Hiring manager flakes out?
May 26, 2010 7:49 AM   Subscribe

How should I handle it when a hiring manager flakes out on a phone interview?

I applied for a job on a whim. I do have a job now where I am comfortable, so I am not desperate for something new. I sent my resume on a Saturday and got a reply the next Monday, which is a very fast turnaround for my industry. Over that week, I had some back and forth with the hiring manager over my salary requirements and we scheduled a phone interivew on that Friday morning.

I never got a call. I waited -- away from work -- for more than half an hour, giving the hiring manager the benefit of the doubt, but finally I gave up. He had been very responsive to email but I didn't hear anything at all until late the following Monday, when I got an email saying that he had been away from the office and asking if I wanted to reschedule.

I am of two minds. On one hand, emergencies can happen; but on the other, I was very put off--not so much by the interview not happening, but by the radio silence both before and after. If the tables had been turned, and I just didn't show up for an interview, I would have never been given a second chance. Shouldn't it work both ways? Does it work both ways? Like I say, I am not desperate for a new job. Even during the recession, my industry grew. My brother, an HR manager, says that I should give them another chance. But, you know, he's an HR manager, so I take that with a grain of salt.

What do you think? Is this sort of thing a bad sign, or should I let it slip?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (20 answers total)
It depends on how much you want the job. Perhaps he had a real-life emergency -- a death in the family, kid injured, etc. Maybe his boss just dropped a bomb on the company about their financial solvency. Shit happens. I guess I'd give someone who had previously been very responsive the benefit of the doubt. But, if I wasn't really interested in the job then, yeah, maybe it would turn me off and I wouldn't pursue it with as much effort.
posted by amanda at 7:52 AM on May 26, 2010

I don't think it works both ways. They are in the power position. It's bad form, sure. I'd reschedule and pretend it never happened.
posted by fixedgear at 7:52 AM on May 26, 2010

If he wasn't even answering email, I suspect he had an emergency of some sort (and it's none of your business what it was). If you're still interested in the job there's no reason not to give them another chance.
posted by shiny blue object at 7:53 AM on May 26, 2010

Sounds like the manager got brought up short by someone else in the organization - probably over the salary he or she discussed with you. Not calling to reschedule *before* the call was supposed to take place is their subtle, passive-agressive way of saying "no thanks, we're not interested".

I had a manager do this to me. I'd abandon the endeavour, personally.
posted by LN at 7:54 AM on May 26, 2010

I guess it would depend. Is the hiring manager somebody that you would be working for? Or just an HR flunky? If my boss-to-be was so inconsiderate as to book a phone interview with me, and not call me to let me know he had to be out of the office at that time instead? I would bail. That does not bode well for future interactions with said boss. But I wouldn't care as much if it was just one of the HR people, as interactions with HR folks tend to be few and far between, generally.

Of course, it also depends WHY he was out of office that day. Sick kid? Ok, work-life balance is important. Nice weather, want to go golfing instead? Bye bye.
posted by antifuse at 7:55 AM on May 26, 2010

Pride goeth before the fall. You have no idea what the reason was for no return call. This guy did call you back to reschedule. If you are really interested talk to him, otherwise have the courtesy to thank him for his consideration (which he showed by his numerous contacts). One thing these guys look for is how interested you are in his employment. The most important thing to say is you want the job and behave the part. Don't blow your chances.
posted by Hilbert at 7:58 AM on May 26, 2010

It's not a dealbreaker
If you are still interested in the job, reschedule.
If not, don't.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:12 AM on May 26, 2010

I'd reschedule, but factor the flakiness in when considering taking the job or not.
posted by JoanArkham at 8:15 AM on May 26, 2010 [4 favorites]

I really, really don't see what you have to lose by rescheduling. Worst case scenario, the guy's a flake. Do the interview, get a better sense of the guy and the company and the job, then reevaluate. I think it's only in your best interest to give him the benefit of the doubt and move forward - I know you're comfortable at your job, but interviews don't grow on trees and it's pretty much always worth it to follow up when you've been offered one.
posted by ORthey at 8:29 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Is your industry small enough that backing out now might make you look like the flaky one? If not, do whatever feels best to you. If so, at least go through with rescheduling the interview, whether or not you actually intend to accept an offer.
posted by willpie at 8:37 AM on May 26, 2010

If you reschedule and handle the situation graciously, I could see this winning you some big points.

