A reader writes:
I’m a consultant and I have been looking to join a larger consultancy. In hunting around, I found one... on its face, the organization seems to be perfect. My personal philosophy meshes well with their stated philosophy, etc.
I sent off an unsolicited e-mail, asking if they needed someone like me. Their CEO responded in 3 days. Over the course of the next two days, I talked extensively with the first interviewer. By day 7, I’d spoken with him at length and he passed me onto another interviewer.
Three days later (day 10), the second interviewer got in touch... We went on to speak that day. They also asked me to fill out two “team” psychological/personality inventories. I completed them that afternoon.
Five days after that (day 15), the first interviewer e-mailed to say that he wanted me to talk with two others on their team and to scheduled the next interview. Three days later (day 18), that interview was scheduled for the following afternoon.
Day 19 was interview three. It also went well. I didn’t want another long delay, so I e-mailed the first interviewer to tell him things went well. Four days later (day 23) I got a response saying that that was great... and that I now needed to talk with interviewer four.
At this point (day 24), I e-mailed the CEO again, as he had asked me to keep him abreast of how things were progressing. I told him that this was a gauntlet interview process. He e-mailed back to say that I’d not seen anything yet... that interviewer four was killer.
Interview four happened on day 28... and I received an e-mail on day 29 responding to my latest thank you with notice that they were going to start checking references.
On day 35, I sent a note to interviewer four, making sure that things were progressing well and that they were getting the info they needed from my references (I knew that they’d been talking with my references as I was getting feedback from the references after each call).
Nine days later (day 44), I finally talk with the CEO. He is interested.... but now wants to hire me as a consultant for the first few months to “try before he buys” me as a full-time employee. I tentatively agree, stating that I’m really on the market for full time work... but that as long as we were moving forward towards full time employment, I would be happy to work for him.
He seemed pleased and told me that he’d have someone on his staff get me a contracting agreement via e-mail to get us going.
One day later (day 45), and I received an e-mail from that staffer asking for my contact details to fill in on the template agreement. I responded almost immediately. I didn’t get anything back by the end of that day, so I e-mailed to make sure he received my info. On day 46, he wrote to say that he’d been having e-mail difficulties... that he now had my info (I had to resend) and that he’d be preparing the agreement.
It’s now 5 days after that (day 50) and I’ve not yet received the document.
Quite frankly, at this point, I’m more than a little frustrated. I obviously have continued to look for employment (thank god I didn’t stop when I had the first great conversation almost 2 months ago)... but this seems a little excessive. I don’t want to get snippy and send off an e-mail I might later regret. I’m looking for an outsider’s perspective on timing and pacing to know whether I’m being unreasonable in thinking that they’re REALLLLLLLLLLY slow.
I have a couple of thoughts and none of them are all that conclusive:
1. On one hand, they're not being all that slow in terms of response time. You got an initial response to your resume in three days and an extensive first interview within one week.
2. On the other hand, they appear to have 72 steps to their interviewing process. I'm actually all for being thorough, but I do think that when you have an extensive process like this, you should tell the candidate what the process will be at the start. You shouldn't have been left in the dark on that.
3. The "try before you buy" thing irks me for the same reason. This should have come up earlier. I might consider asking them, "Is this typical or is there something about my candidacy that has you less certain than usual?" The answer might be interesting.
4. All that aside though, the only thing that really bothers me about the timeline itself is what has happened at the end -- the delay in getting you the contract. I would contact them and ask for an ETA and explain that if you're going to accept the position, you need to begin wrapping up other commitments, and imply that you're not able to stop your job search until that contract is signed.
There could be a perfectly innocent explanation -- the guy preparing the contract has been out sick, swamped with other work, or whatever. But they owe you a status update, at least. If you can't get that out of them, something smells bad. But at this point, I wouldn't draw any conclusions just yet -- just keep sniffing around and remain skeptical.