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I am undergoing a hiring process on a startup, where I have already done a technical test, projects, and a first interview. They are following up with me and the process keeps ongoing, since now they asked for references. I would really appreciate to determine when I will be able to know if I am hired/discarded in order to organize multiple aspects in my life (visa status, moving to another city, give a more concrete announcement to my actual job, etc.), but I don't come up with an elegant way to posit the issue.

Which would be the best way to convey to the recruiter (in this case the CEO) that I need him to set an approximate date to make a decision on my case?

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With hiring processes, it is difficult to negotiate clearly, the same way might, say, for a house - my offer is $X by Y date.

Further, there is no nice way to ask the company to give an answer by. It will impinge negatively on your candidature - I have other plans, etc. You can let them know politely, but that is about it.

Companies do not hurry the hiring process because they are looking for the best candidate. This can involve going through multiple rounds, checking with multiple people, the company interviewing multiple candidates.

Also, many companies will generally only give "Yes" answers. They will never tell candidates you have been rejected. They just say, "We will get back to you".

Giving an ultimatum (soft or hard), will unfortunately not be useful. You will need to put your own internal deadlines in place.

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I share your pain! Ugh. It's a frustrating situation. I spent six months looking for a new opportunity. There were many presented, but I didn't feel that many of them were the right one, and that's why it took so long.

With many of them, it was a process of hurry-and-wait. Hurry to get a phone interview. Wait for the next step. Some did a phone screen, and then had budget changes. Others had a long approval process for new headcount that had to be decided by an overseas office, and of course this little factoid didn't jibe with the recruiter's statement that the company wanted a new person "right away".

I'll incorporate Starlight's suggestion. For a certain period of time, you really don't want to close any doors. But at some point when it starts to feel absurd, (i.e. YAY! It's interview number six!!!) I'd just stop responding to e-mails and phone calls. There's no benefit in being beaten into submission before you can even start the job.

By this I mean a process where it's obvious you're being strung along. Some companies are looking for people who are desperate, because when a desperate person actually starts the job, he or she won't balk at "surprise" additionally unpaid responsibilities, or "surprise" salary cuts, or similar. It's just not a good place to start for a job where you intend to stay a while.

Don't get stuck on one opportunity's potential. Keep digging on others. But if it's prolonged, do yourself a favor and take a break for a few weeks if it's starting to get you down; then you can come back refreshed.

Best of luck.

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