should I withdraw from an interview process to force an offer?

A reader writes:

As a hopeful job hunter, I’ve recently twice encountered the dreaded and oft-lamented phenomenon of being ghosted or strung along after multiple rounds of interviews. In one instance, my follow-ups get no response whatsoever, but I see that the job is re-posted on LinkedIn (albeit with very few applicants). In the other, I was told by the (internal) recruiter that I am still in the running, but that the hiring manager has not made a decision.

My suspicion in both instances is that I am a second or third choice candidate, and that the hiring manager is negotiating with their top pick(s) and/or pushing the recruiter to go back to the well for more applicants (both of these are scenarios where the company is hiring for multiple, similar positions) while keeping me “on the hook” as a back-up candidate.

I was recently told by one of my mentors that emailing the recruiter and gracefully thanking them and the manager while also withdrawing my candidacy with no explanation or a simple “focusing on other opportunities” is a good way to either (a) mentally close out the opportunity from a position of strength by walking away or (b) trigger a psychological reaction to loss in the hiring manager to get an offer (i.e., we all want what we can’t have).

What are your thoughts on using the above teqhnique? Admittedly it’s not as powerful as coming back with another offer (and it takes the ability to do so away in the future) but could this be an effective technique to speed things along one way or the other? My fear would be that the hiring manager or recruiter might see through it, or at worst, it might hurt my ability to apply for other roles with the company in the future.

Do not do this!

If you announce that you’re withdrawing your candidacy, the most likely outcome is that they will assume you are withdrawing your candidacy — because you’ve accepted another job or you’ve decided this one isn’t a good fit for you — and that will be the end of that. Some recruiters or hiring managers will ask you about why, but it’s pretty rare for them to try to change your mind! It does occasionally happen, but it’s far, far more likely that they’ll simply accept your decision and move on to other candidates.

“Triggering a psychological reaction to loss in the hiring manager to get an offer” is not really a thing … except in hiring managers and candidates who play games, and you don’t want to be one of those or work with one of those. If you’re right that you’re the first or second choice and they’re negotiating with their first choice, withdrawing from the process won’t make you leapfrog over the top choice. And if they’re going back to the well for more applicants, in most cases it’s because they’re not convinced you’re a really strong match with the role — and withdrawing isn’t going to make them suddenly change that assessment. They might think, “Damn, waited too long to decide,” but they’re not likely to chase you. It’s possible — but it’s a really low probability, so if the move is intended to get you the offer, it’s incredibly risky and isn’t going to work 19 times out of 20. Instead, you’ll just end up losing any chance at getting the job — even if otherwise you might have gotten it if you waited.

About “mentally closing out the opportunity from a position of strength” — is it really a position of strength to say, essentially, “I’m rejecting you before you can reject me”? If anything, I’d argue it’s a position of weakness! It’s of course fine to withdraw from any hiring process you don’t want to stay in. But if you’re doing it because you’re frustrated at how long it’s taking or because you think you’re not their top choice and you’d rather be the one to issue the final verdict … well, you’d be prioritizing a very fleeting form of psychological comfort over a job you might happily accept if you waited.

I get that waiting to hear back about a job is frustrating and nerve-wracking. Truly, I do! But employers move on their own timelines, timelines that usually have little to do with you — they’re about other priorities (which can legitimately be more important) and their internal processes and sometimes things you might have no awareness of at all, like that someone else on the team is leaving and they need to figure out how that’ll affect both roles before they hire, or that a major project is changing in ways that have ramifications for who they should hire, or all sorts of other things that you can’t know from the outside. Usually the only time you can speed up a hiring timeline is if you genuinely have another offer that you need to make a decision on, and even then a lot of employers won’t move any faster for you (especially if they haven’t decided you’re their top candidate, and sometimes not even then).

If you let yourself believe there are things you can do to speed up a decision on the employer’s side, it’s only going to add to your aggravation — because it will keep you dwelling in a place where you’re feeling like maybe there’s something else that you could or should be doing, when in fact it’s likely out of your hands. It’s why I’m always advising that the best thing you can do after interviewing for a job is to assume you didn’t get it, put it out of your mind, and let it be a pleasant surprise if they do contact you.

Ideally you’d find a way to just mentally move on and see what happens. But even if you can’t, please don’t withdraw from a hiring process in the hopes that they’ll chase you, because they probably won’t — and you’ll just be guaranteeing that the answer at the end of the whole process is “no” when what you were hoping for was “yes.”

{ 209 comments… read them below }

  1. Eldritch Office Worker*

    This is a good reminder that when candidates do odd things it’s good to assume they got bananacrackers advice from someone.

        1. Rose*

          Or a college career office. I still cringe at the things I did because my career office insisted I had to show interest and initiative.

        1. Blisskrieg*

          ^hahaha. I just recently rewatched a few episodes of Seinfeld to see how they held up over the years. They held up really, really well and while I was snowed in I ended up binge watching an awful lot of them…Good episode.

        2. LMB*

          Is the mentor’s name Mr. Collins? Did he tell you that it’s the common practice of “elegant young ladies” to reject an employer when secretly meaning to accept them?

    1. Cait*

      “No, Dad, I cannot just walk into the director’s office and demand a job! That’s not considered ‘gumption’, that’s considered insane!”

    2. AnonAnon*

      This is orders of magnitude worse than the typical “show gumption!” advice. LW, I’m so glad you thought to run this by Alison before you tried it with employers.

      To be honest, I’m also concerned that there might be some victim mindset going on here. Some of the phrases you use like “stringing along” and “keeping me on the hook” seem to indicate you believe employers have negative intentions, and are out to get you. Your mentor’s own mindset is questionable, and if you took their advice, you’re actually in a worse position because you 100% won’t get the job that you wanted.

      Please know that:
      -Hiring managers and recruiters are just people trying to their best to fill their vacant position
      -Hiring is not always a linear process
      -Playing games to manipulate hiring managers will backfire
      -Being 2nd or 3rd choice isn’t a slight against you. It actually means you might still get an offer

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        This seems straight out of r/antiwork.
        I agree with their “capitalism is the worst” stance but their work advice is very much on par with this.

        1. A Kate*

          Agreed. Capitalism (as we do it in the US, anyway) IS the worst, but it doesn’t mean bad advice is the cure. No point in playing yourself to prove a point.

          1. BatManDan*

            We haven’t had Capitalism in decades. What we have now is Corporatism. I believe that one of the biggest causes of the collapse of support of Capitalism is that the elites have been implementing Corporatism while calling it Capitalism, because they know that Capitalism used to bring support.

            1. Your local password resetter*

              I’m pretty sure Corporatism is just Capitalism in action?

              If the whole system is based on companies fighting each other, eventually some will win and absorb others. And less competition makes it easier to survive and keep growing, until you get Corporatism.

              1. Candi*

                Capitalism allows for the existence and growth of small businesses. Corporatism allows for gobbling them up before they can pose any sort of threat.

                Raw capitalism is a bad idea anyway, since there’s no check or balance on it. With human tendencies to go to extremes, often at the worst times to do so, it doesn’t work.

                1. pancakes*

                  This is derailing, but worker-owned cooperatives also allow for the existence and growth of small businesses. And not-so-small businesses like King Arthur Flour.

      1. Candi*

        Following bad advice usually involves trusting the person giving bad advice to be giving good advice, combined with a lack of experience or non-classroom education that allows the subconscious to kick in with “Hey, you might want to doublecheck that!”

        OP apparently had enough experience and/or education that their subconscious spoke up and they doublechecked with a very trustworthy source.

        (I absolutely believe you can educate your subconscious to give it more resources, so it’s more likely to know when to start yelling at you.)

    3. Grapthar's Hammer*

      The advice given is bang on. Unless you are being actively engaged in a very long selection process, the odds are you’re already flagged as ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’ for this role. Opting out will simply get a line across your name and they’ll move on. You should too.

  2. SwampWitch85*

    I mean this very gently, your mentor is maybe not a good mentor if that’s what they recommend. I’m still suffering the fallout of taking bad advice from someone I thought was a mentor. I’m very glad you wrote in.

    1. No_woman_an_island*

      Yes! It hits much harder and is much harder to overcome when mentors fall off the pedestal we thought they belonged on.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      I very much agree with this, I’m sorry to say. This person is making this way more personal than it really is.

