We all have our own inner clock regulating how fast we work, how soon we respond to emails, when we wake up and go to sleep. It dictates whether we arrive to meetings early or on time. In most cases it doesn’t make a huge difference in a workplace, as long as we are able to perform our duties and as long as we’re on time when it matters. If you work in one place for many years, there is likely some forgiveness if you are late from time to time, maybe even being late is the small imperfection that your co-workers laugh at, but don’t disregard you for it, as you have many other great qualities they know about (helpful, honest, friendly, professional, knowledgeable). The recruitment process though is a whole other universe, you need to realize that there is time etiquette and the first rule is “don’t be late”.  Recruiters and managers are judging you based on every little aspect you present to them, they’re aware that you’re trying to be your best self, so if you’re are late, it sends the message that you’re not invested enough or that you’re really bad at managing your time. Either way it’s not that appealing for a potential employer.

During recruitment process you’ll be asked to comply with many dates and as it might be difficult for you to balance current job requirements with multiple interviews involving multiple potential employers, it’s crucial to be responsive and to be on time if meeting was scheduled.

Let’s go step by step starting with the first email from the recruiter.

Assuming you were contacted by someone from the recruitment team on one of the job boards or directly to your email – how soon should you respond? If you are not interested it’s good to respond right away showing that you do use your account/email but that at this time, you’re not interested. If you’re hesitant, you also should respond right away but first think about what makes you unsure. If it’s situation in your current job, it’s a good reason to consider other options, if you are on the fence because you have some doubts about recruiter’s job/company, it’s a great opportunity for you to ask questions and learn as much as you can before making informed decision about participating in the recruitment process.  Whether you apply directly or are contact by a recruiter, in both cases you should respond within a week to assured a quick response from the recruiter. If you are interested it’s in your best interest to respond right away (within one-three days) to be engaged in the process as early as possible. If you wait for few weeks before responding, there’s very good chance that the job will be no longer available or that other candidates will be in the last stages of the process. It’s pretty common for hiring managers to find right candidates and to hire them in first week or two of the recruitment; therefore you increase your chances significantly by entering into the process early on.

Scheduling phone interview – respond within 24hours

If you decide to apply for the role you should make sure you know how much time the recruiter will need for an interview. It’s good to have enough time planned and it would be impolite to interrupt your interview due to some other engagements.  When you know how much time to reserve you should let the recruiter know what your scheduling preferences are. If scheduled the dates and times don’t work for you, be sure to express your concerns politely and provide alternative times. If the only time you could agree on is during your lunch break, or before you start working, inform your interviewer.  They need to be aware of any time restrictions, so that they can ask all the relevant questions.  Make sure you’re on the same page in terms of time zones. The most important thing – don’t be late. Usually, if you don’t pick up the phone at scheduled time, you can call back within few minutes and the recruiter won’t mind; although, it can raise question about you time management skills. If you’re planning an interview during your lunch break, let the recruiter know ahead that you might be held at work and that you could be a few minutes late.

Scheduling face-to-face interview – respond within 24 hours

In most cases when you’re at the final stages of the process, going into final face-to-face interview, you need to take time out of  your day to make the interview.  While scheduling a face-to-face interview, inform the manager/recruiter that you’re arranging your day around this interview; this way, they’ll do their best not to reschedule it if something pops up on their end. If you’re not able to take the time off work, and you can only talk early in the morning or later in the afternoon, you should make this clear to your interviewers. Don’t be shy about your preferences, don’t promise you can move things around if can’t.

Rescheduling, being off the grid

If you need to reschedule don’t be afraid to do so, it’s best to give quick explanation (“for personal reasons”, “last minute work assignments” etc) remember to provide alternative dates that would work for you. If you know that you won’t be available at your cell or email for few days (due to vacations for example) you should inform recruiter about it.  Not responding, for whatever reason, can make it seem as though you backed out of the process without informing anyone, which can be seen as unprofessional.

Following up with recruiters

If you were promised feedback within a specific time frame, but don’t hear back from anyone, you are more then allowed to check in with recruiter for feedback.  However, you should hold off on asking for updates, outside of the agreed upon time frame you were given.  Expectations include: receiving an offer from another employer or an emergency making you unavailable for a period of time.

Recruitment process requires a high level of time management and scheduling skills, but in a nutshell, it’s about communication and responsiveness.  Even if you don’t receive an offer at the end of the recruitment process, and as long as you stay in touch with recruiters, you will have a greater chance of being taken seriously when there is another job opening.

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