I have been on 6 interviews with senior management at a highly regarded company. Although the interviews were exploratory, the hiring manager looked to me to take over and manage a good portion of the department. After the second interview with the hiring manager, he advised me that he wanted to expand the role of the position due to my extensive project management experience.

Since I worked on an industry committee in which this company was represented, I was familiar with their operation. All the interviews went quite well, and I was told that a decision would be made within two weeks. I received a voice mail from the hiring manager yesterday and he advised me that it may take a little longer to make a decision. He stated that they are still developing the position, and some other “things” came up that diverted his attention.

What do you suggest I do to bring this to closure? Thank you.

Nick’s Reply

6 interviewsYou have two choices: bring this to a head, or let it alone. My advice is to let it alone. Let’s explore the other option, then I’ll explain why I think you should leave it alone

After 6 interviews, invoke your own timeline

You can bring it to a head by calling the manager and giving him a polite ultimatum, along these lines:

“I appreciate that you have internal reasons for this taking so long. However, I have some key decisions I need to make, too, regarding my work and some new commitments. I’d like to set a deadline for us both – say, two weeks? Respectfully, if your team can’t make a decision by that point, I will need to withdraw my candidacy for the job. I want you to know how much I’ve looked forward to working with you. I know I can do this job profitably for you. I hope you can respect the other decisions I have to make in the next couple of weeks, but I hope we have the chance to work together. Feel free to call me any time.”

The risk you take is that he may say they can’t deal with the deadline, and you’ll have to walk away.


Sometimes closure is under the control of one party more than the other – in this case, the employer. When a company is ready to hire, they do it. When they hesitate, we could speculate about what’s really happening until the cows come home – we’ll never really know what’s up. So, don’t put your life and career on hold and wait by the phone. You’ve already given them 6 interviews. That ‘s way more than enough.

I’d focus on other things and leave the hiring manager alone. The ball is entirely in his court. Let him play it. He’s already told you he doesn’t quite know what this position is really all about — but you will never really know whether that’s a serious problem. You may get a job offer at some point but, depending on how long that takes, you may need “a little longer” yourself — to judge whether you want to work with these people.

There is really only one way you can take control. Get on with any other opportunities or plans you have. Pretend this one job doesn’t even exist. You’ve done everything you should. Don’t be sidelined because someone else isn’t ready to make a play.

What does it mean when an employer delays a hiring decision? Should you even care? What’s the best way to handle this kind of situation?

: :

  1. Lets say the job candidate showed that they can show profitability on day 1 after they where hired. Would the employer say “hey we want to delay a decision because we don’t know how to proceed with the hiring decision and the job description is changing.” The job candidate showed he knows the industry. Has had work experience with the operations. If they are changing the job description the job candidate should ask for another sit down. Sometimes asking for this sit down put the job candidate at showing the hiring manager they are interested and better outcome come from it. If the hiring manager and management is serious in hiring they will open up the calendars.

    • @Max: Good idea, but I think a hiring manager who’s had the candidate in for 6 interviews, said the candidate could handle lots more responsibility, and is still screwing around — this is not a manager that hires good candidates. The market for talent is very competitive. Once the manager assessed the candidate as being capable of far more than expected, he should have hired the clear potential — and figured the rest out later.

      This manager BLEW it and revealed a lack of good management skills. I’d hesitate to work for someone like that. Sometimes, a candidate learns all they need to know.

      • Totally agree, Nick. This candidate has the very marketable skills required. Others may be more motivated and cognizant of this fact without wasting everyone’s time.

  2. Six interviews + changes to the job description + delays = a company unsure about what it wants or is searching for. That spells trouble, because you as an employee can’t meet goals that are changing, undefined, or at worst not entirely agreed upon by the Powers That Be. If they don’t know what they want or cannot agree on it – and if a relatively straightforward decision like hiring just one person throws the decision-making process into such turmoil that it wastes a candidate’s valuable time with no clear direction – then other decisions at the company are likely to be just as if not more complicated.

    Run. You have a chance to dodge a bullet. What looks questionable on the outside is seldom better once you’re in.

  3. This situation and scenario are above my paygrade, but from a general point of view, I’d be very … very … cautious.

    After 6 interviews I would hope they know everything there is to know about you (including your underwear size), but do you know everything about them? Have these been FBI-style interrogations, or “Nick-endorsed” activities where you also get to know them in depth?

    The thing I wonder about, and think you should too, is why are they (apparently) making all these high-level decisions WITHOUT INVOLVING YOU? For all you know, the job they end up offering you could be radically different than the one you all started out with, and you may be offered and accept a job that is far different than the one you thought you were accepting. You wrote “He stated that they are still developing the position” and this to me, after 6 interviews, without your active involvement, is a very large red flag.

    Were it me, at this level, if they come back and make you an offer, I would request at least one more interview with the CEO, president, and your boss-to-be to make absolutely sure you and they know what the job is, what their expectations of you are, and what your expectations of them are.

    • @Chris: Agreed. If they make an offer, I’d want to meet key managers and members of the team I’d be on.

  4. This is an interesting dilemma. If you are the right candidate for the job, the company will not take long to decide. If your background and experience justify greater responsibility and compensation, the company might want to redefine the role. This is not necessarily bad, but the delay should not take more than a few weeks. Either way, it is valuable information about how the company operates.
    I suggest giving the company reasonable time to work out the details. If it takes longer than that, this company or role is probably not the right fit for you.

