|  June 30, 2016

What does it mean when you don’t hear back after an interview?

There are so many aspects of job searching that produce anxiety but there seems to be one that really tops the list:

When you don’t hear back after an interview

When I switched jobs from JPMorgan to Tory Burch, I was not applying widely. Tory was my dream company and the perfect job happened to be open. I was beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to interview and there ended up being quite a few rounds of them.

Days have NEVER felt longer than the days (sometimes weeks) between each round of those interviews.

Once I got that job, I found myself on the other side of the table. Having a few days pass before getting back to candidates became standard and there were so many reasons why that might be the case.

So let’s pull back the curtain and discuss a few reasons why you might not be hearing back after an interview. We’ll group them into positive reasons, neutral reasons, and negative reasons… and trust me, I’ve seen them all happen plenty of times!

Positive reasons you might not be hearing back

Your interviewers loved you and they’re figuring out what the next steps should be (+ coordinating them)

Starting with the positive reasons, know that good things can take time! Most interview processes involve many different people, from different teams, with different schedules. In an effort to make things as efficient as possible for you, the candidate, recruiters will often try to schedule back to back interviews with a few people at once.

Needless to say, figuring out who else you need to meet with and coordinating this can take time. 

They’re putting together an offer

If you are further along in the process and just had your final round interview(s), the company might be taking a few days to do something even more exciting… putting together an offer!

The amount of time this will take will vary as different companies have different approval processes. Some are quick and some are frustratingly lengthy.

If a company is putting together an offer and it’s taking a few days, I would expect the recruiter (or your point person) to stay in pretty close touch with you, but that doesn’t always happen.

Neutral reasons you might not be hearing back

Other candidates need to be considered before they know whether they want to move forward or not

Moving on to our first neutral reason, there will be times when you’ve done well on an interview and the company likes you BUT they need to finish speaking with other candidates before making the decision.

Not to sound harsh but they’re basically waiting to see if any other candidates will be stronger.

Generally there are a few candidates going through the process for a job at once (one by one is not efficient) so even if you’ve done a great job, you’re not just competing against yourself. 

They’re gathering feedback… slowly

Another thing that takes time is gathering feedback, especially if you interviewed with a few different people. If someone is in your interview lineup, their opinion matters. 

Sometimes people are hard to pin down and it can take a few days to gather feedback.

Negative reasons you might not be hearing back

They don’t think you’re right for the job, but don’t let you know

Of course, not hearing back after an interview can be a negative indication too. Unfortunately, there will be times when the interviewer determines you weren’t a fit for the job and don’t let you know. Maybe they forget. Maybe they have too many things on their plate. 

There’s no reasonable excuse but I know it happens. I call it interview-ghosting and it’s not a great feeling.

What to do when you don’t hear back

In my opinion, if you spent the time going on an interview with a company, you deserve to get a status update on where you stand.

You have every right to follow up. In fact, you should ALWAYS follow up, often multiple times.

Interview Follow Up Template

Tips for following up after an interview

  • Give it a week or so before you follow up, unless a different time frame was specified during your interview. This is a reasonable time to check in and get a status update.
  • Follow up with a short email vs. a phone call. Some people may disagree with me on this but sending an email allows the recruiter to gather the information they need to get you the most thorough update possible. If they’re put on the spot, they might not be able to give you an update that is helpful. As discussed above, they might not actually know where you stand without gathering more info from interviews, seeing other candidates, etc.
  • Reiterate your interest in the job. Use the follow-up email as an opportunity to let them you that you remain very interested in the role and company. I have a complete template you can download here.
  • Know when to fold em. After 3-4 ignored attempts over the course of a month or more (if you’re following up about once each week) I would accept the fact that it’s a no and move on. Again, ignoring 4 emails is a terrible practice… but that’s when it’s time to throw in the towel.

If you’re waiting to hear back from an interview just hang in there, try not to panic, and know there are plenty of reasons (even some positive ones!) why this might be happening.

Did you enjoy this post? Get tools, templates, and advice delivered straight to your inbox