Should You Reply to a Status Update From HR?

ikemblem's picture
Rank: Senior Baboon | 229

Two weeks ago, I requested a status update, on an internship application, from HR, following a couple of interviews. The individual from HR promptly responded and gave me a timeline for decisions. Today, that same recruiter emailed me again and gave me another update. I was wondering if it is expected of me to respond to these emails. I feel as if it would be nice and would show my continued interest in the position but on the other hand there isn't much that I can really say except, "thank you for the update". What would you do in this situation?

Reply to a Status Update from Human Resources?

As a job applicant, everyone is always trying to do things just right because it feels like any little thing can make or break your chances at landing the job. While this is likely untrue, you should still try to go about things the correct way. Questions like, "how to ask your recruiter for an update" or, "Should I send a thank you email to a recruiter for an update" often arise. And while these may feel like important questions, it is more often than not that the recruiter for the HR department does not actually care about anything that trivial. Plus, HR is almost never who actually decides whether or not you are hired. That is left to your interviewer. Instead, we should look into the actual hiring process.

In the very in-depth words of user @SSits:

  1. HR doesn't make the decision. Instead, your interviewers plus maybe 1-2 others in the group you're trying to join make the decision.
  2. Decisions are formed on the basis of relative performance of candidates in interviews and relatively brief discussion between the various interviewers (typically less than 15 minutes spent talking about the final shortlist of 2-3 candidates). Resumes are largely for filtering and providing grist for the interview discussion.
  3. Polite e-mails to interviewers don't make a positive difference. The interview is the testing ground. A polite e-mail later is too late, won't change a ding decision and is just an annoyance to the interviewer if you've already been dinged.
  4. If there are banks that use HR to do all the interviews, I would be wary. That indicates the business cares less about the interns they end up with.
  5. It's incredibly asymmetrical. Both in terms of power and in terms of the huge amount of psychological angst and fretting candidates spend worrying about this process that is in no way matched by the amount of care or even organisational energy put in by the investment banks.

    You spend 6 weeks polishing your resume and cover letter? I spend literally 45 seconds looking at the resume. You spend 6 months worrying about securing an internship? We spend maybe 2 - 3 x 30 minute interviews with you, then maybe 15 - 30 minutes in aggregate discussing ALL the candidates who we didn't ding in the interview process.

From SSits's words we can glean that:

  1. HR plays little to no role in the hiring decision
  2. Polite email responses will do little to nothing to affect their decision
  3. If they do use HR for their interviews it may be a red flag for the interviewee
  4. The amount of effort and thought you put in is in no way returned by the hiring party
  5. The main thing is to focus on killing the interview

So, if you want to send that little thank you message to HR, go ahead. Is it likely to make a difference either way? No, but if it calms your nerves to send it there is absolutely no reason not to. Just remember that your real focus needs to be on really impressing the decision makers when you get the chance. The feeling that they get from you is more impressive than any measurable or action you could take outside the interview process.

Read More About Dealing With HR and Interviews


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Comments (15)

Feb 18, 2014

Don't respond. HR people have more things to do in their day then stop to think "what a nice, polite young [man/woman]". All you're showing is your continued fretting.

Feb 18, 2014
SSits:

Don't respond. HR people have more things to do in their day then stop to think "what a nice, polite young [man/woman]". All you're showing is your continued fretting.

Saying thank you shows "continued fretting"? WTF?

Array

Feb 18, 2014

@LauraSmith Are you asking me questions? Is so, I do know I am still being considered and the recruiter told me when I should expect to get a decision, but that wasn't my question.

Feb 18, 2014

@ikemblem - LauraSmith is a bot, based on the irrelevant posts it has made using content apparently triggered by a few key words.

Feb 18, 2014

Posting a thread on WSO asking if you should say thank you shows a high level of fretting. If there is anything I've learned from reading posts like this, it's that many candidates think about 1000x more about the interview process than those running the process and many candidates tie themselves up in knots of worry.

I have full sympathy, I've been in similar situations, I know how powerless it feels etc.

However, it's clear that the candidates are fretting heavily and that the average "thank you" e-mail has been typed out with clammy, sweaty fingers agonising over exactly how to put the message.

I feel sorry for candidates. But I don't think patronising candidates and pretending that HR departments and interviewers are not aware of their fretting does anyone any good.

Feb 18, 2014

Hi SSits. If the HR recruiters don't think that much about candidates, how do they eventually form their decisions about which ones to make an offer to?

Feb 18, 2014

HR doesn't make the decision. Instead, your interviewers plus maybe 1-2 others in the group you're trying to join make the decision.

In my experience, decisions are formed on the basis of relative performance of candidates in interviews and relatively brief discussion between the various interviewers (typically less than 15 minutes spent talking about the final shortlist of 2-3 candidates). Resumes are largely for filtering and providing grist for the interview discussion and only come up in post-interview decision making as a secondary factor. A candidate who comes across solid in the interview and has a 3.6 GPA will get the job over a less solid interview performance from a 3.9 GPA.

Discussions may take longer where there are more good candidates than roles.

Polite e-mails to HR don't make a difference. HR doesn't get a look into the decision* - they are process managers, not the decision makers.

