When your job search stalls, two things stand out as big culprits: resumes and wishful thinking. Last week we discussed how your resume can hamper your job search. In this edition — Part 2 –, we’ll discuss how slowpoke employers can distract you from your goal of landing a good job.

In the March 18, 2014 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader asks what to do about employers who take forever:

fingers-crossed-2I’ve been interviewing with a company for about a month, including several phone calls and local interviews, and a flight to their HQ for five more interviews. It’s been three weeks since our last meeting. They say they are working through my references, but my references confirmed they have been contacted. All the while, the company is actively interviewing other candidates for the position I interviewed for. Am I’m being strung along until someone better shows up, or what? Also, how often should I follow up with them?

Nick’s Reply

There’s no explaining why a company takes so long — you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to figure it out. Don’t. Are you talking yourself into believing “this is a sure thing?” Don’t.

Is the employer hedging, stringing you along while it looks for a better candidate? Why worry about it?

Your question appears in a different form in Fearless Job Hunting, Book 8, Play Hardball With Employers, in the section titled “How can I push the hiring decision?” Here’s an excerpt from my advice:

This is a very common mistake when job hunting. The next act in the script is normally “the offer,” so job candidates ignore the clear signal to leave the stage. They desperately launch into their next speech — even when there’s nothing doing. I’ve seen top executives in utter denial when the employer stops the process, and they make fools of themselves trying to “get the process back on track, because I really want this job.”

Don’t try to push an employer that has told you it doesn’t want to go. Instead, move yourself toward your next opportunity. (If they call you back later, that’s great — if you’re still available.) Otherwise, you’ll waste precious time on a company that can’t make a decision. Be grateful they were honest about it. But move on. If you pester them, you’ll tick them off. (“Didn’t this person hear us? We’re not making a decision right now. We’re busy.”) Annoying puppies get kicked — no matter how enthusiastic they appear.

Reprinted from Fearless Job Hunting, Book 8, Play Hardball With Employers, “How can I push the hiring decision?” p. 14. Book 8 includes:

  • Put the manager on notice
  • Skip The Resume: Call the CEO
  • Do they owe me feedback after an interview?
  • hardballWhat’s the secret to the thank-you note?
  • Avoid Disaster: Check out the employer
  • How can I push the hiring decision?
  • Playing hardball with slowpoke employers
  • One interview stalled, one moving too fast
  • Line up your next target
  • Thanks is not enough
  • Due Diligence: Don’t take a job without it
  • Judge the manager
  • Get an answer at the end of the interview
  • PLUS: 8 How to Say It tips
  • PLUS: 4 sidebars packed with advice to give you the insider’s edge!

I’ve seen people put their job search on hopeful hold for weeks if not months, waiting for “the job I really want” to come through. When the slowpoke employer doesn’t come through with a job offer, they realize they’ve wasted precious time. Their motivation and job-hunting energy has waned. Their enthusiasm has turned to helpless depression. And it all shows as they try to revive a moribund job search.

Don’t take a rest while you wait for just one employer to “decide,” no matter how promising the situation looks!

But there’s another important reason why “moving on” is a good strategy. You might find that the employer you’ve been waiting on is just a slowpoke who finally gets back to you with an offer. If, rather than waiting, you have cultivated other opportunities, you’re suddenly in a much stronger negotiating position. With other options in play, now you have choices. Having options may empower you to negotiate a better offer — and even to avoid taking a job you don’t really want, just because there’s nothing else.

Play hardball with slowpoke employers. It’ll keep you out of trouble, and it’ll make you feel better, too. Follow up once. If an employer is being a slowpoke and hedging its bets by trying to find better candidates for a job, your best bet is always to control your job search by continuing your efforts to find more opportunities.

What’s the excuse the employer gives you for its decision delay? It may be legit, or it may be a hedge so it can find a better candidate. Who cares? How do you spend your time while waiting on a job offer?

: :


  1. A lot of employers are filling jobs because they have the budget for them, not because they really need them filled and often not because they have given much thought to what the hire might do.

    So they are not motivated to fill the position quickly, and sometimes discover in the middle of the search process that they can live without the position, shift work around, perhaps use a contractor and show greater profitability.

    I cannot tell you how many times I have seen this with clients, which makes me glad that I only have to sweat out dealing with clients, who at least are only contributing to a portion of my revenues, and therefore only taking a portion of my time and energies!

  2. Let’s say a farmer is plowing a field, and has one blade behind the tractor. Back and forth, back and forth, all day, for one field.

    Another farmer is plowing a field, and has four blades behind the tractor. This farmer will plow the same size field as the first, but in one-quarter of the time.

    Or the second farmer can spend the same amount of time as the first, but get four times as much ground plowed up.

    When looking for work, we need to be like the second farmer, cutting several furrows at the same time.

  3. This happened during my last search in 2009. I went through a series of phone and on-site interviews with 2 companies. One company made a full, written offer first, while the 2nd company continued to grind through the process. The second company called for yet another round of interviews on the day that I accepted the written offer. They seemed shocked that I had the sheer nerve to accept another offer before their next round of interviews. I wished them well.

