I received this question wondering how long you should wait to hear back about a job interview and thought I would share a few ideas on a follow-up process.
Dear Interview Doctor,
I had a great job interview a few weeks ago. I seemed to get along with everyone. I had great answers. I saw good overlap between my skills and the company’s needs. But I’ve never heard back. What is going on? Should I move on or hold on?
Dear Hold On Tight,
Don’t assume silence means anything! In this crazy job search world, radio silence does not mean no.
This happens all the time. Think about what might be happening on the other end. The hiring manager could be slammed with some emergency. She could be traveling. She could have a huge project crisis that cam up suddenly. Maybe her boss has a bigger priority that is taking up her time. Or something happened in her personal life like a vacation or a family crisis. We do not know.
These distractions take the hiring manager’s eye off the recruiting ball. It is human nature to fill in information vacuums with what sounds logical to us at the time. Usually we decide it must be something about us. I did something wrong in the interview. Or worse, I am “too” something. Too black or white, too tall or short, too old or young. We take this silence very personally when it might not have anything to do with us at all.
It is very possible that what is going on has absolutely nothing to do with you. We need more information. Make follow-up a normal part of your interview routine. You want to be somewhere between a pest and a ghost.
Your follow-up process should include:
- Immediately. Thank you note immediately after the interview, via email or snail mail or both. To everyone you met. Remind them of some important point you want to emphasize.
- 1 Week to 10 Days. A note to one or all the people you interviewed with, “I’ve been thinking about this opportunity and have this idea…” Don’t give away all your ideas. Just a teaser to remind them you are out there.
- 1 Week to 10 Days Later. An interesting article. “I found this article on that topic we discussed and thought you would like it.” Keeps them interested and reminds them that you are out there without being pesty.
- Anytime you feel like it. Check in. “I was just checking in to see how the deliberations are going.” OR “I am putting together my calendar for next week and wonder if we could get together to talk about [WHATEVER THE BIG ISSUE WAS YOU WERE DISCUSSING AT THE INTERVIEW].” Each of these ideas gives the hiring manager a little poke to remind them you are out there hanging in the wind.
Should you go to HR? I am not sure I would unless I was in HR. If you established a really good relationship with the HR person while in the process, then by all means talk to them but don’t be surprised if it is a dead end. The HR folks are busy and they have little invested in getting you hired other than paying attention to their hiring stats. I don’t mean to be mean here. The hiring manager is your target. They will be making the decision and working with you every day.
At some point you might decide to throw in the towel. I won’t blame you. Just be sure you followed up with at least 3 or 4 steps about a week to 10 days apart before calling it quits. At that point, if they want you, they will come to you. You move on to the next target. There are always more targets!
Radio silence is normal and not always (or usually) related to you. Do not draw any conclusions from radio silence. I’ve seen companies come back months after interviews assuming they can pick up where they left off. Follow-up as much as you want but please have a follow-up process in which you talk professional to professional to the hiring manager on a regular basis. Or at least you try. And NO BEGGING!! You are better than that!