A reader writes:
I interviewed with a company about a month ago, and I'm not sure what the deal is with these people.
I had an in-house interview on February 5th, and they initially told me it'd be a week or two before they made a decision. Everything seemed to have gone well and I felt like I had a good rapport with everyone. Two weeks later, I get a phone call from their HR rep and she tells me that they're still considering me but that it will take another week or two. That was a Friday.
The subsequent Monday, I get a form letter rejection. I sent a nice email to everyone I spoke with thanking them for their time and asking if they had any advice. One of my interviewers responded right away saying there was some glitch in the automated system and I'm still being considered. About an hour later, I got a call from their HR rep and she said that they filled the position I interviewed for and that it was a really close call. However, the team wants me to apply for a job that will be open early this week.
I know it's still "early this week" but I haven't heard from anyone, and I'm starting to get a little paranoid here that I'm just being jerked around. This company isn't known for swift hiring. In fact, one of my friends who works there in another division said it took him 8 months to go from "interview" to "hired."
My question is how much should I be calling/emailing these people? I don't want to be a pest, but I want to stay on their radar. Everything else about the position and the company is awesome--it's this stage of the interview process that is driving me nuts.
Okay, this is a good illustration of a principle that I wish more people would follow: If something is weird or contradictory, speak up. Speak up nicely, but say something.
You're getting rejected (twice!) by an HR rep while the interviewer is telling you that you're still in the running. We need to find out what's up, because they don't seem to be on the same page.
Why not say to the interviewer, "Thanks so much for telling me I'm still in the running - I'm really glad to hear it. But about an hour after you told me that, I got a second contact from HR, reiterating that I'm not being considered for that position any longer (and that it's been filled). I don't mean to cause confusion, but I'm not entirely sure where things stand."
Now, it's entirely possible that the HR rep is right, and word just hasn't made its way to the interviewer yet. But it's also perfectly feasible that the HR rep is an incompetent. Don't assume either way -- just politely point out the discrepancy and wait for them to resolve it and give you a clearer answer.
So, to your question: How much can you follow up? Well, first you want to wait for the timeline they gave you to play out. They said you'd hear from them "early this week," and it's Monday. I'd give them at least until Wednesday, and follow up on Thursday if you haven't heard anything. As a general rule, don't follow up before the timeline has expired.
Also, on the subject of whether or not they're jerking you around: I propose that it doesn't matter. You should continue an active job search, regardless, and don't count on anything from these people until you have a firm offer in hand. (That's always true, but it's especially true when you feel like you're not getting clear and reliable signals.)
By the way, eight months to hire? I'm skeptical about this place. In general, you want to work somewhere that can make decisions.