  4. I agree with the article.

    I recently had three oppurtunites that I was pursing or that were pursuing me. It sure seemed like a slam dunk at the time. None of them worked out – I was rejected by 2 and ended up ignoring/rejecting the third.

    You need to “Always be looking” :-)

  5. Bottom line, if the company wants YOU they will make all haste in getting to you to make the offer. If they don’t, they are stringing you along. If you are working through a headhunter / recruiter do not rely on them to tell you straight as they may have several candidates submitted and want to maximize the chance of ONE of their people getting an offer so they will get the fee.

    I had the same situation, multiple interviews and visits, did not hear, and I accepted another offer a couple of weeks later. I kid you not, 3 months later the first company HR rep called and “offered” me the position. I incredulously asked them if they thought I had been waiting next to my phone all this time for their call? They responded with, “So, you don’t want the job now?” I responded with a polite refusal although I really wanted to give them the “are you kidding me?” routine. Just more evidence of how reality must not be a part of these people’s job descriptions.

  6. What you said to do is logical, if a business is dragging their feet and not telling you the truth; that they are still interviewing other prospects, why would you want to work for them? It is possible that the department you will work for and HR are not in synch, and one does not know what the other is doing. Some people might interpret this as yet another reason, why you would not want to work there. Until you know more about their corporate culture it is hard to figure that out.

    I think what someone needs to do in a situation like you are in is to pretend a friend has come to you with your problem. What would you tell them? It is hard to be objective about your own situation… but much easier if this happens to someone else. At this point in time, you need to follow Nick’s advice and move on in your job search. Wasting time having wishful thinking is not productive. You need to put this potential opportunity on the back burner, so you do not loose focus in your job search.

  7. Often these posts are good life lessons generally, not just for job hunting. This is one of them.

  8. @Jim, Hank: I’m betting the two companies that got back to you both TOO LATE also told you how cutting edge and competitive they are.

    HR says: “So you don’t want the job now?” That’s precious. “You’re canceling the fries with that?? We already put in the order!” Gimme a break.

    Think about this seriously. I certainly understand these companies want to interview multiple candidates and choose the best. But if they were truly competitive about hiring, they would protect all their positions during the process by staying in close touch with all their candidates. As a headhunter, I of course had situations where a client company interviewed a few candidates from me, and took time to decide. My job was to make sure each of them was aware of the process, where they stood, and that no decision had yet been made. Like any thoughtful employer would do, I had to keep them all “warm” because I didn’t know who would get an offer. I wasn’t stringing anyone along – I was keeping them apprised of the process and trying to keep them motivated. In a race, if one runner takes the lead, the rest don’t just stop running. Unless they totally lose their motivation.

    The question is, why wouldn’t an employer keep all candidates apprised out of self-interest?

  9. I get that sometimes employers can take their time, but it is unprofessional for them to have already contacted references. That is usually, or at least should be, the final stage in the recruitment process. If the references were not stellar, call the candidate and let them know that they are not longer in consideration. It makes no sense to keep interviewing one candidate while you are checking the references for another.

  10. Hmmm…where have I heard this same advice? Ah yes, GUY hunting! If he doesn’t call, don’t try to analyze why…just move on. In both situations I think we want to END the search so much that we hang onto a hope.

  11. On both sides of the table a good rule of thumb to guide job hunters, headhunters and inhouse HR/Recruiters is “it isn’t over until it’s over..and you’re sitting in your chair with a badge” No matter how great it looks and feels.
    As long as you’re honest about it. As an inhouse recruiter I tell candidates where the search is…still interviewing, offer pending, etc..and as a job hunter tell the people you’re interviewing, expecting an offer etc. If that’s inhibiting, disengage. And on one’s feelings will get hurt.
    I’ve recruited in house in intensely fast growth scenarios and the opposite. Even in the former situation where you’d expect managers wouldn’t screw around…you’ll find managers who make slowpokes look like greased lightening…working alongside peers who go after recruiting like pitbulls after raw meat. That’s the reason behind Nick’s advise of don’t try to figure out what’s happening. It’s a combination and permutation and composite of every managerial behavior you’ll find in an organization. Don’t waste a second waiting for the hallowed offer..keep on trucking.
    If you really feel strongly the company is great and you want to get aboard…check back in, in 3 months and let people know you really are interested in them..because things happen things change. perhaps they hired someone else..guess what it may not work out..or another job opens up…but don’t watch your phone, smart or otherwise waiting for them to call.

  12. @Hank
    “If you are working through a headhunter / recruiter do not rely on them to tell you straight as they may have several candidates submitted and want to maximize the chance of ONE of their people getting an offer so they will get the fee.”

    Or the job really sucks and they are trying to pull a fast one/place anyone as fast as they can.

    The job opp I walked away from recently was a classic bait and switch/pushy and rude salesman. I literally was getting called/emailed at least once a day by the guy. And the job eventually became a big ask.

  13. @Ellen, you are right. These are lessons for love as well.

    Unfortunately, HR gets in the way of logical hiring and is filled with choosy women who are holding out for the Prince Charming/purple squirrel.

    When companies get back to you after months of searching for mythical creatures, hum this old Sam Cooke ditty:

    “You’ve done me wrong.
    I tried to be kind….
    ’cause you told me you were mine o mine…

    But you walked out
    and left me behind…
    So there’ll be no second time!”

