two or three these candidates will be called either way.  At no time will a candidate be left hanging.  That said sometimes it make take quite awhile for references to be checked, the offer made and accepted so final candidates may not hear immediately.
I do not know if it is an obligation to notify applicants but it is common courtesy to acknowledge a candidate’s application and let them know appropriately as their candidacy progresses.    During final interviews we do share our timeline.  I believe this is common courtesy as well.  It is a very nerve-wracking experience for most people so the more information we can provide the better it is.

– Melanie Lightbody, Director of Libraries, Butte County


Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.com.

Thank YOU for reading!  What do you think?  What obligations do employers have for notifying prospective candidates?


Filed under Academic, Further Questions, Other Organization or Library Type, Public

3 responses to “Further Questions: Do You Notify Rejected Applicants?

  1. Aimee

    My personal experience is it is very unusual to hear back from any potential employer whether I was interviewed or not, including by automated email. Despite usually being told I would be contacted in a week or so, I’ve only been contacted again by one interviewer in the past year, and that was for the part-time position I have now.


  2. Pingback: Further Questions Questions | Hiring Librarians

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