School Business Leadership

Ask Anna – How long should I wait?

Dear Anna, I applied for an exciting new job three weeks ago, and I’ve been constantly checking my emails ever since. After two telephone calls and four emails I’ve been firmly told that “the hiring manager will contact applicants they want to bring to interview.” Does it really take this long for managers to arrange interviews or should I take the hint that I’ve been unsuccessful this time? Should I keep pushing? Please advise. Impatient Job Seeker.

Dear Impatient Job Seeker,

I would say that an organisation that hasn’t got back to candidates three weeks after the closing date would mean one of six things;

  1. You have been unsuccessful.
  2. Their need to make an appointment is not urgent.
  3. The hiring manager has inconsiderately gone on holiday just after the application deadline.
  4.  The hiring manager has unfortunately gone off sick just after the application deadline.
  5. The organisation has experienced a structural or financial issue which has meant they need to delay making a new appointment.
  6. They are extremely disorganised, unprofessional or just plain rude.

You have two choices;

  1. You could contact them and ask them if they could give you some feedback as to why your application was unsuccessful on this occasion.
  2. You could accept that their HR processes are so poor that you have probably had a lucky escape.

Your letter suggests you are not in the public sector but recruitment and retention of staff is an important function for any organisation. Education recruitment has some unusual practices. For example, you tell The Boss when you fill in the application form (let alone go to an interview!), and you are likely to be informed whether you have been successful on the day of the interview. Education recruitment also has to take in the necessary safer recruitment and safeguarding elements. Private sector employers don’t have to follow a prescribed process but there is no excuse for poor communication. I am a firm believer in giving honest feedback, if it is requested, but we don’t contact candidates who haven’t been shortlisted for interview as we have usually had so many applications.

So, my advice is to ask for feedback. You went to a lot of effort to fill in their forms and apply, so it is not too much to ask why you have not been shortlisted. Be professional but also be prepared to accept that they may not have an explicit reason. Sometimes it can just be that they felt other candidates would be a better ‘fit’.

Hopefully though you will get some useful tips to incorporate into your next application with an organisation whose communication and HR systems are a little more candidate friendly.

I wish you every success in finding the next step on your career path.

You’ve got this.


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