If you're a bit snitty about rescheduling and found out that the manager's spouse was rushed to the ER, you'd feel terrible about being snitty, right? And then would have to backpedal.

If you give them the benefit of the doubt for now, you can always assess how much you actually want the job when you meet them in person for the follow-up interview.
posted by desuetude at 9:05 AM on May 26, 2010

This happened to me recently and I was very distressed about this happening. I called and sent the hiring manager an e-mail pretty much shrugging it off and hoping to rescheduled.

The hiring manager apologized and scheduled another interview.......which she missed again.

Because I am gainfully employed as you are I did not bother trying to call or re-schedule again, it was their subtle way of telling me that the company is very unprofessional....and that they were not that interested.

Re-schedule once and then take it from there.
posted by The1andonly at 9:54 AM on May 26, 2010

"hoping to reschedule" that is.
posted by The1andonly at 10:02 AM on May 26, 2010

Reschedule the first time, as you don't want to come across as uncompromising. Depending on the size of the industry, you might meet this person again sometime.

If it happens again, give them the "my situation has changed and I'm unable to accept the position at this time" line and forget about it.
posted by wsp at 10:15 AM on May 26, 2010

It could have been anything. Getting ill, a conference, quick vacation, tight deadline, simply forgot...

But, I think most likely he was busy interviewing other candidates, who didn't really pan-out, so you're back on the short-list.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 10:48 AM on May 26, 2010

Reschedule, and if he doesn't call within 30 minutes of your scheduled interview, then call and leave a voicemail letting him know you have to get back to work but that you can schedule an in-person interview if that would work better for him.
posted by headnsouth at 11:09 AM on May 26, 2010

I've had three companies flake on me for phone interviews. The phone interview does seem more vulnerable to this than the in-person interview.

One company was genuinely interested in hiring me and just forgot. They apologized profusely. Unfortunately they were victims of what turned out to be a hostile takeover, so as it turned out, even they didn't have jobs any more.

Another company was being hawked to me by the most dubious recruiter I have ever come across - think blatant used car salesman. He didn't even let me know the name of the company until well into the process, whereupon I Googled them and found a review saying "this company isn't what it seems".

A third company was also genuinely interested in hiring me... for peanuts... but they decided to outsource it to a team of 30 in Colombia or somewhere, for peanuts, instead. So, they didn't have a job to offer me either.

All these companies were stringing me along, whether they intended to do so or not. I take phone-interview-flaking as an omen based on this.
posted by tel3path at 2:18 PM on May 26, 2010

I think it's freaking rude not to say "I had an emergency." You don't even have to say WHAT it was, just say that something came up that couldn't be helped. This dude did not do that. "Away from the office" makes me smell something fishy.

I'd reschedule, but not really expect this job to pan out. I think I pretty much wouldn't want it at all at this point if they think it's okay to act like that.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:28 PM on May 26, 2010

I have had hiring managers get flaky on phoners before, many times, in cases where I had to leave my office and find a quiet place to take the call, bailing on the interview was incredibly inconvenient. In most cases I had a recuiter or HR person running interference who would apologize and be able to find out what was wrong, but if you're dealing with them directly, well, you probably won't find out. I wouldn't take it as any kind of definitive sign except that they are busy and need help. Yes, it's rude, yes, they should give notice, yes etc etc etc. Have you seen the job market lately? If you can afford to be picky by all means get on your soapbox and refuse to engage with them.
posted by micawber at 3:50 PM on May 26, 2010

Reschedule the interview, but take into consideration this event when considering the job overall. If you get any hints something isn't going to work out, that plus this should probably be the death knell on this job.
posted by asciident at 1:28 AM on May 27, 2010

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