A reader writes:
I had an interview with a large company at the end of November. I think the interview went great and that they liked me a lot. At the interview, they said that all interviews would finish by the end of the same week as my interview. The following Monday, they contacted me and said that some of the interviews were rescheduled and to remain patient as they will “personally contact me at the end of the hiring process.” Due to the holiday season, I didn’t hear back from them at all until last Thursday. They contacted me then and said that they are updating some specifics about the position with HR, and that once ready they will directly contact me. Also, they were really nice and apologized for the delay at the end of the email.
After reading the last email, I became hopeful since they said once ready they would contact me; its hard for me to believe that someone has to be ready to reject the offer! But a week has passed since then and I haven’t heard anything. What do you think about my situation? Am I probably right in assuming that they are hoping to offer me the position based on the email?
Don’t read anything into it at all. I know it’s really tempting to try to interpret employers’ communications in situations like this, but you really, really, really can’t.
There are just way too many possibilities here for you to be able to know which one is correct. For instance, they might indeed be planning to offer you the job. Or they might be planning to offer it to you, but something will change at the last minute and it won’t happen. Or they might not be planning to offer it to you. Or you might be their second-choice candidate, and they’re waiting to see whether their first choice accepts their offer or not. Or they might have decided not to offer it to you at all, but they have a policy of not rejecting candidates until the position is accepted by someone else. Or they might be revamping the position entirely and re-posting it for a different skill set or with different requirements. Or they might have no intentions at all, and they’re planning to review all candidates and make a choice next week. Or all sorts of other things too.
In other words, when they said they would contact you “once they’re ready,” that doesn’t translate into “once they’re ready to hire you.” It means “once they’re ready to make a decision and inform candidates of it.”
People drive themselves crazy trying to read things into what employers say to them in this type of context. The best thing you can do is to take their words at exactly face value: They are getting ready to make a decision, and they’ll contact you when they have. That’s really all!