    3. Just Me*

      In defense of OP’s mentor, they may be a great mentor in their professional space but just haven’t formally applied for a new job or been part of a hiring process since like the 80s. I definitely don’t agree with the advice but it seems like it’s coming from someone who has only gotten jobs through referrals/networking for decades and hasn’t done an old-school job application since.

      1. KHB*

        Do you mean that the advice would have been good advice in the 1980s? Or that the mentor is so far removed from the job search process that he’s resorted to making things up? The former I find hard to believe (although I’m happy to be corrected); the latter falls squarely under the category of “not very good mentorship.”

        1. Lily of the Field*

          I graduated high school in 1985, so maybe not the absolute top tier of information regarding job searches in the 80’s, but no. This is not a good way to get a job, in any generation or time. It’s awful advice.

              1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

                That is where my mind was going. Using PUA advice for dating is bad enough. Never try to apply it to anything work related

        2. Just Me*

          More of the latter–I didn’t mean to cast aspersions on people who were job hunting in the 80s. I meant the mentor is veryyyy far removed from the job search process and the advice seems very outdated if it was ever good advice at all. I was picturing old-school corporate finance culture where white men imagined they could bluff their way into jobs. Obviously it’s a terrible idea. But I also didn’t want to hate on OPs mentor because they may have given OP great advice related to actually doing their job, whatever that may be.

      2. Lynn*

        IMO the point still stands — a good mentor should be able to caveat their advice or experience and understand that times change.

      3. Hiring Mgr*

        Agree this is bad advice, but mentors are just people – they might have experience and knowledge in their field but that doesn’t mean they’re experts on interview skills/strategy or anything else.. Who knows, maybe that technique worked for this guy once or twice… I’m sure Alison has given incorrect advice in the past also .

        Only point is that I wouldn’t throw this mentor out with the bathwater if their other interactions have been helpful..

      4. Smithy*

        This is my mom. The last time she truly applied for a new job was in 1990, and even then it was at an employer she’d worked for in the early 80’s but had left the job when she moved out of town. Since then her promotions have come from internal discussions, conversations and carving of a career path. If a young person in her field said “I want your job, tell me how to get it” – she would say that what she did would be professionally impossible for anyone starting today or even someone who had tried to engage on her path ten or fifteen years ago.

        All of that being 100% true, she still a very good mentor when it comes to being a good clinician and scientist – just more uneven around contemporary internal hospital politics and professional growth. (And also not a good professional mentor to her adult children who have careers in different fields)

        This is a blind spot for her and depending on the advice you’re looking for – she may not be your best mentor. But I think it’s more about having that awareness and knowing what you want out of that relationship.

    4. ThePear8*

      Came to say this. OP, you may want to question where your mentor got this advice and maybe re-evaluate any other advice they’ve given you

      1. JSPA*

        * job finding advice and people motivation advice, specifically.

        They may be excellent at their actual job. Unless their job is, recruiter / talent finder. In which case, maybe downgrade them to, “older person with some interesting ideas and occasional connections who’s interesting to talk to and will give me a good recommendation.”

    5. Aerin*

      Honestly, this sounds like some pickup artist nonsense. Working from a first principle of “everyone craves my approval” or “rejection is such a terrible thing that everyone always tries to avoid/overcome it, so I’m the one to do the rejecting the other person will automatically try to change my mind.” And just like insulting a romantic prospect in the hopes they’ll try to prove you wrong and earn your favor, telling a company “fine, I don’t want to work with you anyway,” is overwhelmingly likely to get a response of “wow, bullet dodged.” And the people this technique does work on are… generally not people you want to be seriously involved with.

      I would recommend taking any other advice from this mentor with massive heaps of salt.

      1. Pony Puff*

        It does sound like pickup artist nonsense! Exactly the type of pseudo-psychology nonsense that sounds macho and tactical but is absolutely absurd.

      2. starsaphire*

        Yes – this is the vibe I got as well. It sounds so much like “negging” that I was kind of taken aback.

      3. Rose*

        Even if they phrase it in a normal/polite way, as a manager I would just assume they got another offer and think “makes sense, they seemed good!” and then never think about them every again. There is just no application of this advice that makes sense.

    6. Sloanicota*

      The only thing I could think is that maybe OP misunderstood the (still pretty bad) advice to act like they have another offer – not to withdraw but to force their timetable. That’s still a risky strategy and, if a lie, is a crappy way to do business … but at least makes more sense, in that it might at least make you seem valuable and in-demand. Withdrawing from consideration doesn’t really achieve anything OP wants.

      1. pancakes*

        Even that wouldn’t really make any sense. If an employer hasn’t yet extended an offer it’s almost always going to be because none of the candidates seem like a great fit, not because they don’t seem sufficiently “in demand” elsewhere. They’re looking to fill a role with someone who has the right experience and more or less agrees on what they’re willing to be paid, not run a popularity contest.

        1. filosofickle*

          I think it’s often but not “almost always” true. The wheels can move slowly for reasons totally unrelated to the quality of the candidates or even the efforts of the hiring manager.

          However, if the candidate succeeds at a “I have another offer so it’s now or never” pitch IMO it isn’t because they are perceived as in-demand, it’s because they were already the top candidate and the hiring manager doesn’t want to lose them. It is unlikely to work because if the wheels could go faster they already would be.

          1. Your local password resetter*

            It might get them to speed up their decision process, or force them to reject a better but uncertain candidate.

            But as you pointed out, that only works if you’re already a great candidate and first or second in line.

          2. Overeducated*

            Agreed. I have seen this work – I’ve actually had an out of town interview canceled because the top candidate got another offer, and the hiring manager wanted to lock them down. (I guess better that it happened before I traveled than during my interview, but ouch.) I’ve also had it not work, when I was the one with the other offer, and had to say “hey if you can’t let me know by Monday I’m going to have to withdraw”. The hiring manager said ok, good luck, no way we will be ready by that time, and then hired the inside candidate. It’s a risk I definitely wouldn’t take without an actual offer in hand. (This makes it sound like I’m just…not good enough, doesn’t it? I have successfully competed for plenty of jobs – just not these two!)

  3. Colette*

    This is a bad idea, and I’m also concerned that you’re looking at the job hunting experience in general as more personal than it is.

    Employers aren’t stringing you along; they’re either unable to make a decision (because a key person is out, they’re waiting to interview someone else, the company is undergoing a reorg and they don’t know how it’s going to play out, etc.) or they’re busy with other stuff (like their job, or a family emergency). Maybe they will eventually ghost you, but there’s a good chance that they’re still in the process for much longer than you expect them to be.

    And if you withdraw, then you’re not likely to get the personal reaction (“we all want what we can’t have”) that you’re looking for. If anything, you’ll make their decision easier, and they’ll hire the other candidate.

    1. MsM*

      Also, second or even third choice isn’t necessarily a terrible thing! They could be really happy with all their options; the top candidate could just have a tiny bit more specialized experience or know a key client better or something else that makes them worth taking the time to negotiate with. Doesn’t mean they want to lose you in the interim – unless you make it clear they’re not *your* top pick.

      1. Decidedly Me*

        This. 2nd or 3rd choice for some of my roles means you beat several hundred applicants. If I will need more people soon-ish and can get the budget for it early, I will see if I can hire more than just my top choice

      2. Nanani*

        And even then, if you drop out (or pretend to like this weird advice suggests) they might very well go “Oh good, we can just offer it to the other person and stop deliberating between you two”

      3. Cheap Ass Rolex*

        Yes, the idea that it’s insulting to be a second or third job candidate, or that you still being under consideration is them “keeping you on the hook” (you’re still considering the job, right? So aren’t they also on your hook?) is similar logic to the idea that someone who wants to get to know you better before deciding whether they want to date you is somehow insulting you or not good enough for you. Both follow the logic of, “If they are not immediately blown away by my obvious greatness, the fault is theirs!”

      4. tamarack and fireweed*

        Yup. If they were to ghost the candidate, the mind games wouldn’t changes anything – they wouldn’t even notice. But if they’re keeping the candidate as a “really good maybe, desirable hire” that they consider getting back to if their first choice isn’t available, then the candidate doesn’t benefit from showing impatience or low interest – this is almost certainly going to end in whatever chance there is to diminish.

