Andrew G. Rosen (pictured) is founder and editor of the career advice blog Jobacle.com, and recently published "The Exit Guide: How to Quit Your Job the Right Way." He's also a freelance blogger who specializes in developing and positioning online content to boost website ranking/popularity and visitor retention.
The most common work complaint I hear is from frustrated job candidates who don’t hear back from an employer after an interview. People tend to take this silence personally, but it's rarely a reflection on your qualifications or how you handled the interview. Interviewers don't call candidates back for a myriad of reasons, most having little to do with you. Here are seven that come to mind:
1. BUDGET ISSUES. If you need money, you go to the ATM. But getting funds released at the corporate level is usually a more cumbersome process. There are often several departments involved, increasing the odds that a key player is out of the office. Budgets get put on hold, and the person who wants to hire you has little or no control over that.
What can you do? During the interview, ask when the company (not the interviewer) wants the position filled by and if the money for the role has been allocated.
2. NOT A PRIORITY. To you, getting a new job is everything: It's the answer to your financial problems or a way to lift yourself out of a current work funk. But to the employer, you're just another worker filling their needs. On the importance scale, it's safe to assume the employer is more important to you than you are to them. That's the harsh reality, so don't torture yourself waiting for the phone to ring.
What can you do? Keep looking for other opportunities, keep yourself busy, and keep working hard at your current gig if you have one!
3. BAD REFERENCES AND RESEARCH. Sometimes the silence that follows a job interview IS your fault. If a company likes you, they'll often contact your references and do a little Google research. What you have posted on social networks can turn off an interviewer, even if you think it's benign. I recently saw a guy beat out another candidate because he liked the same band as the boss. That's lame, but that's real life. Also, you never know if a reference will "do you in." For example, I was terribly disappointed recently to find out that two of my references were lackadaisical in returning phone calls to the employer. I was still offered the job, but forced to re-evaluate my professional references.
What can you do? Always keep in regular contact with your professional references, not just when you need something. Give them a heads up that a call could be coming their way and that you would greatly appreciate their immediate attention.
4. YOU'RE THE BACKUP. A good employer will always have a contingency plan. Sometimes, that plan is YOU. You might be the fallback candidate for a position in case the first candidate falls through. A company can never let you know this! No one likes playing second fiddle, and sometimes, an employer's silence can indicate you're the runner up. You would probably still take the job, but the new company wants you to think you're "the one."
What can you do? It's hard to know if you're the fallback. But after any interview, send a sincere thank-you note. After that, your follow-up must be strong but not overbearing. I recommend that you follow-up no more than four times over the course of six weeks in this order: phone, email, email, phone.
5. THEY FOUND ANOTHER CANDIDATE. There’s always someone better than you. Sorry, the truth hurts.
What can you do? Accept it and mutter to yourself that everything happens for a reason.
6. INTERNAL BATTLE. Sometimes the person interviewing you gives you every indication an offer is imminent and then—POOF!—silence. Perhaps the owner’s nephew is now interested in “your” job and workplace nepotism strikes again! Or, there's the possibility an overzealous manager scheduled the interview before the job was approved by the powers that be.
What can you do? Chalk it up to experience and move on.
7. THEY LOST YOUR INFO. It’s an unlikely scenario, but it's possible that your file disappeared, your email address vanished, or the person who interviewed you suffered from memory loss.
What can you do? Sometimes following up with more than one person at the organization is the way to go.
For anyone who’s been interviewed and met with silence afterward, you know it stinks, whether you wanted the job or not. I commend and respect the employers who make it a point to contact every person they interviewed for every job. Bookmark this blog post; if you don’t hear back after your next interview, at least you’ll understand why.
The Job Search Followup Guide You Can’t Live Without
Smart or Stalker-esque? The Art of Following Up
3 Ways to Get the Hiring Manager to Like You