A reader writes:
I recently interviewed for a bodily injury adjuster position with a major insurance company. I need some help understanding what happened. This is all very strange.
The interview went really well. I knew walking out of it that I had nailed it. The interviewer seemed genuinely impressed, asked me a lot of questions even after he finished the ones he had prepared, and tried to sell me on the company, and we really clicked personality-wise. The interview was supposed to last an hour, but it was about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Afterwards, he walked me around the office and introduced me to several people. We even discussed a potential start date in mid-April.
I got a call on Wednesday from the recruiter, who told me the hiring manager said I did “exceedingly well” in the interview, that I was an “extremely impressive” candidate, and they wanted me to work for them. Then she said, “Unfortunately, we don’t have any positions available right now.” I was very confused and asked if they had hired someone. She said they had not, that there was never an open position, and that they were only exploring external candidates for potential future openings. They do not have any openings anticipated at this time. She said they were very impressed with me, though, and that the hiring manager wants to find a position for me somewhere with the company. So she offered me the opportunity to interview again with a different manager for a position that pays about $10k less annually.
At this point, I am so confused and angry, though I didn’t show it. I asked her to get some clarification from the manager I interviewed with, because the job posting didn’t say anything about the position being for an undetermined future date, nor was it mentioned in my phone interview or any follow-up calls. In fact, the recruiter herself wasn’t aware there wasn’t actually a job until that day.
I explained I has asked the manager what the start date was, and he said it was flexible, and then we discussed a possible start date next month. Then I asked him when he expected to make a decision, and he said it would be next (this) week. I was surprised, since they had just posted the job, so I confirmed he would be making a hiring decision next week. How do you hire someone for a nonexistent job?!
The recruiter checked with the manager and called me back, stating there is no position at this time and that the hiring manager thought he made that clear. I am quite positive he did not say anything of the sort. She told me he did really like me and wants to get me in the door some way, so that is why they want me to interview for the other position.
I declined to do that, because I can’t afford a pay cut, and because I was getting some serious red flags. I told her to tell the manager thank you for the opportunity and that I appreciated meeting with him and learning more about the company, and to please convey my continued enthusiasm for the position we discussed, if an opening becomes available.
This morning, they reposted the job. It still does not say it is for a potential future opening.
I am so angry and confused. I spent a ridiculous amount of time on this job. I updated my resume, wrote a cover letter, filled out an extensive online application. Then I did an hour-long exam to show I was qualified. Then I did a phone interview, using my vacation time at work. Then I completed a detailed online profile with the company and did a background check that required me to provide the dates and addresses for every job I’ve ever had and every place I’ve lived for the past 10 years (I even had to reach out to previous landlords and roommates to make sure it was accurate). And for the interview itself, I spent countless hours preparing for different questions. All for a job that doesn’t exist.
I just don’t know what to think here. Can you make any sense of this situation?
What I make of it is that they’re inconsiderate and dishonest.
Sometimes things like this can be innocent miscommunications. But when you have the interviewer talking about a start date within a few weeks and telling you that he’ll make a hiring decision within a week, that’s not innocent miscommunication — that’s someone who’s deliberately giving you misleading information. Or, I suppose it could be someone who’s really, really inept at communication and life in general. But for them to then repost the same job posting again, with no indication that there’s no actual job — even after they know that a job candidate just had major confusion over this — well, those are people who do not give an F whose time they’re wasting.
As for why they’re doing it … it’s hard to put logical reasons on nonsense, but I’d guess that they’ve decided to “see who’s out there,” “get a feel for the current market,” “kick some tires,” or any of the other euphemisms for “we’re feeling indecisive and not sure what to do next.”
Alternately, it’s possible that they were prepared to hire you for the job they talked to you about if certain things fell into place — funding came through, or you totally wowed them, or Fergus in Sales actually followed through on his threat to leave, or who knows what. But if something like that was the case, they should have been up-front with you about that.
To be clear, it’s totally fine for employers to talk to candidates without definite openings to hire for as long as they’re up-front with candidates that that’s what they’re doing, so that those candidates can decide for themselves whether they’re up for that or not.
What they did to you (and to the recruiter) was rude. I’d cross them off your list even if they do come back to you with something more definite in the future, unless they have a compelling answer to what this was all about.