Job seekers always seem to assume that the process works perfectly and smoothly on the employer’s side. But, speaking as someone who has been on the “other side” of the process, that assumption is often totally wrong. The reason for a long post-interview waiting period has little to do with you. Or it could have everything to do with you.
Without intending, the employer’s plans for the timing of the next step in the hiring process are almost always too optimistic. Many things can disrupt the schedule, particularly in large organizations.
Here’s are just some the reasons an employer takes so long to respond.
At the start of the process…
Someone Necessary to the Process is Missing
Hiring someone usually involves more than one person, and someone necessary to the process might be missing — out of the office (vacation, illness, death in the family, business travel, fired or quit, etc.) or handling an emergency. Until that person is available, the process waits.
The Other Interviews are Taking More Time than Expected
Whether or not you were the first candidate interviewed, you may be in for some long post-interview waiting. Recruiters schedule and re-schedule interviews with other candidates as necessary people become available and unavailable (see #1).
They Are Getting Ready for the Next Round
Then, they may be scheduling a second (or third or fourth) round of interviews for the people who did well in the early round(s), after they determine who made it to the next round. And, figuring out who gets invited back is often a very complicated process involving meetings, discussions, email, and more meetings and discussions.
After a round (or two) of interviews…
If you’ve been through one or more rounds of interviews and are still waiting to hear, other things can prolonged post-interview waiting:
They are Working Their Process
They are checking references and running background checks on all the finalists, and waiting for results before they make their decision.
Someone is Missing… Again
Again, someone critical to the process may be unavailable, and nothing goes forward until they rejoin the process.
They Are Restructuring the Job
Someone is holding out for the “perfect candidate” (who didn’t apply). They may be discussing re-posting the job or re-structuring it to fit the best candidate they have.
When it is finally time to make an offer…
They told you the interview process is complete — all drug tests, background checks, and everything else is done, and a decision will be made by last week (or even last month). But, you may still be looking at more post-interview waiting because:
More Missing Decision-Makers, Higher Up the Chain
Yet again, someone important in the decision-making may be out of the office or unavailable for some reason. The right people need to approve new hires, often in very specific order up the organization’s management chain, and decisions wait until the appropriate approval is received so the paperwork can passed on up to the next level.
Business has Changed Unexpectedly
Perhaps budgets are being juggled because of an unexpected drop in business and/or profits, and they won’t contact anyone until they know they can afford to fill the job. Maybe, the job will be changed to something that will be cheaper to fill.
Or, perhaps, business has improved, and them may be able to make multiple offers. Or, possibly, they are considering restructuring the job to a higher level now that they can afford it.
Definitely Restructuring that Job. Probably… Maybe…
Again, they haven’t found the perfect candidate or there’s been a change in profits, so they are reconsidering the structure of the job. It may end up a perfect fit for you, or not. They won’t know until they finish making the changes, and, of course, you won’t know until after they do.
Maybe they will decide, in the end, that it’s too time-consuming and expensive to re-post and go through the whole interviewing process again, so they’ll go with the best candidate they’ve got. Which could be you, IF you are still available (don’t wait, though!).
Waiting for a Decision from Candidate #1. You Are Candidate #2
They could have offered the job to someone else and are waiting for that person to accept (or not). Or are in the process of negotiating the job offer with the person. It isn’t over until the person starts the job (sometimes not then, either). If that person doesn’t accept the job — or doesn’t stay very long — you might well be next in line for the job! Or, you may be completely out of the running, and they don’t have the manners to contact you.
Try not to assume the worst — or the best — until you know for sure, or until several months of post-interview waiting have passed with no word and no responses to your efforts to get an answer from them.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Work Coach Cafe.
About the Author: Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps . She is also a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Susan has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.