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Job Hunting Can Feel Like Competing on the Dating Game

I’m hoping you can help me to decipher the meaning behind a particular employer that I recently interviewed with. First of all, I met with the HR recruiter for about an hour. I actually went into the office. I must say I thought this was unusual.

She invited me back to meet with the hiring manager. This time I arrived at the interview ten minutes late (I did call to notify her). She requested me back to meet with herself and a direct report. Both interviews were to be held separately.

For the final interview we went out to lunch, in addition to speaking with the manager and her cohort separately.

Now, on the first interview with the hiring manager she said she’d had myself and one other person back for a second interview but she still wanted to conduct an interview a week later. She said the candidate was away on vacation and couldn’t return until then. She said that would be her last interview.

I called back on the date of that last interview to follow up (yes, I did send thank you notes directly after the interview). I spoke with the HR Rep. She told me that they would be conducting a few more interviews the following week and expected to make a decision within two weeks.

Do you think that my chances for getting the job have gotten slim?


Job hunting can feel like the Dating Game. The process can reduce your confidence and shatter your nerves. Second guessing yourself and overanalyzing the other person’s moves can become an obsession.

Does he really like me? Should I call him or wait until he calls me?

If she hasn’t called me back by next Wednesday, do you think she’s found someone else?

And, like dating, you may be a terrific person but simply not a good fit for the circumstances. In any event it’s difficult not to take it personally.

Let’s examine your situation. The screening interview often takes place by phone, so it was a definite advantage to be called in for a personal interview. I suspect that your qualifications were good enough to warrant the face-to-face screening.

Another possible reason for this personal meeting is that if the position requires you to interact with customers or other key people, the hiring company may want to see how you come across. For example, if you are applying for face-to-face sales in the fashion industry, they might want to evaluate your personal demeanor and appearance on the first screen because it’s so important.

While showing up late was poor form, it didn’t seem to hurt you, since you were invited back. If you hadn’t called to explain (I’m assuming it was a significant reason) they may not have been so accommodating.

The real signal that you are a final candidate is the fact that the hiring manager called you back to meet with her direct report. This is usually done as a final step, to make sure that you are a good fit with the culture and the team. The employee who interviewed you is probably a good performer whose opinion is trusted. This is the final “sniff test” to see if your future colleague senses anything about you that would be a potential problem.

Finally, the third meeting—the lunch—should have been the clincher. The fact that there are more interviews, besides the one she told you about, could mean:

  1. There are other candidates who have emerged since your last meeting. These new candidates are good enough to require first and/or second interviews, which could explain the two week extension.

  2. You are a good candidate but not an ideal fit, so they are casting the net for some new candidates. You may be out of the running.

  3. Internal work issues have cropped up which are slowing down the hiring process.

In any event, don’t start pestering them with phone calls. Some job hunters think this demonstrates eagerness but it really only irritates employers, who already are working as fast as they can to fill the job.

One follow-up step you can take is to make a call in a week or so, when they are near the end of the process. Say, “I’m calling to see where you are in the hiring process and to see if there is anything else that I can send, or questions that I can answer, to help you make your decision.” Sometimes you’ll get lucky and they will actually tip you off to what is going on. A colleague of mine was in this situation and the hiring manager told her he was concerned about the amount of experience she had in a particular area. She was able to put him in touch with another reference. She got the job.

The fact that you interviewed so well is a positive sign that you present yourself well and you’re seen as a desirable candidate. If you don’t get this job, you’re likely to be snapped up fairly quickly.

Finally, it’s never over—even after it’s over. If they offer the job to another candidate and the person turns it down, you could still get the job. Years ago, I landed a dream job after the top candidate didn’t pass the psychological test. Act like the top candidate throughout and you just might get the job—if not now, eventually.

-Joan Lloyd

Do you need answers to tough job hunting questions? Are you looking for some added punch to help you stand out from the crowd? Joan Lloyd’s has developed job hunting tools that can help you to maximize your job search: Negotiation Strategies to Get Paid What You’re Worth on a New Job (Detailed, special report) Easy, Step-by-step Guide to Using the Internet to Land a Great Job (Detailed, special report) The Resume That Opens the Door and the Interview That Gets the Job (Audio set & booklet) How to Get Your Dream Job (VHS video)

Joan Lloyd has a solid track record of excellent results. Her firm, Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding. This includes executive coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, customized leadership training, conflict resolution between teams or individuals, internal consulting skills training for HR professionals and retreat facilitation. Clients report results such as: behavior change in leaders, improved team performance and a more committed workforce.
Joan Lloyd has earned her C.S.P. (certified speaking professional) designation from the National Speakers Association and speaks to corporate audiences, as well as trade & professional associations across the country. Reach her at (800) 348-1944,, or

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