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The Returnee: I’m an angry candidate – the GFC is over but applications are still dragging on for months and months

How long does it take to complete a recruitment process in China? It used to be just one or two months, but these days it’s a lot more.

It took me five months to secure my last job, from getting the first interview to signing the employment contract. But I thought that was understandable because it was during the financial crisis. Lehman Brothers collapsed just after my second interview, so I was pretty sure I was not going to get the role when I still had not heard from the headhunter two months later.

Just when I had almost forgotten about this job, I was told about another interview round with 10 more people from three different teams, some of whom I never even got to work with. These interviews were all scheduled within the same week, and by the end I was sick of the whole ridiculous process.

The reason for the crazy schedule was because the hiring manager had fought so hard not to lose headcount, so now she wanted to speed up the hiring because her team was struggling to cope with their workload. To prove she was recruiting the right person when other teams were making redundancies, she wanted as many partners as possible to meet me. After this exhausting process, I did not feel much excitement when I finally landed the role.

It’s no better now

So that was my horrible job hunting experience three years ago. I’m now looking for a new position again. As the recruitment market has been picking up since bonus season this year, I had hoped for a smoother experience this time, but nothing has changed.

I began interviewing for a relationship manager role at a small foreign bank two months ago. The position covers the whole China market and the hiring manager is based in Singapore. As Shanghai is a relatively new branch, video conferences were set up for interviews with senior managers in Beijing and Hong Kong.

The hiring manager flew from Singapore to conduct the face-to-face interviews with all candidates. I was then happy to be informed that they liked me, but I still faced three further interview rounds. When I asked how many other candidates had been shortlisted for the next stages, I was very shocked: eight!

The plan for the next interviews is to meet the team in the US and Europe. In the last round I have to present a ‘business development plan’ to everyone I’ve met, plus the global head. The global head? For such a junior role? I don’t think I will talk to him ever again if I do get the job. Does he even care who is hired?

Moreover, I don’t think it’s right to present a plan on the products the firm should sell, the potential clients it should target, not to mention my sales revenue. I understand the interviewers will be judging my soft skills – presentation, communication and so – but I will need to put in a lot of time and effort, and this advice is my intellectual property, which should not be presented when I am not an employee.

Looking for a job really is a full-time job. With such a long recruitment process, I can only keep my fingers crossed and work even harder to get the position I want.

Comments (2)

  1. I’m so happy to know I’m not the only one who experienced exhausting interviews.

  2. So horrible.

    Over-requirement is normal in current market

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