    2. Salsa Verde*

      Yes, it seems taking it to a weird level to even be worried about withdrawing “from a position of strength”. Like, who is that show of strength for? You still don’t have the job, I would think that’s the only outcome you care about.

      1. si*

        Yes, this! Why is it necessary to be all ‘you can’t reject me because I reject YOU, ha!’ about it? Not getting a job is disappointing, but that’s because the job would have been nice to have – not because it somehow rubs in that I’m powerless to control other people’s decisions. Pre-empting their decision by walking away doesn’t actually make me any stronger.

        Sometimes you just have to wait and see if you get what you wanted or not. It’s not a comfortable process but there’s no way around it, or at least no way that serves you any better.

    3. WomEngineer*

      “Don’t take it personally” is a hard lesson to learn, especially if you think you’re highly qualified or enthusiastic about the company. But that’s how job searching is.

      1. HigherEdAdminista*

        Or even if you do take it personally, you have to accept that you don’t control any of what they will do.

        To make a sort of related example, in dating rejection feels very personal and in some ways it is; in fact, in some cases it may be almost entirely about you! But even if it is, there is nothing you can do to make an uninterested person suddenly be interested. The same is true for a company. If they aren’t into you, whether it is personal or not, a gimmick isn’t likely to help much.

    4. Pescadero*

      Those are all pretty much examples of an employer stringing someone along…

      The thing is – it isn’t personal.

      1. Nanani*

        But “stringing along” is entirely the wrong mindset in the vast majority of cases.
        Hiring legitimately does take a long time – multiple interviews, lots of stakeholders whose input is needed, needing to get this or that done before they can focus on bringing in a new person, etc.
        Most people don’t live in a soap opera of emotional and psychological manipulation for dramatic effect, and if you find an employer that does work like that, run.

      2. biobotb*

        How? They’d only be “stringing someone along” if they already knew they weren’t going to hire that person, but dragged out letting them know. In Colette’s example, the employer has yet to make a decision, so they don’t know who they’re going to reject and who they’re going to try to hire.

    5. Smithy*

      I do think there is some value in acknowledging the personal vulnerabilities and ego in applying for jobs and deciding on some reasonable accommodations that cater to your ego/self-esteem.

      If you have a favorite interview outfit that’s at the dry cleaners or are set for a hair cut, and look to push an interview out until you get that outfit back or hair cut – if you know it’ll make you feel better about yourself, that’s a good move. On the same side, I do think that there are moves we make to protect our ego that are sensible provided they keep us motivated to continue in the larger job hunt.

      During a job hunt, when I’m about a week away from going on vacation, I typically won’t apply for jobs or engage in my typical looking at job postings. This is as much about protecting my ego – where of course I’m going to get an interview the day before I leave for vacation and then won’t want to deal with that – but also my ability to recharge. Now if I come across a *must apply* job during such a time period, I’ll certainly apply – and I’ve done phone/Zoom interviews while on vacation. But I know I’d find it more depressing to feel obliged to take an interview for a job I feel ho-hum about on vacation or also to be ignored by a ho-hum opportunity.

      In terms of protecting your ego – reasonable accommodation will vary. One person’s reasonable is another’s unreasonable for sure, but I think that acknowledging what’s done specifically to protect our ego or build ourselves up when job hunting helps avoid weird advice like this. Cause I know that I’m boosting my ego by getting my nails done before an interview – not withdrawing in hopes of forcing them to make a decision.

  4. KHB*

    I’d be curious to know if the mentor who gave you this advice ever used it himself, and if so, what the outcome was.

    1. OhNoYouDidn't*

      I’m not curious about their past experiences with this technique, because, even if it did work once, it would be an absolute outlier. As a hiring manager, if someone withdraws, I simply remove them and move on to the other candidates. I’m thankful a candidate realized it’s not the right fit before starting a job. This advice is bad on so many levels.

      1. WomEngineer*

        Also wouldn’t it raise red flags if you apply for another job with them after you withdrew?

        1. Colette*

          I would think it would only cause problems if you applied for the same job within a few months of turning them down. Circumstances change, and sometimes a job that wasn’t ideal last year is the perfect job today.

        2. OhNoYouDidn't*

          Not necessarily. It would depend.. I wouldn’t hold it against a seemingly reasonable candidate if they withdrew and applied for another role they think they’re better suited for.

      2. Wisteria*

        I’m thankful a candidate realized it’s not the right fit before starting a job.

        I assume that you have actually had candidates tell you that they believe the job to be a bad fit and are withdrawing for that reason, just bc withdrawing without a stated reason doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bc they decided it would be a bad fit. It could be they got a different offer or decided not to leave their current job at that time after all or something else entirely.

        1. OhNoYouDidn't*

          True. But in this context, we’re discussing someone withdrawing and re-applying at the same company for a different, open position. If they did that, it is much less likely they withdrew their candidacy because they got a different offer or decided not to leave their current job.

  5. Naomi*

    I think you’re worried about the wrong thing, OP! You fear that the hiring manager will see through this as a ploy, but as Allison says, the much more likely failure mode is that they’ll take you at your word and accept your withdrawal.

    1. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. If someone says they’re out, I take that as they are out. I don’t have time to chase or beg a possible hire and frankly it would flag them to me as a high-maintenance person.

      1. InASuit*

        I agree with Momma Bear. If a candidate tells me they’re put, that’s it. They’re off the list and I keep the process moving forward, even if I have to readvertise.

    2. Julia*

      I think LW might not have mentioned that possible outcome because they figure “well, I’m rejected anyway, so this can’t hurt, it can only help”. But you are in fact NOT already rejected – you’re still in the game. Don’t forget that all your theorizing about being the employer’s second or third choice could be totally off base. You just don’t have the info. Don’t drive the train off the rails before you get a chance to see how it turns out.

    3. LittleMarshmallow*

      Agreed. I’ve never once given it a second thought when a candidate withdrew from the pool. Just assumed they’re no longer available or interested and cross them off the list. Even good candidates… might get a “hmm they seemed interesting… oh well” but that’s about it and that’s just a silent mental close out of that interaction. I’d never bother trying to have recruiters or HR reach out to see if they “really mean it”.

      Don’t take your mentors advice here. Hiring is a painfully slow process (for both sides). Ride it out. Keep applying. And don’t take it too personally. It’s almost definitely not personal.

      I hire a lot entry level… I’m more likely to give feedback to the really off-putting ones because the sorta average to slightly above average ones just don’t stand out, there’s not really feedback to give (they were fine but someone else was more fine). They’ll find something, but the rough ones… oh man… sometimes they need a little feedback.

  6. Prefer my pets*

    This is such bizarre, self-defeating advice from your “mentor” I think you should take a hard look at anything else they’ve told you. I know all of us have our own things we’re weird about but this is a pretty major error of professional judgment.

    1. Dust Bunny*


      This is not at all how interviews work and not at all what or how your prospective employers are thinking.

  7. Gerry Keay*

    Man, pop psychology really is a scourge on our society. People read one article about how negotiating is like chess and think they’re ready to game theory their way into being CEO. I agree with the other commenters that it’s probably worth reconsidering whether this mentor is really able to… well… mentor.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yeah, this.
      If I want to avoid a feeling of loss, I hire the candidate.

      If I’m too wishy-washy to make up my mind, I get what I deserve. And OP probably doesn’t want to work for somebody with chronic wishy-washyness.

      1. Marianne*

        As someone who’s been a hiring manager I sympathize with candidates that get impatient or move on. Sometimes I’ve had a position open up, I’ve posted and selected a candidate and someone higher up decided that they want the funding to go elsewhere. Or suddenly there is a question about the direction of the project this hire is for and they want me to wait.

  8. Caroline Bowman*

    Whilst it is definitely gratifying *if* the company chases you, and as an anxious person myself, I can see why drawing an explicit line under something can allow you to move on, if the job is one you genuinely do want, then rather don’t.

