what does it mean that a job I interviewed for was re-listed?

A reader writes:

I applied for a job with an organization, passed the phone screen, and was given a second interview less than a week later. I interviewed with a panel of people and was told at the time there were several candidates interviewing for this position. In my opinion, the interview went well. After the interview, the recruiter also let me know that she heard really good things about me and that she would be traveling during the hiring process so there would be no activity while she was out.

After a couple of weeks passed, I emailed this recruiter to follow up with her and let her know that I was still interested in the position and wanted to know the status. She responded that she needed to reacquaint herself with any decisions made by the hiring manager in her absence and she would let me know the outcome as soon as possible.

Feeling a bit discouraged, I decided to check their job board again because their parent org posts all of their jobs on the same site, and I wanted to see if they had any openings in other areas. Well, lo and behold, I saw the job that I interviewed for re-listed on the site!

I have received no notice from this recruiter since our last contact mentioned about this job. I am assuming that neither I nor the other candidates were chosen for the position. Could we all have been that bad of a fit that none of us were suitable? Even if that is the case why not just let me know that I was not the right person for this job? Do you think they are trying to interview other candidates and keep us strung along? Should I email the recruiter and confront her that I saw the job posting re-listed?

Okay, let’s take these questions one at a time:

Could all the candidates have been such a bad fit that none were suitable? Yes, possibly. But it’s also possible that they simply keep jobs listed until they’re filled, or that they adjusted some small detail in the listing and that made it appear to have been posted all over again, or some other explanation that doesn’t indicate that they’ve decided to reject all their candidates. This is all like reading tea leaves — you can drive yourself crazy trying to interpret what little things like this mean, and there’s rarely a definitive way to know.

If they have rejected you, why not let you know that you were not chosen? Because employers increasingly don’t bother getting back to candidates to tell them they’re no longer under consideration, even in cases where candidates have invested significant amounts of time in the hiring process. It’s rude, inconsiderate, and indefensible, but it’s common.

Are they interviewing other candidates and keeping you strung along? Possibly. Again, we don’t really know. They might be seeing who else is out there, or they might have definitively rejected you in their minds without bothering to tell you, or they might just be really, really slow.

Should you confront the recruiter about the job being re-listed? “Confront” is too strong a word, but yes, you should follow up with her more assertively about your status (assuming more than a few days have passed since your last contact).

Email the recruiter, remind her that you haven’t yet heard back from her after she promised to let you know about the job, and tell her that since it’s now been ___ weeks since you interviewed and you haven’t heard anything, you’re going to assume that you’re out of the running and will be turning your attention to other opportunities. Ask her to let you know if you’re wrong. Be friendly and polite, but be clear and matter-of-fact.

There’s also this: Sometimes I think that the best thing you can do after interviewing for a job is to put it out of your mind altogether (aside from doing appropriate follow-up, like thank-you notes and, if the process drags out, occasional check-ins). The alternative is that you drive yourself insane wondering and worrying and trying to read various signals, and ultimately that stuff serves no practical purpose. They’re going to call you or not call you regardless of how much you stress and wonder and agonize. So for the sake of your quality of life, it might be better to mark some follow-up on your calendar and otherwise pretend it never happened. If a job offer comes in, fantastic — and if it doesn’t, well, you weren’t counting on it or stressing about it anyway, and you’ve been out there aggressively pursuing other opportunities and not getting sidetracked by one that might or might not pan out.

I know that’s frustrating. It’s also the reality of the job market right now, and it might be the best approach.

{ 34 comments… read them below }

  1. Eric*

    I'd also add that some organizations have required number of candidates that they need to have at each stage. So it is possible that you are still in, but they need more people to be able to move forward with the search.

  2. rlsherman*

    Very nicely answered, particularly about letting it be after the appropriate thank-yous and follow-ups. It can just sap all the energy out of you to imagine the whys and wherefores, and there are so many reasons that an org would re-list something that it's not worth worrying about. There is a fair bit of zen-like thinking that comes into play with job searching – relax into the knowledge that if it's right, it will happen and if it doesn't happen, then it wasn't right. Or something along those lines.

    Good stuff!

  3. Anonymous*

    I've been watching two positions at 2 different Fortune 500 companies get listed over. and over. and over. For the past year. I have spoken to the recruiter for both positions and for some reason, both jobs are listed for about half the pay that is currently the norm in the industry, even with the recession.

    I know that sometimes you just want to call the actual manager of that department and say "hello, I'm your guy/girl, stop wasting money on all these recruiters and listings and endless interviews." A lot of companies just suck at hiring, even the big guys. Just move on.

    1. Anonymous*

      Some times these companies are supposed to advertise to show there are no people with that skill in market….even though they are plenty… this is done to show labor department that they advertised and did not get any candidate so the current person in roll need labor and permanent residency….
      It is sad but true…

  4. Kale*

    Thanks so much for tackling my problem. I have definitely taken your advice and moved on. I have had several interviews since and am very hopeful that one of those will pan out.

