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Friday, November 14, 2008

interviewing at a company with lay-offs

A reader writes:

Well first off, you have a great blog, which is extremely informative and finally gives job applicants a sense of what is going on in the hiring manager's mind. Plus almost every post ends in "he/she is a jerk/ass," which always makes the reading that much more enjoyable.

I had an interview with a company on October 9th, where I met with the Hiring Manager, and a HR Manager which went very well. I was given a time-line of 2 weeks, of when would be an acceptable time to follow up, and was reassured that I would definitely hear back from them either which way. The hiring manager replied back to my thank you note, with the following "Thank you for your note and also your time yesterday regarding the position. I really enjoyed our conversation and getting to know you a little better. You will be hearing from us in the next couple of weeks regarding next steps."

After the two week period, I called up the HR Manager, who quickly returned my call and stated that I would probably hear something back either today, or the following day. I have not heard back from anyone. I ended up calling the HR manager after about another week and left VM, and I had also emailed the Hiring Manager to try to get a status update. Well, earlier this week (over a month later), the company just announced that it was laying off between 450-600 employees with an estimated 250 being white-collar. The last time I attempted to contact anyone was 10 days ago (left VM for hiring manager). I think I know what happened to the position, but would it make good sense to attempted to connect to the hiring manager and bring up the news and wish her and her department best of luck throughout the process, and then ask for a status update?

Thank you -- I'm glad my free-wheeling name-calling is going over well.

I tend to think your hunch is right. They're not hiring anymore. That's not to say that companies never hire when they're in the middle of layoffs -- some positions have to be filled no matter what, even when other areas are being cut. But in this case, I'm inclined to think you're right because both managers were so responsive early on.

That said, it doesn't hurt to be sure, and it's also a good idea to wrap things up in a professional way so that if they start hiring again at some point, you've reinforced the good impression they already have of you. I would email a note exactly like what you suggested -- with one modification: Don't ask for a status update. Instead, say something like, "I assume you're no longer hiring for the position given this difficult time, but I remain interested if you begin hiring again in the future." That gets the same point across and gives her an opening to tell you if in fact you're wrong, but it's more sensitive to the situation they're likely in.

Good luck!


Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with omitting the status update. It's always hard for a company to outright admit there are layoffs. Perhaps this hiring manager is one of the 250 being cut, and it's fair to assume the HR Manager has their hands completely full. I would write both of them an email, exactly as AAM has suggested, but don't necessarily expect a follow up, and don't contact them again after that. If they are still hiring for that position, you'll hear back immediately since you're pretty much doing a soft withdrawal.

What irks me though is that there's been no information since your last request. I'm a generalist, so I know how it can get when you're doing layoffs, but one of the first things I try to do is call candidates in my pipeline to let them know the jobs being pulled. That way, it's that much less I have to worry about.