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Are you waiting to hear back from an interview?

Interview Follow-up: Top 10 Tips!

This job was important to Don and when the call came to schedule an interview, he took special care as he prepared.

As a non-profit accountant, Don was very aware that opportunities were disappearing as his industry began outsourcing his business function.

Early in the recession, many accounting jobs had been eliminated. It wasn’t a surprise when he was laid off. Nonetheless, he was devastated and especially worried.

Don was unsure that his career in non-profits would carry him to retirement. He wanted to change industries so when this interview came through he didn’t want to blow the opportunity. It added a new layer of stress.

The call came on a Tuesday and they wanted to move quickly. The interview was scheduled for Thursday morning. Don called and we met in my office on Wednesday morning to prepare. He would meet with four different people, each for 30 minutes. Afterwards, he would circle back with the HR Director.

Don liked the people and they seemed to like him. They even laughed when he described a situation from his early career—a time when he had to deliver bad news to senior executives. It wasn’t funny when it happened, but in retrospect he had learned some powerful lessons. Don was sure he could do the job and he felt positive when he left.

His excitement rose when the recruiter called later that day and said they would contact him by noon on Friday. Don called and gave me the great news. I was skeptical of their timeline.

Sure enough, noon came and went.
Don called me a little after one o’clock. He was seriously upset.

“Something went wrong. I didn’t get the job. It’s one o’clock and they haven’t called. Should I call them? Should I email? I don’t want to jinx it. What should I do?”

“Don, I’m not surprised that they haven’t called you back.”

“Yeah, but they said by noon today. They were specific.”

“Uh, huh. I hear that a lot. What they really meant was they hoped they could move it through that fast. Really Don, think about it. Where you used to work; would they be able to pull together a contract, offer letter, and get approvals in less than a day?”

(Silence)

At five o’clock Don called back. He was sure he was out of the running. Perhaps they offered the job to someone else and were waiting for an answer before telling him he didn’t get the job.

“Don, get busy. Walk your dog, clean your garage, wash the car, go to a movie. It isn’t over until it’s over. I mentioned yesterday that I didn’t think their timeline was at all feasible.”

Monday noon: still nothing.
I called. Don was upset, going over and over the interview sessions trying to figure out what he had missed.

“Don, send them a quick email. Keep it easy and light. Don’t apologize for the email. Send something to the recruiter like: ‘I’m just checking in to see if there’s an update on the accountant position. Thanks.’ Then give them at least until tomorrow noon to respond. You never know about these things. So much can happen; a child becomes ill and the person who has to sign off isn’t around…you just never know.”

Tuesday noon: no response.
Don called. This time he was angry.

“They said Friday noon! It’s Tuesday and they don’t even have the courtesy to tell me they’ve changed their mind or at least let me know when they might get back to me. Why would I want to work for them!”

“Yep. This is the hard part. Still, we don’t know what’s going on. Maybe they’re trying to get you more money!” (I was trying to put a positive spin on it…which didn’t work.)

“What should I do?”

“I suggest you finish cleaning your garage or whatever project you started. Tomorrow morning, I’d call. Again, keep it short and light. Simply ask for an update. Leave a voice mail if no one picks up. Don’t make any accusations. You need to sound positive and up beat—as if this whole ordeal is nothing. Demonstrate your flexibility.”


SmilingMan_30s
Wednesday: nothing.

Thursday: nothing.

Friday: the recruiter calls.

“Don! Good news! They really liked you. Could you go in on Monday? They want to introduce you to a few of their business partners.”

Don was stunned and blurts out, “Sure. What time should I show up?” Recovering a bit, he said, “I look forward to meeting them!”

Three weeks later, Don signed the contract. He was exhausted.

* * *

ConfidentMid-CareerWoman

The time following an interview can be the most excruciating phase of the job search. The dance that follows has to balance a host of factors including:

  • Demonstrating your interest
  • Keeping a professional distance
  • Respecting the hiring process
  • Being eliminated because you were overbearing.

With so much at stake, it is one of the most difficult challenges.

What is the time frame?