    You are right, it was seriously killing me trying to figure out what was going but I agree with the commenter that said if was meant to be it would happen.

  5. Anonymous*

    I have to object to the advice that states that she should email the recruiter to let her know that she assumes she is out of the running and will be turning her attention to other opportunities. This really could be interpreted as taking herself out of the running, when there is no reason to do so. Simply follow-up professionally, letting them know you are still interested, and leave it at that.

  6. Anonymous*

    While intellectually I completely agree with putting a job out of your mind after the appropriate follow ups to an interview, it is so difficult to do in practice. I don't know about others out there, but the interviews for me have been few and far between, and when you actually land one it's kind of all encompassing.

  7. Anonymous*

    I interviewed for a position originally posted in June, reposted a day after my interview , posted again mid july and once again Aug 5/10 – and it wasn't a hard to fill job ( ie nuclear physicist, u.s. president etc) I understand that for peace of mind, the best thing to do is move on and not take it personally, but it is very hard to do, especially when you know you have the capabilities to get the work done. It would be interesting to know what the costs are for recruiting just one job? Do companies have endless resources when it comes to the hiring process?

  8. Steve*

    Another option is that the job listing is for an internal candidate, and that they are tweaking the listing to guarantee that the internal candidate gets the job.

    Nothing frustrates me more than job postings where the job has effectively already been filled before the posting.

    1. QualfiedButDiscriminatedAgainst*

      I think at least 50% of the jobs advertised are wired.

      The whole process is degrading, especially when you know you will do a great job.

      Like housing, which is a buyers market right now, it is an employers market right now and they really don’t care how the search affects you. Compassion is not part of the new world order.

  9. Anonymous*

    I agree with Eric, especially if this is a job with a government agency. We are required to have a list of eligible candidates. The list must have at least five candidates. If there were not five eligible candidates in the initial screening, we are required to republish the position. In that case, and since she hasn't been told explicitly that she is out of the running, she is still in.

    When they hired me, I made the first cut, but there were only two other eligible candidates (meeting education and experience requirements). They republished the job. Twice. It took six months for them to hire me and for me to start. (one month was waiting for the FBI to finish my background profile but still).

    Hang in there. Do not send an email saying you know you are out of the running. You don't really know that.

    1. annonymous*

      what if you had an excellent interview and was offered the job but felt to negotiate a bit on the salary. After waiting weeks, got an email stating that the big boss agreed to more money but for an extra day of work. I replied back when do I start, as I assumed after all this back and forth stuff that the job was no mine but now I am again waiting to hear back. Its crazy and I just saw the job posted again ( it appears as if posted the day before I got the reply about the extra money) I dont understand> IS the job mine or not. What should I do now?

      1. Anonymous*

        same hear. was “officially” offered the job via email. negotiated a start date and was told to expect offer letter in the mail. I’m still waiting. Checked the website again today and saw the position reposted , ughhh.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Might just be reposted because the offer hasn’t been made and accepted yet — most places keep positions open until then. Call them and ask!

          1. Anonymous*

            Emailed them on Mon., Aug 20 and received this reply from “future boss/hiring manager ” —- “Checked with HR. It should be on its way.” It’s Tue Aug 28 and I have not received anything. Not sure what to make of this. A few “worrying” signs: 1) HR did not communicate offer to me – hiring manager did after he enquired and was told by HR that “someone had misplaced my file”; 2) refund check was returned by the post office on 2 occassions cos someone put the wrong address even though my application had the right address + i confirmed the right address thru email after they contacted me when the check was 1st returned. i received the check only after the 3rd attempt …. probably not the best place to want to work but the market is not too good. still looking…

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Oh good, I had a moment of fearing that you’d paid them an application fee or something.

                Follow up with the hiring manager again, tomorrow morning. Say something like, “I’m very interested in working with you, but also talking with other companies until we finalize this. Can you give me a sense of your timeline for finalizing the offer?”

  10. Ask a Manager*

    To clarify, I'm not suggesting that you take yourself out of the running. I'm suggesting that you write something to the recruiter saying you're assuming the company no longer considering you, but to let you know if you're wrong. This will sometimes get a response from a recruiter, whereas she's had trouble getting one with just status check-ins.

    When someone is directly asking to be told where she stands (as the OP was) and totally ignored, it's reasonable to say "ok, I'm going to assume you've moved on, but let me know if I'm incorrect."

  11. Jamie*

    My job doesn't involve hiring per se, but I am asked to reach out to possible applicants for certain positions in my company.

    I don't like the practice (in my last company) of doing this before there's a time line for filling the position – or even if it will be filled at all.

    I'm not talking about calling people who have sent in unsolicited resumes – I'm talking about networking with the intent of finding out about availability when things are undefined.

