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am i being strung along by potential employer?
August 31, 2011 8:24 AM   Subscribe

am i being strung along by potential employer?

Hello...I would appreciate some advice.. I interviewed for a position in June and was contacted by the department manager 3 weeks after the interview and was told that he wanted to hire and one other person. He said he would have a duplicate position created for me and posted to the HR website and I would not need to interview again and could just reapply and get the process going. The HR department was aware the position was being created "for me". The position was finally posted at the beginning of August and I applied. The manager then calls me and said "Unfortunately I have to interview at least 4 people" and proceeds to tell me that there is someone or some entity that is pushing for someone else (already employed by the same institution, different department) to get the job. He then asks if I can come in an interview again because they have to start the HR paperwork process over. He says it will be the same questions and same audience (fail!)
I was really disappointed because I truly thought the position was created just for me, and I was truly excited for the position as it is an area I am trying to get into and honestly there aren't many of these types of jobs available... at least that I've seen in the past 6 months of my job search.

I now know not to put all my eggs in one basket, no matter how "sure" something may sound. So when I email the manager back to confirm an interview time, I really want to make it clear that yes, I will come back to interview. But, I am hesitant if someone/something actually wants him to hire someone else. He reiterated that I was the best person for the job. But, I'm unaware of who makes the final hiring decision. I believe it is him, but who knows. Or, should I just let it go, remain patient, and re-interview without mentioning them? I don't want to appear rude, but I don't want to be a completely desperate pushover, either. I'm currently employed so I don't NEED the job. But I sincerely want the position. I can't tell if the manager was just misinformed about hiring procedures, or am I being strung along?

Any advice would be appreciated..thanks in advance for your time in reading this.
posted by kleenkat to Work & Money (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
i think you're letting your disappointment (which is perfectly justified) cloud your thinking. You thought this exciting job was a sure thing, but it wasn't and now you have to start looking again. It's a bummer, but the main thing you need to do is accept the situation for what it is. Treat this as just another job that you may or may not get. Schedule the interview, but don't stop pursuing other positions.
posted by jon1270 at 8:37 AM on August 31, 2011


I can share two points of anec-data about this.

One of the mega-corps that I worked for did, in fact, have a policy that required them to receive a certain number of applications and interview a certain number of applicants for an open position to be filled. I can recall several times when a posted opening had to be pulled and re-posted because they couldn't get enough applicants the first time round.

Second point is that I once took a position that was created for me. It took about 8 months all told to make it through three rounds of interviews and HR/Finance red tape even though I was the only applicant.

It doesn't sound to me that you're being toyed with. If you really do want the position, I'd suggest gritting my teeth and going to that next interview. Good luck!
posted by bluejayway at 8:38 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


HR at some firms is its own separate entity. If they drive the hiring process this way, it probably isn't in your potential bosses interest to burn political capital to circumvent the process if he knows he'll be able to choose whomever he wants anyway.

I've actually been given an e-mail offer at one firm, and only then done the HR rigamarole - which basically consisted of a junior HR person filling out the forms for me.
posted by JPD at 8:40 AM on August 31, 2011


Is this private or public sector? If it's public, I can say that all of these things (delays in posting the position, minimum interview requirements, 'open' competition that is not really open) are pretty much the norm. In Canada, at least.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 8:47 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


thanks for the helpful feedback all. i do have clouded thinking now! @winnipegdragon -public sector, huge institution
posted by kleenkat at 8:49 AM on August 31, 2011


So it sounds like a university. This is well within normal for large public institutions.
posted by oddman at 8:53 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or, should I just let it go, remain patient, and re-interview without mentioning them? I don't want to appear rude, but I don't want to be a completely desperate pushover, either.