The time period from your interview to an offer can vary widely. Sometimes only one interview can be managed a week. So interviewing four candidates takes a month. From the offer to the start date can take one or even two months. Other times, it can be less than a week with an almost immediate start date. There are no rules here.

Here are my top tips.

  1. Manage your expectations by carefully listening for abstract terminology. When you hear, “We want to move quickly on this.” …Remember that “quickly” to them might mean two months.
  2. It’s critical that you set yourself up to comfortably reconnect following the interview. So asking about their timeline gives you permission to reconnect when you haven’t heard anything. Ask for something specific, or at least a range when you can expect to hear.
  3. Reconnect by phone or email. Give the following information:
    • Name
    • Date of the interview
    • Job title
    • Name of the hiring manager if known

  4. Be brief. Let them know you are still interested.
  5. Your tone should be pleasant, professional and without any negativity, judgment or hint of accusation.
  6. When it’s over, regardless of the outcome, send a thank you note by email.
  7. Reconnect again when you land your next position.

My application is dead…why should I bother?

Even if you think the opportunity is gone there are some really good reasons to reconnect with hiring professionals.

  1. Recruiters have other positions to fill and so do HR professionals. How you handle a rejection can set you up for a different position.
  2. If a position doesn’t work out, you now have a connection within a company. Periodically connect with them; approximately once each month until you are hired.
  3. Hiring professionals, especially recruiters, have a portfolio of people they like to work with and place. Currently we are expected to change jobs every 3.5 years. Being a part of a hiring portfolio may help you avoid a future layoff.

I’ve written this blog to encourage you through your job search. It isn’t over until it’s over. Manage your attitude to remain positive. Encourage others. Together we can get through this with our dignity and integrity intact.

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26 Responses to Are you waiting to hear back from an interview?

  1. Brandy December 9, 2016 at 5:01 PM #

    I’m hoping maybe you’ll see this over the weekend and alleviate some of my anxiety. I applied for an HR position a couple of weeks ago (on a Sunday) and got a call the next day to set up an interview for Wednesday. Interview went well, and I found out that I would be replacing the person in that position (2-person HR department) and that her last day was the next Friday. I followed up Tuesday and received a positive response, saying that they hoped to have a decision made EOB Friday (her last day). She contacted me the next morning for a second interview with the owner, which went well, and he even mentioned wanting to place someone ASAP. At the end of the interview, she said that she could contact me today, her last day. They are now closed for the day (weekend) and today was her last day, and I was not contacted. The article made me feel a little better, but I’m still anxious. We have not had a chance to discuss compensation outside of being given a paper about their insurance (at the first interview). Is it possible they wanted to wait until she was no longer involved to discuss that with me? I’ve been waiting to be able to discuss and negotiate (I know the range for the area for the position, but NOT what they’re offering).

    If I don’t hear anything on Monday, should I call and speak with the VP (the other person I interviewed with)?

    • Marcia LaReau December 11, 2016 at 7:25 PM #

      Brandy,
      Thank you for your comment and concern.
      My experience with this is that when they say ASAP, it is their hopes. It’s rarely the reality. It sounds like a fairly small company so decisions can be made a bit more timely. However, there is always stuff that comes up. It never fails. …meanwhile it feels like your entire life is hanging there, waiting for an answer.

      Very often, especially at year end, that the company decides to save by having a start date after January 1. It’s very difficult to pull people in at year end and get them up and running with everything else that’s going on.

      My advice is this: There hasn’t been any discussion about salary or benefits. That has to happen before a contract can be defined. Definitely call on Monday. Simply ask for update and indicate you look forward to hearing from him/her. Nothing more. You can call or send an email. Keep it positive, without frustration and without pushing for a response. The call will carry your voice tone. Please let me know how it works out. All the best.

