I’ve seen discussion of the halakhic implications of gathering product information in one store and purchasing elsewhere. Some consider it theft of time and knowledge, and of unfairly giving the sales clerk hopes of receiving a commission on the sale. Is there any specific Halakha concerning how businesses and organizations process job applications?

Say someone sees a job posting. Their educational requirements, qualifications, work experience, and the listed roles and responsibilities match exactly. Assume everything in the job posting is extensive and very specific. They work hard to customize a resume and cover-letter and complete a lengthy application. They contact people to provide references. The person is feeling great and hopeful they will end up with the job. After committing much time and effort they don’t receive the courtesy (decency?) of a phone call, form rejection letter (or e-mail), let alone an interview.

What are (if any) the halakhic implications of getting the hopes up of applicants given the time and effort made completing the application process? Do they have any obligation to at least extend an interview? What if the employer posted the job for legal or internal reasons and never intended to extend interviews (or just went through the motions of interviewing for appearance sake) because they already selected which candidate they wanted? Not receiving a job offer is one thing after being interviewed but not receiving an interview or wasting a persons time interviewing them when there was no intention of hiring seems to be problematic.

  • 2
    You think giving everyone interviews won't get their hopes up more? I sympathize with you if you are stuck not getting call backs, but getting hundreds of pointless interviews would be worse, not mention prohibitively expensive: companies will be hesitant to offer jobs if the process is so tedious.
    – Double AA
    Aug 16, 2018 at 12:46
  • @DoubleAA If an overabundence of applicants meet the job posting’s extensive list of qualifications, certifications, and skills, shouldn’t they narrow it frown even further?
    – JJLL
    Aug 16, 2018 at 15:21
  • Not if the benefit to be gained by finding a slightly more qualified candidate isn't worth the cost f the search
    – Double AA
    Aug 16, 2018 at 15:37
  • @DoubleAA So were right back to where we started from. So why the long list of requirements if almost potential applicant qualifies? Why the collection of personal data—sometimes including info such as security numbers? What if we are talking of a VERY specialized field with a limited number of specialists and an even more limited number of potential applicants?
    – JJLL
    Aug 16, 2018 at 16:42
  • 1
    There are two separate questions here: 1) Shouldn't a qualified person at least get an interview? Answer: No. Interviews when there is no chance of getting the job are a huge waste of time for everyone and really unfair to require. Not all qualified applicants are in the top group you want to see more of. 2) Shouldn't a rejected applicant at least get a call or email saying "no thanks"? Answer: Absolutely. I'm not making this an answer because I have no sources. But even the secular world thinks it's rude (and perhaps unethical) to leave applicants hanging.
    – Cyn
    Nov 14, 2018 at 15:34

2 Answers 2


A legitimate question:

  1. In those sort of questions, we rely on the accepted social norms. To prove a theft of time took place we use the rule of "המוציא מחבירו" - the person that feels he was hurt must prove his point. To do that he must show that the other side was [intentionally] פושע - a felon, acting against the accepted rules. As he can not prove it - it is not a theft.

  2. Another reason we use is called "אדעתא דהכי" - "with this very intention/ on this condition". When a company advertises a vacant position, an applicant is acting intentionally knowing that he might not be contacted. Therefore he can not claim anything against the company.

  3. There's no obligating contract between the sides. The company is free to cancel the application, change the criteria or the rules etc, just as the applicant has the right to act freely as he wants (cancel an appointment or not to show).

  • Many of your points make sense especially from the human resource prospective.
    – JJLL
    Aug 16, 2018 at 23:08
  • 1
    In order for something to be theft you have to be able to prove it? That's absurd.
    – Double AA
    Aug 17, 2018 at 1:44
  • @DoubleAA Good point, but just think about it: when both sides agree it's a steal - it's clear. But think about this: I come over to you and take your watch, you yell - he steals my watch, but I say - you owe me money. So is it a steal? We'll never know till the BD decides. Same with a murder or anything else. In case of a doubt - a BD sets the reality, not the action. (I'm not talking in G-d's eyes).
    – Al Berko
    Aug 17, 2018 at 9:05

See Shabbos 31a


דעלך סני לחברך לא תעביד

“What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary; go and learn it.”

If the hiring manager would not be like to be treated in the way that they are treating the job applicants then they have transgressed this minimal application of the passuk that states, "And you shall love your fellow man as yourself."

In explanation of the above, there is no such thing as a "faceless corporation". If a company "did" something, that is because a discrete invidial in that company performed that action, and their religious and moral responsibilities do not change because they are just "doing their job".

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