A reader writes:
I have recently interviewed at an amazing company for an internship program that they have open for this semester. I had two phone interviews on the same day and had two in-person interviews the following week. After each interview, I sent a personalized thank you e-mail within 24 hours. A week after the in-person interviews, I left a voicemail for the hiring manager, and today (a week and a half after my last interview) I sent in a follow-up email following what you outlined on your “ask for a timeline” post.
She sent back a response within an hour saying that she doesn’t have a timeline and that she will let me know as soon as they finish “ironing out the details.” I feel like most of the details would be ironed out since it’s an internship program that they have proudly acclaimed to have run for years. I also thought that they would begin the program soon since it’s already a couple of weeks into the fall semester.
Should I be worried that this may just mean that they don’t like their current candidates (i.e., me)? I’m sure they’re still not interviewing since they probably need to pick an intern as soon as possible. I was very optimistic after all of those interviews went well but now I’m not too sure.
It could mean all sorts of things. For instance:
* the past funding for the program has fallen through and so they’re figuring out where it will come from this year
* the person who used to manage the program left or otherwise can’t do it this year so they’re figuring out who will (or whether anyone even can)
* they have higher priorities that they’re focusing on right now, and they haven’t had enough time to focus on selecting people for internships yet
* the person who championed the program in the past left, and they’re thinking about whether/how to continue it
* they’ve made offer to their first choices for internships, and they’re waiting to hear back from those people before notifying other candidates
* something else entirely
It’s impossible to know from the outside which of these it is. Speculating won’t do you any good, but will likely drive you crazy.
But what you do know for sure is that you don’t currently have an offer from this company. Until you do, you should proceed as if you won’t, and make whatever decisions you would make for yourself if you received a firm rejection from them. That doesn’t mean that you will eventually get rejected by them (you might get an offer, you might get a rejection, or you might never hear an answer from them at all), but because you have no way of knowing what the outcome will be, you need to proceed as if there won’t be an offer and make decisions for yourself accordingly. If they do come back to you with an offer at some point, let it be a pleasant surprise, and decide at that point what you want to do.
But sitting around waiting to hear something, when there’s no guarantee that you ever will — and when, statistically speaking, most people in your shoes will be rejected — is a recipe for causing yourself stress and anxiety and for making bad decisions that you wouldn’t have made if you’d known that this job wouldn’t come through (such as not pursuing other work in the meantime).