A reader writes:
I had an interview May 6th, which went well, and I was told by the hiring manager that she would like someone to start the first week in June and that I would hear the outcome by the next week. Two days later, HR called and asked me to come in for a second interview and to bring three references. So on 12th, I met with HR on another interview. The HR rep said she would check my reference and get back to me by the end of that week, and she had me sit with another HR person to go over benefits.
A whole week went by and I heard no word, so I decided to call on May 21st, hoping that she would be able to tell me if the job was gone or on hold. I left a message. HR called back 5PM Friday May 23rd. She apologized that she did not get back to me, but said she would check references next week and that I should alert my references, which I did.
I happened to speak to my reference the following Wednesday and no phone call or message had been left for them. I called HR that afternoon and she seemed surprised that I called and seemed to hurry me off the phone, saying she was going to call me and that she is checking my references and would get back to me. Here we are now on June 11th, with no references checked and I have received no phone call or letter telling me the situation.
What would you do? Call her back? Call the hiring manager to see if the job is gone? How would you feel if this happened to you? Am I wrong in wanting to find out why I was led on by this HR generalist? What did she tell the hiring manager?
I cannot shake this situation and I keep feeling foul play is at hand. What do you advise me to do? At this point I will not accept the job, but have the right to know what happened and put closure to it.
Well, if you really won't accept the job at this point, I wouldn't put any effort into following up, but I wouldn't advise that route.
What seems likely is that the HR rep and the hiring manager are on different pages about the start date. The hiring manager said she wanted someone to start by early June, but the HR rep clearly isn't operating on that schedule. Maybe that's because she's legitimately overruling the hiring manager (managers often underestimate how long a thorough hiring process will take), maybe you're her second choice candidate and she's waiting to hear back from the first choice, or maybe she's just not that good at her job. Regardless, you won't help yourself by sounding pissy with her.
This is what I would do: Email the hiring manager to reiterate your interest in the job and talk about how excited you are by the prospect of it. Then say something like, "Julie (or whatever the HR rep's name is) told me the process is taking longer than you had originally planned, and I'd love to get a sense of your timeline if you have one." But don't sound like you're complaining about the process; you're simply seeking information within the context of reiterating your interest and excitement.
You could also email the HR rep with something similar, but the advantage of sending the note to the hiring manager is that she may put some pressure on HR to wrap up the process (if indeed they're dragging their feet) and she may give you some info you haven't been able to get from HR.
Now, are you being treated poorly by this company? To the extent that they're not giving you updated information about their timeline, yes, but not to the extent that you should be suspecting foul play. I also wouldn't refuse the job because of this. Hiring often takes longer than people originally think it will. Yes, they should update you when a timeline they gave you changes, but the (annoying) reality is that many, many companies don't. I would be much more concerned if the problem were with the hiring manager rather than HR, since that would tell you something troubling about your future manager, but in this case it seems to be specific to HR (based on what you know so far, at least).
You're worked up, and I get it -- it's frustrating. But take a deep breath and relax. Continue your job search, don't put too much mental energy into this job until you find out if there's even going to be an offer, and eventually you'll hear something one way or another from this company (even if it's months of silence, which says something in its own rude way). Good luck!