Do this, no one will think you're a desparate pushover, they most likely won't think of it at all, and if they do think of it, they will think that you really want the job and will be committed and that will reflect well on you.
posted by Kwine at 9:06 AM on August 31, 2011


i'm almost 30 and this is my first "serious" professional dealing with anything beyond a 75-100 person company! I am so naive about these processes... wow!
posted by kleenkat at 9:10 AM on August 31, 2011


At my (large) company, bosses are required to consider internal applicants first. So even if they know they want you, when a job is posted and people apply, they have to go through the internals first and deem them unqualified/not a good fit/whatever before they can hire you.
Also: many times the bosses doing the hiring get the rules figured out as they go. Mine used to make definitive statement about how soon a postion would be filled, what a great applicant was interviewed and would be coming in next month, etc., only to have the process drag out over and over again. She's been the boss for 10 years now, and now says things like, "You know, we're going through the process. It looks good, but anything can happen." When she hired her own secretary, she had to wait about 3 months for a start date because HR was insisting on verification of high school graduation from a foreign country.
Stick with it, go through the steps, and don't take it personally.
posted by SLC Mom at 9:12 AM on August 31, 2011


I am at the beginning of this process for a government job. I won't start working for 2 months, at least, and yes, if during the interview process for my job they find someone they really like, then they will put them in the same position that you are in.

My guess is that you were interviewing for a job that was created for that "one other person" who was also hired initially. They decided they wanted you too, so they replicated the process.
posted by rockindata at 9:30 AM on August 31, 2011


I wonder how much pull there is for this other person to be hired that is already internal. It appears the manager truly wants to hire me, but I imagine the decision can be influenced. Ah, well I will take the other interview and do what I can to make a better impression, meanwhile continue my job search. Thanks!
posted by kleenkat at 9:49 AM on August 31, 2011


This sort of thing isn't uncommon in my experience. Hiring processes are inherently tangled up with internal rules and politics.

There is no reason to believe you don't have a chance at the job and thus no reason not to pursue the interview with your A game since you say it is a position you want.

There's nothing to be gained from trying to get inside of the internal politics of the hiring decision. If you were being "strung along" you aren't going to be told and asking questions that hint around that interpretation of events is fraught with pitfalls.

Having a shot at a position you "sincerely want" is a good thing. Present the enthusiastic and accomplished person who appreciates the opportunity to demonstrate (s)he is the best person for the job. I have to say that having "the same questions and same audience" is arguably a significant benefit in an interview. You know exactly what to expect and you can prepare for it.
posted by nanojath at 9:51 AM on August 31, 2011


You also never know where a good interview might lead even if it doesn't pan out in the position at hand. It could set the stage for other positions in the same institution or the manager could become a valuable contact for this field in general.
posted by nanojath at 9:54 AM on August 31, 2011


I wonder how much pull there is for this other person to be hired that is already internal.

More ancedata: Friend interviewed for a design position in at a major corp that generally prefers to hire/promote internally. After a few interviews, the hiring manager basically told my friend that he had the job, but the HR person separately told him not to put all of his eggs in one basket. Ultimately they felt that it would be too damaging to the corporate culture to hire an outsider for this position and the internal candidate, who did not appear to be equally qualified got the job.

Similar thing happened to another friend who applied for a management position at another chain that prefers to hire from within.

I would not get too discouraged at this point, but you might want to find out --if you can-- whether this particular institution has a tendency to hire/promote internally. If so, you and the manager that wants to hire you may be SOL.
posted by kaybdc at 11:10 AM on August 31, 2011


Recruiter with many years of seeing these ...

Your scenario, unfortunately, is SOP in far too many organizations. It can be a simple left-hand-not-knowing-what-the-right-hand-is-doing kind of thing. Or, it can be an actual fight between "Mr.-I-have-to-hire-someone-right-now" and "our-job-in-HR-is-to-keep-ABC Corp-out-of-the-courtroom".

Whatever it is, you'll never really know and will only waste your time and increase your frustration level in trying to figure it out.

Treat this as just another job that you may or may not get. Schedule the interview, but don't stop pursuing other positions

Your smartest move.
posted by John Borrowman at 11:38 AM on August 31, 2011


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