  14. LOL. I’ve been invited to this “dance” many times. Never took anyone up on it.

    Years ago, a F-500 company recruited me from out-of-state, paying for my plane ticket, hotel and rental car. I ran their 4-hour-long interview gauntlet, then interviewed at another company in the area (I arranged the second interview before I flew into town).

    I didn’t hear back from the first company before the second company extended me an offer (the very same day). In fact, I didn’t hear back from F-500 for several weeks. They spent a lot of money for…nothing.

    A couple of lessons:
    a) Strike while the iron is hot! If the candidate is good, make an offer, don’t dilly-dally hoping a better candidate will walk through the door.

    b) Do not ever interview via “gauntlet”. It is too taxing on the candidate, your interviewers ask the same stupid–yes, stupid–questions over and over again, and then it takes longer to get together to discuss the candidate.

    c) A sloppy interview process belies a sloppy company.

    Sadly to say, that F-500’s brand disappeared a few years later when they were bought by another company and broken up for parts.

  15. @Ellen: My (former) editor at Penguin Putnam would love your comment. When we started working on my book many years ago, Julia Serebrinsky claimed most of the job search methods and tactics I advocate are all found in the world of dating… And I agree.

    @Kimberley: You’re hinting at another problem. Employers who want references up front are lazy. It means they did not find you through careful research and trusted contacts. They need quick confirmation about who you are. That’s not recruiting. That’s being an undiscerning pig. Worse, when they contact everyone’s references early in the process, guess what happens? References get ticked off due to all the calls. It’s well worth withholding valuable references (that you don’t bothered unnecessarily) until an employer is at the offer stage with you.

  16. @Don: Great point about getting back after a few months. If the employer has rejected you, but has other openings later, they already know pretty much who you are. It’s less work for them to reactivate an old (3 months) candidate than to check out a new one. Don’t expect much from this, but don’t ignore a free pass, either.

  17. Nice article. I am exactly in this situation now. Phone interview went well and the manager led me to believe that face to face was only a formality. Arrive for the face to face only to be told that they are rethinking the position. I really didn’t know how to handle it in the moment. I smiled and continued on with the interview. (Hindsight: I should have said something about how this goes to show that these kinds of resource requirements can be changing targets depending on the corporate goals. I felt that the manager wanted me to acknowledge his predicament somehow)

    Anyways, I did my usual thank you e-mail and I am off to my next application. If they call me back and I am still available, I will pick up the thread, else I will politely decline. Either way the only time I feel I am obligated to put my job hunt on hold is when a company makes me an offer. Only at that point do I think they are serious.

  18. A rejection can be OK; if it is swift and polite, it shows that the company takes its hiring seriously and gives candidates proper feedback.

    “Sorry, but not now” can create mutual trust, and be a good brigde to talk again in the future.

    The bad things are when they do not give feedback at all, but just og radio silent, or retorts to evasive foot dragging. It could be a harbinger for how well – or bad – the company is organised in general.

  19. @Jay: You got the point. Until a company makes an offer, the ball is in their court. What so many job seekers find hard to accept is that there is no decision for the applicant to make until an offer is on the table. Until then, the smartest next step is to move on to the next opportunity. Anything else is wishful thinking.

  20. Excellent article and good posts, all.

    I dislike slowpokes and time sinks in the job hunt as much as anyone, but I do recognize that in some fields, with some employers, that is nature of how job searches are handled. Academia is notorious for being slow. If you’re looking to fill a faculty position (tenure track or non-tenure track, and even adjunct), plan on it lasting about a year or at least nine months from the writing up of the description and forming the search committee to the new hire starting his job. Some staff positions take equally long, but typically these can be filled in less time, but it is still a slow process and will take months. It isn’t just the state schools, but it can happen in the private schools too. And yet, depending upon who is backing you (the more important the people are who are backing you and your hire decision), you might be able to get your choice in faster.

    I’m not saying that quick hires don’t happen in academia–they can and they do–but they’re rare.

    As for the non-academic world, I don’t know why employers are dragging their feet. The longer the job goes unfilled, the more burnt out the other workers get, or the more behind you get on projects. Surely that isn’t a good thing for anyone.

    A couple of years after I finished college, I was looking for a new job. I’d found two, and applied for both. Both had résumé/application deadlines, and since I got mine in early, there was a waiting game–the jobs didn’t close until a posted date, and only once that date had passed did they begin to review the applicants and start calling people to schedule interviews and, in the case of one of the jobs, testing. I was called to interview at both. I was called for a second interview at one, to schedule testing at the other once I’d had my interview, and when the first one called me to ask for my references (I provided them), I heard back from her quickly (she had reached my references and was pleased with what they had to say) and had an offer. I accepted it, gave notice at my job, and moved on. I didn’t hear anything (queue the sound of birds chirping) from the other, but I had the offer and the other job, so I wasn’t concerned. It was well into the following year that I got a call from the other employer, asking me to come for a second interview, at which point I thanked them but said that I had a job, and wished them well. Both employers were town governments–the job I took with town A was in the library; the other job with city/town B was for their police dept. I don’t know why the police didn’t follow up sooner–maybe I was 2nd or 3rd or 8th on their list, and after their first choice either didn’t work out or turned them down, they went down the list of the others they’d interviewed, though I would have thought that if someone else had been hired and left, they would have posted the job vacancy again. Or maybe not.

