The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

October 17, 2012

No Word Back After an Interview: What Should I Do?

Many job seekers have surely been ignored after the submission of a job application – especially via Internet job boards. We’ve discussed the dismal reality of depending on this employment search method and, quite frankly, an employer’s lack of response in such situations is reasonable.

Assuming that someone in the company actually accessed all applications for a given position, the preparation and deployment of individual letters of rejection would be extraordinarily time-consuming. Non-qualifying applicants typically receive an automated message from Human Resources, if anything at all. More commonly, no word back after a week or two will simply speak for itself. Impersonal post-application communication or lack thereof, while frustrating, should be relatively tolerable to a candidate because he or she has not established a personal connection with the hiring manager.

Receiving no such correspondence after an interview, however, is exponentially harder to accept. This is because attending an interview is a much larger investment than merely submitting an application.  Aside from generating nerves, an in-person meeting with a hiring manager requires extensive preparation, sacrificing valuable time, most likely from another job, and, potentially, a considerable amount of travel if the candidate is considering relocation. Given the amount of commitment required in accepting an employer’s interview invitation, then, a candidate has good reason to feel disrespected when ignored in the subsequent weeks.

This practice is undeniably inappropriate and emotionally straining for a hopeful candidate. Here are some useful pieces of advice for professionals who may soon find themselves in this demoralizing position:

At the end of the interview, ask for an approximate date to expect to hear back from the hiring manager.
Asking this crucial concluding question will add further credibility to the interest in the position and establish a timeline from the start, thereby reducing future uncertainty. Although the timeline may not be adhered to, it will serve as a rough estimate of how long the candidate should wait after meeting with the employer before completely giving up on the position. It’s also helpful to mention this timeline in the thank you email to the hiring manager by including something such as, “I look forward to hearing back from you next week.” This is an easy way to remind the interviewer about expectations and to reestablish the timeframe in writing.

No matter how well the interview went, don’t stop your search.
A candidate might leave the interview absolutely certain of an impending offer, but can’t possibly be aware of the other candidates’ performances or feel fully confident about the hiring manager’s genuine opinion.  A seemingly successful interview, therefore, is no excuse to slack on a job search.  Although it may be tempting to take a break after what feels like a clear victory, the best strategy is to continue job hunting as if the interview had never taken place.

Still no word back? Don’t take it personally!
Remember that many candidates have experienced this type of unprofessionalism after an in-person interview.  In fact, in any given instance of this discourtesy, the other unsuccessful interviewees are most likely in the same situation. The lack of contact should not be interpreted as extraordinarily poor interview performance or horrendously inadequate professional experience. Even though the employer has failed to confirm rejection, the candidate should acknowledge that his or her credentials were impressive enough to at least warrant an interview.

Don’t harass the employer.
The thank you note is obligatory – employers will reject 22% of candidates who fail to send one, per CareerBuilder.  A second form of contact is optional, but should not be issued until a few business days after the promised date of decision.  Candidates who choose to pursue additional contact should email, not call, the hiring manager.  If the name and email address of the hiring manager are unknown, try to find out; HR does not want to be bothered. This tactic yet again reaffirms interest without being a pest. No response to this attempt is obviously impolite but should signal to the candidate that he or she has not been selected. 

Candidates won’t experience this uncertainty if working with a diligent recruitment firm.
A recruiter functions as a direct pipeline to the hiring manager. He or she coordinates the interview setup, and receives feedback about the candidate’s performance. If the employer has chosen not to pursue the candidate, the recruiter will be made aware and pass along the bad news accordingly.  Because the employer and the recruiter have already engaged in a business agreement, the hiring manager will promptly find out if the candidate was not a match for the role.  Recruitment firms, therefore, expedite the process and alleviate the painful, frequently unending waiting period that employers often create for job seekers.

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