    Husband was seriously job hunting last year – as part of a planned emigration, which obviously always adds a nice wrinkle to the process, and there was a job that sounded really nice, in an area that ticked a lot of boxes for us, but they moved at glacial speed, and kept wanting different interviews (none onerous or unfair, just it felt a bit like stringing along), and in the meanwhile, a different job came up that husband decided was A+ and he accepted. THEN he withdrew from candidacy because he’d been in play for a couple of months by this stage and they were gratifyingly extremely regretful. They didn’t exactly beg him to change his mind, but they very respectfully asked for a debrief and were visibly irritated that the process had been so drawn out their end.

    So yes, it does happen, but you must always act in good faith, and not play games, basically. If you withdraw, you must 100% mean it.

    1. Grits McGee*

      This is a really great point- your husband’s interaction with this company is theoretically the best possible outcome of OP’s mentor’s “strategy” and it still didn’t result in an actual job offer.

    2. Dr. Prepper*

      It always cracks me up that these companies are *SHOCKED* about their own processes and the duration of same when you point them out with data backing it up. You’d think they would buy a clue after this happened once or twice.

      1. InASuit*

        They were regretful not shocked.

        As in ‘we know our process sucks; we can’t make it go faster for , and now we regret that it’s cost us asnother candidate.’

        1. Anne Elliot*

          I just wrapped up a looooong hiring process that involved a lot of advocating for a preferred candidate over one who had a right to preferential consideration. The advocating was done both in writing and in person and it took weeks before we were given the necessary variance to make an offer to the candidate we wanted.

          If at any point that candidate had called and withdrew from consideration, I would have been very disappointed but I would have felt that was not unreasonable given the delay on our end. Indeed, I felt lucky our preferred candidate was still available by the time I was authorized to make the offer! But it never would have occurred to me to chase/beg the candidate to stay in consideration — that’s up to them. And there was nothing I could have done to hurry the process up anyway.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          As someone in public higher education, we know that our hiring processes can be long and that some candidates for staff positions might accept other offers in the time that it takes our mandatory bureaucratic processes to work. We’re not SHOCKED when it happens; we can see up front that it’s always a possibility; but we are disappointed if we had an especially good candidate in the pool and by the time we’re able to make an offer, they’ve accepted something else.

      2. Tiger Snake*

        Shocked and disappointed aren’t the same thing.

        Of course, often times the people looking to hire and the people in HR closing the hiring process aren’t the same. And in my experiences, HR manages to mislead us about how long it will take as well – I don’t even think its on purpose, they just only even give optimal time periods instead of applying the three-estimates rule.

      3. Overeducated*

        I mean, sometimes hiring managers very very very much have a clue, but no actual control over the timing of the process.

    3. kitryan*

      Yep, if you want to politely inform a company where you think you’re still under serious consideration that you have accepted another offer, that makes sense, and is good as it is polite to do and if you end up applying there later, *maybe* they’ll have some memory of you as being both in demand and considerate of their time in the past, but withdrawing when you don’t have anything lined up as a way to force their hand? They may be sorry to see you go but they’ll just take you out of consideration as you’ve requested.
      I mean, sometimes processes go on for a long time and end up worth the wait. I once got a job 4 or 5 months after the initial interview. I interviewed in August and I didn’t have the level of experience they were looking for so nothing initially came of it. Then, in December, they hadn’t found any other strong candidates and called me in again for a skills test. I still hadn’t found anything in my field so I went in. Apparently I showed that I might be able to pick up skills fast enough to suit and I started the job in January. It was a good opportunity and I worked there for about 3 years until I moved on of my own volition. If I’d preemptively withdrawn, I’d have never had that chance.

      1. WindmillArms*

        That’s a really great example of yet another reason this is a terrible idea! I once interviewed somewhere in January and started in July; don’t wait around for jobs, but don’t assume their speed has anything to do with you.

      2. Kevin Sours*

        There are times when “I need resolution by x date or I will regretfully have to withdraw” can be appropriate. But it’s really when an offer after that date is of little use to you (you have a time limit on a different offer or need to make life changing events absent getting that job). It usually doesn’t work, but it can light a fire under people and in those circumstances there isn’t a great deal to lose.

    4. Bilateralrope*

      >Whilst it is definitely gratifying *if* the company chases you

      I’ve heard a lot of stories about companies/recruiters who wouldn’t listen to a “no” and kept chasing people long after they made it clear they didn’t want whatever job was on offer. Some definitely crossed the line into harassment.

      Those are the only instances I can recall of a company/recruiter chasing someone who has withdrawn themselves from consideration.

  9. JaneLoe*

    Alison’s well thought out response to this inquiry is absolutely why I read Ask A Manager. Well said, Alison!

  10. Nanani*

    Mentally closing out is good – everything after that, from jostling for a “position of strength” to attempting to play pop-psy games, is pretty silly.

    Even worse, if any of this actually -worked- it would mean you are now working for a company that views everything through the lens of psychological games. Do you really want that? It sounds exhausting.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Right. If you think you’ve been ghosted and you want closure, then by all means. All other reasoning is way too manipulative and prone to backfire.

    2. LittleMarshmallow*

      I would recommend finding a better way to mentally close it out if you need that. Sometimes chosen candidates ghost on start dates or after a week of work too and an employer might go back to their candidate Pool to see if any are still interested. That could be months. Continue your search and as Allison says, once you interview assume you didn’t get it and continue as such and have it be a pleasant surprise if they do reach out.

  11. bee*

    I’m on a hiring committee at this very second and Alison is 100% right. We just narrowed down our top two—if the second person dropped out, I would think “Oh that sucks. I hope the first person doesn’t fall through so we don’t have to do this whole process again.” And then I would give literally no more thought to it, the power/losing out dynamics that OP is imagining would never enter into my mind.

    P.S. much like I think everyone should have to work a customer service job, I think everyone should have to participate in a hiring process—I’ve learned SO much being on this side. I can’t say I’ll never complain about it again, but it really helps to remember that the people on the other side are just people, who are imperfect but largely doing their best.

    1. Sara without an H*

      P.S. much like I think everyone should have to work a customer service job, I think everyone should have to participate in a hiring process—I’ve learned SO much being on this side.

      Yes, definitely — if you ever have the opportunity to serve on a search committee, take it. The first time I did, it gave me much more insight into the whole process AND I was able to improve my future job search strategies.

    2. Show Globe*

      I agree, I’ve learned a lot from being on ‘the other side’. The first thing I learned is that it isn’t about finding someone who has all the qualifications-there are lots of candidates that do! It’s about figuring out which one of those people would be the best at the job, and the difference between the top 2 or 3 is sometimes a very small thing.

    3. Katie*

      I agree. Assuming that person truly was just a backup, all they are doing is stepping out from being the backup. I am not going to chase down my back up or my ‘aren’t the best but I won’t say no yet’ person.

    4. Antilles*

      And then I would give literally no more thought to it, the power/losing out dynamics that OP is imagining would never enter into my mind.
      Bingo. I have a job I need filled, I need a good candidate to do it. When you withdraw, I shrug, send a polite thank you email, tell HR to close your file, and I forget you exist within an hour. I’m not sitting here pining over What Might Have Been, nor am I circling back to follow up with you.
      At the absolute most, my polite thank you email might include a vague phrase about “you’re welcome to re-apply in the future” or “if your other options don’t work out, feel free to reach back out” – but even *that* would be on you to follow up, because in my mind, you’ve said no and that’s that.

  12. MollyG*

    When I was on the job market I found that the best strategy was to apply for jobs then immediately forget about it. If they get back to me with an interview, fine, otherwise it is not with worrying over. If I have an interview I do the same thing. Companies ghost all the time, even after interviews, so it is best just to not think about it.

    1. LittleMarshmallow*

      Ha! When I was graduating college (like 15 years ago), I had applied to sooo many places and handed out soooo many resumes at fairs. One called me back over spring break and since it was pre laptop i didn’t have my computer at my parents house with my list of applications. That meant I had to ask them if this was a job I’d specifically applied for or if it was one where I’d given my resume for a general posting at a career fair when they called to schedule a pre-screen phone interview. They were very nice about it and clarified that it was a specific position that I had applied for. This one had a happy ending… I got the job and have been with that company ever since. Different jobs over the years though. :)

  13. jtr*

    This, along with the “show up late to the interview to get the power upper hand”, both remind me a LOT of the dating advice from Pickup Artists(c). I wonder if the demand died for that market and the purveyors shifted to job “coaching”.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Similarly, it totally reminded me of that stuuuuuuupid book “The Rules” which is the Worst (with a capital W) dating advice ever (unless PUA is even worse; I haven’t the inclination to research this). I’m still pretty irked at the person who recommended it to me when I was young and naive and quickly realized that that person is someone I should not take advice from.