    Sometimes a lack of an immediate response is not an indication of a lack of interest but just the process. But what I think would be most helpful would be if employers would explain this to candidates upfront–tell them that it will take at least 9 months before a decision is made. This way no one is waiting by the phone or not taking advantage of other opportunities should they come along. And if they don’t provide this information, then I think Nick’s advice is sound (as usual)–don’t wait for them. Keep looking. If you’re still interested after a length of time or unemployed or another job didn’t work out, then if there is an offer you can still take it, if you want. But I would also ask “why did this take so long?” It could be that the employer is an unorganized scatterbrain, but it could also be something else. My brother has been in a new job for two years; when he took his last job, he’d applied for the same job he now has, but had been told that they had to wait for funding and that it would be a while–turned out that he waited over four years. Then he had to wait while they wrote the job description, tailoring it so it fit him, then the job had to be posted, with deadlines, etc. And yes, this is the “state” too. When you have to rely on your funding from the governor and when there’s a recession and budget crisis, with cuts first made to education and social services, followed by lobbying to the muckety-mucks as to why the position is needed, it takes time.

  21. Nick,

    Excellent article and advice. Can’t you take a more assertive approach? After many of these situations, I tend to believe that it is always a money issue; they don’t have the budget. Companies often collect resumes and conduct interviews w/o having the money in place. I saw a University keep several teaching positions open for a year before canceling them.

    Recently, I interviewed with a company four times over a period of 3 months. The same hiring manager and HR people. I was given 3 behavior assessments. It is complete drag on the confidence. Finally, I got an answer by calling a VP who initially referred me. It was a budgeting issue and my assessments were ok.

    People want what they can’t have; so create some competition for your services. My hardball approach would be tell them (if true) that you are in your second round at their competitor. However, before I accept their invitation, I want to hear back from “slow poke”. I consider “slow poke” my first choice because…….” Be sincere in your reasons. Sent the letter after 1 month of delay to the hiring manager and VP in that department. Then call up the hiring manager 2-3 days later.

  22. Another thing to keep in mind and ask yourself: do you really want to work for a company that treats you like this before you are ever even hired? Makes you quetion what is the company like once you are hired and work there?
    The hiring process has certainly changed dramatically in today’s world, but there is no reason that employers can’t maintain respect and personalization during the process.

  23. This is very interesting. I’m actually going through the same thing right now with a large company. I had 3 rounds of interviews and met with 9 people. My last interview was last Thursday with another VP on the team. A couple of hours later, HR called and said that they received really good feedback from the team and wanted to get my references, and discuss where I was salary wise. I know that my range is a little higher for them, however I stated this from the beginning and had another discussion with them when they asked again and asked for references. I found out that they contacted and spoke with all of my references that Friday. I checked in with HR yesterday for any updates and they informed there were no updates as of yet. I’m still going and have interview lined up tomorrow, however I would not be truthful if I did not say that I am on pins and needles. This is so stressful, I would just hope that they would let me know if they decide to go in a different direction, etc. Thoughts/ Suggestions?

  24. Wanted to add- do you think its to soon to be concerned? Thank you!

  25. You’re buzzing because you’re excited. But pressing HR after just a few days is unreasonable, and appearing so anxious puts you at a disadvantage when negotiating. Find something else to work on in the meantime. The next move is theirs and there’s nothing you can do to rush it, except screw things up. Best thing to do: Get started on your next opportunity. That’s the best position to be in if/when these guys come back. Chill. :-)

  26. Thank you and that’s good to know. I only checked in with HR based on how quickly everything else was moving. I am going to chill and continue with the rest of my interviews. :)

    Just for knowledge, when would it be appropriate to check back in if I have not heard anything within the next 2-3 weeks?

  27. @Sammy: This will sound harsh, but I would not check in again. At all. Nothing you do at this point will influence them. Either they will decide they want you or not. The interviewing is done. If it’s yes, you want them to come to YOU now, not other way around. If you really want that bump in salary, you need to make them beg a bit :-). Seriously. If they want you, and you keep calling, it’s just going to lower their offer because they know how much you want it. Even if two weeks go by – don’t. At that point, I’d let it go. Hate to say it, but most deals go south. If this one is going to happen, they will tell you. The best way to retain control is to control next steps of your job search, because you can NOT control the employer. Move on and let this take its course. If it’s going to be, you’ll find out soon enough. Chasing them is likely to hurt you..

  28. @Nick- No problem and thanks again for the advice, it really is helpful. I’m going to do my best not to think about this anymore…and continuing to interview definitely helps! Lol so cliché, however what is meant to be will be. :)

  29. @Nick – I just discovered your blog and am enjoying it. A question: Around the middle of March I had a great call with the hiring manager. At the end of it we agreed we should schedule another call to continue the discussion. Eager to keep things moving forward and aware he’s extremely busy, I sent him a couple of short notes to try and get on his calendar. He responded a few days later, apologized for being out of touch and said he would contact me in early April. Should I send him a short note tomorrow night or wait to see if he contacts me? Thanks.

