How to Know When to End the Recruiting and Interview Process

The tech interview process is a long, winding road that sometimes goes nowhere. Much of it is out of your hands, and you only have one point of contact for most of the process: your recruiter. Here’s how to know when your interview or recruiting process is derailing.

Your first indication the interview process is going south is communication (or lack thereof) – and it may not be your fault. “I have yet to meet a recruiter who intentionally meant to go silent on their candidates,” says David Bernstein, Head of Partnerships for recruiting firm AllyO. “The unfortunate reality, though, is that the recruiters these days are often over-burdened with a very large number of requisitions that they are simultaneously recruiting for.”

As such, “they find themselves overwhelmed with the important but time-consuming administrative work that interferes with their ability to maintain ongoing communication with all candidates,” Bernstein added. “There simply is not enough hours in a day for a human maintain the right amount of communication with all candidates across all the positions they are recruiting for.”

Bernstein also advises two weeks is enough time to give a silent recruiter: “Where a candidate is in the recruiting process is key to understanding if the process they are involved in has stalled. For example, if the candidate has initially applied and is waiting to hear regarding next steps, it would be safe to assume that if they’ve not heard back from the employer within two weeks, that things have stalled out.” He advises one week is enough time if you’ve had at least one face-to-face interview.

In some cases, the communication breakdown may be your fault, but not for the reasons you think. Recruiting is a back-and-forth of email, texts, chats, and phone calls, and it’s entirely possible your story isn’t resonating with the right people. “In the recruiting process, both sides are ‘selling’ their value to the other,” Bernstein adds. “Candidates who really want the job should start by making sure their résumé is tailored to convey why they are the best person for the role, and subsequently use all phone, email, and in-person interactions to continue to tell that story.”

It’s also important to remember that you’re in control as much as the recruiter or prospective employer. If you’re just not “feeling” the process, it’s okay to tell the recruiter you’ve lost interest; just don’t fire off an email at 9:00 PM when you’re a bit buzzed and angry it’s all taking so long. Always be respectful. As we’ve noted, it’s entirely possible that the recruiter has a lot going on, and had no intention of leaving you hanging.

Bernstein tells Dice that candidates should look at the interview process as “an ongoing, two-way street where both they and the company are evaluating each other.” If you’ve lost interest in a company, it’s time to bow out of the process gracefully.

19 Responses to “How to Know When to End the Recruiting and Interview Process”

  1. Negel Walker

    Very good article. However, we need to raise the bar on recruiting and what’s required to be a recruiter. Several years ago, we didn’t have ATS and technology yet recruiters did a much better job with the administrative tasks so it’s difficult to accept lack of communication of a recruiter getting back to a candidate that they reached out to and ask for a resume to submit to a potential employer.
    There are some job tracking apps out there that are used by job boards and companies but even those job tracking apps lack notification, feedback on why you were not selected or an opportunity for you to actually communicate or respond to the feedback of a recruiter. This still leaves the job candidate in the dark.
    Feedback is an essential part of the recruitment process and it should not be lacking/missing.

  2. Here’s but one way to approach the recruiter. It’s putting forth ground rules to establish an understanding.

    Candidates have been getting screwed for so long it’s pathetic. If the recruiter says no deal, then hey, no deal.

    “Hope your day is going great so far!

    Please don’t feel put out with my questions. These are important to me so we don’t waste each other’s valuable time!

    First, I’m a “whatever expert.”

    Did you make sure this role fits my background? Hope so!!

    I don’t want to have to block anyone’s domain for constantly sending me the wrong jobs.

    Before I submit my resume, I have a few questions to “push” this along. I’m big on “pushing!”

    What’s the rate plus expenses? No low ball or offshore two digit rates!

    How “urgent” is it really? What’s the true timing? I have a family, so I’ll need to know.

    No relocation. Commute in / out each week.

    I have a very specific schedule. Do you think your client will drag their feet? How many days is realistic in your opinion?

    If it’s going to drag on for weeks, I won’t be interested. In fact, if it drags at all, I’m out by default.

    If they do call me for any next steps, I won’t respond, just as they did to me.

    I’m a stickler for response from you and the client. I’m not good at waiting games.

    How many candidates have been submitted to this role that I am competing against that you’re aware of?

