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I'm currently looking for my first job after my university education, so I am not that experienced with the application processes of various companies and their schedules.

A few months ago the reply rate to my applications seemed rather low, now a bunch of companies get back to me. I presume that during the summer holiday a large fraction of the HR teams have been on vacation and therefore applications have piled up. Now I am in multiple application processes in parallel and they progress at different speeds.

Say I am in the second round with company A and it feels really great. I work on a project that is to be discussed on the second interview. An appointment for that has yet to be scheduled. There will be third interview with the senior management after that. Then there is company B, C and D, where I will have the next round next week. And then there is company E where I will have the first interview soon.

It will likely take a several weeks until I will get a written offer from any of these. And as I want to start a job eventually, I would try to ask for a little more consideration time, but would have to accept or decline an offer at some point. I would really like to have the offer of the companies in the order of my personal ranking, but that likely won't happen by itself. So I would like to inform the HR of my current favorite company of the situation and ask to already schedule the next round as early as possible to let them be the first to give an offer (if they want).

Now I have tried to express this, but there are two things that always creep in and that I don't want to convey:

  1. Saying that I am interviewing with other companies and that they might make an offer sounds like a threat. Basically I am blackmailing company A to either send me an offer quickly or I might be gone. Surely I will not wait forever, but I am willing to ask the other companies for more consideration time to let company A come to a conclusion. But I also would not want to decline written offers by other companies just on the basis of hope that company A will eventually hire me.

  2. Trying to downplay the time constraints that I would definitely decline all other offers until company A decides is neither completely true, nor does it sound sensible. During the past months I became aware of my skills, and what open positions I get interviewed for. I do really like company A, and would be most happy to work for them. The other companies have interesting work as well, and I don't to make it look like as if I could either become an astronaut with company A or just get hired for a boring job with the other companies.

I presume that HR people know about this scenario with applicants and that I don't have to write much. How could I politely ask for them to schedule the next round already, without blackmail or desperate connotations?

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Companies are very unlikely to speed up the hiring process for you. The scheduling of hiring processes is already a huge challenge. They have to coordinate the timetable for evaluating applications, background checks, the schedules of interviewers, available rooms, bureaucratic processes and a lot more.

They, too, have a position they need filled, and they would rather fill it today than in three months from now. If they could interview and hire you next week, they would do that. But they can't, because corporate bureaucracies are not that flexible.

So when you try to blackmail a company stating "send me an offer quickly or I might be gone", then the most likely response will be to wish you best regards with your new job at that other company.

A better strategy to keep your options open might be to move ahead with the application and hiring processes at all companies, but do so slowly. Remember, as long as you didn't sign the contract, you can still back out. And often you can even back out if you signed the contract. For example, when there is a probation period where the work contract can be terminated immediately for any reason, then that usually applies to both parties.

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  • Okay, then my gut feeling has been correct. In this particular situation I work on a test project, and I already have the first iteration done. Now I am working on improvements, but I think that a next interview could already be scheduled. But then again they likely go as fast as they can? – Martin Ueding Sep 17 at 11:13
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    This is absolutely WRONG. Companies move up and fast forward interviews due to competing offers constantly. I have never has an interviewer not ask me where I was in my process so they know how fast they need to move. Its nto a threat, its not blackmail. Its information. It may be that something can't be worked out due to reasons, but generally they'll do everything they can to make the schedule work out. – Gabe Sechan Sep 19 at 7:09
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    @GabeSechan I have never, in ten years of hiring, interviewed a candidate without their recruiter trying to convince me "oh my god they're so hot in the market right now, they're getting SO MANY offers, you have to move FAST or you'll miss them!". Well, even if that's true (and we all know it isn't), if I want to hire them, I'll already be trying to make that happen as fast as the company allows. Strangely enough a recruiter (or the candidate) telling me to do it quicker isn't ever going to make any difference at all. – BittermanAndy Sep 19 at 8:04
  • @BittermanAndy And yet I've had interviews moved up every time I've told recruiters that I have a final interview somewhere else or I have an offer in hand. Seems you aren't doing your job very well. It's the entire reason why they ask. Markets are competitive, you need to show flexibility to get the best hires. Because noone who's seriously looking for a job is going to wait for your company to drag its feet. – Gabe Sechan Sep 19 at 15:36
  • @BittermanAndy: So if they don't schedule a next interview that means that my progress at the test they assigned to me isn't blowing them away and they likely proceed with other candidates in the meantime? – Martin Ueding Sep 20 at 8:20
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Its EXTREMELY normal for an applicant to be interviewing at multiple places with differing timeline. Recruiters will almost always ask what your status is at other companies. Tell them. They will speed things up if possible. This is common place and they deal with it a dozen times a day. I can't tell you the number of times I've taken a last minute interview they moved up because the candidate has an offer in hand.

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Although my reply is cast in a personal context you may be able to generalize a solution to your challenge from my experiences.

At one time in life I had interviews with intellectual property law firms in various regions of the United States. The whole process was dominated by the politics of law firms at the partnership level. Most of the interview time was spent on strange or irrelevant or sometimes pleasant conversations with people who did not have much if any input into making the hiring decisions. The point of these casual conversations is to give the candidate some information about the workplace, however, it is often quite limited by the personalities involved, and the candidate must impress those who make the actual hiring decisions to get a job offer. Recruiters and human resources are screening for a fit between the candidate and hiring managers so they don't have much influence when it comes to accelerating a job offer. Many HR have no input with the hiring team. If the hiring team has a favorite school or channel for putting members on the team, and you are not in that channel, the interview process is either comical or unfruitful. However one might defy the odds and impress the hiring team given an opportunity. I often had the impression I was a character in a comedic drama although some of the characters involved did not seem to share my sense of comedy.

In engineering and law I only secured employment by making a good impression on those who made the hiring decisions. I had two interviews and two job offers as a graduating engineer. The offer to work on software in military aircraft came because I answered three questions about modular programming correctly which impressed the lead engineer. This offer would have expired in two weeks. I had answered some basic electrical engineering hardware questions properly to a supervising engineer at my favored company. He gave me a card and said to call if I needed something. I called HR and told them I had an offer that expires in two weeks, can I get a hire decision before then since I prefer to work with your company? He said, "Call your friend Carl." Carl and I had recently attended college together. He had told the HR Guy to put my resume on top of the pile when he heard I was applying at the company. I did not want to ask Carl to go to his supervisors, so I called the engineering supervisor and explained my dilemma. He spoke to the hiring team and they made me an offer before the other offer expired.

The law jobs I secured had this pattern. I impressed partners during interviews who were making the hiring decisions and they saw to it that I got hired via the politics of the law firm. I did not have competing offers on the table and made no efforts to ask for an accelerated decision. However I did have personal chemistry and thought it would be welcome to call them with an appropriate question or concern during their process of making a hiring decision.

I can see why someone might vote down this answer since it is somewhat personal. However the general point from my experience is that you need to sense whether a champion or advocate at Company A exists who has the political power to fast track the decision to hire you. You need to sense whether it would be welcome or offensive to ask this person to listen to your concerns. The HR staff strive to be helpful but in my experience often have no desire or political power in the organization to accelerate the interview process or to hurry up the hiring decisions.

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