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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Waiting Game

The most frustrating part of the job search are the days after an interview. Here are some examples of questions that I have received from job seekers recently:

"What is wrong with employers? What is taking the employer so long to get back to me?"

"Doug, how about sending a note to companies to ask them to extend the courtesy of at least letting me know if I am under consideration after I interview with them?"

"I thought HR was all about the people. Why don’t they give you the common courtesy of a call back about a job in a timely manner?"

I think employers tend to be a little overzealous when giving out the time line on when they will get back to the job seeker. If you have ever been on the interviewer side, you know there are many reasons that a job search may be delayed:

  • People Are Busy - Recruiters are always working on more than just one job, interviewers and hiring managers all have daily tasks that usually take precedence over hiring a job seeker, schedule conflicts always arise and hire date projection dates are pushed back.
  • Hedging Their Bets - Many times, even though I feel it is a bad strategy, employers will hold off providing a second place job seeker with any information because they feel the job seeker will walk if they know they are the second choice. The employer will try to hold off on providing information as long as possible, and if things do not work out with the first choice, they are able to quickly go to the second and third choice without having to start the entire process again.
My recommendations to minimize the waiting game:

  • Establish a Follow-Up Time - At the end of the interview ensure you have effectively set up a time for follow-up. Try to get a timeframe for follow-up vs. "we will get back to you". If the employer does not give you a good timeframe, simply ask when interviews with the short list of candidates are scheduled to be completed.
  • Take the Initiative - Call the employer back on a weekly basis. If they haven't called you back after five weeks, then your time is best spent elsewhere.
  • Decision Time - The only other way to get a firm time commitment from an employer is to let them know you are getting close to an offer with another company, or that you have an offer with another company. This normally gets their attention and a quick call back if you are one of the top 3 candidates being considered.
I hope that takes some of the anxiety and mystery out of the follow-up.

Best Wishes,

Doug Smith
Director of Product Management, Talent Exchange