Monday, April 16, 2012

Job candidates' purgatory

Job seekers expect to have two or three interviews with an employer before they land a position. But 10 interviews?

Ebonee Younger’s interview odyssey began in September when she embarked on her quest to land an HR manager’s position at a rental truck company.

Ten interviews and a lot of sweat equity later, Younger, who lives in Birmingham, Ala., ended up not getting the gig.

“The whole experience cost me two new suits, a new pair of shoes, $40 in stationery and postage -- I wrote handwritten notes to almost everyone I spoke with -- two paid time-off days, and $200 plus in taxi fare,” she explained.

“I'm not so much irritated that I didn't get the job, I was just disappointed in the candidate experience,” she noted. “I really believe they could have, and should have, made a decision earlier in the process.”

Unfortunately, Younger’s interview purgatory is not unusual. Employers are increasingly putting applicants through a seemingly endless cycle of interviews these days, a byproduct of the tight labor market. Some hiring managers feel they have the upper hand because unemployment, at over 8 percent, is still relatively high so they can put candidates through a hiring rigmarole. Others are just too inept to trust their own judgment, or are fearful a wrong hire will get them in hot water.
Read the rest here.

As with so many things in life, baseball provides a very good rule for this sort of thing. Three strikes and you're out.  Or alternatively ball four and walk.  Unless your interviewing for an extremely important or sensitive position there is no justification for endless interviews. Three should be the maximum that anyone is required to go through for all but a handful of jobs. If you haven't persuaded someone to hire you after three interviews (or four at the most) then you just politely explain that you are withdrawing your name from consideration.

More than three interviews strongly suggests several  things.  First would be that if you can't persuade someone to hire you in three interviews you are probably not the right person for the job.  Secondly, even if you did eventually get the job your new employer will have clearly demonstrated that they don't have confidence in their decision to hire you. Your position there may be weak.  And third it demonstrates poor and indecisive management on the part of your prospective employer.  Remember job interviews are a two way street.  They are interviewing you.  But you are also interviewing them.

I have some considerable sympathy with those in a really bad job market having some experience with fruitless job hunting myself.  And I do know what it's like to interview several times for a job (though I have not had more than three for any position) and not get the job.  But unless your applying with the CIA or for a six figure salaried management position there is no justification for more than three interviews.  Frankly you might even improve your odds by showing a little backbone with your perspective employer and politely declining to do the endless interviews.

1 comment:

123 said...

That number of interviews is usually not for convincing one person to hire you, they are meetings with all of the various stakeholders who need to be on board with your hire. Endless interviewing is, as you rightly point out, more about the company's inability to manage well. They obviously haven't settled on clearly defined (and thus clearly achievable) criteria for hiring. That means the culture is likely more about 'feel', and thus more political and dangerous.