I work with job seekers on a daily basis and I hear frequent complaints and frustration with company hiring processes. Here are the questions they would like to ask hiring companies.
• Why is the job on your website if it has already been filled? As a job seeker you get excited when you see the perfect job posted at a company on your target list. You take the time to customize your cover letter and you submit your cover letter and resume online. And then the waiting begins. It is likely you never hear anything. Your frustration grows because you know you could do this job and you’d love to work at this company. What are you doing wrong? Unfortunately job boards are not always current and jobs stay posted until the offer is officially accepted. The major lost opportunity is that you are relying on job boards and online postings to find your next opportunity. Networking is the single most important thing you can do to find your next opportunity. If this company was on your target list, you should have been networking with contacts, learning about the company and ultimately having an inside contact pass your resume to the hiring manager. You would have also had insider insight as to whether the posting was just a formality for an internal hire or if the job had already been filled. Build and maintain a strong network in your target companies and beyond to increase your success.
• Why can’t you close the loop? Why can’t you let me know when the hiring timeline changes? You’ve been responsive when I asked for phone screens, interviews, references etc. I appreciate that. Of course, you must realize that if you weren’t, I’d just go to the next resume in the pile and cross you off my list. You get frustrated when I don’t keep you posted on the status of the process and the final outcome. I understand that. You also need to realize I receive hundreds of applications for each position and I’m filling multiple positions at the same time. Each position involves a separate group of hiring managers. I wish I had the time to follow-up with each candidate but with current staffing levels in most HR departments, that isn’t going to happen.
• Can’t you agree on what you are looking for? We want a candidate to speak with multiple people to hear their input and perspective on each candidate. While that helps us in the process, I know it can be very frustrating for you when they don’t agree on what the role entails or how it will be measured. That sends a red flag to you that maybe you don’t want to work for your company since clearly we don’t communicate with each other. Before you give up on us, talk to the hiring manager. Explain your concern and confusion from the interviews and gain clarity on the role. Maybe one of the interviewers didn’t review the job description or talk to the hiring manager in advance. An interviewer can make incorrect assumptions. For those people invited to participate in the interview process, it is one more thing to do on their already full schedule. They know the position is important but don’t always do their homework. Clarify the role with the hiring manager before you jump to conclusions.
• Why do I have to make multiple trips to your office? We know your time is valuable and that you often have to take vacation time or make excuses to get away for an interview. Please remember that our hiring managers are extremely busy people as well and they are running short-handed until they can fill this position. We really do try to consolidate interviews where possible but often schedules are booked weeks in advance and we can’t find a single timeslot that works for everyone. Often there is an intentional two-step process with only the top candidates from round one being invited back for round two. We try to respect everyone’s time but it can be difficult. We appreciate your patience. If the parking expenses are a burden to you, ask the HR representative if they can validate the parking for you. Often we have flexibility to do that.
• Why does it have to be last minute? We prefer not to coordinate last minute interview requests as well. Typically it is not a lack of planning on our part but more someone suddenly having a time slot open up due to a cancelled meeting etc and wanting to move the interview process forward more quickly. We know you are busy with your job and need to keep the job you have. If you absolutely can’t make it on short notice, say so and work to schedule an alternative time. If you can be flexible, it shows your interest for the opportunity. Don’t assume it is a lack of planning on our part.
• Why do you ask such silly questions? Does it really matter what kind of tree you’d like to be? Often interviewers ask what seem like random questions to see how you think on your feet. Some questions directly focus on your thought process so we can see how you think. Of course, we want to get to know you and to assess how you will fit in our organization. Having examples of your work and specific accomplishments is particularly critical as you answer behavioral questions. Don’t blow off the “silly” questions. Your response may tell us more than you realize.
• If you have an internal candidate, why are you wasting my time? You should be happy that the company you hope to work for provides internal candidates preferred treatment. That will be helpful for your future career advancement. Even if we do have a qualified internal candidate, sometimes we like to look to see if there is a better candidate in the market. Sometimes internal candidates say no so we also try to always have a back-up plan in place. If we liked your resume and experience enough to bring you in, even if this position is filled by an internal candidate, we might have other opportunities well suited to you in the near future. If you are truly interested in the company, taking this interview could be a good investment in longer term success.
• If you have a budgeted salary range, why am I being asked for my requirements? Usually we ask the salary question as part of our up front screening process. If this job can’t pay more than $65K and you are expecting $100K, let’s identify that early in the process so we don’t waste each other’s time. If I’m expecting to pay $100 and your requirements are $45 that is also a red flag to me. Yes, I have to hire within a range, but where on that range will depend on experience and the value you bring to our organization. Before investing too much time in the process, I want to know that we are in the same ballpark.