  30. @Adam: Since he said he’d be in touch, I’d send him a very short note. “I’m available to meet with you again, per your suggestion. When would you like to do it?” I wouldn’t be any more polite than that. This guy has not been doing what he said he’d do, so it’s up to him to demonstrate some integrity, no matter how busy he is. If you hear nothing back, or if he drops the ball again, I’d forget about him and move on to your next opportunity, because he’s wasting your time and energy. I hope he calls and schedules. Let me know.

  31. I interviewed for a position and i thought it went well about a week ago. But i havent been invited to a second interview yet. I had a long interview and the interviewer gave me their card. She told me to give them about 2 or 3 wks to make a decision and that theyd accept resumes until then. Was this a bit of a push off? It makes me feel km not a top candidate or are they playing hard to get so they can offer me on the lower end of the salary range?

  32. @Jessie: This is actually very common. No telling what it means. Only the employer knows. Your best next step is to move on to your next job target. If this one pans out, great. If not, you’re not wasting any time.

  33. I am currently employed and content with my position but was contacted 3 months by an internal recruiter of a very large competitor. It turns out that the position is amazing and fits my experience perfectly. Over the last 3 months I have had 12 interviews with key stakeholders the last being with President of the company 2 weeks ago. He ended the interview by telling me they would be putting an offer together and would be in touch soon. The recruiter called later that day and we did the “supposal”. He also told me the position has been open for a year and they have interviewed hundreds of people but the stakeholders haven’t been able to agree on a candidate. The leadership structure is very flat and this position reports to multiple people. They have all reviewed my portfolio and checked references but I had not heard anything since that day. I emailed the recruiter today to check in. He emailed back immediately and said they wanted me to come back in for more interviews with additional stakeholders. He copied the VP of HR and said they would be in contact. I’m not going to reach out again and it might have been a brush off but if it isn’t how long should I let this continue? All of the interviews are disruptive to my current position. I have asked for a timeline and haven’t been given an answer. I have been told I am currently the only candidate for the position. I know these things often fall apart but after 3 months I would just like some closure. What thoughts or advice do you have for a confused candidate?

  34. @Mollie: I think they answered your question for you. “the position has been open for a year and they have interviewed hundreds of people but the stakeholders haven’t been able to agree on a candidate”

    Clearly, nothing has changed. You could get closure quickly. Tell them you’re done interviewing. You want the job if the salary package is good. And they have 3 days to tender an offer or you respectfully withdraw.

    You could add that you’re very concerned about working for an indecisive management team, but no need to insult them. Then, all I’d worry about is actually having to work for a company like this.

    There is nothing wrong with the candidate issuing the polite but firm ultimatum. It might actually get them off the dime. But my guess is they will just move on to an applicant with lots of free time on their hands.

  35. I had an interview 3 weeks ago. I was then interviewed by the Director and then the VP by phone. It was between me and another person and I found out the other person got another job. The VP who is the decision maker told me I’d hear in 2 days. I called almost a week later and he never got back to me. I called a week later and he said ‘can I buy another week from you? I have one more interview early next week so call me at the end of the week.’

    What is THAT??? I’ve been continuing to interview but really want to send him an email now kind of putting pressure on him to make a decision.


    • @kah: Then do it. “I’d love to sell you a week, but I’m on a decision deadline myself on another good opportunity. I would consider an offer from you very favorably — but I’d need it within X days. I don’t mean to pressure you, but we’re both seasoned business people and we both know that we don’t always have the luxury of extra time. I’d love to work with you if the terms are right.”

      It’s a bit risky, but so is “selling him more time!” If you feel strongly, give a polite, friendly business ultimatum.

  36. @nick: I had a phone interview a little over 3 weeks ago with the hiring manager, which went pretty good. I did a test job which, as she said, was great, and proceeded to another phone interview regarding my salary expectations and timeline. I flew from the coast to coast for a 7 person interview which lasted 2 hours, and got a phone call in 2 days where I was offered the position.

    It is now 1 week later the job was re posted, and instead of a written offer I get an email explaining that they are having one more person interviewing, and they asked for another week to get back to me with a response.

    It sounds to me that they are stringing me along, while waiting for another candidate to accept their offer, or maybe having somebody already starting and covering their tracks. What do you think?

  37. @Dave: I think you’re probably right. They may really like you, but as their #2 candidate. They may be keeping you warm.

    But that’s not a problem; it’s just business. What IS a problem is that they offered you a job, at least orally, and then welshed. Again, a company is free to do that, but this should enter into your calculus about them.

    I tell job seekers that they can rescind a job acceptance if something better suddenly turns up, but to be ready to pay the price in reputation and/or effect on their relationships. This company must do the same, and even though stringing you along may be the best thing for them, it may not be for you. I’m not saying you should walk away – just that you proceed with open eyes. I’ve placed #2s before and it’s worked out fine. But as I said, I don’t like that they issued an oral offer and are now putting you off.

    Use your best judgment! And in any case, congrats on at least getting an oral offer.