      1. Ally McBeal*

        PUA is much more sinister, unfortunately. At its core level it’s about tricking women into bed, with such ridiculous and demeaning tactics like “negging” (insulting, usually subtly) a woman to try to activate a psychological reaction of “oh no, a man doesn’t want me! i am suddenly more interested in him!” I’m not saying PUAs are solely responsible for incel culture as it is today, but you hear a lot of PUA tactics coming out of incels’ mouths.

        There was a tv series many years ago about one of the major PUAs and I watched with horror at the whole thing. Know thy enemy etc.

          1. Starbuck*

            Yes, it seems invariably the case that they’re deeply misogynistic as most of their rhetoric depends on an appeal to a sense of entitlement towards women’s bodies (not considering them as people, just as marks) and disregard for ethics or consent (turning “no’s into yes’s”).

        1. NoviceManagerGuy*

          The PUA-incel connection is weird to me, because if you’re a PUA you shouldn’t have trouble not being “cel”.

          1. London Lass*

            I think they share the same basic attitude to women. My guess would be that a failed PUA is an excellent candidate to be an incel.

            1. WindmillArms*

              I think that’s the connection. Self-described “in-cels” are the customers for the PUA scam, and they’re also the ones most likely to try the strategy in the real world.

          2. AcademiaNut*

            Other way around – people who aren’t getting the relationships they wand or feel they deserve, and see women as this strange species they don’t understand get sucked into a system that 1) feeds on their insecurity and anger 2) regards women as both a prize to win and and enemy to be defeated and 3) promises that if you follow a series of prescribed steps you can win the boss fight and get a girlfriend.

            Both groups have trouble seeing women as people who have opinions and desires of their own.

    2. Junior Assistant Peon*

      When I was younger and less experienced, I thought employers and women enjoyed playing psychological games to have fun at the expense of job hunters and suitors. Dating and job hunting have a lot in common, and what appears to be someone messing with you for sadistic fun usually has an innocent explanation. An indecisive company might be trying to coordinate stakeholders with differing opinions on their end, or trying to wait a while to see how a reorg plays out.

    3. Excel-sior*

      I can’t even imagine that turning up late to an interview would do anything other than out you on the back foot from the off.

      1. ecnaseener*

        It’s supposed to make you look important and thus magically flip the power dynamic on its head. Something like that lol.

        1. Naomi*

          If you’re referring to the letter linked in the “You May Also Like”, it was even less sensical than that. The LW of that letter wanted to see if the interviewer thanked him for making the “extra effort” to call ahead and let them know he’d be late. He called it a test of the interviewer’s character, with no apparent sense of irony.

      2. The Rafters*

        Not necessarily in my office. 99% of the people not from the immediate neighborhood and who have never been to the complex will get lost, even though I send very explicit instructions, complete with a really easy to read map. We actually once hired someone who was a full hour late, but she called will en-route and explained the very plausible reason for it, and we were able to reschedule for later in the day. Someone who just sort of breezily walks in late is not given the benefit of the doubt.

        1. Excel-sior*

          That’s fair enough. But as you say, those who just breezily walk in aren’t given the benefit of the doubt, rather than the hiring committee thinking “wow, this person has just pulled a perfect power play”.

    4. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Exactly. “I’ll break up with her so she won’t break up with me and will beg me to come back.”

  14. FormerInternalRecruiter*

    The advice from your mentor is so bad and will not get the outcome you want. When I was a recruiter, if a candidate withdrew their application, I would typically ask why and then move on. If it was a hard to fill role and the the applicant was the top candidate, I would usually speak to them to see if there was anything I could do to change their mind. But usually they were withdrawing because they’d gotten another offer.

    Playing games is not going to get you an offer.

    1. Dr. Prepper*

      I don’t call it playing games, but the only exception to the last statement might be when you call up Company A and be able to say “I have a firm offer in writing from Company B, but I’d like to work for you. If I don’t get a firm response from you in 48 hours I’ll have to accept Company B’s offer.”

      1. Elenna*

        Yes. But that’s just being transparent with both companies, not making stuff up to play games.

      2. Nanani*

        It’s not game playing when it’s true and you’re giving A a chance to make you an offer before you withdraw.

        If you don’t actually have an offer from B, or B doesn’t even exist, it’s silly.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      So true. And if I asked why a candidate withdrew and the answer was “to get you to give me an offer,” that candidate would immediately go onto my “never hire” list as both a game player and someone who is drastically out of touch with reality.

  15. Paisley*

    I work for a fairly small company. We don’t have an HR department, but in my role I manage the recruiting process along with a whole lot of other responsibilities. Juggling a lot of work means that if I’m pulled onto another project, it sometimes causes delays in the recruiting process I’m doing for another department. So sometimes when the process is slow, it’s because the recruiter is wearing multiple hats and they can’t always move the process along quickly. Not because the candidates they have aren’t being considered. I really try to keep candidates informed, but I’m only one person doing many jobs. I feel for those candidates though.

    Also, ghosting goes both ways. We’ve been ghosted by several candidates not showing up to screening interviews that were confirmed. So it’s frustrating on both ends.

    1. Pescadero*

      Those all seem like yellow to red flags about the processes and understaffing of your employer…

      1. PollyQ*

        Maybe, although it’s easy to imagine that once the new employee is onboard it wouldn’t affect them.

  16. Not So Super-visor*

    I legitimately sympathize with OP. My last experience where a company reached out to recruit me yielded 3 interview plus having to record a short (2-3 minute) video of me monologuing my resume and why I’d be a great candidate, and then they ghosted me for 2 months after promising to be back with me “either way” within a week of my 3rd actual interview. When they got back to me, it was a form rejection as if I’d submitted a resume on their website. It was galling. I realize that the common advice is that perspective employees should not expect much from perspective employees during the interview process, but the lack of respect for other people’s time is frustrating. That being said, you can’t act like a high schooler trying to get your crush to ask you to the dance. Stupid games only net you stupid results.

  17. ChillinChild*

    A better approach is to tell the recruiter that you have a deadline on another offer, and you need to know whether they are really interested in you (giving them, say, 2 days to let you know), and that while you’re genuinely interested in their role, you will need to make a decision soon.

    I have used this technique several times in the past as a job seeker, and it has worked well. As a hiring manager I knew one of my (now) employees was using it, but it gave me the leverage I needed to move the process along. Just be fully prepared to walk away if they don’t respond though.

    1. Colette*

      You absolutely can do that – if you have another offer you’re willing to lose this one over. Otherwise you run the risk that they’ll say “sorry, we can’t meet that deadline, so good luck in the other job”.

      1. ChillinChild*

        Yep. And it is really most useful in roles in high-demand/low-supply areas, where the fear of losing a good candidate can actually move along the decision process. If there are many “good enough” candidates, this is only to work, but if a position is hard to hire for? It can work like a charm.

    2. voluptuousfire*

      I’ve definitely seen candidates do this, where they mention a pending offer but somehow it miraculously disappears once the interview process is expedited.

      Frankly, I don’t think it’s a bad tactic to employ, but only in very specific circumstances–i.e. this is a role you really want but their process is slower than molasses. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. You can say you’re expecting another offer and wanted to check in to see if things can be expedited.

    3. Prefer my pets*

      That’s only the best approach if you actually have another offer. Hiring moves at glacial speeds and I’m not going to just go “whelp, guess I don’t need to finish checking references or get HR and grandboss’s go ahead before making an offer to one of my top 3 choices” I’m going to wish them luck in their new job and proceed with the rest of my pool. Or just get ready to start the recruitment process over again if I really only had *one* candidate I was comfortable hiring.

  18. FashionablyEvil*

    I’ve done a lot of hiring and if I ever found out that a candidate had done something like this, I would consider it a serious red flag and an indication that the person has poor judgment/should not be trusted. Don’t be that person!

