Friday, December 6, 2013

What happens after you leave your on-site?

A recent discussion with a friend commiserating job prospects left me with a few questions for discussion :
  • What happens after a candidate leaves an on-site, and the overall impression is positive? 
    • Presumably, the chemists get together and nod and say, "Yeah, that's our guy/gal." Then what? 
    • Do they talk to the boss? 
    • How does HR get involved? 
    • Who holds the power, HR or "the boss", however he or she may be defined? 
  • What explains long delays that don't end in "No" after an on-site? 
    • Are long silences (without an outright "we are not hiring you") to do with money ("Do we have the money for this position?"), or that they're looking for another candidate? 
  • Should the candidate keep contacting the potential employer to remind them that they're still interested? 
  • What explains the change in hiring between modern times (2009-present) and the boom times of the late 1990s? Is it simply that the balance between employer and potential employee is so off-kilter that behavior that would be considered really rude/unkind is now de rigeur
I'd be curious to hear the opinions of hiring managers, or those who have participated in the hiring process. 

18 comments:

  1. I've been on the hiring end of this process a few times. Here's what happens for us:

    We usually bring in ~3 candidates for on-sites for each posted position. Ideally, we'd interview one person per day, and have the whole thing wrapped in a week. That essentially never happens. Interviewers have other job responsibilities, interviewees are sometimes traveling/unavailable, etc. Therefore, sometimes it can be 2-3 weeks before all candidates have been interviewed. That might explain the long delay that doesn't end in a 'no' after an on-site. We usually have 6-7 people on an evaluation committee. Sometimes, the group is split (4 want to hire, 3 don't, for example). In that case, sometimes we'll bring in back-up candidates for a subsequent round of interviews. This can take another 3-4 weeks. At the end of that, we might not be totally convinced that you're "the guy", but you might still be our favorite from the pool of applicants, so we might extend an offer ~6 weeks after you interview. I'd say long silences are probably never about money. If we've gone through the effort of trying to source a position, we have already identified a need and have the resources to support an external hire.

    For us, HR is basically there to help evaluate motivational fit and to let the candidate know about benefits packages. The HR rep gets a vote, but the science portion of the hiring committee can easily overrule. Our committees typically consist of the hiring manager, who is the leader of the group that needs the new hire, two senior scientists, a manager of a closely-related group, an HR rep, and 1-2 technicians/junior scientists.

    I'd say it's probably a good idea to keep in close contact with the hiring manager. Ping him/her once a week or so. It's also totally OK to ask why a decision hasn't yet been made. You might get the runaround here a bit, but some managers will just tell you flat out where the company is in the process.

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  2. Having recently hired a couple of chemists, we did just have a quick chat after the interviews and agreed which candidates we liked and which we didn't. Candidates who everyone liked got hired faster (often offered within a day or 2). Delays seem to me more a function of how busy everybody is.

    I found getting 'pinged' too much by candidates annoying past a week or 2, but i can see where it would be effective, squeaky wheels and all.

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    Replies
    1. In my efforts to find reliable advice for getting hired, I too, came across the BUG em suggestion. I REFUSED to do this for the belief that if they are interested in you the last thing you want to do is swamp them. I did try asking how many candidates they were interviewing..which was related to the bugging factor….and explained this. Maybe a few minimum times folks but not so much. My opinion though.

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  3. I work for a large multinational and here are my experiences:

    "What happens after a candidate leaves an on-site, and the overall impression is positive?
    Presumably, the chemists get together and nod and say, "Yeah, that's our guy." Then what?"

    Yes that's about it.

    "Do they talk to the boss?"

    Yes, that's the next step to make sure that we have collected all the evidence and ranked the candidates fairly.

    "How does HR get involved?"

    We send all the interview documentation along with our recommendations to HR who process it and send out an offer to our chosen candidate (unless a further step in the process is required like for graduate hires who have an assessment centre).

    "Who holds the power, HR or "the boss", however he or she may be defined?"

    The boss, definitely, HR are there to facilitate and ensure that process is properly followed.

    "What explains long delays that don't end in "No" after an on-site?"

    Churning through all the HR processes is slow before an offer is sent out, and that is after we have completed all interviews, sat and had our meeting on them and discussion with the boss and sent off our documentation. This can be months if it is not handled promptly by everyone in the chain.

    "Are long silences (without an outright "we are not hiring you") to do with money ("Do we have the money for this position?"), or that they're looking for another candidate?"

    In my company, no as the business case for a hire must be made up front. It maybe due to the need to interview all candidates who have applied or that the processes are really running slowly in HR. On rare occasions it may be that we have two great candidates and we are trying to find the cash to employ both of them, but this is highly unlikely.

    "Should the candidate keep contacting the potential employer to remind them that they're still interested?"

    Yes, if you have a direct contact in the area you are working on as they can apply pressure to HR, or may be able to let you know if you have got the job or not while the paperwork is being sorted out.

    "What explains the change in hiring between modern times (2009-present) and the boom times of the late 1990s? Is it simply that the balance between employer and potential employee is so off-kilter that behavior that would be considered really rude/unkind is now de rigeur?"