  38. @Nick: Thanks for your reply, and advice, I appreciate it. I was frustrated, but talking about it made me feel a lot better. Thanks again!

  39. @Nick – I was (verbally) extended an offer earlier this week from a Bay Area startup. I countered bc the total comp was less then what I’m currently making (Q3 start = prorated bonus payout). Anyway, I got the feeling that they weren’t thrilled about my counter, even though my reasoning made complete sense from a comp perspective. Do you think they would/could retract my offer? Also, perhaps I’m readying into things, but I feel like they are playing hardball. Meaning the urgency wasn’t what it was before.

  40. @Nick – Ond more thing, the guy told me he would have a follow up for me today. He moved out sync twice this afternoon and then emailed me after 5:30, to tell me he was going to dinner and wants to talk this weekend if I’m available.

  41. @Nick: I applied for this great position with a company back at my home town. On the 23/09/15 I had a telephone interview which went great, then on the 29/09/11 I had a face to face interview with the hiring manager which I believe also went well and only lasted for about 15 minutes as she told me she wanted to see me. On the same day I also did a background check and a psychometric assessment; which after the assessment, the psychologist told me I can contact him on the 10/11/15 to get feedback on my assessment. On the following day, the HR personnel requested my transcripts and pay slip which I provided.

    On the 16/10/15 the HR personnel asked if they could contact my references, to which I agreed. on the 27 and 28 of October they contacted my two references. After a week (03/11/15) I sent the HR personnel an email, requesting to get information about the next possible steps of the process now that they have contacted my references, but she didn’t respond to my email.

    Following day, I then decided to send same email to hiring manager. She replied within five minutes and told me it was good to hear from me (as we only last spoke during the day of interview) and stated they were in the stage of finalizing the process and expects to get it closed out on Tuesday (10/11/15), which was the same day I was going to get my feedback from the psychologist regarding my assessment. She also told the HR personnel will be in touch shortly.

    On the 10/11/15 I received my feedback from psychologist, but haven’t heard anything from HR.

    Now my question is do I contact HR or Hiring manager again, when and what do I say cause its now been 2 days since they have closed the process (that’s if they did)?

    I really want this job, and really don’t know if I should wait for HR.

  42. Apologies about error on the date(1st paragraph), meant 29/09/15. thanks

  43. @Theodore,

    The hiring manager should know if you have the job or not. That they will not commit to this by informing you in plain English indicates they are playing you.

    Remember, no hard copy of a job offer letter in hand = no job.

    I would plan on continuing your search.

  44. @Theodore: You’re in the HR process, which can take a while, or go totally south. I don’t mean to bum you out. How much you want the job won’t affect how fast this employer moves. If you start bugging them (HR or the manager), you risk getting them offended. It’s really up to them now. I’ll tell you what I tell everyone: When you’re at this stage, where the employer is totally in control (you’ll be totally in control once they give you an offer), the ONLY control you can keep is to move on to your next opportunity and cultivate it as if you’re getting no offer.

    Please consider this: The ONLY leverage you have at this point is another opportunity. Ask yourself what happens if this deal goes south? If you have something else lined up, you’re good. If you don’t, you lose. If another deal pans out into an offer by the time this employer actually gives you an offer – then you have negotiating leverage because you’ve got two offers.

    What position do you want to be in?

    I hope you get this offer. But why risk it?

  45. @Nick, thank you for your response. I have decided that I wont follow up, but will just wait, if they call good and if they don’t then not all is lost. At the mean time, I will just continue with my job hunting as I have been doing.

    Think I have put so much energy, emotions and thought into this particular job cause its the first potential opportunity that would have seen me go back to my home town as I am only looking for a job back at my home town.

  46. @Theodore: I know it’s a very emotional experience and that makes it difficult. The whole thing might work out fine – employers just move very slowly sometimes. My concern is making sure you’re not left hanging. That’s why I suggest making sure you have other options. I wish you the best.

  47. Nothing new about foot dragging. I had a coworker tell me around 1986 how he got a job offer via snail mail 8 months after he had interviewed. Of course back then that was quite odd. Less than ten years later I encountered the emerging style of companies interviewing, nothing for 3 months, rerun ad, nothing for 3 months, rerun ad nauseum. Not sure the positions ever got filled. Difference being this has gone from unusual to pretty common.

    As for that company interviewing “hundreds of candidates” and still can’t decide, what better proof of what Nick has been saying for years now?

    20 years ago I began having difficulty getting a definite yes or no after an interview, or any answer. Nothing is the norm now if you aren’t the winning candidate. I’m surprised when I do get feedback. So long ago I implicitly adopted Nick’s advice, assume nothing and move on. Only follow up if I have alternative offer, and still interested in the other.

    I’m just old enough to remember when snail mail resumes were routinely acknowledged, and an interviewee always got an answer, often unsolicited. Taking months to fill a position was unheard of. How things have changed.

  48. Once an offer is on the table, is it ever ok to ask why the process took so long? I am curious, if it’s just lack of agility it would change how I feel about the company. And if yes how can you ask tactfully?

