A reader writes:
I wondered if perhaps you could shed some light on a situation that I've just encountered for the second time since I got laid off last October.
I received a call late Tuesday afternoon and was not somewhere that it was convenient for me to take a professional phone call. The caller left a message that she was from company X, had received my resume for position Y, and wanted to schedule an interview with me. I returned the call first thing Wednesday morning (I wasn't in a good spot to return the call until very late Tuesday evening), and was sent to the woman's voicemail, where I left a message saying who I was, that I was returning her call, expressing interest in the position, and how to get in touch with me. I tried again Wednesday afternoon with the same result.
Thursday I did a little more research and discovered that the person I was trying to reach is actually the HR person (among other things), and the poor person who kept having to put me through to her voicemail is the secretary. I still hadn't heard back by Thursday afternoon, so I called again. I got the secretary (big surprise) who told me she was on the phone and I could leave a voicemail. I explained the situation to the secretary, emphasizing that the other person had called me first to set up the interview, and the secretary apologized but said there really wasn't anything she could do but put me through to voicemail, so I left yet another message. Now it's Monday evening, and I still haven't heard back from the woman. I'm probably going to try one more time tomorrow, but then I'm just going to write the whole thing off.
I just don't understand why someone would do this...even if there's something in the voicemail I left that made her decide she wasn't interested she could at least send me an email. Even if she's not comfortable telling me whatever pushed the wrong buttons with her, just tell me the position's filled, or put on hold, or whatever. I guess my question is, how often and how many times should I try to get in touch to schedule this interview? Also, do you think it would be worth it to try to circumvent the HR person and email the head of Marketing directly (the position is in the Marketing department)?
Thanks for any light you can shed, and even if you can't, I still love your blog.
Here's what I suspect is happening: The HR person has way more qualified candidates than she can interview, and lots of demands on her time. So she's interested in you, but when she doesn't reach you immediately, she's moving on to calling other candidates, and once she reaches enough good candidates, she stops. And probably moves on to the other positions she has to fill or whatever other work is on her plate.
I'm in a similar situation right now myself: I'm being inundated by really great candidates. It's like nothing I've ever seen before, and it's clearly a reflection of the current job market. I have a limited number of interview slots, and once I've filled those slots, more good candidates keep coming in. I'd love to talk to all of them, but the reality is that there are only so many hours in the day and a ton of other demands on my time. So there are good candidates who I'm not even able to speak with, just because my time is already booked up with other good candidates. This makes me nervous because I don't want to miss out on great candidates who might be even better than the other great candidates. But I'm in triage mode.
Of course, I'm emailing them all and not leaving them hanging -- and it's really rude to not get back to you once they've already reached out to you -- but I'm pretty sure this is what's happening to you. You were clearly a strong enough candidate to get their interest -- but there's this constant ocean of strong candidates streaming by, and the reality is that their goal is just to get the position filled with someone great, not to give everyone a full and fair hearing.
So what can you do about this? Well, silly as it sounds, do whatever you can to take the calls when you get them -- don't put it off for later, given that this is going on. You could also email the hiring manager directly, but there's a good chance that the HR person is just going to tell her that they're up to their ears in good candidates as it is. (But doing so shouldn't hurt you, so you might as well give it a shot.)
Any ideas from anyone else?