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No Response After an Interview? What to Do.

Published: August 25, 2009
After my column last month on job seekers sending out résumés and getting absolutely no response from the employer — not even an automated one — I was surprised to hear from several people who said they had also run into this problem after a face-to-face interview.

It’s easier to forgive someone for not responding if they are being slammed with hundreds of applications. But there really is no excuse for a failing to notify applicants about the outcome after they are among the few to be chosen for an interview. Or is there?

As I could not find anyone who would admit to doing this (or rather, not doing it), I was left to speculate on possible reasons for this phenomenon. I was reminded of something that Barbara Pachter, an author and workplace expert, told me about the search process: that time passes much differently for a job seeker than for a hiring manager.

Say you go on an interview and it’s the only one you’ve had all month. Most of your hopes may be invested in that single job. You wake up every morning thinking, “Are they going to call today?” The hiring manager, meanwhile, is at work with all kinds of tasks to perform and may not be thinking of you at all — or even focusing on the position you applied for. He or she may be scheduling interviews across an entire month, or even two.

So if you haven’t heard from the employer in, say, two months, you may interpret that as a nonresponse, whereas it may be taking longer than that to make a decision.

Another possible reason for not receiving a response: hiring for the position may have been put on hold for economic reasons. Now, it would be polite to let applicants know that, but that’s not how things always work in the real world.

Other reasons: the hiring manager has left the company; has trouble delivering bad news (i.e., you didn’t get the job); has no manners or just plain forgot. Whatever the reason, you have a right to find out what happened.

When you are at the interview, be sure to ask when a decision is likely to be made. Send a thank you note so you stay on their radar. If you don’t hear anything by the specified time, wait a week or so and e-mail or phone the person who interviewed you. Be brief and polite, of course. Don’t let on that you’ve been on the edge of your seat every day for a month wondering if you got the job.

In my column on résumés I recommended calling once and then letting it go after talking to the person. But after an interview, I think you have a right to be more persistent (without being a pest), to the extent of one or two more calls or e-mails. If you still don’t hear anything, then you wouldn’t want to work there anyway, right?

After an interview, keep networking and applying with the same energy and frequency as before. This is a lesson to job seekers never to pin their hopes on one position.


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