You’re the perfect match for this job. The description looks like it was written based on your resume. You nailed the phone screening and knocked the in-person interview out of the park…not once, but twice! You’ve jumped through every hoop they’ve thrown your way and yet, still no offer. You may ask yourself, “why are employers taking so long to hire me?”
What gives? It seems employers are taking longer than ever to make hiring decisions. Why are they so slow to act and what can you do to speed up the process?
Job search is notoriously frustrating. Employers are slow and uncommunicative. Circumstances behind the scenes change rapidly and job candidates are rarely informed. It’s simply the nature of the beast.
If you’re struggling with time delays in the hiring process, here are some things to remember:
- Assume you didn’t get the job
No matter what, always assume you didn’t get the job. Never put your job search on pause because you think you’re about to get an offer. Never decline one opportunity because another is just about to land. You can always use an offer on the table as a way to speed up the process with another company; but don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched. Until you sign on the dotted line, anything can happen.
- You probably won’t ever know WHY
The hiring process can be delayed for hundreds of reasons—most of which are valid business concerns that must be addressed. For example, perhaps the prospective employer needs to approve budgets or refine the job description or complete a reorganization of personnel before a final decision is made. You could argue that they should wait until everything is buttoned up before starting the hiring process, but that’s just not the way it happens much of the time.
The key point to remember is this: Employers aren’t usually stringing people along because they enjoy it. Whatever is causing the delay, you probably won’t be privy to that information, but it’s likely a purposeful decision—not simply a tactic to annoy you. It’s not fair to the candidates, but the entire process heavily favors the employer’s needs over the job seeker’s. Again, that’s just the nature of it.
- Limit the hoops you jump through
As a job seeker, you may be asked to do quite a bit in the hiring process: participate in multiple interviews or complete a sample work project, for instance. It’s always your choice whether or not you’re going to devote your time and energy to complete the requirements.
As a career advisor, I generally ask candidates to decline performing free work for prospective employers and, if it’s requested, let them know you will have to charge a consulting fee. If they want samples, they can easily request to see something you’ve worked on previously or inquire with your references about past performance. Asking a job seeker to do free work is taking advantage of the situation and no upstanding organization should engage in this practice.
Likewise, asking a job seeker to engage in multiple interviews is a major imposition as it usually requires getting time off from your current job. If a prospective employer asks you to do more than 3 in-person interviews, think long and hard about what this is telling you. Don’t be afraid to ask directly how many more will be required. I’ve seen too many job seekers who re-arrange their lives to attend 5, 10, even 15 interviews only to ultimately be rejected or ghosted by the company. If you choose to jump through these hoops, recognize that it doesn’t guarantee an offer. Additionally, the company is clearly telling you it doesn’t respect job seekers, so take that into consideration as well.
- Get your questions answered
If a prospective employer is asking you to take an extraordinary number of steps in the hiring process (i.e. attend more interviews, do more work, etc.), but they have yet to answer some basic questions about the job, consider that a red flag.
It’s perfectly acceptable to say something like this: “I’d love to take this next step in the process, but before I do, I want to make sure we’re on the same page about a few things.”
Then, pose your questions directly. Any legitimate company should be able to give you straight-forward answers. Even if you’re concern is related to salary, you should be able to get a reasonable range. If your questions are not answered satisfactorily, your time and energy may be better spent elsewhere.
- Estimates are not guaranteed
Remember that any time estimates offered during the hiring process are just that—estimates. In truth, they mean little because anything can happen. The prospective employer may extend offers to 5 different people, all of whom reject them, before they call you. The time estimate might have been pretty accurate for the first person, but for you, it’s totally off. You would never know this was the case though!
That’s just one scenario; hundreds of other things could cause delays as well. The interviewer can’t predict exactly what will happen. They are being generous giving you any time expectation at all. Don’t take it too seriously, and remember to always keep your job search moving.
Sadly, the hiring process is rarely an efficient one. But it’s a necessary evil. In my opinion, nothing has changed or slowed down in the recent past. You’ll still find some employers who move faster than others. It’s your job, as a candidate, to play an active role in the process and decide what you’re willing to do.