    • That’s a tough one — I’m not sure I’d take the chance if you want the job. On the other hand, it’s a legit question, and if you think the answer would materially affect your experience on the job, then you should ask it. “May I ask a question about your hiring decision process?” If they say yes: “How long does your hiring process normally take?” Then, if appropriate, “Was the time my hire took unusually long? Why?”

      You’ll learn a lot about the employer. But keep in mind, some won’t take kindly to these questions. But as I said, this tells you a lot. The question is, are the answers important enough to risk the job or how they view you? (That’s not a loaded question. Personally, I’d ask and damn the torpedoes. I like to know the truth.)

  49. Hi… Need some advice. I interviewed for an instructor position. The interview went well, I followed up with a note, and they followed up saying I was a finalist and that they were working on funding, and if I didn’t hear from them, it was because they were still working out the funding issues. The last contact I’ve had was early June. It is now near the end of July, and the position is to begin mid August. I have not contacted them at all based on what they told me. But everyone around me is telling me to email them and ask where they are in the process. I’ve been out of the work force for a long time, and am unsure of what to do. Thanks!

  50. I interviewed face to face with the Hiring Manager about a month and a half ago after I was approached via email by the Manager that followed by a phone call. HR called the following 2 weeks after first interview . Hiring Manager then decided to have HR called my references before he makes final decision (per Manager) and all went fine HR called all my references. Now I was told by HR that she would call me WITH the next steps (I thought it would be an offer or background check) but instead, another face to face interview of another Manager (within the group) that will take place for another a week and a half. Now I was so anxious about the call that turned out to be another face to face interview after they already called my reference, my question now is, are they stringing me along? btw, I am interviewing also with 2 different companies.

  51. I was contacted by a company that saw my resume on Indeed. I did a phone interview with the hiring manager and then a face to face interview with him, then did a Skype interview with his boss. It is a perfect job for me in every way. He emailed me a conditional offer and I accepted. The condition is a background check, which includes a credit check. I had a bankruptcy and other bad credit when I went through a divorce in 2011. He asked if there was anything on my background and I told him about BK. After reviewing my credit I found I have been victim of identity theft when I saw charges with an address I have never lived at and filed a police report and disputed them with credit bureaus. My main concern is since sending him an email notifying him of this I have had no response in 14 days.

    Would there be a policy in place not allowing Hiring Managers to contact potential new hire while the background check is taking place. How long would the background check take on average through third party Sterling Infosystems? Does the background check co report show a pass or fail or does he decide that?

    Also, I did not include a job on my resume that was irrelevant to my position. If he asks about it, I would have a good reference from the owner. Since I did not put this 4 year part-time job on my resume does that look bad? The job ended in 2013.

    • @Kay: You have multiple problems. I’d start with the identity theft. I’d call the employer and explain what you just told me — immediately. I’d also send them a short letter that says the same, just so there’s something on the record. I’d ask them what evidence they need that what they will find on your credit record is incorrect.

      I have no idea what a particular company’s policies are, so don’t concern yourself with that. Just do what you can do to help the company get the correct information about you.

      More important, whatever happens with this job, get to work fixing your identity problem before it hurts you again. You may need to talk with a lawyer for help — I don’t give legal advice.

      I wish you the best.

  52. Hi, I interviewed with a large company and found out later per the recruiter that they loved me and I was thrilled and accepted the position! The on boarding process took at least a week, due to my college closing in 2015. I sent over the Diploma and credits, etc. I found out last week that my “manager” was taking off Friday and my “trainer” was going on vacation, so I laughed and said, “sure why not!”. Anyway, I thought I was finally going to start my new job on Monday, June 26th & the recruiter said good news and bad news. Honestly, what could it be now? She said the company is still “interested” in me, but wants to wait until July 5th for a start date! I said that will be almost 30 days from the initial interview! I was getting upset at this point, but felt bad as the recruiter was doing her best and she was the “middle” man so to speak. I am beginning to feel like they are stringing me along and have applied for a job at another company today. I could use some advise. I am still interested in working for this company, but the doubts are piling up. Can anyone advise?


  53. @Laura Dvoran,

    Until you have a written offer letter in hand that states your title, your salary and your start date, and you have sent a written reply of acceptance, no matter what anyone says, promises, emails or otherwise communicates to you, you are simply being led on. You DO NOT have a job until these things occur.

    Therefore, never stop your job search efforts until you have the offer letter in hand.

    Now if you DID get an offer letter and they are now moving up the start date, that would be unusual but not unheard of. It would be your option to then agree or accept another offer in the interim.

