Q: My current contract position ends in two months, and I’ve had two interviews at a company that I’d be excited to work for. However, there’s yet another round of interviews, and they haven’t given a concrete hiring timeline. I want to be sure I have another job lined up before this one ends. Can I ask them to speed up the process?
A: This is good timing on your part to prepare and hold interviews in advance of your position ending. However, companies work on their own timeline—which may not necessarily align with yours. As a candidate for a position, you are more than welcome to ask the hiring team about the process, who the decision makers are, and when the expected start date might be, but asking them to speed up the process for you without another offer in hand is not the best way to impress a potential employer or achieve your goal.
Speeding up the interview process is not easy for most organizations. The logistics of scheduling key players on a given day for all potential candidates is a challenge in itself. People are traveling for business or otherwise occupied with obligations that cannot be rescheduled. Then, once interviewers have met with all candidates, there’s time needed for internal discussion and agreement on who to make the offer to—and maybe even another week or two of cushion to make a second offer if the first choice candidate declines. Even with an offer in hand, most will be considered contingent until pertinent background and reference checks have been completed. Keeping this process in mind should provide some perspective on what you might see as an unnecessary delay.
Hopefully in some of your earlier interviews, you let the interviewers know what your ideal timing would be if you were selected. You could share that a contract position was ending on X date and that you hoped to transition into your next role with no break, or a week break, or whatever your preference may be. You should also be asking questions throughout the process to gain a sense of how quickly they are moving on the hiring decision and what the variables are. The questions you want to ask are “Can you tell me more about your process / the interviewers participating in the process / the expected timeline / the anticipated start date for the successful candidate?” Asking these questions opens up the conversation, likely creating an opportunity for interviewers to ask you about your preferred timeline.
Since you know that the next step is another round of interviews, what you can do is prepare appropriately and continue a robust job search. Review how the previous two interviews went and make sure you’ve followed up appropriately with thank you notes to everyone you met. Do everything you can to ensure that the third round of interviews is the last that they’ll need to make a positive decision on your candidacy. It’s also smart to continue interviewing for other opportunities—don’t stop applying just because you got an interview. Your goal is to have another job lined up before your current one ends, and you need to make continued efforts to generate as many opportunities as possible.
Some people might advise you to exaggerate your standing with another organization or present yourself as having multiple offers from other companies—but that approach is much more likely to harm than help you. Candidates can go to an organization with a legitimate competing offer in hand to give that organization another chance to hire them, but lying about an offer could backfire in a number of ways. If you fabricate another offer, the organization may encourage you accept it if they truly cannot meet a faster timeline—and then you’re left with no options. Or they might ask one of your references if they’re being used for other opportunities. If you get caught in a lie, your involvement in any process with them will be over.
The way you have these conversations throughout the hiring process will determine what the organization thinks of you. If you are a demanding candidate, then they can expect you to be a demanding employee. That’s usually not who gets hired. Instead, be collegial and direct in stating your preferences while always asking what will work for them—the impression you leave will be viewed much more positively. In any interview process, ask questions up front, voice your own preferred timeline as appropriate, always look at multiple opportunities, and above all, remain patient. Trying to pressure a company into a decision will not endear you to the organization.