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I'm currently in an interview process of an American game company. But I found it's a long process, here is what I've got:

This startup company was found in 2013, it has about 50 to 60 employers. They were looking for programmers to open a studio in my city. I first contacted them about 2 months ago, they sent me a code test later, and I finished it in April the 3rd. It took them like 2 weeks to review my test, then things started to getting out of control. After they told me I was clear to have a Skype interview, I've waited another 2 weeks to met their technical leader. Then their HR told me there will be 2-3 guys interview me in one day. I kept waiting but another 2 weeks passed and nothing happened, since the person in charge was on a business trip. So 2 months passed, they don't have time for me, I'm still waiting for their "final round".

Since I've never lived in America before, I have no idea what's going on. In my city, startup companies often have a very fast interview process, you can have the result and offer in 2-3 days. I already have multiple offers for me to reply, it's hard to believe why they took so long to make it done :(

What factors affect how long an American company's interview process often takes for an international job application?

  • You may want to ask other people who were interviewed by the same company how it went for them. Usually, it doesn't indicate anything bad: people are just busy, and it's difficult to get all three persons available for the whole day. By the way, the longest time I waited to get a job after the first interview was seven months. – Arseni Mourzenko May 5 '15 at 16:55
  • @MainMa thanks for the reply, I have to say 7 months waiting for an interview is full of pain and agony for me :( Maybe 1 months is my limit, since most of startup teams in my city only take about 2-3 days to make their decision. – Reck Hou May 5 '15 at 17:00
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You mentioned a small company, that means:

  • They have a small HR department (if any)
  • They probably don't have any defined hiring process
  • They may have no experience hiring internationally
  • All the employees are probably super busy

Note that these don't necessary go away with larger companies, but it's important to keep this in mind.

Now, more generally, a lot of things affect hiring timeframes. 2-3 days is ridiculously fast for the entire process to take place.

  1. Availability of decision makers. If people are traveling/on vacation, this will extend the time, if they are required for a decision. That's just how it is. If Joe needs to interview you and is traveling for two weeks, you won't get interviewed unless Joe can interview you while traveling (or vacation, etc). Or if Joe has a project deadline and can't take 2 hours or 4 hours and interview you because
  2. Urgency of opening. Some companies have specific "hire for this role" positions. Some have more a policy of, "hire smart people whenever." The former has more urgency to hire than the other. "Do we even need this person?"
  3. Manager priorities. You aren't that special to the manager hiring for this position. While it is in his/her interest, it's not really that important. They have jobs to do, expectations, and whether someone gets hired in 1 week or 1 month is most often not that meaningful - especially since a new person is even more work.
  4. International. There are a variety of things required for someone to work internationally. Most companies have minimal experience with this. It might take time for them to learn, understand their obligations, etc.
  5. Approvals. Companies have all matter of internal approvals required. This is affected by budgets, availability of money, profitability, how the company is organized, etc. For a small company that size they likely will have to go through quite a few decision makers in the company.
  6. Number of candidates. Companies that have 'rounds' of interviews generally want to get all the candidates through each round before proceeding. If there is someone else also applying who has other delays, then you might be delayed, because the company probably doesn't want to move some further than others (in case the others are better candidates).
  7. Organization level. Some companies are just more organized than others.

Now, with these in mind, realize that some companies (especially much smaller companies) can probably go through the entire process in a short period of time. It's easy to look at that list and see how a startup could either be very well organized for quickly making decisions or much slower.

It doesn't take very many of the above to "go wrong" to add 2 months to hiring timeframes. I recently applied for an internal job, which from when I knew about it to when I was offered it was nearly two months.


You mention too they are planning on starting a studio in your city. This will easily add time, as now they have to do all the above simultaneously with finding a location, determining who (if any) of their current employees will staff it, what international business laws exist and are relevant, securing funding, etc.

All that takes time and if it's not finalized there is no reason to make an offer to anyone until it is finalized.

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Things don't take that long for a company that size. There are one of many things going on but I would be actively looking elsewhere.

Reasons why it is taking so long:

  • They aren't sure they need another person. This might be based on an upcoming contract or future developments. Maybe they really want you to work for them but a development was cancelled so they put your name in the "good" bucket and are waiting to put you in the next opening that makes sense.

  • They have an opening but might not think you are the best fit. For whatever reason (and can be completely unjustified) they don't think you are perfect for the job so they are playing the field. If they needed someone right away and no one better came along you would get the job. But obviously they don't need someone right away.

  • Complete mismanagement. Given it is a tech firm this can happen. People get really busy putting out fires. Especially if the managers are also the key programmers/dev staff. They are meeting deadlines and they just don't have time to get to the interviews for the new staff or when one has time the others don't and back and forth. This usually happens at larger companies and is par for course at mine.

I had a similar experience when I went for a high level position at my company. I went through 6-7 interviews, it took 3 months, and sometimes no communication for 2-3 weeks. It worked out. Did I think I had the job? No. I would make the same assumption if I were you. It can work out. But you should have a backup plan. The reasoning above is just conjecture and unless you have someone on the inside you don't know what they think about you.

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The fact that you still don't have your interview doesn't indicate anything bad. Those three persons can be just busy, they may have meetings, conferences, trips abroad. Getting all three available for the entire day may be an extremely complicated task.

The longest time I waited to get a job after the first moment I spoke with the boss was seven months. When talking with colleagues later, it appeared that in this particular company, this happens very often. In other companies, you'll get the definitive answer within days.

If you can't find anyone to talk to to ask if the situation was similar for them, another solution could be to talk about your situation to someone who works with unemployed people and who may know that many candidates waited for months before being hired by this particular company.

Finally, you may also call the person within the company and make part of your concerns. I would use it only in a last resort, since it doesn't give a very positive impression, and it's easy to get it wrong.

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