  19. TheRain'sSmallHands*

    Years ago I applied for a job. Didn’t hear a thing for months – then they asked for my PMP number. I gave it to them thinking, “this is strange” – then months later I get a call out of the blue that has three people on the line – its an “interview” but it doesn’t really feel like an interview….there is no appointment, it just a phone thing – but I answer their questions thinking “OK, maybe at some future point there is a real interview and this is a phone screen” MONTHS after that I get a letter with a start date and salary! Not an offer, a start date. I’m thinking “um….no.”

  20. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    (a) mentally close out the opportunity from a position of strength by walking away

    sounds more like sour grapes…

  21. JustAnotherAnon*

    I’ve only ever done something slightly similar in two circumstances…one, to expedite an offer I’d been assured was forthcoming from a preferred employer by explaining that I had another offer in hand (that I was willing to accept) as AAM mentioned, or when something about the company’s hiring process or the job itself made me legitimately wish to withdraw from consideration.

    I’ll just echo other posters and Allison here with the sentiment that removing yourself from the process in an attempt to force anyone’s hand seems like a woefully ineffective strategy. You should interview and then put it out of your mind to the extent you’re able to do so. It’s definitely difficult when you’re enthusiastic about the opportunity but it truly is impossible to understand the whys of a protracted process except in very specific circumstances, like if you’re applying for an internal position or have a networking contact keeping you posted.

  22. Sleeping Late Every Day*

    I honestly don’t understand the disgust some job candidates express for being a second or third choice. The two best jobs I ever had, choice #1 did not fit and either quit or was asked to leave within a few days, and choice #2 accepted another job. Guess who get the jobs and loved them? Choice #3, me! Thinking you’re always going to be the top person in anything is a fast track to disappointment, and might make you miss out on fantastic positions.

    1. Cold and Tired*

      This! Also, just because someone looks like they’re the top choice on paper and in interviews doesn’t mean they’ll be a good fit long term, so it really means nothing. As long as the choice you make is qualified and does the job well, no one will ever remember if they were the second or third choice because no one cares.

      1. The Rafters*

        Years ago, we hired someone who was our FIFTH choice. The first 4 were either so wonderful that their employers made counter-offers or the candidates accepted other opportunities instead. We never told her she was the fifth choice. I’m not sure she even knew she wasn’t the first choice. She fit in well, stayed for several years and left only because she was given a well-earned promotion in her old office.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      I’ve had a top choice candidate reject my offer, and went with my second choice candidate, who ended up being excellent in the role.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      Seriously. I’ve been on interview teams where we genuinely wished we could create a position for our #2 choice, just because we liked them so much. But #1 had an additional skill they didn’t have, and it was a skill we needed. If #1 hadn’t shown up, we would have been thrilled with #2.

    4. Anon for this one*

      What’s really weird to me is when other people encourage that disgust. I was the second-placer a few months ago for a job involving a very competitive national search, and lost out in favor of someone the team had known for years and collaborated with before. I know this because the hiring manager told me, and also told me that they’d tried to get authorization to hire both of us hadn’t gotten it. They’re offering me some freelance contract work, and assuming I don’t mess that up somehow, I’m probably in a good position next time they do have an opening on this team. Obviously I would have preferred to get the offer, but I was flattered, and pleased that they wanted to find a way to pay me to do some work for them. Some of the people I told about this acted like I should be insulted by it. A little disappointed to come so close and yet not get it, sure, but why would I be insulted to be the second choice in something very competitive and have them go out of their way to show interest in working with me in the future?

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Seriously! The times I’ve known who got picked over me I have agreed with the decision. One time the person was fluent in the language of a community we worked closely with. Another time they had a few more years of experience doing a specific type of research that was where the project ended up going. At the places you actually want to work, 99.99999% of the time the logic for the choices is sound and you’d probably agree in the same position.

    5. AnonymousReader*

      THIS^ Don’t take yourself out of the running, be glad you’re in the running! I had so many #1s fall through! For my experience, #1s usually have a high salary requirement and the delay is trying to negotiate a fair salary. #2s usually get another offer while we’re negotiating with #1. And we end up with #3! Usually #1 and #2 are what I would call “straight out of the package” ready to hit the ground running while #3 is more of “charge before use” that requires training to get them up to speed. Reader, a little patience will get you a long way! Instead of playing games with recruiters, you should focus your energies applying to other positions or learning relevant skills to add to your resume so next time you apply you tip yourself into #2 or #1.

    6. Kyrielle*

      Also, being Choice #2 or #3 doesn’t mean you’re a disappointing second-best off in the distance. At least one hiring process I was involved in, we were actively upset we couldn’t just get two more open positions and hire our top three candidates. We wanted to hire all of them. We hired the best of the three, but we hated to see the other two go.

    7. ecnaseener*

      Yep! It’s a job, not The Bachelor – no need to change your mind about wanting it just because you weren’t their one true love.

  23. The Lexus Lawyer*

    If you really were in the top 2 choices, this is a really great way to ensure they pick the other person.

  24. Nancy*

    Do not do this.

    I got my last job because their first choice declined their offer. They weren’t stringing me along, the other candidate had a skill I didn’t and they preferred finding someone with it rather than training someone. I just kept interviewing elsewhere.

    When hiring people, if someone withdraws I thank them for their time and move on, even if they are a candidate I am really interested in. I assume they found someplace else or decided to stay where they are.

  25. kiki*

    I do think it’s important to remember with job hunting that playing stupid games generally wins you stupid prizes. If you need to have a gimmick to get your resume noticed, that means you’ll be stuck working for people who fall for gimmicks (which usually don’t precede quality work or an emphasis on good procedures). Having to play 3D psychological chess to land a job usually means your workplace will necessitate 3D psychological chess for the rest of your tenure there. Which some people (Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock) may relish, but is exhausting for most people.

    I know it’s really hard, but in job hunting you really have to not take things personally. So often rejections have nothing to do with you and aren’t something you could change with better sleight of hand or a format tweak on your resume.

    1. freddy*

      “Playing stupid games wins you stupid prizes” is great! I’m so using that in many situations…

  26. Random HR Lady*

    Applying for jobs is not like romantic dating. You don’t need to play hard to get or other games. Wow what horrible advice.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      You don’t need to do that for romantic dating either. I am still salty about the person who told me to read “The Rules.” Stuuuuuuupid advice.

      1. Random HR Lady*

        I read that too and it is horrible advice! You are 100% right, don’t do it in dating either!

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Yes! And upon reading this letter, “The Rules” was absolutely the first thing I though of, which led me to thinking about the person who told me to read it and they guy I was dating at the time. I wish I’d never read the stupid book, then I might have actually had the guts to have the difficult conversations with the guy that should have happened that never did. Oh well, I undoubtedly would have dumped him anyway but there’s still that “it could have been” nagging in the back of my mind about it.

          Sorry about the tangent. Anyway, LW, follow everyone’s advice here and DON’T drop out of the running for the reason your mentor suggests; only drop out if you get another offer or really don’t want the job.

      2. El l*

        Yeah, I immediately thought, “This is ‘The Rules’ for job search.”

        For all the “Millennials/Gen Z and their weird dating” I hear from the older generation, I’m so happy that the young people frown on these manipulative tactics.

    2. Boof*

      XD i would argue against doing this for romance too, unless you just like playing games and are sure your targets do too…

      1. pancakes*

        Yeah. “We all want what we can’t have” isn’t quite right, either. Why look to people who are unfulfilled or people who are unrealistic about their own appeal for guidance on how to start successful relationships? Those are among the last people to listen to.

    3. Lunch Ghost*

      I was thinking about that with the “walking away from a position of strength” part of the advice– waiting for someone who isn’t ready to commit to a relationship with you is very different from waiting to see if you will get hired for a job.

    4. Susan Ivanova*

      See, I see applying for jobs as *exactly* like romantic dating: No is No. Pushing back on a No just makes it clear the No was the right answer.

  27. WantonSeedStitch*

    Nope. No way. If someone steps out of the running, they’re out of the running. The ONLY way I can possibly, possibly see this working is if you are 100% the top candidate by a long shot, the hiring manager is ready to make you an offer YESTERDAY, and they are being held up by red tape. Even in that situation, it’s quite possible that no amount of pushing from the HM will be able to cut the red tape, leaving you…out of the running.

