Job Search Etiquette: An Employer Hasn’t Called Back

Stop us if this seems a touch too familiar:  You show up at an interview for the job of your dreams, dressed to the nines and prepared with plenty of research and background knowledge on your potential employer.  You answer all the tough questions with ease and impress with your insightful and engaging counter questions.  Your new potential employer seems impressed and you walk away with confidence, knowing that you nailed the interview.  You send your follow-up “thank you” emails and settle in, knowing a job offer is right around the corner.

So when the hours, days and even weeks begin to roll by with no response, you start to wonder what went wrong or what could be the holdup.  Before you devolve into a full-scale panic when a potential employer doesn’t call back, there are a few things you might want to consider.

Reasons (Other Than Disaster) That You May Not Be Getting that Call Back

Job searching is an anxiety-inducing process in the best of times, so it only makes sense that a delay in that callback would have you fearing the worst.  The truth of the matter is, however, that there are many fairly mundane reasons your phone may not be buzzing just yet.  The interview and hiring process often takes a great deal of time.  

Coordinating varying schedules with a variety of players, all whom still have regular jobs to see to, can take much longer than that 30-minute interview.  This is especially the case when interviewing for a newly created position which may require additional planning steps.  Depending on the time of year you’re interviewing, expect some delays due to vacations and family commitments such as back to school and holidays.  

In some cases, there may be behind the scenes discussions regarding your candidacy.  Salary requirements, staffing, job duties or multiple qualified applicants can all create time-consuming dilemmas for hiring managers.  Try to have patience and remember that while the initial interview set-up may have seemed to run like a machine, the human factor of making the final decision is the longest part of the process.  

The above advice and reasoning may make logical sense but is of little comfort to antsy interviewees waiting for that callback.  Just because you haven’t heard back quite yet, however, doesn’t mean you need to sit on your hands waiting for a reply.  There are several perfectly acceptable steps candidates can take in order to get the low-down on their application progression.  

Follow-Up Call or Email

If it’s been some time since your interview and there’s been radio silence it may be the perfect opportunity for a well-crafted email or brief telephone message to the interviewer or initial hiring manager contact.  In most cases people in these roles will be more than understanding of a quick check in that reiterates your interest in the position and inquires about the timing of any decision.  It’s important to keep these emails short and relevant, perhaps by referencing a point from your interview or with an understanding “I recall you mentioned the process was just getting started.”  Follow up emails also help by keeping your name fresh in the hiring contact’s mind and can demonstrate important and valuable skills such as follow through and attention to detail.

Timing is Critical

When sending a follow-up email, it’s important to keep note of timing.  An email sent too soon after your interview can come off as anxious of off-putting.  Similarly, waiting until months after can make it appear that you weren’t really all that interested in the position.  Wait a week to ten days after an interview before checking in re status of any decision.  This gives the company time to check references and interview other candidates but isn’t so long as to seem awkward.

Don’t Lose Hope (or Burn Your Bridges)

Whatever you do, don’t lose hope if it’s been some time since you’ve heard back after a successful interview.  Keep a calm head and continue performing your current job or researching prospects in your career field.  Whatever you do, keep your cool when contacting or interacting with your prospective employer and maintain your professionalism with any current positions.  Burning your bridges in either arena may cause you to lose out on not only the current job opening but future opportunities as well.

Article Updated from the Original September 20, 2017