I recently interviewed with a major tech company (Top 3 in my country) with one phone interview, one Skype, and lastly a five hour on-site interview with five different members of the organization.

I felt it went pretty well and I was hoping to receive an offer for the position, until I got a phone call saying I was unsuccessful and they went with another candidate who matched the skill-set required and was available immediately (my current notice period is 4-6 weeks).

The internal recruiter then went on to say that their IT Director and the rest of the team really liked me and wanted to get me into the team. They also said that all of my feedback was great/good, and that there wasn't any negative feedback from the interviews.

He said they would be in touch sometime in the near future, hopefully with an official offer and they were just waiting for approval to on-board more staff from higher up. They also suggested we have lunch within the next few weeks to discuss it.

I've never been in a situation like this before, so I'm hoping to get some answers from people who have experienced it. I'm hoping it will help me prepare for the upcoming weeks / best way to approach it.

So I'd like to know is this a common tactic used by large companies? How hopeful should I be that an official offer could come from this?

If this is too out of scope or shouldn't be here, just let me know.

All answers appreciated.

  • 67
    I would not at all consider this a "failed" interview. You didn't match the requirements for this particular job and you can't help for the delay but you impressed them quite well and got another chance. This is great!
    – puck
    Sep 20 '18 at 14:39
  • 11
    To reiterate Puck's point -- being less qualified than someone else doesn't make you unqualified. When multiple people all "pass" the interviews, the company will only take the best. You might well be a close second on their list, but (e.g.) the first-place candidate had some in-depth experience with a niche technology they interact with occasionally. It's not a deal-breaker or -sealer, but when comparing two excellent candidates, you often end up choosing on very small margins.
    – Nic
    Sep 20 '18 at 17:35
  • 2
    Why do you assume they're trying to deceive you (with a "tactic")? It seems reasonable that they were just being honest and they want you for another position. Sep 20 '18 at 23:41
  • @Dukeling I'm just looking for feedback, I've every intention of going to the lunch with an open mind, i'd love to work for the company, but i'd rather get as much information as possible for a situation like this so i'm not blind sided in any way, or at least better prepared.
    – Ryan
    Sep 21 '18 at 7:59

This is a good thing, I'm not sure why you are concerned. Big companies hire often, they just need the approval to do so before they can extend the offer. In this case, it sounds like they were really interested in both of you, but could only hire one person this time due to budget and/or timing. They want to keep you interested so when the next hiring opportunity comes along, they won't have to repeat the interview process again and just extend an offer to you. I'd certainly continue to pursue this, and meet for lunch if and when that happens.

Also, I'm a developer myself and I can think of two times a similar thing has happened to me, I interviewed, got rejected but a promise of a future position soon. In both cases, the company did in fact come back to the table to re-engage me in a few months, unfortunately for them, I had moved on in both cases and told them no.

  • 4
    Yeah I've never been on the hiree side of this equation but I've seen it plenty of times from the hirer side. Generally it's to do with budgeting, and quite often it's where one department recognises they need a resource and another department controls the budget (so it happens a lot in dev), meaning the department who wants the hire then has to go justify the cost and get sign off. I've seen multiple really good developers get snapped up because the person signing off the budget dragged their heels, but from the hiree's side it's good news, they just need to wait it out.
    – delinear
    Sep 20 '18 at 15:51
  • 36
    Agree with the answer, but as always, don't put in your notice or otherwise act like you have an offer until you've got an official offer letter in your hands.
    – Dan Staley
    Sep 20 '18 at 16:34
  • Just repeating what others said - i ended up at a company I originally interviewed at 9 months before - they liked me, but someone else pipped me at the time. In the end I ended up in a role I actually preferred anyway. Sep 20 '18 at 17:43
  • @DanStaley One thing I've always said is to never hand in your notice until you have a signed contract, far too risky!
    – Ryan
    Sep 21 '18 at 8:02

While obviously it's no substitute for getting the offer you were hoping for it is reasonably encouraging - they certainly wouldn't bother going to the effort of organising a lunch meeting if there wasn't something in the works and you've got nothing to lose by engaging with them in this and seeing where it goes.

That said I wouldn't be counting on it, potential roles fall through all the time so keep on the job hunt as you were and see where it goes.

  • 4
    Re: lunch. My company for a little while did lunches for interviewees, and I know most of them did not get hired. I don't know what the point of that was (probably just experimenting with interview styles), but it might be a similar tactic with this company. This is a large technical company.
    – Catsunami
    Sep 20 '18 at 14:50
  • 5
    @Catsunami In the OP's case though they have already had the interviews so there would be little incentive to trial a new interview technique on someone they have already done a three stage interview with.
    – motosubatsu
    Sep 20 '18 at 15:01
  • These candidates definitely had phone and on-site interviews before the lunch. It was some weird process we had that I'm glad is not being followed everywhere, because I think it got many people's hopes up.
    – Catsunami
    Sep 24 '18 at 21:59

You definitely want to follow up on this.