  28. RJ*

    This is really bad advice which would make me seriously reconsider any other advice received from this mentor, OP. Taking yourself out of consideration isn’t like a rom com ultimatum. It will get you completely out of the game which I don’t think is what you want at this stage.

  29. Emily*

    If the process of applying for a job is making you feel bad and you wouldn’t take it if it were offered, absolutely drop out. I don’t think it’ll get you an offer. But I do think job seekers frequently act like they’re obligated to wait around, do whatever lengthy/redundant interviews are offered, and keep going until the employer says “stop.” And you’re not! This is a two-sided process. If you’re not interested and it would make you feel better to say that explicitly, by all means go for it.

    And while I don’t think that a lengthy process says much about how enthusiastic they are about you as a candidate, I do think it says something about how functional the organization is. If you’re taking months to make offers, particularly in a job market where candidates have options, that’s definitely not a good sign! I’ve been on the employer side when that’s happening, and it was absolutely indicative of other things that were going on.

  30. BA*

    If I’m hiring and we’re in the process of interviewing/evaluating, and we have someone withdraw from consideration, they’re withdrawn from consideration. Even if we get turned down by a candidate, I’m not reaching back out to someone who has withdrawn, as I figure they got a different offer.

  31. Ginger Baker*

    I want to really double, tripe-down on everyone saying “these things can take forever for reasons you don’t have much insight into but that aren’t a rejection or stringing you along”. A while back I “interviewed for” a job that was pretty much guaranteed to be mine – following a Big Name partner from one law firm to another as his assistant, a position that I would have had to like…show up drunk to the interview not to get, or something equally egregious. One of my interviewers walked in and opened with “Hi, I’m [name], I’m just a junior partner, [Big Name] loves you so I’m sure you’re fantastic” – I cannot stress how strongly confident I was in this position, working with someone I have an amazing working relationship with and had for a number of years at that point. AND YET, even with that, the entire process took nine months start to finish, between handling some red tape before I could get the interview, and then four or five months between interviews and hiring. Some things that happened in those months: They were discussing another position they were also looking to fill and had to interview me for that as well even though it was not under real consideration; the hiring manager (not Boss Man directly) was out on a short-term leave for a month or it might have been two; the various people who had to give final sign off were traveling – and those are just the ones I know of.

    Obviously, in most interviewing, the position is not nearly as guaranteed as in the above example (which, btw, was highly worth the wait), but I think the “what may be going on behind the scenes” examples are not unusual at all. I’m sure if I had been less confident I would have been more panicked, but I now use this as my Exhibit A that a job can actually have you as the top candidate and STILL take FOREVER for various reasons. It’s not a judgment of you as a candidate and I definitely would not withdraw because of it.

    1. Susan Ivanova*

      I had to wait for the company’s new campus to be built. They had no space to put any new people!

  32. Folklorist*

    Man, I’m waiting to hear back from a job that I REALLY WANT, so I appreciate this letter! I keep refreshing the comments to read them as a distraction and to remind myself to be patient.

  33. Excel-sior*

    This might work if you’re an NFL QB with a chequered recent legal history (to say the least) and you’re dealing with an incompetent, desperate franchise. Otherwise, I can’t think of any other instance, in any other field, where this would remotely work.

  34. Bernice Clifton*

    IME, the best way to move on from jobs that are dragging the hiring process out or ghosting you is to keep searching and applying to other jobs.

    Also, imagine if you actually DID decide to withdraw your candidacy because you are no longer interested in the job, you’d probably find it awkward at best if they tried to change your mind. It might seem like it’s flattering initially but it would probably be uncomfortable.

    1. Susan Ivanova*

      I’ve had recruiters fail to recognize a soft “no” (“I’m looking elsewhere” -> “I think you meant you *aren’t* looking elsewhere, let me know when you’re looking again!”). A refusal to accept a hard “no” would put a company down to the “only when I’m desperate” part of the list.

      Recruiting is like dating – if they don’t respect boundaries it’s a really bad sign.

  35. SheLooksFamiliar*

    OP, I’ve been in recruiting for 40 years, and can only think of a few times – 3? – when a candidate withdrawal spurred me and my hiring partners into action. They were exceptionally qualified SMEs at a very senior level: super cred, they had it.

    The rest of the time, when a candidate withdraws I wish them well and move on to the next on our list. Rarely is there a single, solid candidate, there usually are a few really good ones. We usually don’t need to hire the best of the best talent in the world, just the best that’s available to us at the time.

    Also, my team’s reason to exist is to find and hire people, but some weeks go sideways. Take last week. My boss has been with a family emergency and we all shared taking over her meetings; one of our facilities had a fire; it’s Spring Break Season; our CHRO asked for open requisitions reports with info we don’t normally track, and our new ATS had some problems so we did them manually. I didn’t get to work on anything I needed to until Thursday. Sigh.

  36. The OTHER Other*

    LW is taking all this WAY to personally, and I hope they change their mindset. Job hunting is awful and can really do a number on you psychologically, but you need to keep in mind that barring really egregious misbehavior (like an interviewer not showing up, or making bigoted comments), the process isn’t something hiring companies are doing TO you.

    The best way to “mentally close this out” is to… mentally close it out: forget about it and move on, and pursue other jobs. If you wind up hearing from them, great, it’s an unexpected bonus. Otherwise, let it go. The best way to come back at them from a position of strength is to get another job offer, THEN a you can say you need to hear back ASAP or I’m going with another opportunity. The more jobs you apply for the easier it is to not focus on any one of them.

  37. Not a mentor*

    While I totally sympathize with not wanting to be ghosted again, and Alison’s advice is incredibly thoughtful, there’s also the possibility that OP’s assumptions about their place in the candidacy is completely wrong. What if one of the myriad of other reasons for a stalled hiring process is happening? The hiring manager went out on a leave. Someone on the team gave their notice and now they’re considering combining responsibilities/changing the job description. After initial interviews the employer is waiting to hear back about whether they can offer more salary before proceeding. There’s one sticking point skill they really want that no candidates have yet and they’re considering whether they can live with that or need to interview more people. Other highly qualified candidate(s) had something come up and their interviews got pushed a week or two back. While hiring I have been in every one of these situations and it would be absolutely silly for someone to take withdraw as a tactic to produce some kind of emotional response from a situation they made up in their head about how much we wanted them.

  38. Allonge*

    “mentally closing out the opportunity from a position of strength”

    Ugh. What does this even mean? It’s psychobabble words mixed up.

    Seriously, OP, do you want this job or not? If you withdraw, you will not get it – all due respect, you are probably too inexperienced to be pursued against a ‘no thanks’ (most people are).

    It’s not a game you can win or lose, it’s a decision being made by other people – you are still in consideration, so you have done all you can. Wait.

    1. pancakes*

      I think the idea there is “mentally trick myself into believing I didn’t really want an offer.” That doesn’t suggest strength to me at all. To the contrary, I’d think someone would have to be quite suggestible for it to work.

  39. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    My current job was posted in early August 2019 which is when I applied. It was October before they responded to applicants at all. November before the first round of interviews. January before I started. Some places are just glacially slow – or at least were pre Covid and are just waking up to the fact that will not work anymore

  40. JelloStapler*

    Just like a lot of things, do it for your own mental health or closure, not to elicit a response out of someone else.

  41. Sparkles McFadden*

    LW, you need to look for a new mentor. I cannot think of any situation where the outcome of withdrawing from the interviewing process would be anything besides you being removed from consideration.

    Hiring managers/committees have a lot of factors to consider and they’re busy weighing those various factors to make a final decision. When you say “I am removing myself from consideration” then they’ll go back to doing what they were doing, just with your name scratched off of the list.

  42. Esmeralda*

    I never understand people who feel that if they’re not the top choice, they’ve been dissed and don’t want the job.

    So what if you’re the second (or third, or fourth) choice? If you’re offered the job, it’s because they think you’re a good candidate for it.

    I think I’ve told this story hear before, but at one time I was attempting to get an academic (asst professor) position. One very good university didn’t even request my dossier, much less give me an interview. A friend worked in the dept as a visiting asst prof. The search failed (they interviewed a couple dozen candidates on the first round, invited four to come to campus, one bombed, none of the other three took the offer_. So they needed someone. Desperately.

