The Rules Have Changed

How to navigate the new employment landscape

by Teresa Whitacre

Looking for employment today presents a set of challenges that are different than what more seasoned professionals may be used to. Whether you’re looking for a new opportunity at a new organization or within your current organization, the hiring process has changed.

What was once a leaner process has morphed into something more complex. The intricacies of finding work start with the sheer number of steps involved to get from applicant to new hire. For example, a friend of mine had three telephone screenings and three in-person interviews for a receptionist position at a small privately held firm. Another friend had four interviews and a half-day of job shadowing to become a data entry clerk at a hospital system.

I also have experienced this elaborate hiring process: I once was invited to interview for a quality manager position at a major manufacturing firm. As part of the interview process, I would have had to develop a 25-slide PowerPoint presentation about how I could implement a quality management system in the organization. In addition, I would have had to travel seven hou rs each way just to make that one-hour presentation. I turned down the interview.

Younger generations also are experiencing lengthy interview processes. In a LinkedIn post, Robynn Storey of Storeyline Résumés, cited the interview experience of a teenage boy who wanted to work part time at a movie theater. He had to take two online assessments and go on two interviews—all for a minimum-wage, part-time job.1

Is the return on investment—the value of the time and resources spent going through an extensive interview process—worth it?

When it takes seven to nine interviews to determine the right candidate for a professional position such as pharmaceutical sales or engineering design, the candidate screening process is broken. The stakeholders have become so risk-averse that what was once a simple process has exploded to extreme levels of detailed risk management.

Problems identified in the system

Why does so much risk-averse behavior exist in the interview process? There is an old saying that past problems predict future behavior. Often, the individual selected or the opportunity taken presents the least amount of risk. But sometimes risks are necessary—you won’t go anywhere playing it safe. So unless there’s a specific trend showing that past hiring mistakes caused issues, organizations should learn from the error and move forward.

Another possibility is the fear of change. We often don’t want to try another potential avenue because what we’ve done before has always worked. Numerous lengthy interviews have yielded positive results in the past, so why change the process?

Work toward a solution

There seems to be an increased lack of manners, courtesy, ethics and respect on both sides of the process. Candidates don’t show up for their interviews or call to explain why. Employers will tell a candidate that he or she is a great fit and the employer will follow up, but no matter how many times the candidate follows up, he or she never hears anything.

The interviewee and employer spend countless resources going through all the interview phases, yet common niceties seem to disappear. It’s often forgotten that first impressions and manners matter the most. Interviewing for work is like dating: Each party is checking out the other to see whether the relationship will be a good match. If the person is rude, discourteous or lacks respect, how likely are you to continue the relationship?

Be part of the solution to this broken process, not part of the problem. Play above the crowd. Just because someone doesn’t follow common courtesy doesn’t mean you must follow suit. Always be professional.

Not every recruiter, hiring manager or organization follows this broken system. Use these complex challenges to cull the organizations that rise above. It may take a while to dig through the haystack to find the needle, but you must find the best option for you.

Don’t allow the new rules of the game and the difficult complexities to get in the way of achieving your goal. Learn these new rules and play—to an extent. It’s difficult to be positive and keep going through it all—I know firsthand. But perseverance always pays off. Remember: You’re the one in charge of driving your career.


  1. Robynn Storey, www.linkedin.com/in/robynnstorey.

Teresa Whitacre is a quality engineer and principal at Marketech Systems in Pittsburgh. She has a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership from Ashford University in San Diego, CA. She is an ASQ-certified quality auditor, engineer, Six Sigma Green Belt and manager of quality/organizational excellence. An ASQ fellow, Whitacre is an instructor for ASQ’s Pittsburgh Section’s certified quality inspector refresher course and is deputy regional director for ASQ Region 8.

Average Rating


Out of 0 Ratings
Rate this article

Add Comments

View comments
Comments FAQ

Featured advertisers