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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

company dragging its feet on hiring

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!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm responding from an HR standpoint, I'd like to start with the following disclaimer: I might sound harsh, but often times, as this experience shows, there is a lot of secrecy and misunderstanding that occurs during the hiring process.

"I decided to call on May 21st...HR called back 5pm Friday May 23rd." Sigh. Evil HR Lady has a great post about the hiring process. You are not the only thing that is on the HR person's plate. Perhaps she's in the middle of an investigation...perhaps it's performance appraisal time...perhaps she's recruiting for 11 other positions. See, by being this assuming and accusatory, you've dropped yourself on the list of priorities. I'm going to start by telling this candidate to cool his/her heels. A lot. There's a very thin line between "interested" and "obnoxious."

"She seemed surprised and hurried to get off the phone" because she was caught off guard, and you were a little out of line. She said she would check your references the following week. You called her before the week was over. You inadvertantly questioned her ability to do her job.

My honest opinion of what happened: they liked you, they were considering you a final candidate (proof: checking your references). You then became somewhat demanding, and appeared desperate or questioning of the HR person's judgement. I would not want someone on my team like that, and if it were me, I would probably talk to the hiring manager and alert them of what had happened. My guess is that you talked your way out of the job. What to do now? Accept it and move on.

You've stated that you're no longer interested in the position. The professional thing to do is to send a letter to the HR person stating that you have not heard anything in several weeks, so you are going to continue your search. Thank her (sincerely) for her time and consideration, and wish her the best of luck in her search. Then move on. You walk away from a job you've decided you don't want with all of your dignity in tact. And by writing a non-threatening letter, you may salvage something. If they are still interested in you, you'll hear back quickly. If they aren't, you probably won't hear back at all.

Anonymous said...

Hi Thank you for responding, maybe I should clarify, the only reason for the phone call on May 21st was because after leaving my reference with HR on the 8th which was requested by HR, I had the right just to call to put closer to if the job was still available, after her call on Friday the 23rd to clarify that she was going to check my ref and to let my ref know, she said I should call with any questions or concerns, So I did the Wednesday because I found out that my prevous Manager was going to be out that week , so I called to let her know. was that wrong of me? I understand that she may be busy and dealing with other things.
The company that just offered me a position stayed in constant communication with me either by e-mail or the phone, and this is a much larger company.
It's not getting the Job thats the problem it's the way how it was handled, It makes you wonder what it would be like to work for them.
I don't think I was demanding because I only called twice and as stated they were legitimate phone calls not to harass.

Anonymous said...

Hi Thank you for responding, maybe I should clarify, the only reason for the phone call on May 21st was because after leaving my reference with HR on the 8th which was requested by HR, I had the right just to call to put closer to if the job was still available, after her call on Friday the 23rd to clarify that she was going to check my ref and to let my ref know, she said I should call with any questions or concerns, So I did the Wednesday because I found out that my prevous Manager was going to be out that week , so I called to let her know. was that wrong of me? I understand that she may be busy and dealing with other things.
The company that just offered me a position stayed in constant communication with me either by e-mail or the phone, and this is a much larger company.
It's not getting the Job thats the problem it's the way how it was handled, It makes you wonder what it would be like to work for them.
I don't think I was demanding because I only called twice and as stated they were legitimate phone calls not to harass.

Anonymous said...

Original anon here...I don't quite understand what you're saying here:

Thank you for responding, maybe I should clarify, the only reason for the phone call on May 21st was because after leaving my reference with HR on the 8th which was requested by HR, I had the right just to call to put closer to if the job was still available, after her call on Friday the 23rd to clarify that she was going to check my ref and to let my ref know, she said I should call with any questions or concerns, So I did the Wednesday because I found out that my prevous Manager was going to be out that week , so I called to let her know. was that wrong of me? I understand that she may be busy and dealing with other things.

So I'll just assume you're saying they owed you a call back and you wanted to get a status update.(sidenote: articulation and gramatical skills can often put a candidate at the top of the candidate list). Since it's a large corporation, I'm sure people fall through the cracks, and it's really unfortunate. It's fair to assume though, that this happens throughout the company, even with performance reviews/salary increases, etc. At this point, I would draft and email (far less intrusive than a phone call) thanking the recruiter for her time and telling her you've accepted another position, so you'd like to withdraw yourself from consideration. Recruiters appreciate that. A lot. It saves us time and paperwork. Best of luck in the new position!

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I have a question? I've been at my current job for over 7 years. I'm now seeking other career options and had an interview with a potential employer. After the interview I emailed the hiring manager (the interviewer) a Thank You Note. I received confirmation that the note had been received and read. My interview was on 6/18/2008 and it is now 6/24/2008. I did not receive a Thank You for the Thank You note from the manager or anything else at this point. I don't want to seem pushy be giving her a call. Should I just cool my heels? Am I looking into this to far? Suggestions please? Thank You!

Ask a Manager said...

Hi, Anonymous. Did they happen to say anything about their timeline during the interview? If not, send them a polite email reiterating your interest and asking if they can give you some sense of when they expect to be making a decision. This is completely normal and reasonable to ask. Companies vary widely with how long they take -- some take days and some take weeks (and some take months, but they suck). I actually just wrote on this topic here. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hello: I just wanted to say that I am going through a very similar situation at this time. It has been ongoing since May, 2008. As I learned there is someone in the position who is staying longer than they originally expected so the start date was moved out. They are a small organization and have a bigger organization doing over them that everything must go through first. Yes, I feel bad about the process. Yes, I want to get to work in a hurry as opposed to being homeless. Yes, I understand that it is an "employers market" and that "we who need a job" are not exactly hot material right now. I have NOT for one moment stopped looking for a job. There is no guarantee, anything can fall through. It makes me feel more empowered to keep looking and interviewing, doing what I should do. If someone wants to hire you, heaven and earth will move to get you in. Sometimes companies do not realize that there Human Resources Departments represent them not so well and maybe it is not the right job or place for you. It is better to keep looking then get in and have to look for another job right away. Best of Luck!