How to know if your luck has run out?
August 1, 2009 8:45 PM   Subscribe

Five interviews in a three offers...Am I doing something wrong or is it 'the market'?

Please have a look at this list of experiences and let me know if you see anything odd. I am happy I am getting interviews, but I wonder after all of these ups and downs...Are these companies managing my expectations only to keep me interested?

All of these opportunities were made via Cover Letters and Resumes sent in by email, no personal connections...

1) Web Development Company - Meet 1st level IT admin, relatively cold on me at first, warmed up, and got his boss to talk to me. Got along great with the boss for around an hour, nailed technical questions, went over my and his experiences, generally had a great time...He gets the HR lady to explain to me the next steps. She's walking out and tells me 'We've made some other appointments and have to honor those because it's polite, but you need to meet the VP next and we can move forward." I follow up a few days later by email., but don't hear anything. Get a phone call saying they made an offer to someone else. Kick in the stomach really...

2) Financial IT company - Interview with IT Admin starts cold, but ends great after an hour or so...On my way out he says he definitely wants me to meet the boss the next week, but by the time I get home the 2nd interview is already scheduled for the next day. I go to meet the boss, get a cold look, and the overall meeting lasts three minutes. Never heard a definitive no, but it's obvious right?

3) Hospital - Go to meet the manager of the department I'm working in. Get along great right off the bat, we cover a million bases of what they do, and since my last full time gig was in the industry, so I share similar stories, and how I already basically know what they need. Great humor from her, and we get along great. Most of the time, she's on her Blackberry towards the end trying to get her boss to meet me, she tells me she can't make it and how about Monday. Monday rolls around, no appointment. My primary contact in HR tells me that my email goes unanswered because she was on vacation, and she is waiting on feedback. Nothing since

4) Hedge Fund placement (shudder...yes i wrote that)...THE YOUNGEST PEOPLE IVE EVER INTERVIEWED WITH. No joke...they must have just finished their bachelor's or still finishing it. They were all about logic problems, corporate philosophy statements (think corny Jack Welch/business motivation book synopsis) and some technical questions. I go through a pretty decent grilling, including some attitude testing from the 2nd round person...I finally get to meet with an adult who goes through a series of questions, ends with 'Great, you seem like a good guy. I need you to sit in on a conference call tommorow, call me in the afternoon". I call in around 12, speak to the 1st young kid who tells me 'Things are hectic here. I will get you some feedback later in the day". Didnt hear anything back.

5) Small IT Shop - Great guys. Nothing but positive back and forth and some explicit interest. Have an interview with a VP next week, and I'm still confident about this one. I need this one.

My cover letters and CV can't be horrible because they are getting me interviews. I'm not dumb about interviews. I know how to dress, talk, groom, and 'read' the situation. I've had horrible interviews in the past, and generally have a good sense of how things are going, and know when/how to tell a joke and when to be serious.

So What's Wrong With Me?
31,'ethnic'/facial hair

I moved around alot, first due to years of temp/admin work , recent relocations due to corporate restructuring and one move for a girlfriend/greatjob that didnt pan out....the greatjob...not the girlfriend.

Most of the jobs I used to get were one interview, and I knew by the end of the day sort of thing...I'm not used to this back and forth, and honestly, I don't have the stamina or money to wait weeks and weeks.

Any advice? Apologies for the poor grammar above.
posted by lslelel to Work & Money (22 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It takes time. Everything sounds OK to me. You have to ace several interviews to land a single job. And the way things are now there are a lot of candidates out there. I don't think anything's wrong.
posted by GuyZero at 8:49 PM on August 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Yea, it's the market. More specifically, it's a buyer's market for employers. They have a lot of prospects to choice from right now and at the same time, not a whole lot of pressure to hire. I got a job, but I originally talked to them in November and finally got an offer in July. And had many phones screens and a handful of interviews in between. It's tough out there.
posted by octothorpe at 9:13 PM on August 1, 2009

I could have written this exact question, down to some of the job descriptions. Perhaps we are fighting for the same jobs, and all of the companies we interviewed with are facing the toughest choice of their lives- lslelel vs. ThePinkSuperhero? That's pretty tough, you have to sympathize with them on that. I feel bad for anyone who is hiring right now- too many talented people who need work, not enough seats to put 'em in.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:14 PM on August 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Christ, if you've gotten that many interviews you're way ahead of a helluva lot of other people. No snark--really just seconding what GuyZero said about "the way things are now." Chances are it's nothing to do with you at all. Believe me, I know how it is to feel helpless and bewildered, but you're going to have to build up some stamina, as you put it, or else you'll just wither on the vine. Money? Can't help you there. You may well have to wait weeks and weeks. It's not like you have a choice. Stock up on ramen. Best get used to being kicked in the stomach or, worse yet, having your calls and e-mails go unreturned. Sorry, but there it is. And as for "most of the jobs I used to get were one interview and I knew by the end of the day" ... forget that. The good old days are long gone.
posted by scratch at 9:16 PM on August 1, 2009

I think if a guy tells you he needs you for a conference call the next day you show up at nine with a tie on. If you're wearing boots get there at eight.

