Job Offer Waiting Game
May 28, 2012 9:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm waiting impatiently for a job offer after nailing the interview and having my references checked the following day. It's now been almost two weeks.

I have an interview for a position at my university which generously comes with free tuition (I'm in graduate school). It was a three person panel interview, and they loved me. I mean, really. It's a unique position in a library and I hold all the key requirements for said position, plus the "preferred qualifications". The hiring manager said things like "the person in this position will be doing x, no wait, YOU'LL BE DOING XYZ". She called my current supervisor for a reference and basically said she just needed to make sure by checking with her. The week ended... no word. I ran into her at the coffeeshop and she was... awkward. Not a bad awkward, but more like "pleasedontaskmeaboutthejobbecauseidontknow" awkward, with a quick "hello, how are you, everything today is great". I had a heart attack. Still. No. Word.
The kicker here is, if I don't get this particular job, I will have to drop out of grad school because I cannot afford it anymore, and my student loans are wonky, so I won't get enough money to pay for my living expenses. Now for the icing on the cake: I have a small child, and an unemployed partner. He's in the trades and will land a job soon'ish, but without extensive experience, which he does not have, he won't make enough to cover my share of the expenses while I finish school. My previous education is in the humanities, photography, art, ect. everything that doesn't really pay enough and the jobs that are there, are super competitive.
My questions are two-fold: What the heck is taking so long for the hiring manager to get back to me, and what do you think my chances are? And two, if I don't get this position, and have to drop out of school and pay an astronomical amount for daycare, where the hell should I try to get a job? Waitressing? I have barista experience but no serving experience. Tips on how to deal with taking 5 steps backwards to survive would be nice, as well.
posted by ohmansocute to Work & Money (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: *had an interview
posted by ohmansocute at 9:29 AM on May 28, 2012

Any number of things could be happening, ranging from the funding to staff the position not being quite solidified, through to the letter of offer sitting on someone's desk for two weeks because that someone buggered off on vacation. The point is, you don't know, your interviewer doesn't know, so bugging her probably repeatedly doesn't help. All you can do is send an email saying, "hey, it's been two weeks, I haven't heard from you, is there any additional information you need from me?"

As for the possibility of not getting the job, would you consider putting your name in at temp agencies? Being an office drone is probably not your first choice, but the hours are usually pretty predictable, and the pay likely above the wages of a barista.
posted by LN at 9:39 AM on May 28, 2012

Universities are VERY beaucratic. They could be waiting for someone to sign off on the hire, the funding needs to be confirmed, or someone is simply not doing their job. It is very frustrating I know. Hang tight.
posted by saucysault at 9:43 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sounds like the job details went into flux as they were interviewing you. We've had that situation in my workplace. There may be funding issues where things just have to settle before anything moves forward. It's not necessarily a big deal in terms of the job, but if I were in their shoes, I certainly would be calling to say "Please bear with us, we want to move forward with our decision one way or the other, but we hope to know for sure by next Tuesday." Leaving people hanging with no update at all is inconsiderate.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:44 AM on May 28, 2012

Hiring at most universities takes forever. The people at New Job could also be busy with something. A few years ago I applied for a graduate assistantship and didn't hear back for 2-3 weeks and so I figured I didn't get it. Then they called and offered me the position.

I think I also sent them an additional letter of interest or something, I just remember I didn't call but I sent an email to the same email address where I sent my initial application. So following up could be a good idea.

Not sure if this is an assistantship position, but if it's a regular university position it also takes FOREVER to get through all the red tape involved in hiring someone. Could easily take a couple of months. Not so much red tape for a student position but it's still somewhat slow moving.

Try not to stress out and consider temp agencies or to keep on applying for other jobs at the university. I've spent the past few months job searching so I know how stressful it can be and how difficult it is not to completely stress out over it all.
posted by fromageball at 9:45 AM on May 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: fromageball: it is an assistantship. I sent thank you emails to everyone a couple of days post interview.
posted by ohmansocute at 9:47 AM on May 28, 2012

Two weeks is a blip on the academic timescale. Also, it's the end of the semester and faculty and staff have a tendency to disappear, and administrative bureaucracy tends to grind to a halt. But you're understandably anxious, and it would be reasonable after two weeks to send a polite, cheerful note asking if they are getting close to a decision and mentioning how much you enjoyed talking with them. Good luck.

Are you a writer? Look into freelance editing. You might contact engineering/CS/science departments to offer your services. Lots of very bright people there for whom English is a second language and camera-ready manuscripts are somewhat of a challenge; your talents may be very useful to them...and you could probably work mostly from home.
posted by tully_monster at 9:47 AM on May 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

A few months ago I provided some input into a new diploma program at a local university. The lead faculty who was putting together and submitting the program suggested I come on as a sessional, teaching one or two classes a semester. I was excited. She followed up to say that things were running smoothly and, yes, they would like me to teach a class or two starting in the fall... of 2014.

Universities are slow moving organisms.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:50 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

What did they say at the end of the interview about timeframes for hearing back? Sometimes that's part of the wrap-up speech.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:54 AM on May 28, 2012

Response by poster: time frame was the end of last week. It's a holiday weekend, so I'm sure it got pushed back (without telling me, of course)
posted by ohmansocute at 9:55 AM on May 28, 2012

Just wanted to chime in and say that since it's the end of the year, the office you interviewed with is probably swamped and can't move forward with you quite yet. I think it would be okay to send a follow up email to one panel member and thank them again for the interview opportunity and mention how x,y,z will help you transition into the position as smoothly as possible. Ask if there's anything they need to keep moving forward with the hiring process, and then be done with the message. Hopefully this will jump start the department's lines of communication. :)

You could work at Apple if you are a good teacher and have customer service skills. They start at $13.50 to $15.50 an hour at 20-30 hours per week.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:59 AM on May 28, 2012

You need to chill out. If I were the hiring manager, and I got a whiff of how you're responding to this, it'd give me pause about you as a candidate.

