Interview Waiting Game: How to Deal with the Silence After a Job Interview
One of the hardest things any job seeker has to face is that dreaded silence after a job interview. No response at all … as the waiting game goes on for what seems like forever.
There you are, still waiting weeks after your initial interview. Hoping and gnashing your teeth – and maybe just a little spontaneous wall-climbing. And yet, you haven't heard back, not a word, from those very same folks who seemed so gosh darn friendly during the interview.
The thing is that no one warns you about this. I certainly didn't get told about it in school. And from the many comments I've received on this topic, most people are completely blind-sided by the lack of communication that happens after an interview, even when they thought it went well.
Two things you need to know:
(1) Silence is not always an indicator of anything.
(2) There are things you can do to help you survive the wait!
My own silence after an interview story
I once had a group phone interview with a major university for an IT internal consulting job that seemed like an ideal fit. And I had the pleasure of waiting well over two months without any feedback at all. And yet, having been on the other side of the interview table, I knew how long these things could take, and wasn't really worried.
So I just waited. I felt at that level if they wanted me, they'd be in touch. The interview had gone very well (or so it seemed to me), and the rest was up to them. Plus, I was busily involved in a project at a local university, and so time flew by quickly.
Finally, after two months, I realized how much time had passed, and emailed one of the people I had connected to most in the conference call interview. I heard back almost immediately, with ample apologies.
Seems I was the top candidate after all, and they just were having some trouble getting all the things in place so they could fly me there for an all-day interview. A nice surprise.
But I wish to point out that keeping me informed wasn't on anyone's radar, at least not until they felt they had everything worked out. And I don't think less of them for it. I'm guessing some of you are feeling outrage right this minute just reading that, but I didn't take it personally.
This really is how it works sometimes. They want to have things ready for the next step. Of course, they can also lose good candidates that way, but it is more common than you'd think.
How to deal with the post-interview silence
First, if you are going through this, my heart goes out to you. I know I took it casually in my own experience, but then I already had work I enjoyed and had a paycheck coming in. This was just a chance for a new challenge that I wanted to pursue.
For many of you, getting a job now is foremost in your minds. So it's not quite the same thing. Still, the attitude I had still applies. After a point, it's all in their hands, and you just have to be patient
- First, remind yourself that you did the best you could. Don't spend even a moment rehashing what you said and worrying about what you did wrong. That's wasted energy and only brings you down. You may be surprised how well you did. It's not the individual words – it's how you fit what they are looking for. You did your best.
- Keep busy and keep looking. Even if this seems like the perfect job and the only one you ever want now that you've seen the promised land, there are other jobs out there. Apply with redoubled determination. Not only is it good for you sanity-wise to keep your momentum going, you never know what else you find. And, should you get the second interview, you come into it with better energy.
- As for keeping that momentum going… Start a new project. Join an organization. Find a good job search support group. Temp. Volunteer. Do kind things for people you know – or don't know. Take up a sport. Or take a class – maybe even one that enhances a skill you'd need for the new job; you can let them know this. The worst thing you can do for yourself is just sit there and stare at the phone. Keeping busy in a productive way will not only help with your energy and spirits, if you're asked what you've been up to during an interview you'll have something interesting to talk about (while doing your best to tie it in to the job requirements in some way, of course). Plus you never know who you might meet.
- After the interview and after you've sent a thank-you note, wait 10-14 days, and if you haven't heard anything, it's ok to send a polite note inquiring about your status and whether there is anything else you can send them to help with their decision. In my experience, this is mostly to help the jobseeker feel like something is happening, since it doesn't usually influence the outcome. But it can. And there is nothing lost if you keep it brief and polite – and make sure there are no typos.
- Continue to network. Waiting to hear back after a job interview isn't a reason to stop networking. You may uncover another good job to go after. Or you may just make some connections for next time. In fact, having a job possibility helps add to your story. Who knows … you may even find someone at the very firm you are hoping to get an offer from.
- Spend some time improving your resume and basic cover letter, although each should be tailored to the job you are applying for. And work on your stories – all the experiences you've had where you've solved a problem or created a new process that an employer might want to hear about. It's also good to help remind yourself of your strengths.
- Remember … the silence is NOT an indication of anything, especially your chances of ever finding a job. Job search can take many months – or longer. Even for the most talented of people.
How long does it take to get a job offer or a reply after an interview?
The frustrating truth is that there is no rule about how how quickly you will get a job offer after a great interview. Sometimes, job seekers will get an offer within a few hours. In other cases, the applicant won't hear back for a few weeks.
How long should you wait after you apply for a job to call?
Calls aren't always welcome, unless you are at the very end stages of the interview process. An email, however, is an acceptable way to follow up.
Though the length of time varies, it's smart to send a follow-up email one week after applying for a job. Follow-up in these steps:
- Tell them that you're still interested in the role
- Remind them why you're a strong candidate
- Ask if there is any additional information you can provide them to help them make their decision
- Thank them for their time.