Author: Biron Clark
If you’re searching for jobs for the first time in the US, you might be surprised by how long the process takes.
It’s not unusual for a hiring decision to take months. Even between interviews, you might wait for two or three weeks to find out if you’re moving on to the next step in the process.
This article will explain a few common reasons why, and what you can do about it.
3 Reasons the Interview Process Takes So Long in the US:
⇒A large number of people are involved
It’s common for companies to have multiple employees interview you (sometimes an entire team), rather than having one manager talk to you and then make a decision.
This means that after you leave, everyone you met has to meet and discuss their thoughts. It also means that scheduling those interviews can take longer, especially during the December holiday season, and the summer months when people take more vacations. It’s important to keep this in mind when deciding the best time to apply for jobs.
⇒Employers want to talk to multiple people for each job opening
Companies in the US also have a tendency to want to talk to many candidates for each position. This can work against you if you were one of the first people they spoke to.
It doesn’t mean you won’t get the job, but you’ll likely have to wait for them to interview other people after you. It’s a good idea to ask how far along they are in the process, and when they expect to be able to make a decision. This won’t speed things up, but it’ll give you a better idea of whether they’ve already interviewed 10 people, or whether you’re the first person they’ve talked to.
⇒Hiring isn’t always their #1 priority
Another reason things can take so long: Companies and managers have many priorities. They posted the job because they needed to hire someone. There’s no other reason they would post it.
However, that doesn’t mean it was their top priority, and even if it was, things can change. Sometimes an emergency comes up, a big project within the group needs everyone’s attention, or hiring budgets get changed or cancelled, and the hiring process can be delayed for months.
It’s unfortunate, but as a general rule of thumb, if a recruiter or employer tells you that a job has been put on hold “indefinitely”, it’s a good idea to assume they’ll never hire somebody, and move on.
If they do reactivate their search and contact you, it will be a pleasant surprise, but it’s not a good idea to rely on this.
What can you do to make the process less frustrating?
There are a couple of steps you can take to make the job search process smoother and less stressful:
- Always keep applying for jobs until you’ve accepted a job offer. Don’t risk losing your momentum by stopping and hoping one particular job opportunity works out!
- Ask questions throughout the process so that you understand what to expect. Find out exactly what steps are involved (how many interviews, what types of interviews, background checks, drug tests, etc.)
- End each interview by saying, “can you tell me about the next step in the process, and when I can expect to hear feedback?” That way you’ll always know how long to wait before following up.
- Follow up with a polite email if you don’t receive feedback. (I recommend waiting one or two extra days. So if they said you’ll hear feedback next Wednesday, give them until Thursday or Friday). After that, send a follow-up asking for an update.
- In a first interview, ask them why the job is open, how many other people they’ve spoken with, and when they hope to have this position filled. All of this will give you a better idea of what stage the company is at in terms of their hiring.
Remember that the more you ask, the more you’ll know. You can’t control the speed that a company moves, but knowing what they’re doing behind the scenes can make the process less frustrating for you, and help you feel more confident in your job search.
This is an original article from Biron Clark. Biron is an Executive Recruiter, Career Coach and founder of the blog CareerSidekick.com. As a Recruiter he has partnered with Fortune 100 firms down to 6-person startups while helping hundreds of job seekers advance their careers. He’s passionate about business, entrepreneurship, and technology.