Also, noon is lunchtime.

Don't take it personally. Ask how many people applied for the job.

Five interviews in three weeks is great work.

Twenty rejections in a row are wiped out by a single acceptance.
posted by mearls at 9:19 PM on August 1, 2009

1/2- Ouch. You got turned down, it stings, but you know to move on.
3- Could be that things take time to get done, could be lost in the system, or they could be weaseling out of turning you down outright.

4 is what bothers me. You called once, some kid said it was hectic, so you didn't call back in an hour or two? That's not nearly aggressive enough, you failed that test. Even if investors are becoming more conservative, the capacity to push is one of the few things keeping that industry alive at all. You let some person who was not your top contact push you off, so you missed that boat. You also seemed to move a bit slow on following up with #1.

You have the cover letters, you have the CV, and you seem to have the situational awareness to know that your interviewers are usually fine with you. #1, you could have followed up by phone or in person the next day to inquire about when your meeting should be. A few days and by email is for something unimportant. You don't have to shove your way into the VP's office, but direct communication requiring immediate attention forces hands. If the HR contact is not in the office, inquire as to when they will be, get them on the phone. #4, you basically said "I'm passive, I'm not important." when you let somebody that wasn't your contact blow you off after a single phone call.

#5, you have a good chance. Small operations are much more direct about these things, and you have an actual appointment with someone in a position to hire. You could wind up with a job offer in your hands before you walk out the door. Too much aggression could hurt you there, but definitely don't let yourself become a chew toy.

A 31 year old with the skills and experience to get interviews should do fine. Being "ethnic" has a lot of implications depending on "ethnicity" and location. Which is to say, being "Asian ethnic" in California doesn't really matter in the least, but being "Arabic ethnic" in rural Nebraska means that if you have an Anglicized name and notice instant coldness and a bit of surprise upon introduction, this could be an (unjust) issue.

Facial hair? That may or may not be problematic. IT is more permissive than some fields, but I would suggest that your facial hair be evenly trimmed that morning. Truth be told, "ethnic" and "facial hair" can throw people off in a lot of areas. It's not right, but justice and fairness don't draw the paycheck that a successful interview and job offer lead to. Shaving hurts very few people in job opportunities.

Truth be told, your biggest issue sounds like you might not be pursuing followup aggressively enough. While it is important to not sound desperate, it's worse to appear like you don't care. The economy isn't making things easier. Follw up a bit closer and keep at it. You're not hopeless by any means, but it sounds like you might not be pushing hard enough.
posted by Saydur at 9:32 PM on August 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Ok, the pattern seems to be:
1. Great interview
2. They're going to call you back!
3. Crickets, and the folks who were so enthusiastic after the interview aren't even offering a kind word of explanation.

Something negative is happening after the interview. A bad reference, a bad background check. If it's a background check, it's a quick one, as it happens in a day, so I'm guessing a googling.

I think you should screen your references, and google your name, and see if either is causing a problem. The fact that nobody is saying anything to you at all -- compleytely blowing you off -- makes me wonder how bad the negative is. Is someone with a similar name perhaps on something like a sex offender list?
posted by orthogonality at 9:38 PM on August 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Definitely Google your name, as orthogonality said, but.. it sounds as though it truly is the market. Hang in there, and be persistent. I mean.. to the point where you may feel a bit uncomfortable (having gotten jobs the same day you interviewed). That kind of behaviour seems to appeal to some companies.
posted by defragmeout at 9:56 PM on August 1, 2009

It's not you. It's the market. Employers are being incredibly rude and unprofessional at the moment.

I was out for 3 months, and didn't get offers on interviews that went better than the ones from my last 4 jobs. Got hired, became privvy to how hiring managers are thinking nowadays. Basically, they want artisinal sourced, organic virgin unicorns still in their original packaging. One hiring manager in my new company (thank god, not mine) has been interviewing for almost SIX MONTHS and still has a queue 25 people long.

