HR Etiquette After an Interview

Professional courtesy is a two-way street. Just because a recruiter is in a position to decide whether an applicant moves forward in the recruitment and selection process doesn’t absolve him of the responsibility to extend professional courtesy. However, thousands of postings from job seekers in public Internet forums lament the fact that recruiters and employment specialists fail to display proper etiquette following a job interview.

Interviewee’s Role

Job seekers spend countless hours completing online applications, writing cover letters and tweaking their resumes when hunting for the ideal job. Many career counselors recommend that job seekers spend time researching companies and practicing for interviews, knowing that roughly one in 10 interviews will result in an offer of employment. Nevertheless, applicants seem to rarely witness recruiters and employment specialists investing the same amount of time in building a rapport with them unless they are short-listed as viable candidates for a job vacancy.

Recruitment and Selectio

Technology-based applicant tracking systems streamline the recruitment and selection process, making it possible for recruiters to devote more time to strategic activities, such as sourcing candidates and preparing for face-to-face interviews. That being said, tracking systems and other time-saving measures should never excuse recruiters from extending courtesy and respect to applicants. A quick follow-up email about progress in determining candidates short-listed for second-round interviews, for example, is the type of courtesy job seekers appreciate. If there’s been no activity in the hiring process for more than a week, a brief email to candidates takes almost no time at all to compose and send.

Purpose of the Interview

Most applicants judge the recruitment and selection process as an opportunity to showcase their skills and qualifications; however, the purpose of an interview is two-fold. Interviewees should also view the process as an opportunity to determine if there is a good job fit and whether the company offers ideal working conditions and professional camaraderie. Recruiters who demonstrate professionalism before, during and after an interview establish their credibility and gain candidates’ trust.

Interviewer’s Role

The recruiter’s role in the interview process is that of an ambassador who embodies company values. Recruiters sometimes forget that their professionalism sheds light on the company’s philosophy. Exhibiting professional courtesy through proper etiquette is an interviewer’s obligation. Explaining the selection process in as much detail as possible is the first way to extend a professional courtesy after the interview. Applicants who spend their time searching for the perfect role appreciate any information that will help them understand the following steps and improve their chances for landing the job. Recruiters should also acknowledge the time candidates spend preparing for, traveling to and participating in an interview, particularly if the work site is outside the applicant’s normal commuting distance. A simple “thank you” is sufficient; however, more impressive is a recruiter who promises to follow up after the interview and actually does, even if it’s only to inform the candidate that he wasn’t selected for the job.


Other ways to demonstrate professional courtesy after an interview include offering feedback to applicants to help them improve their chances of graduating to candidate status. This shows applicants where their strengths and weaknesses are in the interview process. It also says a lot about the organization and can encourage applicants to try again when another job opportunity with the same company presents itself. Importantly, it perpetuates the company reputation as an employer of choice. Job seekers interact with others looking for employment and word of mouth about employers spreads via networking events, the Internet and other venues.

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