I thought you might find it helpful for me to “follow up” on my last article How Soon After a Job Interview Should You Follow Up?, by talking about what you should do if you try to contact the employer you recently interviewed with – and you get no response back from your call or email.
Does no answer mean for sure that you’ve been knocked out of the running for the job? Short answer … no. Although it’s certainly possible that they’ve found another candidate they like better than you, not hearing anything back is not positive proof of any decision they made.
So what’s really going on? Some good (and not-so-good) reasons why you might not have heard anything after your interview:
Why your follow-up call (or email) is not getting any response
(1) Human resources policy – Some companies have human resource policies that, for legal reasons, don’t allow company employees to respond to any inquiries from interview candidates. So it’s not just you being ignored. And odds are, the contact is noted. They just can’t respond.
(2) Lack of consideration – There are some companies that are aware people are waiting and still don’t notify anyone except the people they are most interested in. And even they don’t hear anything until the company is ready. Maybe not official policy, but accepted practice.
(3) Stalling for time – Sometimes you still aren’t sure which way you want to go, so you don’t respond to anyone – until you are sure. Or you’re waiting to see if some new resumes come in to strengthen the candidate pool (sometimes even for demographic reasons). And this can happen even if they already have a candidate they really like.
(4) No one authorized to respond officially – Some places aren’t set up for interviews, so they’re just not sure what to do when people call or contact them. So they simply wait until they have their next steps set up, which can take a while.
(5) Not sure what to say – Sometimes you get calls from people, but you’re just not sure what to tell them yet … or you don’t want to get into a conversation with them that could be awkward until next steps are clear.
(6) Still interviewing people – Interviews can continue beyond the week when you were interviewed, either for scheduling reasons or because new resumes are still coming in. Again, doesn’t mean you aren’t a top candidate. They may just be looking for that often elusive “perfect” fit.
(7) Waiting for key players to be available – In order to set up the next round of interviews, everyone in the hiring process needs to be consulted, and next interview slots scheduled. This can be tricky if more than one person is involved.
(8) You’ve written too often – Maybe you heard back once and got a polite reply. And then you took it as an open door to keep bugging them. It gets on their nerves. Unless you’ve asked if you may check in again, say in another week or two, don’t keep writing or calling. (See articles below for what you can do instead.)
(9) You’re sitting in spam – Since they don’t know who you are or have you in their email address book, your email can get sent to spam. Make sure to put something in the subject line to identify the position you’re writing about. “Hi” is a terrible subject line for this purpose!
(10) Lack of awareness – They may be perfectly nice people who just are oblivious to the process. Hard to believe? I was like that early in my career. This can especially be the case in smaller companies or companies with no formal human resource processes and / or little hiring experience.
(11) What you said or wrote bugged them – They may have seen your email or heard your voice mail, and found your tone or whatever you said annoying. Make sure you don’t sound like you’re telling them they should have gotten back to you sooner.
Just keep it polite and short. Say you’re checking in, letting them know you’re still very interested and asking if there’s anything else you could provide them to help with their decision.
(12) They’re just plain swamped! – Some people have inboxes with hundreds of messages, old and new. And in the middle of a job search, this can go up by another 50 or 100 because of internal emails from the hiring team and human resources, as well as every other job seeker who thinks she or he deserves a personal answers to all their questions.
Does lack of response mean they’d be a bad place to work?
Not necessarily. I’ve seen some online articles warning you that any company that isn’t courteous enough to get back to you probably isn’t worth working for. Although it’s tempting to jump to that conclusion, that leap could lead you to miss out on a great job.
Why? Because – and I say this from lots of real-word experience – the people handling the interview process are often not the same folks you’d be working for. And even if they are, the hiring process is simply something a lot of companies, even good ones, get wrong. I’ve had great jobs in places with terrible interview policies and processes.
Although a smooth hiring process can be a sign of good things to come, this is one of those cases where it’s best not to assume. But that said, if you’re worried about what they’d be like to work for, pay close attention during the interview process to anyone you will be working with directly.
Also do your homework. Use search engines, LinkedIn, places like Glassdoor.com (employee reviews), and even interviewer answers to your interview questions to try to get a sense of what they’re really like. Best of all, if you know anyone who works there – or know someone who knows someone – ask them.
NOTE: Just be extra careful about contacting people you don’t know within the company just to get the scoop. These things get passed on and, unless done really well, may not always wind up benefiting you.
So what should you do if you get no answer about your interview?
Most important of all, don’t keep bothering them! Pleasantly eager can quickly turn to annoying.
If you’ve made an attempt to contact them via email or phone and heard nothing back, all you can do now is let them do what they need to do. It’s not easy finding the right candidate, so if you’re a top contender, they have not forgotten you. If you aren’t, following up has very little chance of turning things around.
Still, if you think there is something new to add since your thank you note (hopefully you sent one), then by all means give it another shot. Try to contact the person you connected with most. Or maybe a polite attempt at the head of the department you want to work for.
And maybe this time use snail mail to make sure your emails or voice mails aren’t being eaten by hungry electronic spam detectors or trigger-happy delete buttons. If inboxes are stuffed, it’s easy for a message to get lost during attempts to free space.
But sometimes, all you can do is wait. And do your best to try to stay sane. Meanwhile, please continue to look for a job while you wait.
Some posts to help while waiting