Follow-Up Frustration: An Interviewing Reality

Published: Mar 10, 2009


Question: I have interviewed twice for a state job that I am being considered for -- once with the decision maker and once at headquarters. The process has been delayed for weeks to "consider other resumes that have come in." I have sent e-mails and left messages about every two weeks with no response. What do you think is going on, and should I keep up this process?

-- Robert, Tallahassee, Fla.

Robert: There are a number of possible explanations, many of which are common to the interviewing process, but none of which offer much consolation to the job candidate waiting for an offer. As your interviewers suggested, they still may be interviewing candidates from the other resumes that came in. They also might have extended an offer to someone else and are either waiting to hear, still in negotiations or regrouping after being turned down. It also is possible that they simply are swimming upstream in their own bureaucracy.

In any case, your two-week follow-up messages have been appropriately timed. If you have left more than three messages, now is the time to tweak your approach. Suggest that you remain very much interested in the position, indicate that you respect that they are still involved in the interviewing process and request a brief courtesy update on your status at this point and on their anticipated timeline for a decision. If there is still no response, you can continue to follow up or not, but mentally move on and focus your attention on other employment opportunities.

More dramatic attempts to rekindle your candidacy, depending on your comfort level, might include having one of your references call on your behalf, sending a follow-up proposal for the position or trying to track down information from an insider. Occasionally, such approaches pay off, although they are just as likely to backfire, so you resort to one of these when you believe you have exhausted your traditional status-checking options and feel you have nothing to lose.

-- Ms. Koen responds to questions each week in the CollegeJournal.com Careers Q & A column. Ms. Koen is a vice president of Career Development Services, a Rochester, N.Y.-based, nonprofit career-management organization that helps individuals and organizations grow through change. Ms. Koen earned an M.A. in counseling from Colgate University and a B.A. in political science from Utica College of Syracuse University.

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