In my view, polite e-mails to interviewers don't make a positive difference. The interview is the testing ground. A polite e-mail later is too late, won't change a ding decision and is just an annoyance to the interviewer if you've already been dinged.

If there are banks that use HR to do all the interviews, I would be wary. That indicates the business cares less about the interns they end up with.

* Unless you treat them badly, in which case that will filter back to the business and will likely be seen as foolish behaviour on your part worthy of a ding.

If this all sounds callous and heartless - you guys want to be investment bankers, right? It's not a heartless industry, but it is among the last places I'd look for a fluffy bunny cuddles and kisses interview process that showed a lot of sympathy for your (understandably) fretful position as a candidate.

I strongly suspect that only thing that makes this sound callous and heartless is that a lot of candidates have so much of their hopes and dreams set on joining the profession (which I also suspect many of them don't really understand other than IB = $$$ + bottles + bitches + prestige + Italian suits) and that makes it hard to step outside themselves and see it from the hiring firm's position.

It's incredibly asymmetrical. Both in terms of power and in terms of the huge amount of psychological angst and fretting candidates spend worrying about this process that is in no way matched by the amount of care or even organisational energy put in by the investment banks.

You spend 6 weeks polishing your resume and cover letter? I spend literally 45 seconds looking at the resume (and don't even look at the cover letter except to spot grammatical errors because I'm incredibly anally retentive).

You spend 6 months worrying about securing an internship? We spend maybe 2 - 3 x 30 minute interviews with you, then maybe 15 - 30 minutes in aggregate discussing ALL the candidates who we didn't ding in the interview process.

If that asymmetry leaves you thinking "So UNFAIR" - you have some maturation and learning to do if you think you're ready to enter the world of investment banking. At the very least, harden the fuck up.

Not because investment banking is a mature or wise industry, but because it's an industry which largely makes money out of unfairness and asymmetries. If you don't understand that and can't relate how that applies to your position as candidate vis a vis a hiring investment bank, what the fuck are you doing pitching for a job in an industry which you clearly don't understand?

(I'm using the generic you here, not directing this at Nijinsky)

Feb 18, 2014
SSits:

I strongly suspect that only thing that makes this sound callous and heartless is that a lot of candidates have so much of their hopes and dreams set on joining the profession (which I also suspect many of them don't really understand other than IB = $$$ + bottles + bitches + prestige + Italian suits) and that makes it hard to step outside themselves and see it from the hiring firm's position.

I'm going to quote myself because that is classy. At least classy enough to go with the quaffing wine that I'm ... quaffing ... as I distract myself from looking at the LBO deal proposal sitting next to me by posting rants on WSO.

If anyone is feeling lack of sympathy from my posts in this thread (which itself is not a particularly egregious example of candidate angst, so apologies to the OP for going on rants in his/her thread), the lack of excessive sympathy comes from my view that there are a whole load of candidates who get their hearts set on an IB internship without having much understanding of the IB world beyond it involves prestige + money.

How do I come to that view? It's based on the comments from candidates in interviews I've run plus questions/comments from various candidates on this board. Perhaps not a representative sample, but it seems that way to me.

How much sympathy would you have for someone who longed for some glittery prize without having any idea what that prize involved? The best comparison that comes to mind is some bridezilla-to-be who dreams of the glitteriness of her wedding, but demonstrated no introspection or character that would actually make a marriage work.

Do you have sympathy for this lady as she throws a tantrum because not all the bridesmaid are paying to wear matching dresses? Or do you laugh at her on some reality TV show.

Where my lack of sympathy becomes most acute is where it seems wannabee investment bankers - ie people who want to join a profession that exploits unfairness and asymmetries and not infrequently fucks over other people - complain or whine about the unfairness about the process to crack into that profession. Oh the humanity!

In those circumstances, I'd like to say your whining demonstrates your innate unfitness for the profession you're seeking to join. However, I have seen many self-pitying, whining yet somewhat successful (or, at least, middling) investment bankers in my time.

Feb 19, 2014

Your insider's insights into the decision process are very helpful and I thank you a lot for that, SSits! Now, please, I have another question: I guess that the final pool of candidates are all very good fits for the job so that it becomes objectively difficult to sort them out. In your opinion, what then motivates the MD to prefer one candidate over another?

Feb 19, 2014
Nijinsky:

Your insider's insights into the decision process are very helpful and I thank you a lot for that, SSits! Now, please, I have another question: I guess that the final pool of candidates are all very good fits for the job so that it becomes objectively difficult to sort them out. In your opinion, what then motivates the MD to prefer one candidate over another?

It varies from interviewer to interviewer. It's also based on the entire package the candidate presents, rather than any one particular factor.

Feb 19, 2014

In fact, I was meaning at the very last stage of the decision process, after all the interviews have been done.

Feb 19, 2014

@SSits

Thank you for your opinion. Your rants assumed a couple of untrue things though. I am not particularly worried about the outcome of the decision, it is out of my hands. Also this is for a quant Asset Management firm, not for IB, though the things that you talked about still apply to a certain extent.

Feb 19, 2014
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