    I think that recruitment practices have become much more formalised and process driven, while this (hopefully) results in a fairer, more successful selection process it is much less personal and processes can get stuck in 'gaps' between two people's responsibilities and get 'lost'.

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  4. I forgot to say that, because of the fact that in many large companies things are slow, hiring managers are often acutely aware of this as they will probably have missed out on at least one great candidate because the offer wasn't got out to them in time. This means that they are on your (the candidate's) side in getting an offer out to you quickly and getting your signature on the dotted line.

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  5. Fifteen years ago, I had multiple interviews (one local on-site, one traveling on-site) where I did not hear back from companies about my status. I was afraid to talk to them too much afterwards (dude, where's my offer/rejection letter?), but I was pretty sure that it reflected a likely negative opinion of the companies of me at the time that it happened. I called one and was informed they were waiting for info from other candidates, but I still never received a rejection letter after that.

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    Replies
    1. "Fifteen years ago, I had multiple interviews"

      Maybe you;re still in the running?

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    2. Considering one of the companies is probably dumping chemists and the other was a start-up (that may not be in business), I doubt it.

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  6. I had the pleasure of having Dr. Ann Nalley on staff where I graduated. During a special speaker Q&A, this older male chemist who pursued a business venture following work in patent field. Following talk, he proudly announced the number of rejection letters he received after graduation in the 60's. Dr Nalley responded loudly, cutting him off ---"Well! At least HE got rejection letters. They didn't even bother offering those to women back then."


    I thought to myself "oh damnnnnnnnnnn! she told you."

    Moral of the story: I guess even our mentors are still learning about hiring practices, then and now. Best moment of my life regarding diversity in chemistry.

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  7. From what I've seen, companies are very reluctant to flat out say "no" to someone, unless it's obviously a poor fit. I wonder if this allows them to leave the door open for the future. For example, I once interviewed at a company that did not make me an offer, but a few years later when they had another opening, the hiring manager contacted me (basically, the original position evaporated). I also interviewed for a position for which I was not qualified, but a few months later a position opened up that was more suitable for my skillset, and HR contacted me.

    It's very frustrating, but I've learned to be patient.

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  8. long silence, getting back to you - after a positive-feel on site interview - could mean lots of things that have to do either with you as a job candidate or with some factor that is completely internal to the organization doing the hiring. The problem is that after an on-site interview, most people that have seen eager to hire you cannot really give you a scoop of what is holding it up, and they should not be even hinting at the likely hiring decision because there is a legal liability (i.e. nasty discrimination lawsuit possibility, should they end up giving the job to someone else)

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  9. Does anyone have any experience with how this process usually transpires at a start-up?

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    Replies
    1. Same process, but "the boss" and "the chemists/scientists" are usually the same group of people. (Usually.)

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    2. ...and so, usually, the process moves A LOT faster.

      But they may be much more snagged on the "do we have money for this? Yeah, I think we do." / "Oh crap, no we don't" problem.

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  10. From a recent job seeker perspective. I don't necessarily expect lots of information from the company after an on-site interview, but please avoid no communication at all. I would be happy with a "A decision will be made by ..." No further explanation is needed. However, when that time rolls around I believe the company should contact you with some sort of information, even if it is "We're sorry, we are still evaluating. We'll get back to you by ..." And when a decision is made it must be communicated. It is not fair to leave the candidate in an indefinite limbo.

    I believe it is essential to follow up and express interest, but you should only do so when "deadlines" are past - and give them a day or three leeway. I agree that too much pinging would be detrimental and disrespectful of the hiring managers time.

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  11. One other question - what's up with the recent common practice of whoever's organizing an interview not bothering to send copies of the candidate's resume to the interviewers, and the expectation that an interviewee will bring his/her own paper copies instead? I was a little bit surprised by this in my first few interviews when I was job-hunting about 5 years ago, and looking back, I probably didn't do a good job of hiding it. I came away from the first few interviews thinking I was dealing with unprepared, sloppy people, until it became clear to me that this is a standard thing and to be expected.

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  12. RE: Who holds the power over hiring?

    I had an interview with a company coming out of grad school where anyone that was part of the selection process held a 'poison pill'. I was fortunate that the hiring manager was willing to talk to me about it, and he told me that everyone on the science side of the table wanted to bring me in, but that someone on the HR side absolutely refused and used their pill to kill my shot at getting hired.

    RE: Long delay getting response after an on-site interview?

    I've never had a long delay after an on-site interview, but like a few have mentioned on here, many companies are getting REALLY bad about sending out rejection letters. Creatively shaming these companies on social media has been the only recourse I've found. On LinkedIn I've asked several companies in an open forum when I might hear anything back from applications 6+ months later. To my surprise MANY other people followed up with the exact same question.

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  13. Candidate leaves on site. A meeting typically takes place with all the people that met the candidate 1/1 within 48 hours. Opinions are exchanged and typically attempts are made at getting a consensus to share with hiring manager. Options are:

    a) Everyone on board or at least strong support of key decision makers: Offer right the way after getting the paperwork done.
    b) Not cold not hot: Wait and see other candidates.
    c) Not a good fit or strong opposition from a key decision maker: It is over for the candidate.

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