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What's Happening After Your Interview?

By Susan P. Joyce

Whew! You made it through the job interview. It seemed to go well - they seemed to like you, and you liked them and the job. 

You had everyone's contact information, and you immediately sent your thank you messages. (Right?!) But, they haven't called you (yet!) to schedule the next appointment or to offer you the job. Like they said they would...

Why They Don't Call Back When They Say They Will

Don't assume the worst - don't assume that you didn't get the job!  At least, don't assume it, yet.

Often, the hiring process must take a back seat to other more urgent matters, like staying in business - handling crises, taking vacations, staying home sick, traveling on business, being promoted, leaving the organization, etc. 

Or, another candidate has appeared who must be interviewed.  Or someone high up in the organization has decided that NOW is the time to re-organize.  Or, the job was cancelled.  Or, ...

What's Happening?

While this job interview is the biggest thing on your mind right now, it is typically not the biggest thing on the schedules of the people who interviewed you.

Interviewing job candidates usually falls under the heading of "other duties as required" for most of the people involved. They have their "real" jobs to do, in addition to interviewing job candidates.  And, their jobs are usually their highest priorities.

Coordinating the Schedules of the "Right" People

Unless it's a very small employer where one person decides who is hired, you will be interviewed by several people.  When the interviews are over, those people need to meet to discuss all of the candidates to pick the one to be hired or the "finalists" for the second round of interviews.

Typically, 3 to 5, or more, candidates are interviewed over a period of several days or even several weeks, depending on the availability of the people who need to be involved in the interviewing.  If you were the first person interviewed, you may have the longest wait before you hear from the employer.


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Then, Other People or Groups Join the Process

Typically, other parts of the organization are involved in finalizing the hire - accounting, human resources, perhaps even the legal department, and maybe other groups.  The larger the organization, the more people are involved.  Which, of course, means more time is needed for all of the various functions to do their parts of the process.

And, Of Course, Budgets and Organizations Change

In addition to everything above, budgets are changed. Maybe a big new contract was landed, so they need to fill a different job first, before they fill this one. Or they fill another job instead of this job because they need someone with different skills.

Maybe business is down, so the budget for the job you want is cut, and they can't fill the job now (or, maybe, ever).

Possibly, they have decided to reorganize the group. An employee got promoted or left, so they pause to consider how they should be organized to be most effective. Maybe the job is replaced with a job substially different -- so different that you are no longer qualified. In large organizations, the job may be moved to a different part of the company or to a different location or even to an external service.

How Often Should You Call Them?

Typically, calling more than once a week is not a good idea.  Try for once every two weeks, if possible.  That's usually best when you are working with busy people in a large organization.

Understand that everything you do throughout this process is viewed as a "sample" of what you would be like as an employee or co-worker.  So, don't establish a reputation for yourself as someone who is annoying and pushy. 

If you can hold off for more than a week, particularly with a very large organization, you will probably find that is greatly appreciated.

Be Organized When You Contact Them

Phone calls are usually best because you can ask follow-up questions if necessary.  Be polite and professional, not angry or annoyed.

Give your name, the job you interviewed for (by requisition number, if you have it, or by job title), the date and time of your interview, and the name(s) of the person (people) who interviewed you.

Then, assuming they don't tell you that the job has been filled, ask:

  • Where they currently are in the hiring process? 
  • What the next steps are in the process?
  • What timing they expect for those next steps?
  • When you can expect to hear from them next?

These are the basic questions which should provide you with all of the information you need.

Bottom Line

The job interviewing process always seems to take more time than anyone wants or expects it to take.  So, take good care of yourself by continuing your job search, even if you feel like a job offer will be appearing very soon!  Jobs do get cancelled, and other people do get hired sometimes.  Avoid boxing yourself in and limiting your options by keeping your job search active until you have a job offer.

For More Information About What to Do After a Job Interview:


About the author...

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.


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Guide to Successful Interviews

Essential Job Interviewing Requirements:

Succeeding in the Interview Process:


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Succeeding at Different Kinds of Interviews:

Preparation for Successful Interviews:

More Information About Successful Interviews:


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