  2. Jane August 23, 2016 at 2:03 PM #

    Hi Marcia,

    I sent in my application on a Monday-she immediately got back and set up a phone call that Wednesday. After my phone interview she called back that afternoon and asked me to come in for a Interview, stating that they were holding secondary interviews but she can fly up and do my 1st and 2nd in one. The following Tuesday I had the interview. The interview went really well, they stated how happy they were I found the position posting and applied as it had been posted a few months, they didn’t mention any other interviews and actually stated “how great it worked out as we were up here for a meeting”. At the end of the interview they said they wanted to “move quickly” on this. Its been 1 week from my interview and I haven’t heard anything. I sent the “thank you” emails the day after the interviews. All the job posts have been taken down.
    How long do I wait to send a friendly followup/checking status of the job? I know that since they had to travel up here for the interview on Tuesday they were not back in the office until Thursday. I was thinking 1 week is usually OK for a follow up, but maybe I should do 1 week from them back at the office- not my interview. I don’t want to be pushy- but I also don’t want to put other applications on hold for too long. I have been in contact with the manager of the department, not the HR, so there is no HR to contact I have to email my possible future manager.

    Thank you for the advice!

    • Marcia LaReau August 25, 2016 at 5:16 PM #

      Jane,
      Thanks for writing. Whenever someone indicates they “want to move quickly” I realize that for them, it could be weeks or months. (From the jobseekers perspective that’s almost forever.) In the summer, especially July and the end of August, people are out and everything moves more slowly. You have patiently waited a week and it’s fine to put in a positive, professional request for an update. I suggest that it be something that simply asks him or her to set your expectations.

      Do not put other applications on hold. Continue your job search.

      Perhaps something like:
      Dear ______,
      Our interview meeting continues to be forefront on my mind.
      Can you set my expectations on when I might be notified of the outcome?

      I look forward to hearing from you.

      Your Name
      (???) ???-????

  3. Clay August 10, 2016 at 3:37 PM #

    In late May of 2016, I applied for a position with a large financial services firm. I have been through three rounds of interviews meeting with lots people by phone or in person. It is now August and the hiring manager responded to my email stating that the company “was still considering options” and expected to “communicate something in a few days”. Well, that was over a week ago. I realize that I the response did not take me out of the running; but, I am beginning to conclude that the firm will send me the “you do not fit” letter. Others have told me that the firm takes a long time to hire people in this type of position. I am a hopeful person. However, this has made this the longest summer I ever experienced. Thoughts?

    • Marcia LaReau August 11, 2016 at 7:45 PM #

      Clay (?),
      I’m not going to try to make excuses for the poor manner in which companies respond to potential employees. It’s terrible and I am sorry for the treatment you have received. Truly, the job search is excruciating from many different perspectives. The emotional roller coaster is perhaps the most challenging and I understand why this has been an incredibly challenging summer.

      At this time (all the way back to May), hiring has become slower in many sectors. Employers have become incredibly picky and unwilling to admit that it is their responsibility to make employees successful. Again, this summer has been especially painful. July is usually slow, but even more so this year. You are in the financial services industry which is undergoing incredible change from new technologies that are impacting the industry …e.g. blockchain. The industry is going to continue to be in this flux for the foreseeable future.

      I encourage you to stay connected with people you meet – from the hiring manager, to recruiters, human resource professionals – everyone you meet. Become a good-will factory. I hope you have heard good news by now, but if that isn’t the case: thank them for considering you. Connect with them on LinkedIn. Gather people around you in your industry. If you still haven’t heard anything, continue to call once a week. Be polite, considerate, and professional. I wish you every success.

  4. Kavita November 19, 2015 at 12:21 PM #

    Hi Marcia,

    Great Post. Thank you for the article.
    I need your help to understand what should I do in my specific situation.

    ” I contacted recruiter over Linkedin when I got to know about the position for which I had 5 years of experience in a competition brand. I had a phone interview with HR in Aug, she told me I’ll hear back in weeks time but no response I send couple of emails to her to follow up. I finally have up when I dnt heard anything from her even after 2 months. She called me in Oct and said I’ve been selected for the next round and I would be meeting with the Recruiter which she arranged after a week , I met with recruiter and right after the interview he said he’ll be moving me to the next round. I was contacted by HR to set up third interview with company President. I met the company president in Nov 09th (Monday). I think the interview was good and I was able to establish repo with President. After the interview I asked HR for the timeline, she said by the end of the week. I sent thank you email to everyone on same day of interview. Its been 10 days , I havent heard anything from her. I am confused should I send her follow up email or call to get a status update.

