I recently e-mailed a candidate in order to set-up a time for a telephone interview.

Based on their e-mail reply, I now have no intention of hiring this person. Should I mention the errors or just decline?
Here is the exact reply that I received.


Sorry to have taken so long to reply it was my daughters birthday yesterday lol.  I can be reached at (xx-xxx-xxxx) tomoorw at 1pm to 4pm and any other day at that time as well

Thank you (Name)"
My concern is that I have already offered to set-up a time for a telephone interview.


Todd G's picture

Hello Colin,

I believe you have every right to cancel the interview based on this response. I would say it does not appear to be a professional response (i.e., the "lol" comment as well as the issue of "taking so long to respond").  I can understand the issue of family time, however, it would have generally taken a short amount of time to respond and set up the interview. So, why would you waste your time in interviewing? 

In my role, I have skipped over applications with grammatical errors and typos. I do a preview and look at the cover letter, resume, and application. There are many RED flags that trigger a candidate not moving forward.

Let us know what you decide.


Todd M. Grivetti, MSN, RN, CNML, CCRN

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mattman's picture

Hi Todd,

Thank you for your input.

Would you mention to the candidate the reason for not going ahead with an interview? (i.e. Spelling errors and general lack of professionalism).


TNoxtort's picture

I really think the guy deserves a shot.

Spelling errors are easy to make on E-mails, especially on smart phones. It's not like a resume or cover letter, that are expected to be pristine. It was just a communication. I  think you may end up passing up a potentially good person. If the person is truly careless, I'm sure you'll detect it in other ways.

ALL of us make typos on E-mails, and while "lol" may not have been the best language, I have a hard time believing it is a telling sign for someone whom you already wanted to speak with for an interview.

afmoffa's picture

Unless you really don't have 15 minutes to interview this person, I recommend you go ahead and call him. It's fair to enter that conversation with the mindset "this guy is on strike two from the moment he answers the phone." Like Artsmith says, there must be something about his resume/cover letter that interested you. Has that really changed?

The same way you (probably) wouldn't stop an interview after ten minutes if the person really blew the "tell me about yourself" question.

That said, if you've got ten other candidates you're excited about and your schedule is jammed solid, you can cancel the interview. I don't think you're obligated to give reasons for passing until/unless you've actually interviewed a candidate (phone or in-person).

Todd G's picture


I'll eat a little crow on this one. After reviewing both ArtSmith22's and Afmoffa's comments, you could do a phone interview to screen for the potential of continuing the process. You would probably know in the first 30 sec. to a minute if this is someone you wish to continue with. 5 minutes is better than 15 - 30 in a face to face.

Obviously if the individual starts the conversation with "Dude, this is totally awesome you want to interview me..." I don't have to say much else.


Todd M. Grivetti, MSN, RN, CNML, CCRN

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Mark's picture
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If you have determined you won't hire someone, you needn't conduct the interview. I wouldn't interview this person, based on that response.

You don't have to say why, and in this case I wouldn't, because I don't believe it will be helpful. Just say you have decided to go in a different direction, and wish him well.


canuck's picture

What does that response say about: (a) the person's attention to detail, and (b) ability to communicate to professional stakeholders?

And that's just for a start.   Since part of the reason we do interviews is because we're looking for reasons to keep people out of the organisation, I think you've already got all the data you need.


JulieGeek's picture
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I would not go forward with the interview.


I would no more LOL to a potential hiring manager than I would ask, "Do you mind if I smoke?" It just Isn't Done(TM). Furthermore, most mobile devices today have spell checking. Learn it, live it, love it. It will keep you from looking like a doofus.

GlennR's picture

Do you risk screening out a qualified person here? Is your candidate pool strong enough to survive that? Or, do you have an overabundance of qualified candidates?

If it's the latter, don't offer the interview.

But if you're not sure, I would offer the interview. I would actually bring it up in the interview to see how the candidate responds. I would do this because you must have found something you liked enough to offer the interview. What if the candidate has other strengths that offset his poorly worded response? Who among us has not sent out an email to co-workers containing typos (their, there, they're; to, too, two, etc) and we all say that written communications are critical. (I'm not advocating sloppiness, I lament the deterioration of the English language and I hate to see grammatical errors in any written communication.)

I would go into this interview wanting to discover two things. First, is this grammatical sloppiness the norm? Second, does the casual way in which he responded "lol," indicate his attitude or was it the exception?

I understand the position that Mark and the others who are opposed advocate. I have been ruthless in screening people out myself. Typos on the cover letter go right into the rejection letter file; I'm not so sure about an email probably sent from a smartphone.Especially if I think this person has other qualities that made me offer the interview.

Sometimes qualified people interview poorly. (Especially when they don't subscribe to MT:-)







lar12's picture
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If the candidate was a "bubble" interview, cut 'em.  If not, approach the phone interview as if they are already on strike two.

To echo @GLENNR, some people just don't interview well.  For example, my company recently interviewed an individual that had a stellar resume.  He was very inquisitive, had a mechanical background and worked his way through one of the best engineering schools in the nation, while working full time.  On paper, he walked on water.  In his interview, he flopped.  He struggled to connect with people in the room, his answers were awkward, he didn't seem to "fit" the type of person we were looking for.  He interviewed on Friday and because of our remote location, a small Texas town, he wasn't scheduled to fly out until Saturday AM.  That evening, the hiring manager, a MT follower, was reviewing the results of the interview and wasn't thrilled.  On a whim, he called the guy at his hotel and invited him to go to the local football game.  For two hours, they sat, watched football and talked.  Not "interview" questions per se, just family, football, politics.  Monday AM we offered him the job.  AND we are glad we did.

I share the story for this reason, one strike is just one strike.  A "LOL" in an email is a weak reason to walk away from the most important thing you do as a manager.

jocadl's picture

Just anecdotal, but still...

We just hired someone as a member of a six-person "Design Thinking" team (an innovation method). Instead of "Design Thinking", the guy wrote "Basic Thinking" in his application. (I don't know how that could have possibliy happened).

I suggested we turn him down, just because of that. My boss overruled me, he was invited, interviewed well. Was hired, turned out in the top two of the six, potentially best.

Just saying... I know interviewing is about keeping people out. But on the other hand, everyone may deserve another look.

jennrod12's picture

I'm surprised no one asked what is the position that you're looking to fill!  Is it a janitor or ditch digger, or something else where writing email is not an important part of the job?  Is it an entry-level job where the applicant may not have worked professionally before and you don't mind teaching them how to behave professionally?

If this person wants to work for you, they should be trying to impress you.  And if this is the type of email they send to someone they are trying to impress, imagine what type of email they will be sending once they get the job.