  5. This is another test for the applicant of this company. Do you really want to work someplace that needs 6 rounds of interviews to select someone and then can’t make a decision? About a year ago, a large company’s recruiter contacted me about a position. I interviewed with the recruiter and was then told I would have my information passed on to the hiring manager, and after that there would be 4 more rounds of interviews. I suddenly lost interest in working at this company. What is it going to be like working there if they can’t make a choice without involving a crowd of people, were my thoughts. This other 4 rounds of interviews were going to involve people in other departments that won’t work don’t directly with the position I was being considered for. Frankly, I don’t see why their input was needed. Isn’t the hiring manager alone competent enough to make a selection?

    They are simply selecting people to work in an office in a very large company. This is not a NASA space program selecting top astronauts to go to Mars where everything about them is absolutely mission critical.

    • @David: The underlying truth is that most managers absolutely suck at interviewing job candidates. Unless a manager is also a hands-on worker, that manager’s #1 job is finding, assessing and hiring people. The existence of HR has led employers off a cliff, to a place where only pretend recruiting and hiring is done.

    • @ David,

      “This is not a NASA space program selecting top astronauts to go to Mars where everything about them is absolutely mission critical.”

      Very interesting you should mention NASA since they are in the news for their astronaut application – YES, for real.

      Of course, I clearly realize the magnitude of that position’s requirements yet was pleased to see that beyond the obvious “tech” qualifications, they mentioned that “teamwork” skills was a big part of the hiring process.

      So, even “rocket science” isn’t always rocket science.

    • This story reminds me of an experience I had about 20 years ago interviewing with a small specialty semiconductor manufacturing company. I went through 4 interviews before being rejected.

      I found out later at a meeting of a networking club that this company was well known locally for doing this. I was amazed – if they spend this much time interviewing for a mid level individual contributor position, when do they actually get work done? (Or do they? Are there a million hurdles to actually accomplishing anything?) And who the heck thinks it serves a purpose to interview people that much? I mean, this wasn’t a C suite position, or even a position with people reporting to it.

      Idk. I think I was fortunate – maybe very fortunate – to be passed over.

  6. Hmmm – this reminds me a little of something that happened to me many years ago. I’d been interviewing with a couple of companies (call them Company A & Company B) for quite some time. I was unemployed at the time, so I was anxious to find a job. Finally, Company A made me an offer – but not a great offer. Nonetheless, I was prepared to accept. Before I did, I reached out to Company B to let them know. Then, very quickly, I received a (much better) offer from Company B, which I accepted. It was as though Company B waited until I had one offer, but, of course, I don’t really know. And I only stayed there for 9 months, but that was enough to get me back on my feet.

    But there was none of hemming & hawing that you seem to be getting. Still, I think Nick is spot on. Don’t wait on them; look for other opportunities.

  7. What a mess!

    Remember: It Takes Two to Tango.

    Plenty of executives are hired and on the job producing in their new position before the time need for SIX interviews.

    As Nick stated: “My advice is to let it alone” – yep!

    Not long ago, I recall withdrawing from a much “lesser” position than what the OP describes after only two interviews. The Owner/Hiring Manager of a small niche company was either clueless or was “fishing” and I wasn’t going to be the bait.

    Very simple creed to live by – Don’t waste my time since I’m not wasting yours.

    It’s sad that some people don’t have the backbone to walk away even with red lights flashing and a freight train blaring its horn.

    SIX interviews (thus far…) says it all.

  8. Nothing is more demoralizing than speculating about causes of things totally out of your control or knowledge.

    We can all put together a dozen scenarios of what could be happening but there’s not much point to that.

  9. Spoiler alert – This message will put a monkey-wrench into the decision-making. My experience with a delayed offer resulted in the best career move I could have made. I was referred to the highly regarded company right after college graduation and had aced the interviews; the job offer was imminent. Then HR asked me to call after a week. This went on for months (Yes, months of calling weekly, every call taken, and strong encouragement to call again. I was inexperienced and naive as well as curious.) Finally, the offer came. After starting, I learned a disgruntled employee had initiated a legal action against the company which had resulted in a hiring freeze. I worked there for seven years and was promoted five times from entry level to management. The experience and training (world-renowned) have served me well. My career path has been beyond a small-town girl’s expectations due to my decision to stay the course.

    • @Smokey: Glad that worked out for you! Thanks for sharing a counter-example. What I see here is that they took your every call and told you to keep calling. This is rare.

  10. Oh for Pete’s sake. 6 interviews and rising!
    He started with a good idea of what the job entailed, then mission creep.

    If I was the applicant’s career coach I’d tell the applicant that if he really sees potential there, to flip the process.

    The applicant now knows what the core job is, has got input on what it could be. That’s really enough.

    By flip the process I mean, Propose to the hiring manager, that he come aboard ASAP and in addition to the core job, that he will define and plan the reorg(s). Could be more than one if evolving change makes more sense than the grand unveiling of a quantum leap.

    And as part of the proposal, offer his own onboarding plan. With enough time to find the way to the restroom and enough walking around time to gain enough knowledge of the company, the organizations involved and players the applicant deems important to know and assign key roles. And of course it would include consulting with the people currently playing footsie with each other.

    They’ve reached a point beyond red flag to an embarrassing waste of their time and that of the applicant.

    If they don’t buy in to the proposal, Move on.

Leave a Reply