    If you can’t or won’t answer these questions, no need to move forward on this role.


    • Negel Walker

      Totally agree with Ron. It’s always good to set ground rules. However, even with establishing ground rules, I still find recruiters dropping the ball and slacking in communication. I have a pet peeve for follow-up and responding but most recruiters will not respond if they can’t give you good feedback. They will ignore your calls and emails. They commonly end up saying the ‘position was put on hold’.

      • Michael Hudgins

        Negel is 100% on point with this observation. I have had recruiters waste my time and a few had advance notice of what the customer had already decided, yet chose to say to me “I let my week get out of control”.

        But I am to trust this person?? I enjoyed reading this discussion.

  3. Don’t start me going. This is total BS of an incompetent recruiter trying to cover for his failing craft.
    There is absolutely no excuse these days to leave a candidate hanging. Form emails are easy to send, just a couple of clicks and you are no longer the inconsiderate douche*g with no business acumen. Bad enough that you can’t spell proper English, don’t know the difference between “doing well” and “doing good,” can’t pronounce the words correctly, don’t know that the continental US has 3 time zones, don’t understand that California is over 1,100 miles long and that San Diego is not anywhere near San Francisco, and that the rate is not negotiable – the candidate is not running a Middle East Bazaar, and that the candidate is a professional who expects professional behavior from the recruiter.

    So, enough with the excuses for treating the candidates like cattle in a meat market.

  4. Wait a second!! I’m a recruiter!! It’s not always the recruiter’s fault!! I have just as many issues with candidates. Most cannot present themselves appropriately and intelligently during an interview and I’ve had many “ghost” on me after I get them a fabulous offer. So, while you think a recruiter is dropping the ball, maybe they are having to take extra time with the person you interviewed with trying to sell you because you didn’t present yourself well during your interview. If a recruiter isn’t getting back with you, maybe you need to ask yourself what you could do better as most recruiters work on commission and it would be stupid to not represent a good candidate appropriately. Try being a recruiter. Walk a mile in my shoes before you blame your lack of success on me!

    • Michael Hudgins

      Hello Amy,
      I don’t know about the others, but you are one of the rare ones for sure. Over the last 16 years, I have only experienced perhaps two such as yourself. The rest were an outright disgrace. I always say to them, I understand that you cannot control what the customer ultimately decides, just be upfront with me.

      Because in this field, the person you forget about today can potentially be the candidate you contact again! I have had that to happen as well. Get submitted and never hear back and then a month or two later, the same recruiter calls me about a different position!

    • You go Amy! 🙂

      I think we could all benefit from at least taking a glance at another’s perspective. My son just finished a BS in Comp Sci at a leading university then worked there for a year. He is looking for something else and the recruiters range from marginally English speaking cold-callers to competent people exhibiting professionalism at every turn. In short, he’s been getting his feet in the pool for ~2 months and it can be frustrating, but I’m not blaming the recruiters. Don’t pin your hope on 1 person, or 10 people for that matter. It’s a big world and we have connectivity. If your recruiter isn’t doing for you, get another one. If fact, get 50 more.

    • Amy, you should be able to determine how well a person can represent themselves prior to accepting to present them to a company by screening the applicant and knowing if they can potentially be a good candidate or not. A lot of people look very good on paper but have a difficult time speaking to what’s on paper; executing in dialogue. And the same for interviewers. A lot of people regardless of their title don’t know how to interview. They may be nervous during the interview and this can potentially have a negative impact on them getting the job.

  5. In my experience recruiters anymore are really really awful to work with, they are all too overwhelmed and like used car salesman or real estate agents they are really not needed. Don’t wast a lot of your time with recruiters.

  6. In my experience recruiters anymore are really really awful to work with, they are all too overwhelmed and like used car salesman or real estate agents they are really not needed. Don’t wast a lot of your time with recruiters.

  7. The thing I hate is when recruiter take the unethical route: they represent that they have a relationship with the hiring company including permission to solicit candidates, make you agree to a “legally binding” exclusive hiring agreement with the company, and submit you **unsolicited** to the company because their relationship with the hiring company consists of scraped the companies careers page for potential leads–they’ve never spoken with a single person at the hiring organization. I have gotten burned on this too many times trying to work with third-party recruiters. I refuse to give these scam artists the time of day anymore. I’ve had 3 absolutely perfect jobs (among many more less than ideal positions) where the companies refused to hire me because of the unethical recruiter behavior and the companies were unwilling to make an outside offer and expose themselves to potential litigation from the recruiters. Recruiters need to stop their unethical practices if they want to make headway.