  54. I had this major federal contracting technology services company strung me along for 3 years I kid you not. I was initially contacted by this company lets called it “R” recruiter for a senior position on a contract that they supposedly recently won. I was interviewed and was offered the position on contingency to them actually get their work orders from the customer (a.k.a the Agency). All paper works were signed and submitted. The only thing left was waiting for the HR to contact me with a start date and date of Orientation. provided that they did say that the work order for the position won’t start for another 60 days and asked if i was ok with that. I concurred. That was literally 3 years ago. During the 3 years period, I’ve sporadically received calls from this company’s recruiter, let’s call him “BG”. Twice a year, BG called to let me know their losing competitor has protested them on this contract, hence, hence no work order begins. Asked if I could hang on a bit longer. Another year passed, cricket silence. Year two, BG called once again letting me know vaguely that position’s requisition has changed and so asked me to go to the company’s website and reapply/resubmitted going through the whole application process again. Sure not a problem, meanwhile due to the continuous delay of this ordeal I was afraid my clearance would expired if not actively brief onto a contract. Once again, cricket silence from BG of company R again for another year. By now I’ve taken on a temp contract so that I may still keep my clearance active. So after all these times, BG left me a ver vagued voice message stating “about the contract we got the contract are you still interested?”, which, was the exact same message he left on my phone in the past 2 years and age I do call back it always turned out to be something along the line of “oh things or kinda sorta moving along but no work to bring you in YET”. After years, I completely lose hope and have no faith in this company nor its work ethics. Their messages are clearly intentional misleading and I completely felt I’ve been strung along. I’ve lost respect for this company, their business demeanor is very unprofessional and I no longer ever interest in working for them nor ever refering anyone to this company. I’ve wasted a lot of my time and they are still stringing me along after 3 years !!! I don’t have deleted and blocked the recruiter’s number and do not intend to response to anymore of his call, it never comes to fruition.

    • @UnethicalRecruitmentPractice – so surprise to have come across your post regarding your experiences with “R” company recruitment practice and the same recruiter guy “BG”, same contract. I too had experienced with them. Same exact experience as you described. It was ridiculously insane, but because I had always thought highly of this company and so much interested to work for the company, I hung on and finally reached out to one of “R” internal colleague whom I had previously worked with to check from within and pull some string. Finally, after 3 plus years from when “R” initially made me the offer, “BG” once again reach out and asssigned me a start/orientation date. You would think the nightmare ended there, but no, for the year and half I was on the Program, disappointments followed by horrid disbelief in the way “R” conducting business on the Program. Being a tax payer myself and one who take pride in my skill set and care about the customer’s mission and public safety, there is no justification why “R” was quality to take on this contract. Top down, complete mismanagement and chaotic. Talents walk out the door just as quickly as they were hired, most who stayed are extremely incompetent and lazy straight up, nothing but dead weights for the Program. Heavy office politics, incompetence management and HR and neither care enough to take actions. Lack of accountabilities all around. There was this one self inflicted egotistical HR manager “KL” was a real jack*ss, nasty, biased attitude and playing favoritisms, making threats toward different groups of folks on the Program, but he apparently like many of his kind, are implicitly protected so no matter how many folks file complaints and or brought to HR’s attention, nothing been done. A tenure HR as well as few of the highly regarded executive/director level females leadership quit on the spot, and too many hard working, skilled employees quited. Then the Program was desperate to fill the empty slots, so the continued to hired and brought in more “bodies”, lack of skills nor the motivation to be productive, and apparently many Indians whom no clearance at all, co-mingled with those who holding high clearance, on a floor space that sensitive info can easily be accessed. Folks fake illnesses (a pretend arm cast) decided when to show up at the office and even without officially management approval decided to “work from home”, if you call doing nothing productive, but claimed to have worked those hours. The entires development data team “stooges” is completely useless, incompetence, and unethically charging hours on works they didn’t actually performed, they need baby sitters to be brought in to do the work for them turned around and take the credits so much dishonest and management had the audacity to protect them from being found out (even after so many folks have filed complaints) by continued bringing in new people to carry the load for these freeloaders/deadwoods. HR must have recognized the potential troubles so quit in a hurry. Policies are in place but did not have to comply. People gets hired into team lead and management positions because they are “friends” of Program manager and or they have special “connections”, not based on competency or qualifications. Most days Management folks are no where to be found. Scrum masters and middle managers and system engineers who either contributed very little or BS and “bluffed” their way. Chief Engineer taking credits for people’s ideas, Production Lead is long time friend of PM bluffed about his qualifications, when you see that the customers actually worked harder then the Lead you know something is very wrong.
      Like many of the colleagues who left, I was in constant disbelief how “R” mismanagement this supposedly very important Program with so much unethical behaviors and so lack of accountability. Total lack of leaderships. On a more disgusting note, a women couldn’t hold her diarrhea and smeared all over the bathroom as hallway bathroom, took weeks and the awful poopy smell still lingered. People don’t flush toilets, filth and stinks in shared areas and main hallway. So many uncleared (at the level originally required) So many Indians got hired followed by all (provided) missing kitchen plastics silverware, coffee and teas always empty, sugars, snacks always gone and a messy dirty stinky kitchen/refrigerator/ice maker so dirty.
      The constant overwhelming smell of microwaved burned curry was beyond disbelief. EVERY DAY! Needless to say I will never recommend talented people to work for this company. I walked away from this experience learned never to judge a book by its cover. Just because a company has a big name and supposedly prestige, doesn’t mean it operates efficiently, ethically or well managed by highly quality people in its entirety. Sometimes you find yourself working for very stupid dishonest people who cares nothing but getting better at being deadwoods collecting their steady paychecks and wait to collect retirements and full benefits, blaming the customers for their own failures. Ludicrous. This Program will just another waste of tax payers money they will fail just like the previous company and will continued to kick that can down the road when the money ran out.