    You’re input will highly appreciated.

    Thank You

    • Marcia LaReau November 19, 2015 at 8:10 PM #

      Kavita,
      Thank you for reading the article and for your response. Your situation is remarkably common.

      When HR and others say “By the end of the week…,” That is their hope. They hope they can get back to you. It is rarely the reality of the situation.

      Even if they made their decision by “the end of the week” …it doesn’t mean that they can get the rest of the details in place. They need approvals, contract terms, and a lot of administration before they can contact you. You met with them on Nov. 9, tomorrow will be one week. Email the HR person with an easy message, “I’m checking in on the (name of the position) and wondering if there is an update. I hope to hear from you.” Include your phone number after your full name.

      Please let me know how this works out.

      All the best to you.

  5. Maria August 4, 2015 at 11:23 AM #

    Dear Marcia,
    I loved your article. It really helped put things in perspective for me. If I can just get some advice/insight from you, I would really appreciate it.
    In brief; I have an phone interview with the HR recruiter for a large company on July 8th. On Tuesday, July 14th, he called me back and arranged a face to face interview with the hiring manager and supervisor for the next day. On Wed, July 15, I had the interview. Seemed to go well but when I asked if they would like my references, they said no “not yet” and that there interviews were continuing into the next week (July 20 to 24). I sent an email on July 30 thanking them and also asking if they needed anymore from me to help make a decison. Today is August 4th, and I still haven’t heard anything. I assume the job has been filled. Do you think there is anything else I could have done?
    Thank you so much in advance, and again, great article.
    Sincerely,
    Maria

  6. Lana August 2, 2015 at 11:52 PM #

    Thank you so much for this post! Really hits home to us on the market looking for a job.

    I interviewed with a company on Monday and he said he was confident that I will hear back by the end of the week. I waited for the call all week and got nothing… I’m sort of worried I’m not getting the position now since they didn’t get back to me by the time they said they would get back to me.

    I’ve sent a follow up email after the interview thanking them which I received a pleasant reply to. Should I send another email now to check the status of my application or will it make me look impatient?

  7. Sally G July 18, 2015 at 11:23 AM #

    Hi there, I recently had an interview and was given a specific time frame to hear back from them (similar to the fellow in your story) and then didn’t! Their exact words were “we have a few more candidates to interview today, tomorrow, and thursday – but we will be getting back to everyone no matter what the outcome by Friday to let them know next steps” and then she proceeded to tell me next steps. I understand that the moral of this article is that I shouldn’t panic yet, but I find it odd that I was given a specific time frame and heard nothing back… and feel like that isn’t a great sign. I feel like most other cases where individuals don’t get a response, they never had a specific timeline to begin with, maybe not though. Any advice?

    • Marcia LaReau July 18, 2015 at 11:43 AM #

      Sally,

      Thank you for reading and for commenting.
      Waiting to hear back is excruciating. Your right. It’s worse when the company gives you a specific timeline and tell you “no matter what” they will get back to you. Especially in July – those timelines fall by the wayside. They hoped they would get this done and many times they are under a strict deadline to do so…and it doesn’t happen. Someone’s child gets hurt at camp and they are out of the office…things happen that no one expected. I wish they would say, “We are under a tight deadline and hope to get back to everyone by Friday…barring any unforeseen circumstances. But they don’t. It isn’t over until it’s over. Hold tight. Stand firm. If you don’t hear by Monday afternoon (at the earliest!!!!…since people are digging out in the morning), give them a call. Be calm, upbeat: “Hi this is Sally G. I’m just checking in to see if there is an update on the _________ position. Thank you. I hope to hear from you soon. My number is (???) ???-????.” …Please let me know what happens.

