As they reach out to employers, polish their resumes, and prepare to shine during interviews, job seekers often wonder about the consequences of falling short. How badly can an interview really go? What can happen under the most damaging or humiliating circumstances, in which, for example, a candidate is caught faking a reference or lying on a resume? Job seekers may be passed over for a specific position, but can they actually be blacklisted or formally closed out of future opportunities with that company? Or worse still, can a bad candidacy set an applicant up for automatic rejection with other companies throughout the industry?
Are Hiring Blacklists a Real Thing?
Not really. (Feel free to sigh with relief.) A formal or informal company-wide do-not-hire list can be used to help HR managers warn each other about potential mismatches and scam artist applicants, but these lists are rare, and their value to hiring managers is limited when measured against the way they can expose a company to potential discrimination lawsuits. HR managers appreciate a heads-up from elsewhere in the company if this warning protects them from an applicant who, for example, has submitted multiple resumes for multiple positions, each resume presenting conflicting information. But strange and egregious behaviors like this are uncommon, and HR managers don’t live their lives in fear of these kinds of events.
Most of the time, a thorough reference and background check can prevent a company from falling for an out-and-out scammer. And simply being surpassed by another candidate during the application process won’t earn you a company’s disgust or disrespect. Hiring managers typically respect all applicants who show an interest in their organization. Then they choose the one they like and move on. Few serious, professional companies have time for vindictiveness or blacklists unless they’re given very good reasons.
Blacklists Aside, What about Informal Badmouthing?
Here’s another scenario job seekers often fear: They fumble an interview, and the next day the interviewer has lunch with a corresponding interviewer from another company in the same field. The two hiring mangers laugh together about how awful the interview was, and now the applicant has no chance of being hired when she submits her resume to Company B. (Or Company C, D, and E if all four managers are friends who enjoy getting together to share sandwiches and laugh at job applicants.)
Again, feel free to sigh with relief, because this doesn’t happen. Professional, legitimate companies respect all of their applicants unless they’re given an extreme reason not to. As long as you don’t lie on your resume, abuse your interviewer, or forget to wear pants on the day your interview is scheduled, most interviewers will appreciate the time and interest you show in their companies, even if they ultimately reject you. And chances are, if you interview later with Company B and Interviewer A catches wind of this, she’ll wish you well and hope that you and your future employer form a productive and positive relationship.