The Waiting Game: When it's Time to Break Up With a Job Opportunity
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We’ve all been there. You interview for your dream job—two, maybe three times. You nail it each round, you send A+ thank-you emails—and then you wait. A week (or two) goes by in between each interview. No word. You follow up. You don’t hear back. You’re left wondering what’s going on, and what, when, and how to communicate.
I myself have fallen into the trap of an unhealthy interview process (yes, even as a recruiting professional), and have since made it my mission to pinpoint to others when it might be time to consider breaking up with a job opportunity.
There can be a multitude of reasons why a company isn’t pulling the trigger on an offer or communicating with you: There’s not funding for the role, the job isn’t actually open, the hiring managers don’t know what they want, or possibly, they’re just “not that into you” and don’t know how to break the news. You may never know what the reasons are, but if you start to see any of the below signs, you may want to think about moving on.
Signs That Should Make You Go “Hmmmm”
They Constantly Re-schedule Your Interviews
If you have one, maybe two interviews rescheduled (through an entire interview process), that’s not necessarily uncommon. But if the company is constantly emailing you to reschedule because of this or that, it’s a big red flag. It can signal that filling the role isn’t very important to the company, or it can show a lack of respect for your time—either way, not good.
They Don’t Know When They’ll Make a Decision
If no one is telling you when the company is looking to hire for the position, this is questionable behavior. If the role is important and they’re really looking to fill it soon, someone will tell you about the timeline for the hiring decision and the start date during the interview process. If they don’t (or if they dodge the question when you ask), there’s definitely a lack of urgency on the company’s part.
You Get Hurried Up to Wait
You get asked to interview immediately, then interview again within the next few days, all the while being treated like a queen. Then suddenly—you find yourself at a standstill. What are you supposed to think? It could mean that the company is interviewing other candidates for the role, you didn’t meet all the requirements, or they’re searching for someone “better,” none of which is a good sign.
They Don’t Call When They Say They Will
If the recruiter or hiring manager doesn’t contact you when he or she’s supposed to, that shows a lack of respect for your time or candidacy. If they really want you, they will be coming after you, calling you right on time, or emailing you when they’re running late.
You Don’t Hear Back Within a Week
Has it been over a week and all you hear is radio silence? On its own, it may not be the worst thing in the world—let’s face it, people get busy. But if you’ve followed up and don’t hear anything at all, and especially if that’s combined with any of these other signs, it’s time to move on.
Tips for Taking Control
Now that I’ve mentioned some key warning signs, I want to give you some tips to keep control of the decision-making process as best you can on your end. You can’t control the hiring manager, but you can control your own actions—and these steps will make sure you have your interviewee bases covered.
Set Expectations Yourself
Before you finish that first phone call or interview, ask when the company is looking to make a decision. This way, the hiring manager is required to answer with a time frame (plus, he or she knows you’re serious about the opportunity). Ask this question after each interview, with each key decision-maker, and make sure you know where everyone stands at all times.
It’s perfectly acceptable to follow up and inquire about the status of your candidacy. After each interview, send a nice thank-you email (no hand written notes—snail mail takes too long!) within 24 hours. Then, if you haven’t heard anything when you expected to (or within a week), pick up the phone or fire off an email. People are overloaded, and things do fall through the cracks. Don’t be afraid to reach out. It doesn’t hurt, and heck, it may even help!
Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
My most important advice for this process: Interview with multiple companies at the same time—yes, even if you have one particular “dream job” in mind. Why? When you have one offer, it’s much easier to get another offer from other companies.
The way to navigate this is to keep the company posted about your other potential offers. I suggest, as soon as you get word from another company looking to move forward with an offer, that you kindly let all other companies you’re interviewing with know. But also let them know that you’re extremely interested in an opportunity with them—and ask if they are looking to make a decision in the near future.
Let them respond. If they want you, they’ll respond very quickly. Keeping companies posted will not only keep you fresh in their mind, but it will also allow them to get the ball moving if they do in fact want to make you an offer.
The waiting period can be extremely frustrating, but all we can do as job seekers is control our own actions. My best advice to anyone feeling neglected throughout the interview process is to keep interviewing, cover your bases, and know when to break up with a job opportunity—so you can find one that actually deserves you.