People aren't hiring for need right now - they're hiring for want. Big difference.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 9:56 PM on August 1, 2009 [3 favorites]

When I got my last job (last August), I started the process with the company that hired me in May.
posted by Pants! at 9:56 PM on August 1, 2009

FWIW it took me a year to land my current job.
posted by GuyZero at 10:27 PM on August 1, 2009

I start a job (tomorrow) that I interviewed for in March. Some of these might still pan out, it's just slow going in some places...
posted by the christopher hundreds at 10:43 PM on August 1, 2009

I'm having the same experience. I've had 4 interviews in the last 2 weeks and all were a no go. I've also met with a ton of recruiters and had a ton phone interviews as well. I've never heard so many people say they'd be in touch and never ever hear a thing.
posted by disaster77 at 11:33 PM on August 1, 2009

Same experience for me as well, except it's been around three dozen interviews over the past 15 months. I've actually had two separate companies verbally offer me jobs, only to call and renege before I came in to do the paperwork. On the upside, I'm getting pretty good at interviews.

Thanks for asking this question.
posted by skintension at 1:20 AM on August 2, 2009

Wow. Thank you for sharing this. It's not just me, then.

Same thing here. I've had the same experiences exactly (in different industries). Plus, twice people have made an appointment to interview me, then they did not show up to interview me and didn't call to cancel or reschedule. Very discouraging.

I get the feeling that lots of companies are "window shopping." For example, if they happen to find someone who has a PhD in instructional design, a master's in mechanical engineering with 10 years experience in that, and can help them with their Oracle databases, who will additionally work for $20/hour as a 1099, then they might buy. Otherwise, just looking.

It's the worst job market I've seen in my working life.
posted by Houstonian at 2:11 AM on August 2, 2009

At least you're getting interviews. That's way better than me.

Hang in there! It sucks, but as you can see there are many people here willing to commiserate with you.
posted by divabat at 5:23 AM on August 2, 2009

Definitely the market, not you. I went on unemployment back in January. sent out résumés for about 90 or so jobs, and only got asked in for three interviews in six months (technical editing/IT-type positions). The job I eventually secured was thanks to the first interview I went to, which didn't happen until May. And then it took from May until July for the company to get its HR ducks in a row so I could actually start working.

These Things Take Time™
posted by emelenjr at 8:51 AM on August 2, 2009

Metafilter I love you. Wow...what great responses. Honestly, I have people to talk to about this stuff. I try not to, and I'm really really glad I posted.

I think having the interviews back to back to back did effect how quickly I was following up and how aggressive I was. Especially since #1 basically got my hopes up. There are additional details I left out, but I won't bother getting into it.

I actually don't like bothering HR people ever, and wonder if that is a bad habit. For me -- I will leave one voice mail, and/or one email as my absolute limit. I don't know if that social norm has changed, but maybe it has.
posted by lslelel at 8:57 AM on August 2, 2009

I'll tag on to this one...

Are follow up queries necessary? I feel the same way, that I shouldn't pester the HR reps or anyone else until they make a decision.

But after a job hunt starting last year that went to the summer, I'm starting to rethink that. Can a follow up in a form that is aggressive cause you to lose a job that you were going to get or in contention for? That was my thinking.
posted by sleslie at 1:15 PM on August 2, 2009

I had *three* killer, very personable, job interviews for the same company- two in March, one in June. Besides calling me to schedule these interviews, they made no effort to contact me whatsoever. I did not do follow-up calls or emails, because I figure, if it's a yes, they'll tell me, and if it's a no, they would be annoyed to have to tell me. So I interpreted the radio silence as a no and wandered around feeling morose for a bit. But! A few weeks after the last interview- long after I'd given up on it- they called me with a great freelance contract, that I accepted and am currently really liking. And this contract is more fun and better pay than the job I initially went in for. So, for me the take home lesson is that sometimes they try to place you somewhere other than the posted job you went in for, and sometimes things move slower than you want them to move, but that doesn't mean they aren't moving in a good direction. So maybe that's what's happening with you?
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:32 PM on August 2, 2009

I actually don't like bothering HR people ever, and wonder if that is a bad habit. For me -- I will leave one voice mail, and/or one email as my absolute limit. I don't know if that social norm has changed, but maybe it has.

There's a balance somewhere, although I'm not sure exactly where it is. I'm friends with a recruiter for "a very large computer company that you've heard of" and she takes a dim view of potential recruits who pester her too much after an interview. A quick follow up email right after the interview saying, "Thanks for the interview and don't hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions" is certainly appropriate but beyond that it I'm not sure if anything else would help your cause much. And as pseudo said above, these things can take a long time these days.
posted by octothorpe at 10:15 AM on August 3, 2009

Thank you notes. Seriously. You need to be following up to these interviews with a written or email thank-you note with the full names of everyone who interviewed you on them.
Not saying that's the thing, but it really, really helps to do it.
Also, I read an article recently about writing thank yous to jobs that you don't get so that they think highly of you and may be more likely to consider you for later openings.
posted by ishotjr at 8:12 PM on August 4, 2009

« Older How can I get my security deposit back?   |   How do I prioritize cost/budget, commute... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.