8/27/23 - 5 Strategies To Survive An Insanely Long Interview Process
You’ve finally found what you think is your dream job and decided to apply. A few days later, the employer contacts you for a pre-screening interview, which is thrilling. Before you know it, you are asked to complete a take-home test, personality assessment, case study, five 30-minute interviews with the team, two one-hour interviews with the hiring manager and a final interview with the CEO. After enduring an exceptionally long interview process lasting several months, you don’t get the job.
More and more job seekers are finding themselves subjected to a never-ending interview process. In fact, the amount of time it takes to hire a new employee has reached an all-time high in 2023, according to a report from the Josh Bersin Company and AMS. The data showed that the time to hire had risen consistently for the last four years. One reason is that the increase in remote work creates more competition for jobs. Now that employers feel they have options, they want to take their time finding the best candidate. In addition, hiring and onboarding are costly. With the current economic uncertainty, companies are afraid to make the wrong decision and want to get it right.
But as a job seeker, it’s easy to feel frustrated by a drawn-out interview process. This is especially true if you don't get the job or, worse, are eventually ghosted by the employer. If you’re experiencing a long, drawn-out job search, these five strategies will help you stay motivated and in control.
Ask for details on the process
As the applicant, you have every right to know what the interview process looks like. That way, you have a greater opportunity to come prepared or decide to withdraw if you choose to. Most companies will have a prescribed interview process that they follow. If they don’t, it could be a red flag. The sooner you ask for details, the better, preferably at the end of the first interview. But if you didn't, you can still email the recruiter or hiring manager to request an update on the next steps.
Keep your options open
Most importantly, don’t stop interviewing with other organizations. Even if you feel like a shoo-in, many scenarios could occur. For example, they might decide to hire someone else, postpone their search, or even rescind a job offer after it’s been extended. By resisting the urge to stop all other efforts, it's more likely that you'll have multiple offers to choose from. Multiple offers also give you additional leverage to negotiate if the time comes.
Protect your ideas
It’s becoming more common for hiring managers to ask candidates to create special assignments during the interview process. Unfortunately, the risk is that you won't get hired, and the company will use your ideas anyway. To protect yourself, copyright your work beforehand. If it’s something straightforward, you can even submit an online application yourself by going to copyright.gov. If you have a product or invention you’d like to keep safe, file a patent. Then when you’re in the interview, let the employer know your ideas are your own intellectual property.
Find a support system
Another way to survive a protracted recruitment process is to find people going through the same thing. LinkedIn is a great place to get support and connect with fellow job seekers by posting about your experiences and joining groups. In addition to friends and family, it also helps to have a trusted confidant like a mentor, therapist or career coach as a sounding board. A career coach is beneficial when it comes to holding you accountable so you can stay on track to secure that next role.
Think of it as networking
Another way to manage the frustration of job searching is to reframe every interview as a networking exercise. Rather than focusing on just "getting the job," think of the process as one where you’re building long-term relationships. Even if you aren’t hired for that particular role, the same company might call you back to discuss a different opportunity. Or you might impress an interviewer so much that they immediately consider you for open positions when they move on to another company.
It can be maddening to endure a painfully long interview process. But even if you’re ready to explode from sheer frustration, resist the urge to fire off a nasty email. Ultimately, the goal is to build relationships that might serve you in the future. Remember, the interview process says a lot about a company’s culture and values. If you have an experience that leaves you feeling dejected, it’s probably time to scratch that organization off your list and move on.