Have you ever noticed that companies are bit slow to make hiring decisions these days?
It's not unusual for the interview process to take days, weeks, sometimes even months. Or for the process to involve meeting with upwards of 10 interviewers. And to involve reference checks or personality tests or other exams before making a decision.
You're not imagining things, and it's no accident, either. The interview process is taking longer because employers are more afraid of risk.
But first some context. Let's rewind about 7 or 8 years ago, to the height of the recession. There were a glut of job seekers, and fewer jobs to go around. At the time, companies had more of options of candidates from which to choose, so they took advantage of this buyer's market. They became more selective.
Now it's 2016 and as I check today the unemployment rate in the United States is 4.9%. If you as a job seeker have some talent, it's more of a seller's market, but you wouldn't know it by the interview process. Here are some reasons why:
- Companies became used to being able to cherry pick employees in the bad market. They haven't adjusted their mindset to the reality of the moment, which is that there's more jobs than qualified people to fill them. So they're more inclined to wait for that "perfect fit," even if they don't exist.
- Managers are terrified to make a bad hiring decision. They fear that if they hire somebody who doesn't work out, for whatever reason, it's a bad reflection on them. And maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But hiring decisions aren't forever (we're ALL replaceable).
- Blame is to be shared. If you're afraid to make a hiring decision, what's the best way to cover yourself? Why not make sure that the whole team has a part in the decision making process? Many managers are delegating their hiring authority to their teams, their peers, their internal and external customers, and other stakeholders so that if the person doesn't work out, everybody can throw up their hands and say, "Well, that candidate fooled all 34 of us who interviewed him!" No single person then takes the blame for making a bad decision. And how freaking hard is it to impress EVERYBODY that you interview with - without consensus, you likely won't get the nod.
So, what can you do to shake things loose when you seem to be stuck in the wheels of the interview process? There's no guaranteed remedy, but here are some ways to kick loose from hiring manager indecision!
- Try your best to take control of the process. Be proactive in asking the recruiter and hiring manager what the next steps will be and when you can expect to hear from them. Ask if they need anything else from you to help move the process forward.
- Demonstrate your interest in the role, right now. Convey excitement for the position. Verbalize this, telling anybody who will listen, "I'm very excited by this opportunity, and would love to joint the team!" You'd be surprised how many job seekers never clearly express their interest in the job. People notice.
- Send thank you notes, to everybody. It's that little bit of extra effort that shows you care and that you listened to what the interviewers said. I've seen well-placed thank you notes put a job candidate over the top since it makes such a positive impression.
- Keep the employer apprised. Check in from time to time. If you are expecting an offer from another company, and time is of the essence, pick up the phone and call the recruiter and let them know that their company is your first choice, but you are anticipating having to make a decision soon. It may push things forward.
- Be proactive with references, backup data, or anything else that may help your case. If you show that you are open and have nothing to hide, you may be able to leverage these little extras in the name of progress.
Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).
Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.