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I've got a question and I would appreciate if you could give your thoughts about it.

I was interviewed in a major international company about 1.5 months ago and I had a very positive impression about the interview. After interview I sent three emails to the interviewer (mainly thank you note and inquiring about my application). The interviewer always replied to me very kindly, explaining that it has taken longer to come to a conclusion so I should wait longer to hear from them.

While I was nearly disappointed to hear from them, one week ago I received the following email from my interviewer and I wonder if I should consider it a positive sign or negative? I would appreciate if you could let me know how you think about this:

The email:

Dear AA,

I am sorry that our internal deliberations have been progressing somewhat more slowly than I would have liked, so we have not yet been able to reach a conclusion. It may yet take us another couple of weeks or so, but I will try to keep you informed as soon as possible. In the meantime, do let me know if you are in a hurry to have an earlier response.

Kind regards, and my apologies again for the delay.

  • Just to update that I was NOT offered the job. – M.X Jan 4 '16 at 17:30
  • In the UK it is that time of the year - festive period, coming up to the end of the end of the financial year and teams sorting out budgets. Do not hold breath. Just keep applying for other roles. If this one comes up then decide – Ed Heal Jan 4 '16 at 17:47
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I wonder if I should consider it a positive sign or negative?

There's no way to tell for sure if this is a positive, negative, or neutral sign.

When I hire, I narrow the field down to a few candidates, conduct final interviews, make my decision, and then extend an offer to the top candidate.

While I'm waiting for an answer from my top candidate, I try to keep the other finalists on hold. That way, if the top candidate declines, I can move on to the next candidate, make an offer, and I haven't hurt anyone's feelings.

I suspect that's what is happening here - you are in the running, but are not the top candidate. If the candidate(s) above you decline, you'll get an offer. Otherwise, you won't.

But there's no way to know for sure. It's also possible that you are the top candidate, but that this is a difficult decision, that holidays and vacations are slowing things down, etc, etc.

Ultimately, you should continue to interview elsewhere until you get an actual offer, while trying to keep this possibility alive. If you get an offer somewhere else, contact this company and take them up on their offer to "let [them] know if you are in a hurry to have an earlier response."

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    This is exactly what I would have said. It also may be that you are a decent fit for the job but they are hoping a better fit will come up, maybe after the holidays. It might be that you end up with the job if they can't find someone else, but that could drag on for a while. If their first choice is waiting on another job which is waiting on another prospect, well, you get the idea. Ultimately, don't burn your bridges, and (as @Joe said) don't stop looking. – Francine DeGrood Taylor Dec 16 '15 at 23:27
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The golden rule when it comes to interpreting communication with a company or hiring manager: take what they say at face value. There is no point in trying to derive a deeper meaning behind a simple email or phone call. Even if there is one, you have no way to tell.

Their hiring process has slowed down, which can happen for any number of reasons: someone fell ill, people are away on holiday, the position was given additional tasks or responsibilities, ...

Your contact is suitably apologetic about the delay and even mentions that she'd like to hear from you if your candidacy is time-sensitive. If you have a pending offer for instance, she wants you to tell her so the company can consider if they want you enough to fast-track the process, if that's possible.

These are signs of good hiring practices, but have zero bearing on your chance of being offer the position.

  • Bit would note - a company that can't make you an offer in a timely fashion is unlikely to be able to do much of anything quickly. – Sobrique Dec 16 '15 at 13:41
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    @Sobrique It can vary hugely, but for the right candidate some hiring managers can and will use their political capital to fast-track an application. Remember that delays aren't uncommon, especially around the holidays and there could be any number of reasons for the delay, some of which can be solved or bypassed: waiting for the new calendar year, getting optional input from a team member or manager, shifting priorities, ... – Lilienthal Dec 16 '15 at 14:08
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    Yes. There are reasons it can be slow. But a company that interviews without being in a position to offer is a warning sign in my book. Perhaps not a disaster - if usually only meant HR is problematic. – Sobrique Dec 16 '15 at 14:11
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    @Sobrique They likely are in a position to offer, just not in a position to decide yet, there's a crucial difference between the two. – Lilienthal Dec 16 '15 at 14:24

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