Through speaking to many super driven and smart job seekers over the past few months, I’ve noticed a trend: anxiety, nerves, and the occasional panic. I totally understand. The job or internship search can be an incredibly tough experience and take a toll on “mental health” and I’ve definitely been in those shoes.
However, from being on the other side of the process, I’ve also realized that there are a few common things that job seekers panic about that aren’t really “bad signs” at all.
One big panic-inducing event is not hearing back for a few days (or sometimes weeks) after an interview. This is the most common situation where I see people really get into their own heads and cause themselves a lot of (unnecessary) stress.
There is a similar effect when you start dating someone. I know, it sounds ridiculous but hear me out… You go on a great date, you feel awesome about it, you leave, and you wait for a call.
Immediately after the date you’re feeing awesome. Day 2 you’re feeling a little anxious (why aren’t they texting me??). On day 3 you’re feeling even more like the relationship is doomed before it’s even started and by day 4, you’ve probably given up all hope.
Meanwhile, the person on the other end just had a super-busy week at work and ends up reaching out a few days later without thinking there is anything wrong. Yet you’ve spent all this time and energy freaking out and losing confidence. Does this sound familiar to anyone?
Ok, so I’m telling you that it’s the same way with candidates and recruiters.
You leave an interview feeling really good and then as the days pass by you lose more and more confidence and start to assume the worst. However, there are literally tons of reasons why you may not hear back right away so please don’t panic over this.
Whether the recruiter is finishing up a week of interviews with other candidates, talking to the hiring manager to get feedback, or even reviewing the scope of the job, it generally doesn’t have anything to do with you. And it definitely is not an indication that you’ve done a bad job.
If you were a definite “no” you’d actually be likely to hear that sooner. When you are in consideration for a job, things can tend to drag a bit as the company determines next steps.
Here is a really good exercise to combat this type of panic:
- Write down how you feel right when you leave an interview – Are you feeling really good about your answers and interactions? Did you feel like you really connected with your interviewer? This will help make sure “time” doesn’t “change your mind” about how you did that day.
- Take notes on what the interviewer says about next steps – This doesn’t always happen but good interviewers are clear about timelines and next steps (you can also always feel free to ask this in the interview). Write down this information so you can remember what expectation was set in terms of hearing more details on what’s next.
- When you’re having a panic moment because you’re not hearing back, look at this list – Like we talked about before, there are lots of different reasons why the recruiter or company doesn’t get back to you really quickly after your interview. The brain will automatically blame you for that (and put the idea into your head that they’re not calling you because you did a bad job). Don’t let it! Look at the list, remind yourself how you felt walking out of the interview, and wait to hear more.
Even if you didn’t make these types of notes right after your interview, that doesn’t mean you can’t think clearly back to that day and be really honest with yourself about how it went. Try to figure out the source of your panic. Is it because you really think you did a terrible job or is it just anxiety that has come from some time passing.
After 1-2 weeks, you may want to reach out to request an update. Here’s a great article to read about how to send a follow up email after an interview and also how frequently you should follow up if you still haven’t heard anything.