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Sunday, March 7, 2010

HR missed our scheduled phone interview and didn't respond to follow-up

A reader writes:

About two weeks ago, I received an email to schedule a phone interview with a large firm on the West Coast (they also have a branch on the East Coast, where I am located). This interview was supposed to happen a week ago on Friday. When our scheduled time arrived, I waited patiently for a call. I continued waiting patiently for ten minutes, after which I called to leave a voicemail. I had no response at all that day, so I sent off an email late Monday asking to reschedule. The HR contact had an autoreply saying that the person was away and that should there be an urgent message, to call him on his cell phone (number included).

Is this type of behavior normal? Should I expect any kind of closure from this quasi-interview?

Judging from my mail, it's more normal than it should be. It's obviously incredibly rude and inconsiderate, and it indicates that the employer is disorganized too.

You did the right thing by calling when they didn't call at the scheduled time, and then by following up in email. I would follow up a couple of more times reiterating your interest in rescheduling. However, brace yourself from not hearing back from them, as may happen if they are rude, which we already know they are, and have spoken with enough other candidates that they're now done with phone interviews. And for that matter, be braced for them calling you again two weeks later after you've already written them off. Because what you know about these people for sure is that they are going to be sloppy and unprofessional in the way they handle the hiring process.

Now, does that indicate that you shouldn't pursue a job with them if they do get back in touch? I'd love to say yes, but the reality is that job-seekers don't always have that luxury. It's also true that it's possible that this one person's incompetence isn't representative of the rest of the company. I wrote a couple of months ago about some options for handling this; you can read it here. Good luck!


Deirdre said...

I realize that the majority of employers are probably rude but I would just like to suggest that perhaps something awful happened to the person who had scheduled the interview. It could also be possible that the person is no longer with the company.

I have over time had people not show up for interviews. I always call - and preface it with a 'concern' for the candidate. There have been times when candidates have been in car accidents or had a death in the family.

If you know anyone else in the company, or if there are other people in HR, it might be worth an email.

Unemployed Gal said...

“It's also true that it's possible that this one person's incompetence isn't representative of the rest of the company.”

It is possible that everyone else at the company is a top performer. However, a manager that permits the incompetent behavior of a single employee is a bad manager, and probably incompetent himself. If the company culture is complacent about performance, it’s only a matter of time before the good employees start slacking off too.

The OP’s best case for this company is that they finally fired that HR moron, and that’s why the OP never heard back.

However, competent departments have back up plans in case an employee has an accident/funeral/termination. Even if it’s just a secretary sending a mass email the next day apologizing for the inconvenience.

That’s two strikes against the company by my count. I wonder if they’ll go for three and lose the OP’s application, too.

NoCallBack said...

Thanks, AAM! You confirmed what I had been pondering for a while. The posts you linked to were also very helpful. I will definitely try to uphold a level of assertiveness that is both respectful and mindful of the other person.

@Deirdre - That was also something I considered as well. I also find it particularly difficult to express my concern as I am not sure what is going on/has happened -- I sincerely hope that he has not encountered any unforeseen difficulties should that be the case.

That said--would either of you think it is appropriate to reach out via a contact made at a job fair indicating concern for said recruiter?

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I hope too that it wasn't something as stupid as a time zone misconnect. I've worked with people on both coasts (and between) and sometimes there is a mix up on exactly when the meeting is to take place. Worse - some places don't go on daylight saving time, so depending on the time of year their time zone could be the same as yours, or one hour off.

A competent HR person should know this, but mistakes can happen. In this case, with an out of office autoreply, something strange is going on.

I work for a great company BTW, but our HR department has been pretty lame in the past. I consider it to be the weakest part of the company. Unfortunately, we've lost some great people because of them. Fortunately, upper management finally noticed and is fixing it.

Deirdre said...

OP, I would definitely reach out to any contact you have at the company. Did you try the HR person's cell phone that was listed in the bounce?

Even with the strikes, I think it's worth trying to reach someone. It can't hurt. If you get answers, then you can decide if the job/company is worth pursuing.

TheLabRat said...

Since you've gotten good advice from everyone else, I'd just like to say, again, how much I hate phone interviews. I've never had one call at the scheduled time, of the 30 or so I've had scheduled over the years. My favorites are the ones that inform you via email that you should remain home for two days in the event they call for a phone interview (and that not doing so was immediate grounds for disqualification). Several departments of the State of California (Sacramento branches) pulled this when I was applying for administrative positions.

Seriously, there are not words for how much I have come to hate the idea of the phone interview. Which is too bad; reading how AAM describes the process, it sounds like a good idea that I've just seen executed poorly to redundancy.

Kate Hutchinson said...

I'm so glad I read this post... Just today I had a phone interview scheduled for 11:30. I didn't get a call, so I called the number (after ten mins) I was given by the scheduler, got voicemail. I combined some of your advice with comments, and left a message. I left my number and name, the name of the person who was supposed to call, apologized if it was my error in not calling them (although the email said they would call me), and also added I hope there wasn't an emergency on your end, I'd be happy to reschedule. We'll see how it goes!