What To Do If You Don't Hear Back After An Interview

March 23, 2018

You’re gliding through the interview process. You feel like you’ve perfected the questions that you ask at the end, the way you answer questions, your anecdotes about your strengths and weaknesses, and that your resume is a sight for sore eyes. You’ve sent a thank you e-mail or letter, and you’re waiting to hear back from a company you’re sure was impressed with you. But a few days pass, and then a week or two, and maybe you’re starting to feel frustrated or panicked. Those feelings are reasonable, but it’s important to keep some key things in mind when this happens.

  1. Don’t take it personally.
    Not hearing back within a few days after your last interview can be crushing. But there are much better things that you can do with all of your anxious energy than sit and think about it. You can choose to understand that lack of communication is most likely not personal, and calmly wait to hear back. Don’t second guess yourself or your professional abilities, either, because there are at least a hundred reasons that you might not be hearing back from the company you’ve interviewed with--and none of them have to do with you.

    There’s a possibility that there’s a lot going on at the company, and hiring someone new has to be put on the backburner while deadlines, deliverables, and big projects are dealt with. People might be on vacation, the person who’s in charge of hiring you or interviewing candidates could be ill or dealing with personal problems. It’s even possible that they’re just working their way through interviews and don’t want to contact next-step candidates until they’ve talked to everyone.

    Whatever it is, the fact of the matter is that it’s out of your control. So the best thing you can do is to recognize that it isn’t personal, and play the waiting game for a little before checking in about it.

  2. If you didn’t already do it during the process, reach out to ask about their timeframe.
    At the end of an interview cycle or during the first few interviews, it is perfectly reasonable for you to ask when you can expect a response from the employer. You can ask and should be asking about next steps, and what the timeframe for the rest of their hiring process looks like. That will give you the opportunity to follow up if their response time doesn’t match the initial timeframe they gave you. It also shows initiative that you’re asking about the whole process, and seeing it as more than one interview. If you didn’t take the time to do this in person, it’s okay to follow up in your thank you e-mail and ask about what their timeframe is and when you can expect to hear back about next steps.
  3. Don’t make yourself seem desperate by checking in constantly, but do follow up within the first week if you haven’t heard anything.
    Panic is not your friend in these situations, although feeling it is valid. Recruiters and hiring managers are well attuned to people’s anxiety, and it’s true they might understand a candidate’s panic during the job interview process. But it’s less likely to score you brownie points with the company than if you remain calm, collected, and professional. Adjusting your attitude and drive for continuing your job search while you wait to hear back from somewhere will serve you well. If you haven’t heard back within a week of the interview, you should feel free to check in by e-mail, letting them know that you appreciate the opportunity and are looking forward to hearing back.
  4. Don’t drive yourself crazy thinking about it.
    It’s hard to not know why you haven’t heard--you check your resume a million times, think back to how you answered each and every question, but none of it helps. And it’s not going to. Thinking about it obsessively and trying to figure out why you haven’t heard back yet won’t get you anywhere, and could lead you to make poor choices like complaining about it on social media, or reaching out too frequently asking when you’ll hear back.
  5. All of these things can kill your chances if the employer was considering you and was simply dealing with delays they themselves couldn’t control. Unless you have a legitimate reason that you need to hear back by a certain date, stressing won’t do you much good. Again, use that anxious energy to focus yourself on other things. Waiting will build patience even if it doesn’t feel like it will!
  6. If all else fails, graciously accept that this opportunity didn’t work out and move on.
    If it’s been a considerable amount of time since your interview and you’ve done everything you could do on your end including reaching out every so often, sending a thank you, and waiting, there isn’t much else you can do. But that’s okay. If this is the way the company handles people they don’t hire, you never know what that might say about company culture. Open and honest communication from recruiters and hiring managers is key, and it’s possible you wouldn’t even want to work for someone who won’t openly communicate with you about the status of a position anyway.
  7. If you still haven’t heard back, take this opportunity to focus on how  you can sharpen your strengths and abilities for the next interview. Give yourself a break and the chance to bounce back, and then get back in the job search process.

Not hearing back after you thought you crushed the interview and made it to the next round or that you were about to be hired is not easy. But dealing with this kind of experience can also help you build character if you’re open to it. Use this situation to reflect on how you want to be treated during a hiring process, what signs to look out for during interviews, and what better questions you can ask during your next interview to make sure that you and the hiring manager are on the same page.
What’s your most surprising and strange interview story? We’d love to hear it in the comments below!

All the best