is it common to get invited for a job interview when the organization has already hired someone for the position?
February 2, 2012 9:49 AM   Subscribe

is it common to get invited for a job interview when the organization has already hired someone for the position?

One place I was really interested in contacted me and I had a phone interview which went really, really well. They invited me for an in-person interview that also went extremely well - one of the best interviews I’ve ever had and I had a pretty good feeling about the whole thing. I asked when they thought they would make a hiring decision and they said by next week. So then I get an email the day after my interview to set up a call to talk about where they are in the recruitment process. Sounds great....

So hiring manager called this morning and told me that they really liked me, but they had actually already started the process of hiring someone else before they even invited me for an interview. They saw my resume and wanted to meet me. Said I would have been their pick if they had met me first. Said I would make a great fit for the organization(mentioned specific things) and will advocate for me for a couple of other positions that will be coming up soon in the organization. So at least there is that...but searching for a job causes me so much stress and anxiety and this did not help.

I wish they had been straightforward with me - or at least told me what was up when I asked when they thought a hiring decision would be made. I still would have come in for the interview, but at least I would have known where I stood. I understand that internal applicants are often hired even when a position is posted(pretty sure that is what happened here,) but it doesn’t seem fair to bring someone in for an interview and make them think they have a shot when someone else has already been hired.

So I would like to know if anyone else has experienced this, and also what people who are responsible for hiring think of this.

I'm confused and don't know what to think.
posted by fromageball to Work & Money (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
this is very common. a company may already have someone in mind for the position (a lot of times it is a contractor who has already been working there and knows the ins and outs) but i believe there is a legal reason requiring them to post the position and interview other candidates.
posted by violetk at 9:52 AM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is common. My organization will sometimes have a person in mind for a position, but will interview other people to abide by policies for postings.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 9:57 AM on February 2, 2012


They really liked you. Enough to make it worth reconsidering someone they were already in the process of hiring.

They didn't *quite* like you enough to turn around and let go of the other candidate (probably their legal department told them they couldn't possibly like you that much without getting sued by the existing candidate), but they do like you enough to want to hire you for the next thing that comes along that they can hire you for.

So, be positive and upbeat, and hope for an amazing offer on something upcoming.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:57 AM on February 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: yeah, I'm staying positive. Thanks for the quick was a great experience otherwise which is probably why it is so disappointing.
posted by fromageball at 10:02 AM on February 2, 2012

I still would have come in for the interview, but at least I would have known where I stood.

There are likely very good reasons that they could not be completely open about what was going on behind the scenes at that time. You obviously impressed the heck out of them though.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 10:08 AM on February 2, 2012

This is really common. Part of it is hedging bets against an offer turndown/something falling through, part of it is seeing a great resume and not wanting to kick yourself later thinking that person might have been a better fit. Sometimes there are legal or routine obligations to see through other candidates as well. Usually if there is an offer out it's made known during the first in-person interview, but not always.

While you say you would have still come in for the interview, most people don't... or because they believe they don't have a shot at that particular job, they don't interview well. One thing to keep in mind is that many companies do what is called "opportunistic hiring/interviewing" where they don't even have an opening, they just want to see what's out there and possibly create new positions or hire new staff. So don't underestimate the benefits of just being interviewed even if you aren't a fit for that particular role, for whatever reason.
posted by sm1tten at 10:14 AM on February 2, 2012

You don't say how big of an operation this is, but at the Very Large Corporation of America where I used to work, headcount came in in waves. You'd need people but "don't have the headcount right now" and then you'd win the lottery or something and you'd have multiple openings to fill in the coming quarter. So in addition to hedging their bets, they could be looking at other openings they know (or hope) are coming.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:28 AM on February 2, 2012

Be sure to write back to that person and thank them and reiterate that you would really love to work for their company. If you do get a job offer elsewhere let them know you're considering something else. They might come up with a better offer.
posted by mareli at 10:38 AM on February 2, 2012

"Started the process" is the key thing there, I think. They may extend a lot more offers than are accepted. That could be because they don't pay competitively or because they take so long to extend an offer that many people's availability has changed or because someone in the hiring process is a loon who scared people off. Maybe someone overstepped their authority and made an offer before they should have and they felt constrained to follow through. Perhaps salary negotiation wasn't going well and someone thought it was going to fall through.

I wouldn't elevate it to the level of something to be annoyed about but I would keep it in mind with regards to your future dealings with them. Could be a fluke or it could be representative of disorganization or a disregard for the value of other people's time.
posted by phearlez at 11:02 AM on February 2, 2012

A former colleague of mine interviewed for a position at my former employer and didn't get it. He was then offered a different job with the same company, without even applying, about a year later.

This happens.
posted by valkyryn at 11:11 AM on February 2, 2012

I was told I was essentially guaranteed a job once, but that company policies required them to interview one more person before they could fill out the paperwork to offer it to me. That "one more person" must have blown them away, because he got the job. Sucked to be on the losing side of that decision, but it seems like you have a chance at being the last-minute person who gets hired, so you might as well give it a go.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 1:04 PM on February 2, 2012

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