    My friend told the search chair, hey, Esmeralda from [grad program] applied and is probably still available, I can vouch for her teaching. They called, flew me down, I apparently did not have three heads or belch smoke, I flew home, they offered me the job within the week. I worked there for four years. Great job.

    TL, DR: Are you interested in the job or not? If not, withdraw. If you are interested, cool your jets.

  43. Mr. Tumnus*

    This reminds me of a former employee who came in on a Monday morning, handed me his keys, and said he wasn’t coming back to work because he thought he should have been offered a better position. This was a position that we had discussed with him and given him a timeline for. We were still well within the timeline. I asked him a couple questions to make sure he realized that he was burning all his bridges and that we would not offer him the position after he quit. Nope to all that.

    A couple months later a relative, who worked for us in a different department, said he was really upset that I didn’t offer him the position and a raise that Monday. Apparently what I saw as “quitting with zero notice”, he saw as “opening negotiations.”

    1. Nanani*

      Pffff! That’s actually hillarious.
      Did they wander into your company from soap opera land?

    2. Robin Ellacott*

      We had one of those too! After years of being vocally discontented she quit, and of course we took her at her word, and then she was very aggrieved because she said it was HR’s job to try to change her mind and they hadn’t.

      1. Buu*

        As far as I know, LinkedIn only tracks who clicked a job ad and does not report who submitted an application. It also doesn’t report interest from ads listed elsewhere. I generally wouldn’t base decisions on it.

  44. Don't kneel in front of me*

    This is just the working-world version of “play to hard to get so he’ll notice me.” Its dumb when you’re dating and its dumb when you’re working,

    1. Nanani*

      I’m convinced “playing hard to get” doesn’t exist outside of extremely bad allegedly-romantic comedies. When people say no, they usually mean NO not “keep asking until you wear me out”

      “They’re playing hard to get” is what people who don’t want to hear a NO tell themselves, and not something any mature adult actually does.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        In the age of “No means no,” it’s an exceptionally stupid ploy to try in either a personal or professional setting.

  45. mreasy*

    I could see “chasing” someone if they turn down an offer, but it would never occur to me to try to convince someone who withdraws to stay in. I’d assume they have another job or have some reason for it, and stop considering them.

  46. alienor*

    Even if they chase you it might not work out. I tried to withdraw from a hiring process last year (not to force an offer, but because things were going on in my personal life that made it not the best time to interview) and they begged me to stay in, so I did…and then six interviews later they ghosted me. Talk about a waste of time.

  47. The Rafters*

    This is such spectacularly bad advice, that I would seriously question every last thing your mentor tells you. A potential employer will not chase after you unless they are so toxic / horrible to work for that any warm body will do.

  48. El l*

    I would venture that 99+% of people when given an email which “…gracefully thanking them and the manager while also withdrawing my candidacy with no explanation or a simple ‘focusing on other opportunities'”…

    …would stop their thinking about you at, “OK. Next!”

  49. KuklaRed*

    I hesitate to post this, but I did this just today, albeit inadvertently. I am not really looking for a new position, but when recruiters come calling with interesting jobs I will listen and engage. A new (to me) recruiter contacted me last week about 2 potential positions at 2 different firms – both right up my alley and back in the environment I would love to rejoin. So we had some conversations and he wanted me to write up a cover letter to show my interest and my background in this environment, which I have been adjacent to but not directly in for a few years. Think working in tea pot shipping rather than in tea pot design… something like that. So I wrote the cover letter and sent it over to him. He comes back with an email saying that he needs this reflected in my resume. O really? If I added all of this back into my resume, it would be 6+ pages long and no one wants to read all that. Isn’t this his job, to present me to the client and showcase my experience to get my foot in the door for an interview?

    Anyway, he was annoying me to begin with for other reasons, so I wrote back and said that I don’t want to blow my resume up to 6 pages and that I didn’t think I was the candidate for him this time around. No harm, no foul, I wished him well. I immediately get another email from him: the redone resume is not necessary and he is ALL over presenting me to the client.

    So I guess sometimes if you walk away, they do pay more attention. Although in this case, it was not my goal.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Yeah, I can see this working on a recruiter who’s desperate to present as many halfway decent candidates as they can. I doubt it would work in later stages.

  50. Eclecticism is a Virtue*

    As someone who has hired people many times, I can tell you that I would not chase you if you dropped out. Even if you’re my top choice. For example, a couple years ago, after the pandemic started, I needed to hire someone. My top candidate had 10 years of experience in the exact same role and had a great interview. If she withdrew her candidacy because she felt the process took too long, I would have said, “Good luck in your job search.” I would not have done anything to convince her to stay in the process, unless I was planning to make the job offer the same day. Even though every other candidate compared to her was noticeably lacking in qualifications, I would still go back to looking for someone else. Unless it’s a high level position, like a vice president, normally hiring managers are looking for the best they can find, who still gives them the qualifications and culture fit, and who will say “yes” to the job offer. They are not usually looking for someone who checks every single box and a dozen boxes that weren’t even on their radar, and then chase after that one and only person if it looks like they are walking away. (Spoiler: we did hire her, she stayed about 18 months and just left a couple weeks ago after being recruited by a company in her preferred industry.)

    1. umami*

      Agreed. The ONLY time I have ever reached back was when we had a really strong internal candidate withdraw after a first-round interview. Turns out, she felt she had embarrassed herself by performing poorly. But she didn’t! She would have been one of our finalists. She ultimately decided not to continue in the process after our conversation, which sent us back to the pool where we ended up with a stellar candidate. But in most circumstances, it wouldn’t even cross my mind to reach out – by withdrawing you’ve told me I don’t even need to think about you again. It would never occur to me to chase you down.

  51. anonymous73*

    Don’t play games unless you’re willing to lose.

    I get that it’s beyond frustrating when you get ghosted or it takes longer than you think it should take for a company to make a decision. But the bottom line is that you can’t do much to change the ghosting, and unless you’ve been on the hiring side of things, you have no idea what goes on to find a candidate to fill an opening. The best thing you can do is mentally prepare yourself to NOT get jobs and don’t take any of the rejection personally.

  52. bananas-n-chocolate*

    Why does this sound strikingly similar to the silly games people play in the dating world?

  53. umami*

    People really do get terrible advice. I recently had a meeting with a newly hired high-level manager and her supervisor to get some information on a project they were working on (but manager was leading, and supervisor was struggling to get progress and had asked if I could intervene). As I was questioning her on the progress, she seemed to become more withdrawn and less specific with her answers, just saying things like “I’ve done this before, everything is in place” despite no evidence to that, and she slouched back in her chair for the rest of the conversation (which had a hard stop due to another scheduled meeting). Later that day, I met with the supervisor to see if any additional progress had been made, and she told me she was embarrassed by manager’s behavior and had asked her why she was slouching back and barely responding, and her answer was: ‘I was projecting my confidence’. Like, WAT? LOL where did she get the idea that checking out of a meeting with a vice president and leaning back in her chair was a way to show confidence? How about having actual answers to the questions being posed?

  54. Nay*

    How can I anonymously send this to our CEO who has implied that we will need to return to the office full time shortly to match our consortiums “productivity” *huge eyeroll because I’m probably more productive at home*. We’re “hybrid” right now but I use that loosely because, like so many of these other writers, hardly anyone comes in the 2 or 3 days a week they’re supposed to because, why?

  55. ccnumber4*

    I also just have to say, the OP’s comment about the role being reposted to LinkedIn with “very few candidates” is….just not how LinkedIn works. Unless a company has allowed LI to integrate with their ATS (and I have never worked for a company that does), the number you are seeing only indicates how many people may have clicked through to view the job on the company’s website. You have no idea how many candidates are in the company’s pipeline via other sources, since you do not have any insight or access to their ATS. Also, most companies use LinkedIn’s automated posting process, roles are not necessarily being manually reposted by a recruiter while they “string you along.” Safe to say, whatever you think you are seeing on LinkedIn regarding a company’s ability to fill a role or the interest in that role is very much not accurate.

  56. HappyDaze*

    I’ve been hiring people for my program, and if I got an email saying anything like this, I’d respond by wishing them well. These kinds of games don’t just remove you from applicant pools; If I found out this was someone trying to Jedi mind-trick me into hiring them, I’d assume this person’s just going to be drama and avoid hiring them at all costs.

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