The Velvet Hammer: 10.11.17

I interviewed with a firm almost six months ago and did the obligatory follow-ups with no response. Then, out of the blue, I was contacted by the hiring manager saying I was still in the line for the job, but he had some additional questions. Is this the standard operating procedure, or am I doing something wrong? Any tips for surviving this job interview marathon?

—Getting Hired Takes Longer Than Ever.

It has never been easy to land a job, but according to national economists, a rise in hiring has added a new twist: Employers are taking nearly twice as long to hire people as they did several years ago. These days, applicants run a gauntlet of multiple interviews, including initial phone screenings and group interviews, as well as personality and skill testing. In addition, more job applicants are being asked to submit business plans and/or face a battery of personnel tests. Performing well during these decision-making marathons requires a thick skin and a number of skill sets. But don’t blame yourself for delays in the hiring process. It is the employers who have added layers to what seems like a never-ending process.

Here are some survival tips: Do ask the hiring manager in your first interview about the timeline for the process and a target date for hiring. Don’t ask how many candidates are applying for the job, which suggests that you’re worried about the competition. If you think you’ve blown one of many exams you’re given during a daylong series of employment tests: Do send an email with specific evidence showing you’ve handled the exam’s targeted tasks very well in real life. Don’t call the hiring manger with a lot of excuses. If long silences between interviews are driving you crazy: Do suppress your frustration and find a friendly way to stay in touch, such as sending an article of interest or a congratulatory email after the company signs a new customer. Don’t call HR and demand to know the status. If you’re invited to visit headquarters to meet and dine with hiring managers: Do ask thoughtful questions of each manager and his/her specific goals. Don’t relax when dinner arrives with a few drinks and let down your guard and crack some jokes. Should your prospective boss ask you to research and present a full-blown strategic business plan: Do target your presentation to demonstrate your specific skills and competencies the employer wants. Don’t hand interviewers a written report including your most valuable business contacts and intelligence. Finally, if your No. 2 employer is ready to make you an offer but your No. 1 choice is moving more slowly: Do email No. 1 and explain that other options are advancing and ask politely if there’s anything you can do to expedite the process. Don’t keep quiet and risk losing out on your No. 1 opportunity.

Joan Lee Berkman is a marketing and public relations consultant. If you have a question for Joan, send it to