From a reader:
I had interviewed with a company a month back. According to my assessment, the interviews went fine and I was really keen to take up the role. After the interview, I was informed by the hiring manager that either he or the recruiter would schedule the final discussion. I didn't get any mail from either of them for a couple of weeks. However, at the beginning of the third week, I got a rejection mail from HR! It stated that they were keen to hire someone who fit the role better. I was really disappointed. I did not pursue the opportunity and planned to start interviewing with other companies. It’s been a month now and I got a call from the same recruiter asking if I was still keen to take up further discussions. I asked about the rejection mail and he did not have an explanation for it. I’m still keen with the role, but a bit apprehensive.
What should I do? Do I go ahead with the discussion?
Well, it’s not common. Yet, it does happen. There could be a few things that might have happened after they met you.
First, maybe the hiring manager met a more qualified candidate after he had met with you. He then decided to go with that candidate and asked the recruiter to send a rejection mail to you. They might have extended an offer to the candidate and he took time to decide, but eventually declined. If this happened, it’s left the hiring manager in a quandary. He’ll have to start the hunt for a new candidate, all over again. You were the next best candidate that came closest to meeting their requirements. It might explain why you were called again for the same role. The recruiter might not have much to say in this situation, it’s the hiring manager’s call.
Second, there’s a possibility that the hiring manager had a re-think on your candidature. The interview feedback might not have looked good initially, but later the manager decided to give it another shot. He might want to re-evaluate specific skill-sets, that they couldn't assess in the earlier rounds. Again, if this is the case, the recruiter is really just following instructions.
Third, the recruiter might have screwed-up. Really. It’s possible. He could have got a negative feedback from one of the interviewers you had met and he acted real quick. Later, the hiring manager asked him to schedule you for further rounds of discussion. Now, he has to salvage the situation, by getting you back for the next round of interview.
None of these are examples of a robust hiring process. Yet, these do happen and also brings out the flaws or gaps in communication between the hiring managers and the recruiters. Noticeably, the hiring manager has informed you that he/recruiter will schedule the final discussion! I really doubt if the hiring manager is the one making the final decision on hiring you. Clearly, someone higher-up in the chain is the key decision-maker.
I would suggest that you take up the discussion with the hiring manager. Ask him candidly about the rejection mail. You may also want to ask them one more thing; what made them reconsider your candidature? Your only chance to find that out is to have a discussion. Get the answers and you can then decide whether you want to pursue the opportunity or not. I would also suggest that you keep your options open, getting recalled for an interview doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to offer you the role.