OK, that sounds like a stereotypical female lament after a date. But too many folks do work themselves into an emotional response when a recruiter or hiring manager says he or she will call. Remember this is a business issue.

A. What could be the reason for no call?

  • Some hiring managers tell every candidate they interview that they are interested in hiring the person – and then let HR deliver the bad news.
  • Some hiring managers want to see a number of candidates before making any decision. But they also do not want to lose anyone they like, so they say positive things and make promises they do not keep.
  • Many hiring managers put off the interviewing and the selection process while they concentrate on “firefighting.” HR folks find themselves pushing hiring managers repeatedly for a decision or feedback on candidates. They get embarrassed at having no answer from the hiring manager when promised.
  • Some hiring managers have been burned by candidates who accepted a job and then canceled out at the last minute. They will not say “no thanks” to any of the top few candidates until after the new hire has started.
  • Many hiring managers had several years of an excess of good candidates and still have a mind-set of plenty. They have not adjusted to an environment of scarcity and do not have a sense of urgency in hiring.
  • Some organizations interview before they have funding or contract go-ahead so that they can move quickly when they get the money. Usually the hiring manager will tell you this, although not all do.
  • The organization may not have the right staff or resources to recruit effectively and rapidly.
  • Some organizations have elaborate approval processes that the hiring manager has to go through to make an actual offer, and these steps can really slow the process down.

Sometimes things do change: an actual emergency intervenes, the company reorganizes, a new executive puts everything on hold, an employee makes a referral and the company wants to follow up if only for morale purposes, etc.

And, unfortunately, some people and organizations are just bad at hiring.

B. What can you do?

  • You can ask each person you interview with, “Where are you in the process?”
  • You should ask the hiring manager, “How many more people do you have to interview? How long until you make a decision? What are your critical issues in selecting the right person?”
  • You should remind the hiring manager of your interests and one special attribute in your thank you letter.
  • You can call the hiring manager after 1-2 weeks for a follow-up on anything, including any questions about their timetable or any promises you think you heard.
  • You can follow up by e-mail or call two or three times if you have not been told to go away.
  • You should offer to come in again if there are other players it would help to meet.
  • You can call or write if there are any changes in your status – you will be out of town for a week or more, you have a new telephone number, and so forth.

While a chart of when to call to follow up on job interviews and when not to would be great, there is way too much “it depends” in most cases. But I can give you some general ideas:

  • If a hiring manager tells you that you will hear something by day X, you can always contact the person 1-3 days after day X to follow up. Lots of these “promises” are made in a fairly general sense and are overcome by events, so calling on the day may make the person feel defensive, and that is not good for you.
  • If you get a positive response, but it involves a delay, don’t hesitate to call periodically. Ask if there is any additional information they need from you.
  • If you have another offer but are really interested, call to let them know your situation.
  • If you are going to be away on travel or family business, let them know that you will be out of touch or give them an alternative phone number or contact method.

Few managers think of a candidate who follows up as desperate unless the candidate acts that way. Thus, if you call to follow up and you indicate you are willing to take less money (before they have asked you to) or will work more or fewer hours than discussed, or if you call several times in a day or daily for several days, or if you cry or cuss (yes, that does happen), then the person is likely to think you are desperate – and that considering you was a mistake.

In all your contacts, remember to reinforce your professionalism as well as selling your skills. Be positive, be understanding. Learn what you can about the cause of any delays and add it to your decision process. It might tell you something about the organization and the value of the position to them – or it might just be a singular glitch worth overlooking.