Q: When do academic institutions typically send out rejection notices to finalist candidates? I know the hiring process can be quite lengthy, but I am wondering if institutions wait until selected candidates actually show up for her/his first day of work before sending out rejection letters.
TA: While many parts of the hiring process can be similar from institution to institution, there are differences oftentimes with order, timing, and notification. For example, a lot of academic institutions will conduct phone or video interviews, collect references and host on campus interviews. But sometimes the references come before the on campus interview and sometimes they come after.
In response to your specific question about notifying non-selected candidates, that is likely to depend on the process in place at each individual institution. Some libraries will send non-selection letters at the time the search committee declines to pursue, so more immediate feedback is given to candidates. Other libraries may hold off on sending the letters until they have an offer accepted. And libraries with an online application process may be able to notify candidates electronically as soon as a status is changed in the online system. It would seem a bit late to me to wait until the selected candidate reports for his/her first day of work to then notify non-selected candidates, but I am sure that possibility exists at some institution out there. If you have questions about your status in the search, you can always check in with the institution by contacting the HR manager, the hiring supervisor, or the search committee chair. Your phone call or email can be as simple as “I’m writing to see if you could please give me an update on the status of my application for the position of…”.
Many college and university libraries follow the ACRL guidelines for recruitment; you may want to take a look to familiarize yourself with the overall process and the various stages in the process: http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/screenapguide. The model gives applicants a good idea of what to expect as part of the recruitment and selection process at a college or university library.