How to Know If a Hiring Manager Is Stringing You Along

You sent off your application to a company and even had an in-person interview. It seems like the process is moving along and your next role is within your grasp. You eagerly refresh your email and wait by the phone as the days drag on with no word. You send an email follow-up, and they claim to still be interviewing and will make a decision next week. The following week arrives and you receive the same disappointing response – still interviewing. Now it’s your turn to make a decision.

How do you really know if the company is stringing you along and whether it’s time to move on and keep looking for other jobs? Read on to equip yourself with the insight to understand if you’re being strung along and how to handle the situation.

How do you know if a company/hiring manager is just leading you on?

It’s difficult to know what’s really occurring in a company during the hiring process. If you don’t hear back from companies on the designated date, or if they continue to claim they are interviewing, you should not immediately assume the worst or jump to conclusions. Hiring can feel like a strain for employees. The process can take a while because the company wants to explore a number of candidates, and then the stakeholders must talk or sometimes debate over whom to hire. If you feel confident about the interview and haven’t heard anything, be proactive and reach out.

Also, there can be signs that the company is like a bad date leading you on. If the hiring manager or recruiter schedules more interviews with you and fails to attend or cancels at the last minute, this should raise a red flag. Also, if you fail to hear from the company after months and consistently try to reach out, it is safe to say you should search elsewhere. It should raise a red flag if a hiring manager or recruiter fails to return your calls and emails.

While the communication is lacking on their end and you may feel helpless, you are not completely powerless in this situation. You should use this lapse in communication as an indicator of whether this is really a company you would like to work for. While open position can be put on hold or delayed, an honest hiring manager or recruiter will inform you of this.

What if they keep asking you to come in for more interviews or do a “project”?

Just one more interview – five interviews later. Interviewing you multiple times requires effort and the use of individuals’ time who certainly have other priorities in their roles. If you were not actually being considered for the role, you would not interview with additional people. Some companies really need a strong confirmation before hiring you. More interviews are usually a good sign that you are a promising candidate. Sometimes a hiring manager will ask you to do a small project to evaluate your thought process, skills and work quality. This is also a good sign. As long as the project does not sound like it would require days of work or is designed to steal your free ideas, consider more interviews and projects a promising sign of nearing the end of the process.  

You’ve decided you’re being strung along or, alternatively, the company is simply slow in its decision-making. What should you do?

If you know you’re being strung along

Take a deep breath, take a few minutes to express your disappointment and move on. There is no sense in dwelling on what could have been. Continue considering other opportunities and searching for jobs on If the company is dishonest and deceptive in its hiring practices, consider whether you would have enjoyed working there. Do not be discouraged with your job hunt simply because one company strings you along. It does not reflect on your abilities or chances at obtaining a role.

If it is just taking forever to make a decision

There may be a way to speed up the process. If you really prefer this company and have multiple job offers, you can expedite the decision by making the company aware of your other offers. But if you don’t have multiple offers, how do you express a sense of urgency? Remain consistent with your communication. While following up every single day can become annoying, don’t let too much time pass without follow-up. Be open about your timeline and let them know there could be a risk of you not waiting. You don’t necessarily need to say you don’t have other offers, but let them know you are actively looking but really like the company. Only express this sentiment if you are fairly certain you will accept; otherwise you become the one playing hard to get. While you may not yet know the salary, if you are truly interested in the company, patience is a virtue, and follow-up and communication are the keys.

While you are interviewing and waiting, ensure you have a backup plan and continue job hunting. The company is considering all of its options, and you should too. It is to your advantage to continue your job search on to be able to weigh competing offers and find a job you love.