  8. SM June 20, 2015 at 3:04 AM #

    I had a second interview for a job two weeks ago for a job with a mandated start date of next week. I can’t say the I feel totally confident about the second interview but I feel that I am the best person for this unique job. The interviewer parted saying I would hear back quickly so I checked the status with HR two days later. They said the posistion wasn’t yet filled, nothing else. The following week I saw the continuous job listing had been removed so I called HR for a status check again….same answer. Per the receptionist’s suggestion I also left a message for her manager seeking a more detailed status update. I also directly emailed the hiring manager for a status check. In all its been four days and no one has responded. I just feel like there is something they aren’t telling me….that perhaps they have chosen another candidate and are waiting on finalization. I feel like if I was the final candidate then I would at least have gotten a peliminary response from someone or at least seen that they had initiated a background check on me. Am I totally in left field. Thanks for listening.

    • Marcia LaReau June 20, 2015 at 7:28 AM #

      Hi,
      Thanks for commenting.
      Your situation is one of the most difficult. When a business indicates they want to “move quickly” or, “We’ll get back to you within the next 4 days.” Or, “We have a start date of (something way too soon).” …I encourage my clients to hold steady. There are so many things that can push fast-track hiring off schedule. Approvals get delayed, people get sick, the person who needs to sign-off isn’t available…the list is endless. It’s a very fine line to determine how many times you can reach out. You don’t want to become annoying. It is possible that another candidate is their first choice and if they can’t agree on the terms of hire, that you may be their second choice. So hold steady.

      At this point in the process it is not a surprise to receive a message, “We’ve decided to go in a different direction.” …it’s exasperating, but other options include: 1) Someone in the company decided to give his/her notice and that job has precedent over your position. 2) A hiring freeze has been called and they are trying to get this position through. 3) Three days later the company announces it is being acquired by a competitor.

      This is challenging and you don’t have any information. SUGGESTIONS:
      1. Hold steady and don’t make any assumptions.
      2. With each contact be positive, brief, and professional.
      3. Busy yourself – get stuff done. You might be going to work soon! It isn’t over until it’s over.

      I’m sorry to hear about these kinds of interactions and I’m sorry you are on this horrendous roller coaster. Please let me know how you make out.
      All the best,

      Marcia LaReau

  9. tracy June 7, 2015 at 8:04 PM #

    I applied for a position with my current company. I am moving departments. They originally wanted me to interview again. Then I received a call that I didn’t need to interview I had previously already spoke with controller and she wants to move forward. I don’t know what to think?

    • Marcia LaReau June 8, 2015 at 2:35 PM #

      Tracy,
      It sounds like there is a lot of confusion – which happens when an organization undergoes change. If possible, I would connect with the person you will report to and confirm whether you need to do anything (like apply for the position) and if your job is secure. If possible, get some kind of confirmation – in writing. That could be an email to you. Or even, you have a conversation and then write an email to them confirming your understanding. All the best.

      • pedro August 10, 2015 at 12:19 AM #

        Miss Marcia

        I have an interview on July 27. The interview went very well the hiring manager was talking to me about the future and my role will be but he say he got 2 more interviews and before he make a decision he need to find out my review and my performance.

      • pedro August 10, 2015 at 12:28 AM #

        Mis Marcia,

        Sorry I didn’t finish my comment. I did send a thank you not to the hiring manager the same date and forward another to me one hour later thanking me for coming and it was a pressure to see me. Tomorrow is August 10 already been 2 weeks since I have the interview. Do you think I need to send note to the recruiter to find out about an update on my job status.

        Thanks,

        Pedro

  10. Hetal May 29, 2015 at 6:14 PM #

    Greetings,
    I had one phone interview with HR and then one interview with two hiring managers and a final interview with two other team members. HR had called me after interview indicating that manager had given a positive feedback and they will get back to me end of this week. Final interview was on Wednesday and week ended today, still haven’t heard. I checked the status of my online job application and it indicates “Application is being reviewed”. What does this mean? I mean application was already reviewed and that is why they scheduled the interviews, why is it again indicating that application is being reviewed? Any idea? Please advise. thank you.