  8. This is a US citizen perspective.

    I am mobile developer that started iOS development in 2008 when the iPhone SDK first came to third party development. Which I took a break and picked up iOS Swift programming in beginning of 2015. When I first put my resume up online to come back to the USA looking for work after living abroad. I got flooded with emails and calls. Mostly from Indian recruiters. At the time I thought there was a lot of opportunity. However, they wouldn’t even put me in the hat until I was in the US. When I enter the US I continue to get a lot of emails and phone calls. Still with these Indian recruiters, got nil results. I did manage to land a job with a local American recruiter.

    Now its been three years since then and I continue to get emails and calls from them. They spoof US numbers. The flooded my inbox and I have over 2,000 emails from a Neeraj, or Mohammad, or insert whatever name. They don’t live in the USA and they will start call you at 6:00am in the morning and you can receive up to hundred calls a day all from these kinds of individuals. Its a rarity that I talked to an American.

    They all want you to move on a notice for a job, which they cannot even tell what the company does or anything about the project. They just rattle a bunch of keywords to you which they have no clue of what they mean. If you push back saying you won’t move to X location but are willing to work remotely. They say their client won’t do that. Hell, I doubt they even talk to the companies they are recruiting for. They are looking for suckers. I have no faith or trust in those individuals.

    If its an American recruiter, then I would talk to them as they will be able to tell me about the job, the company, the responsibilities of the role, and can push back to the company. If the company is serious about finding proper talent, they would hire a recruiter in the USA and would be flexible. They wouldn’t be after a slave.

    My professional emails now get spammed with Indian recruiters. My phone rings off the hook from them. And nothing shows for it. I am pretty sure many other developers and tech people have this problem, as well as probably some recruiters as well. I believe they are scammers of some sort. And I blame the companies that hire these people.

    I talk to American recruiters and they deal with similar issues a problems with both outsourcing Indian recruiters and candidates. As some these candidates lie and fabricate their experience, skills, and knowledge. Quick story, one company interviewed this guy over the phone and decided to hire him; told him to be there on site; the individual that showed up wasn’t the guy they interviewed.

    The only way this would stop is if it hits the pocket books of those who hire such foriegn recruiters, or some sort of class action law suit or something similar. As methods of those kinds of recruiters, and candidates for that matter, act in spammy and scammy manners.

    We techie people complain about it as seen here. But what can we do about or what are we going to do about it? Any suggestions besides deleting your email and changing your phone number.

    P.S. There are decent recruiters out there. Its just like crawling through a sewer to find one.

    • I have much the same experience as you, Raven. (Not quite the call volume you mentioned but I think my Inbox makes up for that.) I handle some of the email deluge by replying with a canned email reply to those recruiters hawking a 3-month contract (normally with a couple dozen specific technical “gotta have”) across the country letting them know that, while I appreciate their interest in my background, I’m not entertaining positions outside my geographic area. I’m not a hit man living out of a suitcase for a few months here, a few months there… especially at the bargain basement hourly rates they state. I have return receipts enabled on all my outgoing email and find that hose replies are rarely even read. I can count on one hand the number of those replies that are a.) even read and b.) replied to. The recruiters who continually send awful job descriptions to me–after disregarding my requests that they limit them to where I actually live–eventually get placed in my blacklist and any further emails from them are dropped on the floor. Life’s too short to waste time dealing with these folks.

    • Raven,
      I have the same experiences with those type recruiters that you mentioned in your post. When you ask them specifics about the company, hiring manager, industry, or any pertinent questions; they are unable to articulate or answer. And to think “we are that desperate to have them represent us as an entry to the client”. It should be against the law. They are really bringing the quality of recruiting down.
      I’ve entertained some and they never get back to you or end up saying, “the position has been put on hold”. I think it’s a numbers game for them. Like reaching a quota or a telemarketer; they are just trying to show how many resumes they were able to solicit. You ask what we can do. We can stop entertaining them. Don’t respond to their calls or emails.