A complaint letter from a candidate …

Filed in HIRING ARTICLES by on October 26, 2017

Dear Bruce,

It really doesn’t bother me that I don’t get every job I interview for (actually, I’ve only had a couple). What really bugs me, though, is that, after the interview, none of the municipalities I have applied to have ever given me any response at all – good or bad.

How can I get any better if I don’t know what I may have done wrong?

Wouldn’t you agree that municipal employers owe us job seekers the courtesy of at least a little feedback? After all, we go to the trouble of preparing extensively for the interview and giving it our best effort?



Dear Bob,

It’s my belief that municipalities owe job applicants three things … three things that job-seekers quite often don’t get:

  1. An unequivocal, “Yes, we’d like to continue the dialogue with you,” or, “No, we are not going to pursue your candidacy.” And they should do this within no more than three or four business days after each interview.
  2. Municipal managers should give job candidates the same amount of consideration they’d show any other business contact. This means they don’t cancel interviews at the last minute unless it’s a real honest to goodness emergency. And they should never insist that a candidate should drop everything for an interview … tomorrow, and they should leave the manicure and email checking till after the interview.
  3. When you are applying for a municipal job your interviewer should have the good manners to set aside some time during the interview so the candidate can ask his or her questions, rather than just loading them up with one-way responses to questions put to them by the interviewer.

Why, you might ask yourself, isn’t “…municipal employers owe some of us job seekers the courtesy of at least a little feedback?” on my list? Here’s why.

It’s not because I’ve concluded t  hat candidates can’t handle the truth, or that after a reason was given they would immediately start looking for a lawyer in an attempt to sue every municipality that didn’t hire them.

I hear HR people say, “We can’t give applicants feedback – we live in such a litigious society these days!” But, I don’t believe that for a minute! In fact, that’s a lame excuse.

From a very practical standpoint, it would be almost impossible to sue a municipality for “failure to hire”, and most ‘normal’ people would much rather choose to continue with their job search rather than dropping everything in an attempt to drag a municipality into court.

There is actually another reason why candidates don’t need to know why someone else got the job. You see, in the real world, people don’t make hiring decisions based solely on a list of accomplishments or levels of education attained … it’s not so cut-and-dried!

How would you feel if some municipal Human Resources Manager were to say to you, “We liked you, Bob. It was really great to meet you, but we hired someone who saw the ‘big picture’ and who had a much better grasp of our issues here in the City”?

That kind of feedback is something you might not really appreciate … you’d probably say something like, “Well, that’s pretty subjective!” And you’d be right! Hiring for municipalities is subjective. It has to be, because municipal jobs aren’t cut-and-dried … and that’s true, whether you are the Chief Administrative Officer running the city, or a Commissioner or GM directing one of the departments.


Bruce Malcolm

About the Author ()

Bruce's background includes 30+ years of human resource management experience covering all aspects of HR administration with a clear specialty in team building and recruiting. He created and developed the concept of “Ethical Head-Hunting™”. Bruce began his recruiting career in 1971 with Prudential Assurance.

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Receive the latest news and trends in the Municipal industry.

We don't share emails with any third party!