    • Marcia LaReau May 29, 2015 at 6:23 PM #

      Dear Hetal,

      I know this is incredibly frustrating. Even if they say, “We’ll get back to you by the end of the week.” That’s their hope. Then “stuff” happens…a final approver is out, HR person had to leave early, and on and on. I usually tell my clients that it could be another week before they hear. No news is good news! On Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning, I would call and leave a simple message like, “This is Hetal. I interviewed for the ______ position last week and I’m just checking in for an update. My phone number is ____.”

      As for the “Application is being reviewed” …it means that you are still being considered. There are no other designations unless you are no longer being considered. I encourage you that if you are getting this far along in the process that it is likely that an offer will follow at some point. All the best to you.

      • Hetal May 30, 2015 at 7:28 PM #

        Hi Marcia,
        I greatly appreciate your time in responding to my question.
        Many thanks.
        Sincerely,
        Hetal

      • Hetal June 1, 2015 at 5:47 PM #

        Dear Marcia,
        I just received the offer letter today and so excited. Thank you again for your time and encouraging me to remain positive.
        Regards,
        Asha.

        • Marcia LaReau June 1, 2015 at 6:08 PM #

          Asha! Hearty congratulations! It can be so nerve-racking, especially when we think we are close. You made it! Well done. I’m so happy to hear this news. It always excites me when people land a job. I wish you every success and especially hope that your new place of employment appreciates all you bring. All my best to you!

  11. Ali April 24, 2013 at 6:33 PM #

    Great article. It somehow relates to my situation. Hope you can assist me what should I do. So, here is story.. I met a hiring manager in a job fair, we had a short talk, he saw my resume and some of skills attracted him. He asked to keep a copy of resume with him. After 20 days I got email from HR said come for interview within 2 days. No position name was mentioned, no job description. The HR contact said the interview will be based on your background and what we are looking for. I arrived for interview the next day, showed them my portfolio and explained what I am capable of doing. Email said there will be 3 people interviewing me, only 2 showed up. Interview went okay, they were smiling and laughing looking at each-other, asking questions. At the end they said hiring process will take 8 – 10 days and then said 3 to 4 weeks.. it was a mix answer…. It’s been a month now, no response yet. I emailed three times till now, but no reply. I am just confused that if I am not hired, why they don’t reply me saying YOU ARE NOT HIRED…. ?

    I had an interview before that, and I followed up them after one week, and they said your application is not longer being considered. Okay, that’s good… at least they replied.

    Do you have any suggestions for me.? What do I do in this situation? Do I call them at the end of this week?

    Your advice will be highly appreciated.

  12. David Pearson April 18, 2013 at 12:45 PM #

    Thank you for this article I think it could be very helpful to the women I’m working with. I currently work as a Career Counselor at a sanctuary for poor and homeless women in Massachusetts. I constantly hear from our guests that meet with me, that they never hear anything after an interview. It’s easy to say “be patient, the person in charge of hiring is most likely very busy with the hundreds of applications they receive” but that isn’t providing the instant gratification they are looking for but a fact is a fact. I have however noticed a resurgence in an old saying that is coming true “we’ll hold onto your application” because in fact people have come to me saying they were called by a company we applied to at least three months past, so that is a good thing. Nonetheless it’s very frustrating for our guests especially the ones who are trying to obtain employment while struggling with homelessness, childcare needs, domestic violence and a host of other barriers. I do all I can to at least instill a glimmer of hope by praising their efforts and providing with as many other resources (including myself) to help find work as quickly as possible. Thank you for taking the time to read this long “comment”.
    Sincerely,
    David P.

    • Marcia LaReau April 18, 2013 at 4:03 PM #

      David,
      Thank you for your comment. Your heart for those you serve comes through loud and clear. Thank you for being there. I encourage my clients to take it just one day at a time. Hiring professionals are overworked and under tremendous pressure. They are trying to get as much done as possible, and they have no idea how jobseekers (and their coaches!) are hanging on every word they say. Comments are often made casually, but we are examining every nuance. These casual comments can either cause us to be elated or send us into despair.

      I too try to take it one day at a time, celebrating small successes as best I can and encouraging others to do the same. I encourage you David. You are helping these people in ways they can not express. Keep on keeping on.