If I'm understanding your timeline right, you were interviewed less than two weeks ago, and the target for them to get back to you was Friday. And today's a holiday. There are a million things that could be delaying this, and most of them are trivial and won't affect the outcome. Yes, probably someone's on holiday.

Seriously: chill out. You have no justification for being impatient or frustrated: there is nothing unusual happening here. Don't panic.
posted by Susan PG at 10:04 AM on May 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

time frame was the end of last week. It's a holiday weekend, so I'm sure it got pushed back (without telling me, of course)

Yep. In the academic world, that means "sometime next month." Not that they didn't have every intention of getting back to you quickly, just that there are ALWAYS unforeseen delays.
posted by tully_monster at 10:07 AM on May 28, 2012

Response by poster: Yeah I probably wouldn't be so impatient if the prospect of tossing away 1.5 years of graduate education and scrambling through poverty to feed my kid wasn't on the horizon. Hey, thanks though.
posted by ohmansocute at 10:11 AM on May 28, 2012 [9 favorites]

Seriously: chill out. You have no justification for being impatient or frustrated: there is nothing unusual happening here. Don't panic.

Wow. That's a bit harsh. As the person who has interviewed for a job I really needed and then not heard back from the hiring manager by the promised deadline, I can certainly understand how nerve-wracking it can be. Because of the holiday weekend and end of term (and not knowing how slow or quickly things move in this field), I'd probably give it at least until the end of the week before I started to get really worried. I would follow up at some point though (and you or others in this thread will know better than me how long to give it). If doing that gives the hiring manager "pause about you as a candidate", then trust me, you don't want to work for that person. Not touching base with a candidate, even if at least to ask for more time, may not be unusual, but that doesn't mean it's right or decent.

That said, I'd probably give it to the end of the week or so before I seriously start considering what my next move would be.
posted by triggerfinger at 10:19 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh - and good luck! Let us know how it turns out.
posted by triggerfinger at 10:22 AM on May 28, 2012

Oh man, I am sending you the best vibes ever. Try to clear your mind of this, focus on something else. Universities take forever on these things!

Don't screw up and contact them! rant to friends, go to a metal show or go do something physically exhausting, but do not contact them about this!

I wish you great luck! :) glad you aced the interview.
posted by Tarumba at 10:23 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Two weeks is too early to freak out. It really is. Especially since one of the weeks was the week before Memorial Day weekend. Probably half the people involved in the process were out of the office, and the other half are swamped because they're short staffed. Even in the private sector that'd be way too soon, and universities work way slower than that.

I know it's hard to wait, but I'd urge you to stay calm. If you don't hear by Thursday of this coming week, check in with them. "Hi, I was hoping to get an update on the role I interviewed for on X date. How's that process going?"
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:41 AM on May 28, 2012

I understand why you are feeling antsy, but I think this is just a case of sitting tight and being as patient as possible. As most people have already said, academia tends to operate at a snail's pace, especially when it is end-of-term and close to holidays and vacations. If it helps at all, it took forever to get a formal offer for the two administrative university positions I've had. One of them I actually started before I had the job on paper! I want to say both times it took about a month, and, if I recall correctly, both times I was told I would find out much sooner, more like the timetable they mentioned to you. I would say if you haven't heard anything by the end of this week, it would be safe to check in and see if they need any additional information from you. Best of luck!
posted by katemcd at 11:52 AM on May 28, 2012

I had a good panel interview recently. I was actually offered the position, which is in a lab at a university, during the interview and promised a follow-up phone call during the first part of the next week.

The first part of the next week came...and it went. So did the last part. No contact from anyone. I was sure that I'd secretly blown the interview even though it seemed to have gone well, and couldn't figure out why they would have offered me a job if they didn't mean it.

Another week passed and I started hoping my friends would forget about my "OMG GOT AN OFFER" text messages, because it seemed like it wasn't going to work out. I had been looking for months, had several offers fall through, and was seriously discouraged. I thought about emailing, but didn't want to bug them if they were just being slow. Plus, I really didn't think I could take reading the reasons for their rejection.

Finally, a week and a half later, I got a pretty nonchalant email. "Sorry for being out of touch. HR will send you the paperwork."

HR did, indeed, send the paperwork, and I was offered a start date just over a month after the interview.

So, the moral of the story is to sit tight for a bit longer. Especially in academia, the hiring process is often glacially slow, and in some labs, like mine, there's no dedicated HR and nobody else wants or has time to deal with HR stuff. Don't freak out just yet, even though you reallyreally want to.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 4:54 PM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all your help guys, but I didn't get it. I believe they renewed someone else's assistantship, hence all the "How long will you be around? You can do this future job" lines I heard during the interview. They already had someone lined up for the job.
posted by ohmansocute at 3:23 PM on May 29, 2012

Oh, man, that really sucks. I hate when that happens (and it's happened to me plenty of times). But it's not the end of the world. Talk with your graduate program advisor -- he can probably give you some leads on financial aid, work-study, etc. and send you to the right offices for that kind of thing. And there are lots of informational sites out there, if you haven't seen them. The fact that you're a woman with a small child may actually improve your eligibility.

Hang in there. Don't give up on finishing your degree because this one option fell through. There will be others; you just have to find them.
posted by tully_monster at 4:09 PM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

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