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Job interview process taking forever? Here's how to speed it up

Selena Rezvani, author of “Pushback: How Smart Women Ask – And Stand Up – For What They Want” gives her best tips so you never get stuck in a marathon interview process ever again.
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Right now, job-hopping is on the rise because of the good economy and millennials who've grown up suspecting that there's no such thing as loyalty from employers anymore.Peopleimages / Getty Images

There’s no reason anyone should get stuck in an interview process that spans months and includes interview after interview… after interview. Plainly put, if Google can streamline their interview process to include no more than four interviews, there’s no reason why any other company can’t do the same or better.

But, you might have to take matters into your own hands and say, “Enough is enough.”

What’s the deal with marathon interviews, anyway?

Often, companies have meticulous interview processes because they want to be 100 percent confident that they’re hiring the right person. Theoretically, it avoids toxic hires and saves companies from wasting valuable time and money onboarding an employee who isn’t a good fit.

But what about the candidates’ time and money during interviewing? Companies that expect you to come in for multiple rounds of interviews and leave you hanging on for months at a time aren’t exactly being respectful of your time or the money that you’re losing every day that you aren’t in the position you’re vying for.

Seems like that might be an indicator of what it’s going to be like working for them, huh?

Nevertheless, if this job interview process is the only thing standing between you and employment, the vision of you shaking the final interviewer’s hand and hearing the words “Welcome to the team!” are likely enough to keep you clinging on.

Buy you know what? You deserve better than that. Your time, money and energy investment are just as valuable as theirs. It’s time to learn how to spot poorly designed interview processes and stand up for yourself when you’re being taken advantage of.

What does a marathon interview process look like?

The first step in making sure you don’t get stuck somewhere you don’t want to be is to recognize the signs that point in that direction.

You have been asked to come back for a “final round” interview…again.

It’s normal for an interview process to involve a few meetings with different people over a span of a few weeks. The company wants to be sure that they are making a good decision in hiring you and that you’re set up to succeed. However, if you get to the final round interview only to be asked to come back for yet another, that’s a red flag. It likely means that they are on the fence about hiring you but want to keep you around “just in case.”

Selena Rezvani is a women's leadership speaker and author of the award-winning book, "Pushback: How Smart Women Ask - And Stand Up - For What They Want."Gabrielle Smarr

The interview process isn’t clearly laid out.

When you work for a company, what you’re expected to do within your role should be clearly laid out – and this should begin during the interview process. A company should be transparent enough to let you know what it takes to get hired by them: how many interviews (on average), how much time spent interviewing (on average), who you will meet with, and the interview structure, etc. There’s already a power imbalance in interviews where employers hold the decision-making power, let’s normalize informing candidates of exactly what they can expect.

You wait a month or longer to hear back.

Companies will sometimes keep an applicant on the “back burner” because, although the applicant is qualified for the position, the company is waiting for someone better to come along.

You don’t have time for that! You can (politely and effectively) speak up when you feel as though you’re being strung along or not given the respect you deserve.

If the mere thought of self-advocacy during the interview process makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t worry. Here are some quick tips to get yourself out of the endless interview loop:

How to effectively speak up and advocate for yourself.

Yes, you want this interview process to end in a “You’re hired!” but you must know when to hold your head high and walk away so you aren’t taken advantage of. That way you can find a company that really values your time.

Here’s what to do:

Research the company thoroughly before the first interview.

Spend time getting to know this company and decide if you really do want to work there before they extend a job offer. What is the company culture like? Are employees happy there? Will you be expected to work overtime? If so, how often and how many hours? You’ll get a glimpse into how this company treats its employees by doing your due diligence.

Ask about the flow of the interview process early.

Most companies will have an interview process that they follow for every applicant. You have every right to know what the interview/hiring process looks like so you can come prepared or bow out when expectations aren’t met.

Set your own boundaries.

It’s perfectly acceptable for you to set your own limits before the process begins so you don’t take on more than you’re willing to accept. For example, if you’ve gone through three interview rounds and a trial workday and then you’re asked to come in for final interviews, you can decide you’ve had enough.

Politely ask the interviewer what else they need from you to make their decision. Reinforce that you are interested in the position, and you will be happy to answer any questions in a timely phone interview, but you have other commitments that require your attention.

Don’t let things slide.

Pay close attention to the way you’re being treated during the interview process and listen to what your gut is telling you. If you’re starting to feel like it’s time to walk away, it likely is. Know your worth and never accept anything less.

Selena Rezvani is a women’s leadership speaker and author of the award-winning book, Pushback: How Smart Women Ask – And Stand Up – For What They Want (Jossey-Bass, 2012). Through in-person training and online courses via LinkedIn Learning, Selena teaches professionals how to be fierce self-advocates and carve out leadership paths on their own terms. Follow her on TikTok, Instagram and LinkedIn or find her at www.selenarezvani.com.