You know the drill. You get the interview. And you ace the interview. In fact, it was the best job interview you ever had. While you don’t know exactly what happens after a job interview, you think you did well.
So you head home dreaming about the job you’re pretty sure you just landed. And then … you wait. And you wait. You wait some more. Until you just want to scream! Maybe you do scream. And rant a little. And even think of all the things you’d like to do to that stupid company you once thought was so perfect for you!
Take a few deep breaths
But before you decide the company purposefully designed some sick waiting game to torture you in, take a few deep breaths. And let me take you behind closed doors.
It’s time you learn more about the mysterious steps of the interview hiring process. What goes on inside the secret rooms. And why you aren’t getting any feedback from the company, even though you send e-mails and call them endlessly (please don’t) hoping for even the tiniest clue.
Hard as it is to believe, sometimes there are good reasons — really — why a company’s hiring process takes so long. And why all too often you have to wait forever (or so it seems) before you hear back from an employer. A lot happens after a job interview — including unexpected twists and turns.
So what does go on behind the scenes after an interview?
I love this topic, since I get sooooooooooo many e-mails and comments about how painful the waiting game can be. Once, I even wrote a post begging Human Resources people to be more considerate. But sadly, for many reasons, the torture continues and you’re still waiting.
I hope by telling you about what happens after a job interview, you might be able to relax just a little more knowing one week, two weeks, even three weeks or more of waiting can be perfectly normal.
Possible reasons you’re still waiting after the interview:
- Sometimes HR controls all communication and that means people you write to are advised not to respond to individual candidates. Why? It could be a mandate from legal to prevent any miscommunication. (A poorly worded response from the company could be construed as an offer when none exists yet.) Or it could simply be HR wanting to call all the shots. It happens.
- Someone critical to the process may be sick or called away. Why not work around the person? Well, they could. But often the company prefers to wait for the sake of continuity — even if that means you wait too.
- A key person may suddenly have been put on a top-priority project that’s taking all their time. Even if they said they want to hire quickly, the hiring process can get put on the back burner. I’ve seen this many times.
- Or a key person has been fired or quit and must be replaced first.
- The department is going through a reorganization — maybe again.
- The job is being rethought and possibly needs to wait for HR to approve a reclassification. Why? Sometimes they find a specific candidate (maybe you) whose skills are even more suited to their needs than their original concept. Or they find two people they like and decide to split the job into two different positions.
- Hiring may require numerous people who did not interview you to sign off on various steps of the process. Meanwhile, you wait.
- Sometimes it simply takes weeks to find room on everyone’s calendar for the next round of interviews.
Dealing with what what happens after a job interview
So if you’re stuck in the waiting game, try not to get caught up worrying about things you can’t control … like all the stuff behind closed doors. Instead know you’ve done your best. That’s all anyone can do. And just make sure you’ve sent a great thank you note.
After a couple weeks have passed, follow up with a polite e-mail and / or phone call saying you’re still interested and would love to know your status. You might even ask if they need anything else from you.
Other than that, you just wait. As long as it takes. So much happens after a job interview that you never know — or will know.Once I waited four months … and I was their top candidate!
Meanwhile, do what you can to keep yourself busy and diverted so you aren’t obsessing about the wait. Also … keep looking! Not only does the action help you stay sane, but you may actually wind up finding an even better job in the process.
Good luck finding the right job for you.
~ Ronnie Ann
[Post updated in 2020]
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About the author…
Ronnie Ann, founder of Work To the Wise and Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development, as well as her many adventures as a serial job seeker.