Crappy hiring practices that need to die, and some new ones we need to adopt

Written by Vu Le

The job market is shifting. People are leaving their jobs everywhere and in great numbers. Employers are scrambling to hire people. More unions are forming. And yet, so many organizations and companies still continue to engage in crappy, inequitable hiring practices as if it were still the 1960s and everyone could smoke and drink whiskey during a team meeting.

On Twitter, someone wrote “So apparently job candidates’ sending a thank you note isn’t a thing anymore? Candidates, pro tip: send a thank you note.” It got several thousand comments and quote tweets saying requiring the follow-up thank-you note is an archaic, ridiculous practice. A colleague (@chanthropology) called it “Victorian performances of white middle class professionalism.” And I agree. It is an unwritten rule steeped in power asymmetry, and it sucks. If employers don’t send job candidates thank-you notes, why should job candidates be expected to do so?

No more post-interview thank-you notes. Employers, stop expecting it, stop favoring job candidates who do it and punishing those who don’t. All job candidates everywhere, you are hereby excused from ever having to write another thank-you email or card ever again! Go! Be free! Reclaim your time! Write a sea shanty! Learn about scrimshaw! Binge all twelve episodes of animated series Vox Machina; it is excellent!

While we put the final nail in the post-interview-thank-you-note coffin, here are some other practices we need to stop doing, and a few we need to adopt:

1.Stop asking for work outside candidates’ portfolios: I saw a job posting that required each job candidate to give one recommendation to improve the company’s website. No. That’s gross. You haven’t hired them, so don’t ask job candidates to do work for free. Don’t ask for bespoke presentations, communications plans, fundraising appeal letters, etc. Not unless you will pay them consulting rates to do it.

2.Stop requiring formal education for every position: As I wrote here, it is inequitable to require a Bachelor’s or other formal college degree for most positions. And yet tons of organizations still do it. Unless it’s a specialized position (legal, accounting, counseling, etc.), knock it off.  

3.Stop asking “creative” interview questions: What is your astrology sign? If you were an ice cream flavor, which one would you be? How many gummy bears would fit in this interview room? Don’t ask inane questions and think you’re being clever. You’re not. You’re annoying job candidates while also leaving behind people from different cultural and economic backgrounds.

4.Stop ghosting people after they spent hours or months on your process: One of the biggest complaints from job candidates is going through hours of a job process and then never hearing from the employer again. Have the courtesy to notify everyone who took time to engage with you.

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About the author

Vu Le

Vu Le (“voo lay”) is a writer, speaker, vegan, Pisces, and the former Executive Director of RVC, a nonprofit in Seattle that promotes social justice by developing leaders of color, strengthening organizations led by communities of color, and fostering collaboration between diverse communities.

Vu’s passion to make the world better, combined with a low score on the Law School Admission Test, drove him into the field of nonprofit work, where he learned that we should take the work seriously, but not ourselves. There’s tons of humor in the nonprofit world, and someone needs to document it. He is going to do that, with the hope that one day, a TV producer will see how cool and interesting our field is and make a show about nonprofit work, featuring attractive actors attending strategic planning meetings and filing 990 tax forms.

Known for his no-BS approach, irreverent sense of humor, and love of unicorns, Vu has been featured in dozens, if not hundreds, of his own blog posts at NonprofitAF.com.