Anecdote time: I have a cousin who is a Professional Engineer (PE) (US Designation), and she specializes in EPA compliance.

She interviewed for a job where there was an internal candidate who was already "slated" to get the job, but company policy demanded that they advertise and interview for external candidates.

While the internal candidate did get the job, as planned, she so impressed them in her interview that they hired her, too! Their business was on an upswing, and they intended to hire a second PE in about 6 months' time, but they didn't want to lose her, so they just hired her as well.

  • 1
    @EjoshuaS - Thanks for the edit. I should really concentrate on one thing at a time when I write this stuff. :) Sep 21 '18 at 15:46
  • No worries, it happens to me all the time :) Sep 21 '18 at 15:51

To add to some other good answers:

The last 2 jobs I've gotten were where I was told they were going with a different person for the position. For whatever reason, that person backed out and they came back to me to offer the position. Both times, I felt better as a 2nd pick than not picked at all.

Just because you aren't 1st pick, it doesn't mean you failed. It simply means that there's someone out there better than you, which is always the case. I don't say that to be mean, since there can only be 1 person "at the top" and the rest of us are still trying to "get there".

As Jay said, large businesses are always hiring. They have enough people that someone is "always" leaving. Either they are moving up in the company, over to a different dept, or out of the company. If they are growing, they may simply need more people than they advertised and are essentially trying to piggy-back 2 positions for the "price" of 1 set of interviews.

As mentioned in the comments, don't tender your resignation until you get an official offer. The budget they might be trying to get might not come through.

Christopher Hostage mentions a "bait and switch" tactic, which could happen. Sometimes it's not a malicious thing, though. They may have a higher paid/experience position they advertised for, they like you and you are the best candidate who applied, but you don't have the skills to be the "senior", team lead, or manager. Instead of not hiring anyone, they offer you a lower paying/experience job while moving an existing team member up to fill the gap.

In some cases, this may only be a temporary thing, too. I've heard of this happening, where after about a year the team member that was moved up hates the new position and wants to move back down. The person they hired now has the experience that was missing previously, or no one else is willing to take the position, so they got what they interviewed for anyway.

Jobs can change in an instant. They can disappear without any fault of your own or you might get pushed into a managers role. Take what you want, leave the rest, and try to be happy with your choices. You can always change your mind later.

  • whether I was 1st, 2nd or 3rd pick I wouldn't mind, the interview is just a foot in the door, once you're in that's when you prove your worth. As Christopher mentioned about the bait and switch, that isn't something I would have considered before going to the lunch, so it's good to have that information now just in case, thanks for the answer, really great getting so much feedback.
    – Ryan
    Sep 21 '18 at 8:06
  • Candidates A and B both apply at X and Y. A is better. A gets two offers, rejects one obviously, then B gets an offer.
    – gnasher729
    Sep 22 '18 at 7:40

I've never heard of this happening before, but you should feel very good about this; the company liked you so much that they are bending their staffing quota especially to bring you on. Congratulations!

I would definitely go for lunch with them to discuss whatever there is to discuss. The one thing I might be concerned with is that if they are hiring you outside of staffing quotas, they might try to lowball you. Make sure you know what you're worth, both in your field and also to this company in particular based on their payment schedule (most large companies have payment schedules for employees, rather than determining salary on a case by case basis). Payment schedules are usually internally confidential, but you can get a reasonable idea by looking at salary data from places like Glassdoor.

Aside from that, congratulations and good luck on the lunch "date" :)

  • 1
    Very interesting to learn, have never heard of a payment schedule before and will need to look into that! I plan on taking the lunch and i'm hoping to get an offer, but low-balling or being pushed into another role / position is something that was concerning to me.
    – Ryan
    Sep 20 '18 at 14:04
  • 2
    A payment schedule is how a company can hire hundreds of people in an extremely short amount of time and both know what to pay them and also standardize their pay across roles without having to make an individual decision on each one. Depending on the company, the pay schedule could be flexible (e.g. for A role and B experience level we pay $X-$Y) or it could be rigid, but usually it's at least defined.
    – Ertai87
    Sep 20 '18 at 14:44
  • They might be "bending the staffing quota" or there might actually be room within the quota for more hiring in the near future. Just because recruitment for a separate position is not as far along as recruitment for the first position doesn't mean there's not a position, or that there's a quota preventing one from being staffed.
    – Beanluc
    Sep 20 '18 at 22:53

This could be a bait-and-switch. They could be saying "You aren't good enough for the 100k position, but why don't you take this 60k position". The 100k position might not exist at all.

  • 1
    Ah you were faster. This could definitely be a possibility. Sep 20 '18 at 23:55
  • This is one of the best answers - I am reckoning a similar thing here. Like everything is clearly not transparent in this case, so a bait is probably on. Sep 21 '18 at 7:12
  • If I apply for a 100k position, there is no way I would take a 60k offer. Maybe 95k, depending in the situation.
    – gnasher729
    Sep 22 '18 at 7:42

I have no idea how common this practice is. We know that they really liked you and want to utilize your skills, but it's just that they had a pressing need for which they needed to address ASAP and your availability didn't match. However I can see two possible interpretations of your situation:

  1. Sit back and chill and consider the "lunch" another round of interviews that may or may not pan out.

  2. Ask yourself why a major tech company couldn't wait out a month or so in order to hire you? What was so urgent that they needed someone ASAP? What does this datum tell you about the internal organization of the company and their ability to plan?