    I do follow up and let them know their resume has been passed on, and to whom, and politely let them know it's out of my hands. But when they don't hear back they keep contacting me because I will at least respond.

    I just don't understand the thinking behind courting people without any definite plans/time lines in place, but I've seen it at more than one company.

  12. QualfiedButDiscriminatedAgainst*

    I think the U.S. is definitely on its way to the bottom. I am actually now sending out “dumbed down” resumes that leave off my advanced degrees. I am a phenomenal candidate for an employer because I offer to much experience and have natural leadership abilities (not to sound arrogant) but am realizing, America is not about getting or being the best in anything anymore. It is all about money. It does not matter anymore that I offer great experience and advanced degrees…which to me is a sign of just how pathetic this country has become. I am contacted by recruiters all the time and send along my resume…20 years worth of exp…and it is always the same thing. I am too expensive…or god forbid, over 45.

    We cast aside our most knowledgeable people now…what kind of culture does this?

  13. Shah*

    Its a bit of relief to read this post. I got interviewed for a job and the recruiter kind of gave me an indication that she is trying to push me through and that my qualification (civil engineering) and experience was really good. Got interviewed with recruiter first and then interviewed with the client/owner. they asked for all my documents and then they ran a reference check too. The owner was busy in his job down great southern and ever since I have been interviewed , I get a daily update from recruiter. She always tells me that the owner was away. Today only she said that the owner is back and the 2nd incharge of the company will discuss it owner tomorrow.
    I was a bit surprised that the job advertisement was reposted today however, it was way before the recruiter messaged me at the end of day.
    I have lost hopes the way I had initially however, Can anyone comment or say , if i am still going to get the job.
    Thanks in advance

  14. sick&tired*

    Talk about coincidences…

    back in end Jan, I went through several rounds of interviews (within 2weeks) with 3 different companies, some terribly tedious. fast forward to now, all of them had reposted job ads online.

    and ive been unemployed since Nov last year. life sux, really. :(

  15. This is different*

    I was interviewed back in January heard back from the hiring manager twice, first that I wasn’t hired and the second call that there was a second position opening and they really wanted me, and then a month and a half later(after my interview) I got the job butI had just found out im expecting and told the hiring manager and she didn’t really mind, anyways I was given all the details of pay and when I will start but I received an email of places hiring this morning and saw that the hiring manager had reposted the job 2 days after offering me the job should I be worried? I just don’t want to think that they regret hiring a pregnant woman:/

  16. Anonymous1*

    Hi, I am a waiting for a response for a job. I went on two interviews at the location. I met with an HR Manager, Manager and the Manager’s manager. HR told me that that they are looking to make a quick decision and that it should be coming by the end of that week or the beginning of the next. I sent a follow up email to my HR contact and they said no news yet. Two weeks pass by and I emailed the HR manager and they said that the position has not been finalized yet. Another two weeks later and I see that the job has been reposted. Also a comparable, but not the same job was posted later during the day.
    Any clue what is going on?

  17. GladTo Read This*

    It was such a relief to read this. I am in a similar situation and it makes me wonder what could be the reason behind this. I had three rounds of long and tedious interviews. Its been a week since the last one. I had dropped a follow up mail to my HR PoC but still haven’t heard back from her. So, I ended up randomly googling this position and I saw it re-listed on one of the job forums.
    I really broke my heart but this article has helped me have some perspective and helped me have some sort of closure.
    And it would be really helpful if companies could be more transparent in this regard because I don’t think treating interviewers like this is doing much for their image as recruiters.
    thanks, i feel much better after this :)

  18. anonymous*

    This is a very good response with advice which I am going to try to take on board but as others say it is difficult to do in practice. I have already seen a few jobs I applied for re-advertised (and they did not even bother to acknowledge my application in some cases while in other cases they did acknowledge it but then re-advertised the job). It is a disheartening process when you know you are well able to do the job and you`re not even given a chance to meet them in person so you can put to bed any possible negative issues they might have. Someone else said that when you get so few interviews, an interview you do get can become all encompassing and I agree totally. You think `this is it!` but then it is not to be. As with the re-advertisement of jobs, it is important to remember to move on. The employers seem to have no problem doing it.

  19. anon*

    Thanks for this article, I’m currently employed and had what I thought was a very successful interview with a different company. The chemistry with all of the employees was excellent at least from my perspective and my interview started with me interviewing them about the work of the company and then relating it to things I had done in my roles. I knew they had some more interviews after my interview and I was told by HR that I was an extremely competitive candidate. It appears they re-listed the position they proposed for me the same day I received that reply. I am now wondering if maybe they want me for a different position or there are multiple hires. I usually assume the worst so reading this has really put things in perspective. I’m short listed for some other jobs so hopefully I have an offer from another company to use as leverage for a higher salary.

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