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There just seems to be something off about this employer I applied for a job at. At every step of the way, I have always had to contact the manager to get the ball rolling at any step of the hiring process. The first thing that happened was that he forgot about my phone interview. So we had to reschedule. The next time he called me. Later, we had a technical phone interview with him and a software developer through GoToMeeting. It went OK but didn't think I did good enough to get the job.

About 2 1/2 weeks passed since that interview and never heard back from them. So yesterday I decided to contact the manager again to follow up. I got an email back saying "Hi, When are you free to discuss the next step?" It was like I had to email him before we could go any further. Would he have ever emailed me if I had not emailed him first? Is this a sign of a potentially bad employer or this a normal thing during the hiring process? I should probably note as well that this would be a telecommuting job (and yes, I have verified they are a legit company).

Thanks!

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    Step away as fast as you can. If you can't get any responses from them in the hiring process, what will it be like if you need clarification on something from them that is blocking you? Being remote means you're not visible, can't knock on the door. I would be very cautious. – Jane S Jul 14 '15 at 1:41
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    What does it hurt to follow up and see what the job offer is before you decide? – paparazzo Jul 14 '15 at 4:52
  • Sounds more like you just happened to contact them when they jest happened to be ready to call you back. Concidence. – keshlam Jul 14 '15 at 13:43
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    Or you happened to contact them just after their first choice turned them down. – HLGEM Jul 14 '15 at 14:28
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    Yeah likely they had another offer that turned them down. It's a telecommute job and if you don't have a job take it... not much to lose honestly, if you do have a job I would be very cautious - the hiring process is one of the most important things for a company. However, with that said outsourcing and telecommunication is a little more lax since you're not going to be privvy to each others personal social experience everyday. – user37925 Jul 14 '15 at 16:26
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We can't know what this hiring manager is thinking or his motivations, we can only try to understand him based on your description. Speculating on what happened on their side is fun, but is nothing more than guessing.

From your side, they seem to be quite casual about hiring and you justifiably regard that as a warning sign. It's not a normal thing, I know some companies are deliberately difficult about the hiring process because they want to keep the 'cult' in 'culture', but most companies are hiring to fill needs that need filling. If you need a software developer and you're willing to pay for one, that's an expensive matter to undertake and it's reasonable to say any company in that position would want to fill that vacancy quickly to realize the business value creation as soon as reasonably possible.

You never came out and asked, "Should I move forward wit this employer?" even though you seem to be asking that indirectly. To answer that, you have to ask yourself how this position compares to your current position. If you're unemployed and in a hurry, it may be the rationale choice is to move forward with this company while keeping your expectations moderately low. If you're happily employed, maybe you should stay where you are and not risk going to this company.

My personal thought on hiring is that it's the single most important thing a company does because a company ultimately is a group of people. People who work with me are probably tired of hearing it! If a company isn't serious about hiring, I can't imagine them being too serious about other things. It's also important to remember interviewing and hiring are sales activities in that you're trying to get great candidates to buy into your company with their time and energy. If this company hasn't impressed you enough, pass on them and look for something more to your liking. If you're not in a position to be selective, take what you can get for the sake of practicality and be mindful of career stewardship while you look for a new opportunity.

  • Thanks. I am currently employed but not happy where I am. That's an interesting point you bring up. If they need someone, wouldn't they be eager to get the ball rolling themselves if I was a good enough candidate? You're right though ... no way of really knowing what's going on at their end. – Andrew Jul 14 '15 at 2:26
  • @Andrew they might not need someone immediately, but just be in a general position of wanting to grow the team. I've worked for companies in that situation, and hiring activities do end to get de-prioritized as other matters crop up. – Carson63000 Jul 14 '15 at 4:15
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It isn't very common for companies to make the applicant to drive the process but it does happen.

I would worry that this is a sign of a manager without the abilities to handle their workload. If this person is going to be your direct supervisor that would be a huge red flag for me. If they don't follow through in this I wouldn't expect much follow through when you encounter barriers. As a telecommuter you could end up spending a lot of time sitting around waiting for answers rather than being productive.

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Recently I had the same experience with my current employer and another potential employer. Initial rounds went well and I was told to wait for a couple of days for next step.

I waited for 3 weeks and contacted both of them through email. A day after that I got the job offer from current employer and on the next day from second company.

Both had the reason for delayed response, the first one told me that although I had cleared the initial round but the position for which I initially interviewed was awarded to another more suitable candidate and another same level position just opened today.

The second one told that they had their hiring manager on annual leave for 2 weeks and he just got back so they are now able to make the final decision. I accepted the first offer since the company was more suitable for me.

Anyhow, the point is that it is somewhat normal in hiring process. That doesn't necessarily mean that employer is bad.You can ask for reason for their delay in casual manner in next session, that can help you clear your doubts.

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Yes this is unusual and yes, this is a red flag. But that doesn't mean you should automatically discount the position. There are any number of reasons why you as a candidate would find yourself driving the hiring process forward:

  • You managed to contact them when they were ready for the next step but before they found the time to contact you. (mentioned by keshlam)
  • The hiring manager is swamped with work or has more pressing priorities (mentioned by HLGEM). This is common for start-ups but it's difficult to judge from the outside what this would mean for your workload.
  • The company has no clearly defined hiring policy or process
  • There is no no HR team, which makes the previous
  • The company is not in a hurry to make a hire. If the new position isn't time-sensitive but they have other projects that are, the entire process can slow down or even stop until a candidate reminds the hiring manager that he should be contacting people.

The only way to find out what the reason is, is to simply ask your contact about it. You can be as casual or direct in this as you like. After all, a job interview goes both ways: you're meant to be evaluating the company just as much as they are evaluating you, if not more. It may very well turn out that the company has no HR processes and their administration is a mess. Some people don't mind this. Others might be willing to suffer a bureaucratic quagmire if other aspects of the job make it worthwhile. And many people will find this kind of treatment a deal-breaker because it boils down to the company demonstrating a lack of respect for their applicants. Just be realistic with yourself and self-select out if you fall in the latter group.

Since you're specifically looking for a remote position you should be a lot more careful. Solid communication is the only way that full time remote work can succeed. Not being being proactive about hiring doesn't necessarily mean that your manager would be unreachable or hard to work with ; but there is a good chance that he's fairly disorganized. Again, some people don't mind that, some will hate it. For a remote position you want to be very clear about the work processes you'll follow and you should be extra thorough given this slow communication. Given that you mention them using a video conferencing tool and the manager seems to have replied quickly to your e-mails this might not be that big of a deal. If at the end of the next interview you still have doubts, explicitly raise your concerns about effective communication. I would not recommend straight up accusing them of being disorganized as that could backfire too easily but if the manager mentions the slow-moving process at any point that's a perfect time to ask about it more directly.

If you decide to stay in the process, ensure you keep an eye out for other red flags though as that could indicate a dysfunctional company rather than a disorganized one.

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