Unfortunately you are probably the only person who can differentiate between the two scenarios.

  • 3
    To be fair we don't know that they couldn't wait a month for the OP - if choosing between two candidates of equal quality but one was available now and the other in 4-6 weeks I think a lot of companies are going to pick the one who is available now
    – motosubatsu
    Sep 20 '18 at 13:53
  • @motosubatsu But they want a candidate ASAP as well as the OP. If there was only one position then why the secondary offer? Why suddenly create an additional slot to fill? That raises questions.
    – Peter M
    Sep 20 '18 at 14:01
  • The second position could easily have been in the works for sometime and if that's the case, and they have already done the legwork of finding and interviewing someone who looks like a good fit for it it seems perfectly reasonable to reach out to the OP.
    – motosubatsu
    Sep 20 '18 at 14:03
  • 1
    @motosubatsu These are all speculations, which is why I offered two speculative possibilities.
    – Peter M
    Sep 20 '18 at 14:04
  • Oh I agree this is all speculative, and I'm not meaning to come across as critical. I was just offering a potential third explanation for the situation.
    – motosubatsu
    Sep 20 '18 at 14:08

I was at one time in position, where I was looking for new work and so I send my CV to where I think it could be interesting. In companies anything take time and results are not immediate.

In the end I had proposals (and interview) from 5 companies at the same time (spread over two weeks), I aced all of them, all said something to mean "we love, what we had seen and hear, but we have to wait some time before we will offer you the work, as there are more candidates and also our higher-ups have to say yes to that, we will call you soon".

The interwiev is everitime two way event - they evaluate me, I evaluate them. If both part fall in love, then it is perfect and marriage is on the way. If one is not happy or satisfied, it will not work.

So I also want wait, till I get all interviews and then choose, witch I would like most and where they would want me.

It ended that I made my mind for one particular company (while others if rated like 85%-95% of the winner and would like work for any of them) and in reasonable time I called them, how they see it (well, I had friends in every of those companies, so I could call informal) - was told, they would call me anyway the next day, if I would work for them. So the next day I came there in person and signed work contract. At the same day I got 4 more calls from those others companies and I politely decline their offers, and told them I already accepted other proposal that same day.

I am sure, I was not the only person at any of that companies, that they interviewed and which succeed the interview - I just was free to start working next day (which some others was not and so I got advance even if I may be just the same good as those others). Maybe I was like few percent better, than some other candidates too.

The result was, that I turned down 4 positions and so 4 companies probably just called the second in line (which maybe was as good (or even slightly more), just not avaiable just now, or was reaaly good, just a hair split less than me) for the proposal, that ther first rejected (with something like "sorry, we like you, but we have another candidate who matched the skill-set required and is available immediately"), and told them something to the term, that if they are still interested and avaiable, they would like talk with them again about the position.

Not exactly as your situation, but something similar could happened to you too. You met their criteria, just there was someone else, who met them too and was available. Then he retracted and they have to choose between others, who also met the criteria, but was not choosen at first round. Or they just need to take you when you are free and "be in contact until then", as it is possible, that you also get more offers and will choose someone else. Or they just see, that they can get more than one person, and so want you too, if possible and have you as near as possible, so you would not look another way, until your notice is due ...

IMHO it is perfectly possible, that just "something happened" and they found possible way, how to employ you, just they have to make sure, it would work (so they cannot employ you now, until there is budget signed on their table, but they want you to get familiar with the team and if all came the expected way, that you are still thinking about working for them and nobody other).

Or maybe they are about to open another similar position, and think, that you have also skillset for that, but not sure, if you would like that position and the position is not yet perfectly described, so the talk can help see, if they have to go with the all process describing such position and interviewing people for it, or if you just can fit it (maybe with some small changes) and they can get you (as they already wants you in the team).

If you are interested, I recommend to go to that lunch and talk with them more. It is not as formal as interview and can also tell you more about that company, then formal interview, so you can make decision based on more knowledge.

Interpersonal relations are often more important, than some small differencies in skill-sets, or job descriptions or benefits offered. I would go, will be positive, and (reasonably) open, ask a lot of questions and listen to their chatting too. I would not bet my life on the result and would not be sad, if it would not result in job offer, but it is good sign and good chance for you too to know, if you really want work there. Better know, if both sides are on the same note and eventually leave before contract happens, than discover it whan it is late and contract is alredy signed. (That is for BOTH sides.)

Be prepare, that you will be anyway evaluated there, (more for personality, than for skill-set - and maybe it would not be on conscious level) and be prepare to evaluate them as well. This time it is (or should be) more like you are interviewing them, than they re-interviewing you :)

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .