they loved me — why didn’t I get the job?

A reader writes:

I interviewed with a company last week for a HR generalist position. Their HR manager and I interviewed for 2-1/2 hours!

I got a call back for a second round interview and was told that I had the first choice of interview times. Before my interview, the HR manager brought me into her office and prepped me for the interview with the VP of Operations, literally giving me key points to discusss. I met with him, touched on all the points, and after our hour-long inteview he shook my hand and said that he looked forward to working with me.

I then had a 30-minute phone interview with the VP of Talent Acquisition, who was feeling me out for my recruiting background. He said that it was a great interview and thanked me for my time. I then met with the HR manager again and she went over benefits, rates, pulled out an employee handbook and started telling me about projects that she wanted me to start working on, asked me about salary and vacation time, and walked me downstairs and through the network engineers area, introducing me to people. We passed a guy in the hall who had an H1B visa issue, and she started telling me about it. Everything was great!

But I got an email last night saying that they went with another candidate. What went wrong? I sent personalized email thank-yous to each person and cc’d her on them so she was in the loop, wore a suit, and engaged in the interview. I’m just dumbfounded. She had even gone as far as to say, “Your office will be next to mine, let me see if it’s been emptied out yet so I can show you.”

You never, ever have the job until they make you an offer. Never.

It doesn’t matter how well your interview goes. It doesn’t matter how much you click with people there, or how enthusiastic they seem. It doesn’t matter if they show you where your office would be, or introduce you to others, or tell you that they look forward to working with you. Hell, it doesn’t matter if they invite you to their family Thanksgiving and wrap you in a long embrace before letting you leave.

You don’t have an offer until you have an offer.

There are all kinds of reasons why an employer might seem really enthusiastic about you but still not offer you the job, but the most common is that they genuinely did think you were fantastic, but someone else simply ended up being better. There’s generally more than one strong candidate for a position, especially in this market.

(It’s also possible that they’re simply warm, friendly people and treat all candidates this way.)

Not getting an offer doesn’t mean that something went wrong, or that they misled you, or that you read their signals wrong. It just means that someone else was the better fit. You might have been fantastic, someone they’d have been thrilled to hire if Candidate B didn’t happen to be better for the role. But that doesn’t guarantee you an offer. Getting a job isn’t just about being a great candidate — it’s about being the best candidate, and it’s pretty impossible to know from the outside whether you will be or not. (Which is one more reason not to beat yourself up when you don’t get a job — you have no idea what the rest of their candidate pool looked like.)

Never, ever assume you’re getting an offer until you’re reading the email that contains it.

{ 225 comments… read them below }

  1. Jamie*

    It may be apropos of nothing, but I wonder how the gentleman with the visa issue would feel about his personal immigration status being discussed with a complete stranger who doesn’t even work there.

    There is a lesson in here for employers to be cordial and even friendly but make sure to maintain professional distance and ambiguity until the offer is on the table.

    I’m a cynic by nature, but with the signals described here even I would have been surprised that an offer wasn’t forthcoming.

    Cautious optimism is one thing, it just goes to show that no matter how strong the signs are its nothing until its something.

  2. Drew*

    I was the one who she interviewed and yes it was surprising for her to have done that and then not followed through with an offer. In total I interviewed for over 5 hours….anyway, thank you for your feedback and I will continue forward with the job search….

    1. Lorraine*

      I feel your pain and disappointment! It is very disrespectful and mean for any employer to imply a person got the position..and then offer it to someone else..and from what was said to you, it seemed it was going to be you. I would have been mad as hell. So not fair ..I hate when employers is your office or we will enjoy working with you or some other nonsense..then in the end give the position to someone else..I understand the other person might have been a better fit and he/she was hired..fair enough…but why build up anyones hope to the extent that was done to you,,unless they knew for sure the job was going to you..irks me!

  3. kristinyc*

    Wow, that’s terrible. I know nothing’s for sure until there’s an actual offer, but they sure did a great job at leading the OP on….

  4. Hannah*

    Alison of course is right that the offer was not official, but the OP wasn’t exactly making a huge leap to assume an offer was coming, given all the signals from the company. What about the reference check or background check, any concerns there?

    Could be that someone else was just better qualified or better connected though. It’s unfortunate the hiring manager gave the OP so many signals before she knew for sure she could hire her.

    1. Russ*

      Better connected sounds about right. I had a lock on a job with State Dept. but they gave it to the son of a guy who already works for State. I haven’t applied to them since.

  5. fposte*

    I’ve also found that some interviewers fall into a habit of discussing the job as if the candidate had it–“You will handle this task, your office will be here”–simply as a convenience, without realizing how it tends to get heard. Some of the things the OP is reading as signals sound to me simply like finalist levels of information, not stuff you’d share only with your new hire. (Though the visa thing shouldn’t be shared with anybody.)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Exactly. I always try to say “you would” rather than “you will,” but I think a lot of interviewers fall into “you will” without realizing how it might sound.

      1. khilde*

        I was taught to teach our hiring supervisors to say “the person we hire will do XYZ” or someting along those lines. Basically, to leave out “you” entirely. I’m not sure if any of them do it or how it works in the real world (no one’s ever told me one way or the other), but I do like that idea of leaving “you” out of it entirely just because of how easily candidates can read into it.

    2. Laura L*

      Yeah, even tried to do this when I was showing the room I just moved out of to prospective tenants. Didn’t want to get their hopes up in case the other roommates didn’t like them.

  6. michael*

    i recently had an experience where i was passed over in favor of someone with a better connection, and let me tell you, it stinks.

  7. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Wow, interesting that people are reacting to this as if the employer led the candidate on. But if you actually break down each of these pieces and look at them separately, they’re not that unusual:

    – HR manager giving him key points for the conversation with the VP of operations: People sometimes do this to ensure that the candidate focuses on the right things, when they know they won’t be talking to an especially skilled interviewer.

    – The VP saying he “looks forward to working with you”: I’ve heard people say this routinely after meeting a job candidate, often when they don’t even have decision-making authority for the hire. I wouldn’t say it, but it seems to be one of those pleasantries some people (particularly older men, I’ve noticed) throw around. As a candidate, you just can’t take this literally if it’s said while you’re still interviewing (since if you’re still interviewing, no decision has been made yet).

    – Showing him where his office would be: Some interviewers do this with everyone because a lot of people care about it but feel funny asking.

    – Showing him around the office and introducing him to people: Again, a lot of people want this kind of thing when they’re considering a job, and some employers do it as a matter of routine with a promising candidate.

    – Telling him he had his first choice of interview times: Could simply be that the person scheduling the interviews had some specific slots open and he was the candidate they happened to reach first.

    – Going over benefits, etc.: Some employers do this routinely with all candidates, or at least all finalists.

    – Talking about projects she wanted him to work on: This happens a lot in interviews — it makes sense to talk about what the actual work would be, after all.

    1. kristinyc*

      I think it’s mostly the combination of all of these things. I didn’t take much stock in “first choice interview time,” but when it was getting into, “these are your new co-workers, here’s your office, hey Bob- let me tell the new guy about your visa issue,” I could see why the candidate would think it was a sure thing. Now the HR person has to explain to the other people (including Bob with the visa issue) that the person they just met won’t be working there.

      Allison- do you think the OP should ask for feedback on why there wasn’t an offer?

    2. Anon*

      Individually, they all sound like final-interview pleasantries. However, the cumulative effect can be misleading, especially if the candidate feels he/she is a great fit and it’s smiles all round. It’s probably worse in today’s climate – with a lot of people bordering on desperation, the tiniest details are picked up on and scrutinized by both employers and candidates.

      I think hiring managers could do worse than to understand this, and maybe modify their language appropriately. Your example of “you would” rather than “you will” indicates a possibility, not am implied certainty. When the candidate is then told thanks, but no thanks, it can leave a bitter taste in their mouths and they may reconsider applying to that company again.

      I know in my own experience, I’ve had a final interview where I was told “you will be working here”, “you will be tackling this project”, “your office will be here”, “we have these facilities available to you to use” etc., to the point where the start date was moved back to accommodate my notice period. I’ve come away thinking it’s in the bag. To then be told I wouldn’t be hired after all (an internal cadidate got the gig) was very disappointing and despite having been called by the hiring manager since regarding different positions they wanted me to apply for, I’ve not applied to any of them due to that initial experience. Burning bridges can work both ways.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I do understand that, but I think it’s important that candidates keep in mind that the reason they’re still in the interview process is because no decision has been made yet. If a decision is made, they’ll hear an actual offer, and if they haven’t, nothing should be interpreted as a promise. Candidates can save themselves a lot of disappointment by remembering that, no matter how enthusiastic an employer seems.

        (After all, as a candidate, you might seem enthusiastic too, but that doesn’t mean you don’t reserve the right of ultimately turning down an offer, and you wouldn’t think it was reasonable for an employer to hold that against you.)

        1. Anonymous*

          I do understand that, but I think it’s important that candidates keep in mind that the reason they’re still in the interview process is because no decision has been made yet. If a decision is made, they’ll hear an actual offer, and if they haven’t, nothing should be interpreted as a promise

          Perhaps the best way to remember this as a candidate is by recalling that even if you do have an actual offer, it can be rescinded at any time at the whim of the employer, and you will have no recourse. Given that, lots of positive feelings count for nothing.

    3. Jamie*

      What struck me is the verbiage. Now, if this is something people just do then I weighted it too heavily, but I would have had it happened to me. I’ve been in an interview where one person started with the “you will…” and was shut down fast by the other person injecting “ifs” into everything. I just thought the “your office will be next to mine” weird to say to a candidate.

      The only time I’ve had anyone this welcoming was when an offer was made and accepted.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I used to work with a guy who did this all the time. I don’t get it (it’s conversational laziness or thoughtlessness, maybe?), but people do seem to do it.

    4. GeekChic*

      I’ve gone back and thought about my last three job searches and I’ve had all of the above occur with multiple interviews in all three of them. In some cases I received offers and in other cases I did not.

      Since my memory of my own reactions can be faulty, I asked my husband how I reacted to these interviews at the time. He said that my comments were that things seemed to go well but that I’d have to see if any offers were forthcoming.

      So I didn’t put much stock in what seemed like “positive vibes” from the interview. Then again, I’m generally a pessimist.

      When I interviewed, I tried to phrase things like this as “if you were hired your benefits would be…” or “the current projects in the unit are…” etc. Hopefully, that didn’t lead anyone on too much.

      1. fposte*

        I try to stick to “The [job title] will,” because I don’t trust myself to keep tenses clear in the middle of an interview.

  8. Jenny*

    Depending on the type of company, the HR manager may have loved you for the job but not actually had power to make that final decision. The decision-maker may have gone with a different candidate than the HR manager expected – she may have been just as surprised as the OP was.

    1. Jen*

      Actually, this just happened to me. I interviewed with my would-be manager, and we really clicked. I was called back for a final interview – a group of co-workers I’d be working with – and was told that they would have the final say. I didn’t quite click with them, and ended up not getting the job.

      So maybe in the end, whoever had final say in the hiring process just didn’t click with the OP like the HR Manager did.

    2. Jen*

      In my company, HR and the hiring manager might be crazy about you, but unless the general manager gives the OK… you’re not hired.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I think this happened to me the last time I was looking. Everything went swimmingly with the HR person, and I nailed the interview with the hiring manager. Then I did not get it. I did the “What advice can you give me for future things?” with the HR lady, and she had nothing to say; she told me I was great, and he had said really good things about me. I think the person who got the job was suggested to the hiring manager by someone with authority over him, perhaps.

  9. Sabrina*

    I had a similar experience once. The issue was that they hired an internal person because she wouldn’t have to be taught all the systems and I would, otherwise I would have had it in the bag. :(

  10. Laurie*

    That’s really tough – I feel for the OP. It’s so much tougher when mentally you’ve started to see yourself in the new position (somewhat helped along by the company’s over-friendly talk) and then it falls through. Yeah, the company should watch their over-friendliness going forward, but they may have been genuinely excited at that point and completely invested in making the OP an offer and then found another candidate that brought an even better experience or network.

    To the OP, I say, move on. At some point in your interviewing, you will be the guy that got the job over other folks that were superbly skilled. I hope you write back to AAM when that happens :)

    1. voluptuousfire*


      Also having that positive feedback (that you know you’re creating the right impression) is also fantastic. My last 3 job interviews all reached the final stages but I was passed over for someone else. Overall I did receive good feedback from them. It does stink, but a lot of it does boil down to timing. Unfortunately.

  11. Carrie*

    I have to disagree with AAM here. I do think that the HR manager and VP were both genuinely ready to hire her. I had this happen to me not once, but twice with the same company! I was the first choice of my would-be direct manager, but the Office Complex manager didn’t like me as much and overrode his position. I would bet that the Talent Acquisition person circled back with the others after OP left and raised some sort of weird red flag. Lots of cooks in the kitchen on this one, unfortunately. Sounds like his/ her reaction was the only one that didn’t directly lead me to believe she had the job. Who knows, maybe the poor HR person was told OP WOULD be hired, and someone even higher up nixed it, say, in favor of their niece who just moved to town. Completely unfair if you ask me. BUT, it was probably nothing she did. Something happened behind the scenes happened after the fact that she could not control. You don’t want to work for a place that gets its signals crossed that badly. PS. the manager I would have worked for ended up leaving that job a year later, saying what a horrible place it was to work. We are still friends today :)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It definitely could be that. It could also be something else though. All the more reason not to try to read tea leaves on this stuff, and just always keep in mind that You Don’t Have An Offer Until You Have An Offer.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Sure, that happens in some rare cases. But it’s pretty uncommon. On the other hand, an employer simply not extending an offer even though you’re a good candidate is very common.

          1. Anonymous*

            The fact that it can and does happen is very useful to keep in mind when assessing the sincerity of anything said by the interviewers.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Candidates back out after accepting offers too (probably a bit more than employers rescind offers, I’d guess). But that doesn’t mean that employers should doubt every person’s sincerity after an offer has been accepted.

  12. Anonymous*

    I really feel for the OP. I’m alomst to the point now where, even if I give the best interview of my life, I shrug it off and try not to give the potential job another thought. I have been passed over numerous times, despite being told I was a great candidate (two positions were cancelled, one absorbed by an internal person, one changed so that a more junior person could be hired instead). Most recently I was told that I was the hiring manager’s first choice but the department decided to go with someone who already had some training and could hit the ground running. You just never know what’s going on behind the scenes.

    Had I been in the OPs shoes though, I probably would have thought an offer was forthcoming (or would have been more positive than usual about the process).

    1. fposte*

      And in general most of the people who make it to interview for us *are* great candidates. I wouldn’t use the term to candidates because people do overread it, but “great candidate” is a membership in a select group of competitors, not a tacit hire.

  13. Anonymous*

    I was told in an interview, “I am offering you the position.” I was given a start date. Then I heard nothing from the organization. A week later I called the interviewer who then said, “We decided to go in a different direction.” I couldn’t believe he would actually make an offer, and then not call when he changed his mind. Did he think I would just forget about it?

    1. Al*

      And that’s when I know I’m glad I don’t work there, and when I have friends ask me about applying to places like that, I don’t jump through hoops to recommend the employer. Networking works both ways and some corporations have certain reputations for obvious reasons.

    2. Anonymous*

      Heck, I had a job I’d done for a year where this happened. It was an office job in a school and we left for summer break. I called about two weeks before school started to ask if I was supposed to report for the teacher planning days and was told the “different direction” thing. Turns out that “different direction” was hiring her teenage daughter to work in the office.

      A month later she called and told me the daughter had “gotten a better offer.” I was very close with my old coworkers and had been hearing the real story all along: the daughter came in late all the time, sometimes not at all, came in obviously stoned a couple of times, and did more net surfing and texting than actual work while she was there.

      I turned Old Boss down, and would never work for that school again (or any school in that district; rampant nepotism was the least of their problems). But seriously, like you said, did she think she didn’t have to call me over the summer and I’d just forget I’d ever worked there? Did she think I’d swallow the whole “daughter got a better position” thing and never hear the truth from my old coworkers? And did she really think I’d gratefully come crawling back and clean up her daughter’s mess?

  14. B*

    I have to say that this sounded very promising and you must be devastated. I agree that the last person you interviewed with probably gave a red flag or just felt they didn’t jive with you. Or someone’s relative came to town.
    However, HR people and hiring managers need to realize the language and actions they use are crucial. You are not just interviewing someone for a job you are also playing with their hopes and life. I say life because without a job (for those unemployed) it truly is our livelihood being played with.

  15. ruby*

    OP, while it is absolutely true that you do not have the job until you have the job, I think you are justified in feeling very disappointed. Having been through this several times though, I can tell you it’s a lot more common than you would think. The most likely explanation is that you were a top candidate for the job and so they treated you very enthusiastically throughout the interview process but in the end, they found another candidate that they wanted to hire more.

    My most recent experience like this was going on a 3- hour interview where I met with the hiring manager, head of HR and the directors of two other depts. The head of HR met with me both first and last and in the last interview, she told me everyone I met with was very enthusiastic about me, and that I would be coming back to meet the CEO. She briefed me on what he was like and on what topics I should cover with him. She said she would check his schedule and email me to work out a time for the interview.

    And yes, the next time I heard from them was “thanks but we have hired another candidate”.

    10 years ago, I would have been apoplectic but I’ve learned to expect that nothing that is said in an interview means anything. They talk and talk and talk and you can just nod and smile and know that it’s all just hot air until you have an offer letter.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      But … it’s not “hot air,” any more than it’s hot air when you express interest in a job before knowing for sure that you’d accept an offer. It’s genuine interest, just not a promise. Why doesn’t the job seeker have some responsibility for not jumping the gun and realizing that while interviews are ongoing, no decision has been made?

      How annoyed would you be if an employer was apoplectic that you turned down an offer just because you’d seemed interested during the hiring process?

      1. ruby*

        In the example I gave above, the woman told me I was coming back for another interview with the CEO, which would be the last step before getting hired and said she would contact me to set up a time. If I then expected that I woul,d you know, be coming back to meet with the CEO and she would be contacting me to set up a time, I would bear zero responsibility for “jumping the gun”.

        As to being apoplectic I was referring specifically to the situation above – which does not equate to my seeming interested during the hiring process. It was the head of HR saying very clearly “You are moving on to the next round”. There’s a big difference between that and the company just being upbeat and positive in the interview process.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Jumping the gun if you felt you had the job. Not jumping the gun if you just assumed you’d be returning to meet the CEO — but hiring processes can and do get curtailed like that all the time. My point is that job seekers need to be realistic about how this stuff works and not be horribly let down when things don’t go the way they seemed to be heading.

          1. ruby*

            I didn’t assume I had the job. My point was that I didn’t even asssume she meant what she said about coming back for the interview because job seekers can’t rely on what is said during the interview process until they actually get an offer.

            1. Anonymous*

              I have to agree with Ruby regarding her situation. There’s a difference between being “too hopeful” and actually expecting people to follow through on their word. If something changes, then the person who said “The next step will be X,” should now be saying “Although I’d told you Y, we will now be doing Z.” Acting as though you never said what you said shouldn’t be OK.

              However, many hiring managers don’t know what they’re doing, and a lot of companies are just screwed up–hence the mixed messages and the lack of courtesy. Should a candidate just consider it all par for the course and move on? Absolutely, for his own sanity. But is it right? Hell no.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                “If something changes, then the person who said “The next step will be X,” should now be saying “Although I’d told you Y, we will now be doing Z.” Acting as though you never said what you said shouldn’t be OK.”

                Totally agree with this.

              2. Anonymous*

                This! This! This! I have a feeling this is exactly what many of us were trying to say but not expressing as well.

              3. ruby*

                “Acting as though you never said what you said shouldn’t be OK. ”

                Thank you for getting to the crux of my issue much better than I did :) it’s the pretending like the conversation that never happened that’s the truly unprofessional part. Ideally, employers (and esp. HR professionals) would not say things in interviews that they weren’t sure they could follow through on (like you were moving on to the next round of interviews). But if they find that they have made the mistake of doing that, just acknowledge what you said and what you’re doing are different.

                the company this happened with was a company I had previously viewed as very desirable potential employer and the thing that changed my perception of them is not that I didn’t move on in the interview process, it’s how they handled it. I have had other companies I interviewed with and didn’t get it but have then applied again because the first interview experience was good (despite me not getting the job). I would not interview again with these folks.

                If this had been the first time something like this had happened to me or if I was unemployed when it happened, I would have been a lot more upset by it. But over the past 15 years, I’ve had some variation of that happen at 5-6 times — not a company displaying enthusiasm but actual concrete plans discussed and not followed through on. About 10 years ago I interviewed with a company and the hiring manager told me he would like me to come back and meet with him and the vendor that the position would be managing and gave me some info on the vendor’s system to review before that meeting. He mentioned two possible days the following week for the meeting, depending on the vendor’s schedule.

                2 weeks later I hear from them (after I followed up twice) that they had already hired someone else.

                I don’t think this hiring manager was a bad guy – I did at the time – I think he was a thoughtless guy who sucked at interviewing. I know better now because I’ve had more interview experience and if that happened now, I would know that until I heard from them to actually set up the time for that second meeting, it was just talk.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Ruby, that part absolutely is rude — making concrete plans and then not acknowledging them ever again. In the OP’s case, this didn’t happen — he was reacting to their enthusiasm, not to actual plans. But in the situation you’re describing, it’s definitely rude.

          2. Anonymous*

            Then companies that operate under that persona should be evaluated, because I’ve been misled several times. It wastes my time, the companies’ time, and the money that had been spent on travel and other factors. It’s the companies’ fault for not being clear and concise.

      2. Jamie*

        This is a really good point. I think it’s easy to identify with the interviewee in these cases, but looking at it from the other side a person could be genuinely interested and decide not to take an offer because they didn’t like the last person they met, the money wasn’t there, a better offer, or a myriad of other reasons.

        I think sympathy is on the side of the OP and others in the situation because of the personal nature of trying to get a job when bills are mounting than for a hiring manager trying to fill a position.

        But sympathy doesn’t pay the bills either so the common sense approach of not counting on anything before an offer is a lot healthier for job seeekers.

  16. K.A.*

    I’d go far as to say you don’t have the job until you show up on the first day. Who knows why they went with another candidate. They might have brought back a few people for second interviews and you were their top choice but the next person said something that just blew them away. Or maybe someone with veto power didn’t like the color of your shoes. Unless you made some egregious error it really doesn’t say anything about you. Maybe they made the right choice and will be totally happy and maybe they made a mistake and in 6 months will be wishing they’d gone with you. You’ll likely never know. Accept the situation, send the appropriate thank you notes, and move on.

  17. Anonymous*

    I have had several interviewers be like that. Maybe not to that extent, but it still was looking completely positive only to be turned down.

    I have been on interview tours, been told which office would be mine (they use the word “you” or “your”), and have been told all about the benefits, including the name of the insurance company used, when an interview started (!). And, just like the OP here, nothing. So I really try not to get my hopes up with these people.

  18. DanaD*

    I agree that you just never know until you get something in writing. I had a similar (although not as distressing experience as the OP) recently on a phone interview. The person said “I want to bring you in this week or next for an in-person meeting with our team – I will call you later to schedule a time.” I was super excited. I sent a follow-up/thank-you note that night. A few days later, I received an email saying that they would not be moving along in their hiring process. It left me wondering if something in my thank-you note had rubbed them the right way. Perhaps the same thing happened to the OP. But as others are saying, you just never know.

  19. Anonymous*

    Not that it applies in this case, but I’ve been on the other side of this before. We have a great candidate and are completely ready to do a formal offer, and right beforehand the candidate says or does something that causes us to re-consider entirely. I’ve had this happen a couple of times, and the candidate never reacts well. We’re pretty open and will tell the person why, but I can definitely understand why someone would want to avoid the conversation based on the reactions. I’d at least go with a generic response, though, to be nice. To make an actual point… if you are going to ignore Alison’s advice and assume that a company is going to hire you: at least make sure to be on your best behavior until that offer actually comes through.

    1. Anonymous*

      “Not that it applies in this case, but I’ve been on the other side of this before. We have a great candidate and are completely ready to do a formal offer, and right beforehand the candidate says or does something that causes us to re-consider entirely.”

      What kinds of things has the candidate said or done to make you completely reconsider? Just want to make sure I avoid doing these types of things :)

  20. Tami M*

    As far as I’m concerned, the OP was seriously, and unfairly misled.

    OP said..”I then met with the HR manager again and she went over benefits, rates, pulled out an employee handbook and started telling me about projects that she wanted me to start working on, asked me about salary and vacation time,….”

    To me, that’s implied intent to hire, and gives the OP every reason expect that an offer is imminent. I even asked my husband, who was a Plant Manager for a large Steel Erection Company, and did all the hiring/firing, and his words were “That’s just wrong”.

    Also, the door swings both ways; how would an employer like it if the OP went on and on saying how excited they are; that it was exactly what they were looking for, and couldn’t wait to start, only to say they got a better offer, when the position was finally offered? Look at all the time and effort the employer invested, only to get shot down. I can’t help but think they’d feel a little put off and misled themselves. No?

    I just can’t imagine that the employer didn’t know they had another top contender; they should have been more mindful of their cues and language, even going so far as to tell the OP that they had another person in the running. The truth, no matter how difficult it may be, is always an easier pill to swallow…

    Some of you may think I’m totally off base, and that’s ok. I respect that. I’m just saying the truth as I see it. IMHO….:) My only hope is that the OP finds a position they will be happier in. After all this, it’s the least he deserves! :) Good Luck, Drew! =)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There are many companies that routinely go over benefits with every candidate who gets an interview. It’s really not a sign of anything.

      I don’t know how to convince you guys of this: A company may seem interested in you during the hiring process. That is a good sign, but it is far from a promise. If you take signs of interest as signs that you’re getting an offer, you are doing yourself a huge disservice, and you’re ignoring the very nature of a hiring process … which is that decisions typically aren’t made until the very end. That is on you as a candidate, and not on the employer. The employer is assuming that you realize that decisions aren’t made until the end.

      1. Anony Mouse*

        If I’m reading this right, because the OP was applying for an HR position, the HR manager and the hiring manager were one and the same (is this a correct interpretation?).

        So, I think I can see why, in this situation, going over benefits may have been interpreted as more favorable than normal: here is the person assumed to be the primary decision-maker (as hiring manager) going over information that would useful to a new employee. Contrast that with a hiring manager in, say, finance, who hands a candidate off to the HR manager to talk about benefits for half an hour. I think, in the latter situation, it’s much clearer that it is a routine part of the interview process.

        I have never been on a final interview that didn’t involve talk of benefits, but I do sympathize with the OP for whatever confusion may have arisen from the HR Manager effectively wearing two hats in this interview process.

        1. Anony Mouse*

          But now that I think about it, that confusion should probably have been alleviated by the fact that the OP is a recruiter himself.

      2. Laura L*

        And companies should discuss benefits at some point before an offer is made. It factors into the decision the candidate makes.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes! Imagine going through a whole interview process only to discover when you get the actual offer that the benefits are complete crap. Many employers routinely discuss benefits with every candidate after a certain stage.

    2. Anonymous*

      “how excited they are; that it was exactly what they were looking for, and couldn’t wait to start, only to say they got a better offer, when the position was finally offered”

      Don’t candidates do this all the time?

      I say, fair is fair.

      1. Anonymous*

        It is not the same thing when an applicant does this. Applicants are individuals who have to look out for themselves and if an applicant says “no thanks” even at the very last minute, that doesn’t leave the other person unable to pay his/her bills!

        1. Jamie*

          But not hiring someone doesn’t make the applicants bills the prospective employers problem.

          In a very specific scenario where an offer was officially made and accepted and the candidate had letter in hand so gave notice to current employer – then yes, if the offer is withdrawn the candidate has suffered financial harm. There have been cases where the courts have recognized those losses.

          But hoping for a job to end the hardship and not getting it isn’t an emotional reaction. Understandable, but its not the source of the hardship.

    3. Jamie*

      Fwiw I have had the vacation/benefit conversation early in the process on most interviews.

      It’s part of the overview of the job, the company, etc. I remember it being done early as it gives me a chance to mention I don’t need the benefits…but they have to tell me all about them anyway because of procedure. This is more companies than not, in my experience.

  21. Anonymous*

    I think that most people realize that nothing is certain until an offer is made, but does the OP have a right to feel disappointed in the outcome of a positive interview? I think those are two different issues. AAM often compares job hunting to dating, and I think that’s a good comparison. Imagine someone on a date saying, “I had a really great time tonight,” and “Do I have the right number for you, I’m sure we’ll be talking soon.” This is not a guarantee of a second date, but the recipient of the remark has the right to feel disappointed if there is no further contact because it was certainly suggested. Maybe companies should better reflect on how their behavior could be interpreted by candidates, who are looking for every positive sign they can find in order to stay hopeful.

      1. ChilePuhleez*

        The Co. had absolutely NO business discussing the Visa business with an outside candidate still in the interviewing process. Period. OP was indeed led on. End of story.

          1. Jamie*

            ITA. I don’t care if they had the paperwork ready to sign and the nameplate ordered – this was completely out of line.

  22. Drew*

    Hi All,

    I’m the OP and I didn’t say/act unprofessionally. I am a 7 year HR professional with 2 and a half years in full cycle recruiting. I was asked basic interviewing questions and left the HR Manager, VP and Recruiter all with smiles. They didn’t ask for references, nor run a background check, but they are both solid. I have thought this through and analyzed everything I said and did and I didn’t mis-step along the way. But like AAM said, nothings set in stone until the offer is in hand and even then I’ve recinded offers before as a Recruiter…

    I really,really appreciate everyone’s feedback;All I am left with is that I wasn’t the right candidate and Monday is a new day to hit the ground running! No one said looking for a job was for the faint of heart! Thank you again everyone!

    1. Maggie*

      That’s why I don’t trust HR, hiring managers or recruitment consultants. They always play games.

      1. voluptuousfire*

        Ehm…they’re not deliberately playing games. The OP’s interviewers found another candidate who supposedly fit their needs a bit more strongly than the OP. That’s not game playing. Yes, a lot of hiring people do screw up and that can be to disorganization or not being the best at their job.

  23. KT*

    I agree that you don’t have an offer until you have an offer, but this HR lady did a real disservice to this applicant by not throwing in “we’re still interviewing other candidates” or saying “the person coming in will have this benefits package.” To be fair, she did give a clue by saying you had first choice of slots, this implies they were interviewing other people.
    Based on what she said, I’d suspect you were her first choice candidate. However, the decision didn’t rest with her since you had to go on to meet with the other desicion-makers.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Again, the applicant did himself a disservice by not assuming they were interviewing other candidates — the interviewer doesn’t have to say it; it should be a normal assumption in any interview process.

      1. KT*

        I agree he did–he absolutely did. But the interviewer should still have been clear. I am always careful to say “if selected, you will sit here.” Or, “the person hired will work on these projects.”
        Her failing to do so isn’t wrong or even uncommon, but it is inconsiderate and potentially confusing. Also, her pointing someone out and saying he has Visa problems is just bizzarre.

        1. Kate*

          Agree with this. Candidates should be careful not to make assumptions that the position is theirs. (At best, it would be safe to assume that you are competitive and are in with a really good shot.) Interviewers should be careful not to make comments that might be open to being misconstrued. In this case, I think there was a bit of both, from both sides.

  24. Blinx*

    A few thoughts… OP, one of the very last items that the HR Mgr asked you (after several interviews) was about salary and vacation. Had this come up before, say in a phone interview, or stated on the application? That’s the only thing that caught my eye, is perhaps there was an issue with salary.

    As for language/wording, yeah, it would be great if everyone talked in the third person, leaving YOU out of it… “The ABC Mgrs office is here, they would interact with this team…”, but that’s asking a lot.

    And lastly, as I sit here watching the Olympics, I think of how many people “fail” by a thousandth of a point. They are all stellar athletes, heck, they’re all Olympians, but the competition is SO much fiercer than it used to be. And so it is with job hunting. The company might have been ready, willing, and able to offer you that job, until the next candidate came in who had just one iota of that something extra, knocking you off the podium.

    1. JustAQuestion*


      Interesting post, I especially like the comparison between Olympians and job seekers. It’s very apt and quite complimentary.

      The question I do have is about your second paragraph: “As for language/wording, yeah, it would be great if everyone talked in the third person, leaving YOU out of it. . . but that’s asking a lot.”

      Forgive my ignorance, but why is asking an interviewer to speak in third person such a big deal?

      Really, I’m simply at a loss about your statement. Just consider what your typical interviewee is expected to go through: dress in their finest suits, arrive at the interview location 10-15 minutes early, be “on” for hours at a time, come fully prepared to give rehearsed and researched responses to an array of questions, make idle and inoffensive small talk and follow-up professionally shortly after the interview ends.

      With so much time-consuming responsibility– before and after the interview– falling on the shoulders of the interviewee, I am inclined to ask that HR representatives to be as objective as possible with their language, including the use of first, second, or third person.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Because you have no control over that, and neither do I. But there’s a very, very simple solution that makes this a complete non-problem, and that’s to understand how this stuff works.

        1. Editor*

          Until I started reading this blog, I don’t think I would have understood any of this. I have interviewed for and received a couple of internal positions in the last decade, but in the last 20 years I’ve had only about three real outside interviews, all of them more than a decade ago. Now that I’ve been laid off, I’m hoping I will get interviews but I’m not optimistic.

          Based on the OP’s answers, the OP isn’t as inexperienced as I am, and probably better at reading people.

          I think all hiring managers need to make the fact that everything is still up in the air clear, and I would be offended if an interviewer thinks “I look forward to working with you” is a meaningless courtesy. A lot of my work experience has been in conservative rural areas, so perhaps that’s why I’m reacting so strongly.

          This post and comments make me feel old and out of it in a way that’s very demoralizing. While I realize the offer had not been made to OP, this post and the responses show me how alien the job-hunting culture is to my daily life.

      2. Melinda*

        I agree. It’s not asking a lot. Frankly, I’m tired of how everything from spelling mistakes to overreacting is blamed on the candidate. When the media runs an article about “How you blew the interview,” it’s never about interviewers. Interviewers are allowed to be vague, misrepresent positions, have typos, be underdressed, ask stupid questions, discriminate, be late, reschedule, drop all lines of communication, and do any number of things that would automatically disqualify a candidate. And candidates are just supposed to sit back and be understanding of the process. Geez, it’s not as if we could ask interviewers to be professionals. That might be asking too much.

        BTW, I ran this by a friend who used to work in HR. I was sure she’d agree with AAM. She didn’t. She thought the OP was misled.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          This isn’t about any of those things, all of which are rude. This is about expressing interest in and enthusiasm for a candidate. Two different things.

          And actually, I think this sums up what’s happening here, with many commenters — you’re so fed up with employers being legitimately rude in other ways that you’re interpreting something that isn’t rude as part of those other things, and it’s not.

          Look, unlike many things with job-hunting, there is a very simple solution to this one: Don’t assume you have the job until someone makes you a job offer. Problem solved.

          1. Melinda*

            I think that a VP saying, “I’m looking forward to working with you,” goes a bit beyond enthusiasm. Personally, in my field, there would be no discussion of salary, benefits, offices, projects, coworkers, etc. until an offer was actually accepted by the candidate.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Okay, but both those things are common.

              What’s frustrating to me about this entire thread is that this is a problem that you guys have it completely in your power to solve, unlike so many other hard things about job-searching. I’m telling you precisely how to solve it, and you guys are still basically saying, “No, we choose not to, because we don’t believe we should have to. We’re going to choose to be hurt and disappointed time after time instead.”

              And as someone who reads letters from demoralized job seekers every day, that’s really frustrating.

            2. Adam V*

              > in my field, there would be no discussion of salary, benefits, offices, projects, coworkers, etc. until an offer was actually accepted by the candidate

              How do you expect a candidate to accept an offer before you discuss things like salary and benefits?

              Also, shouldn’t a candidate be allowed to meet potential coworkers or see their office/cubicle before they accept, especially if that’s going to affect their day-to-day work life for the foreseeable future? And don’t you want the candidates to know what sorts of projects they’d be working on?

              Your response just sounds overly strict – and in the case of benefits and salary, completely implausible.

              1. Melinda*

                Because in my field the salary, benefits, and working conditions are very poor. The salaries are also set, so there’s no negotiation. To tour the facility and see the burn-out people you’ll be working with, the broken chair you’ll be using, the copier that jams 5 times a day, etc. would not be be a good way of attracting potential candidates.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  But how can a candidate decide if they want to accept an offer without knowing what the salary and benefits are? People just say yes before they even know the compensation? What field is this?

                2. Melinda*

                  Can’t find a reply button for your post AAM.

                  My field is education, and it is completely glutted. Some places have their salaries posted online, many do not. Discussion of salaries and benefits is a total non-issue. You take what you get because they’re non-negotiable. Nobody talks about it until you’re ready to sign the official papers. I even signed a contract and then my school recalculated my payment and lowered it. Why didn’t I leave right then? Because there are no jobs to leave for. I went to a job fair where hundreds of people signed up to interview for a charter school. Everyone was there, filling out applications like crazy. Not one of them knew the salary. During a presentation, the management admitted that it was $31,000 to start, regardless of experience. This did not cause people to walk out. On fact, a couple of people admitted it would be an increase.

                  Yes, people can and do accept teaching jobs all the time without knowing specifics. They really don’t have a choice. You’re not going to reject a teaching job because of the salary.

  25. S*

    Oh y goodness, these posts are scaring me! I’m in the process of interviewing for a position that I really really really want. I’ve been on 2 interviews and each day is an agonizing wait for them to get in touch with me….I’ve been unemployed for a few months now and I’m not getting UI, so I desperately need a job…to get a life.

  26. Rob*

    I would have to presume that this is a common feeling among people who have not had many interviews over their career. I remember a few years back to when I was interviewing following graduate school and I had a few interviews where I had similar experiences to the OP. But no offer.

    Yes, I was bummed and confused. But with this type of experience, I’ve come to expect that sometimes, this just happens. I have no idea what kind of information the company is working with when it comes to other candidates.

    The best thing I, or anyone, can do is to just be a kick-ass candidate and realize that there are other kick-ass candidates going for the same positions. Best of luck to the OP!

    1. B*

      You are incorrect and making a very wrong, and might I say naive, assumption. When you are unemployed for a long enough time you grab onto any and all hope that perhaps this is it, no matter how long you have been in the workforce or how many interviews you have previously been on.
      For the OP this was finally a positive interview (plenty of crap ones out there where you wonder why they even had you come in and waste your time), it seemed promising, and then it all fell flat like a pancake. They are absolutely allowed to be disappointed, upset, and annoyed. But as the OP said…that is that and onward to the next.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Sure, they’re allowed. But it’s not rooted in the reality of the situation, and I hope my readers are people who want to operate in reality. It’s also really bad for your frame of mind — it’s far, far better for your emotional health, and for your attitude about job-seeking in the long-term, to understand the reality of how this stuff works.

        1. B*

          I would assume most people absolutely knows and understand the reality. But sometimes, even for 5 minutes, you need to allow yourself to just feel those emotions and then move on. Burying the feelings is not healthy as it will eat away and blur reality even more.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Sure, of course. But this isn’t someone feeling upset for five minutes and moving on. This is someone writing into a website to figure out what happened and describing himself as “dumbfounded.”

            (And apparently many people do NOT understand the reality, as evidenced by the comments on this post … which I’m really surprised by in this particular audience!)

            1. Anonymous*

              I’m seeing that they do understand the reality. They’re just very upset with the interviewing behavior at hand and what this means as they prepare for future interviews. Did the interview go well? Have no idea. Really–have NO idea. Did they ask for references because they’re seriously down to a final check or because they just do that to everyone? Who knows? You’re supposed to try to get a feel for what it’s like to work at a particular organization (that is, “read them” to some degree). But you must not read “into” anything they do or say too heavily. If they say they will call you, it means they might. Look enthusiastic, but don’t actually be too enthusiastic, lest you become disappointed later on. The reality of the situation and how everything works may seem pretty obvious and fair to people in hiring, but for the rest of us who touch that world only intermittently, the behavior we see is baffling, confusing, and often contradictory. That is a reality as well. Please understand.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Yeah, I do understand. Job searching is frustrating and anxiety producing. But insisting on interpreting these particular signs as certain signs that a company is about to offer you a job is both naive and bad for you.

                I’ve objected strongly to many things employers sometimes do in the hiring process. But not this — it’s simply unreasonable and unrealistic to take issue with an employer openly expressing interest in a candidate but ultimately not hiring them. Encouraging job seekers to feel they were misled by something like this does them a huge dissservice.

                1. V*

                  I agree, Alison. However, I’d still describe the employer’s comments as unnecessary. Letting the OP know they are giving them the first choice of interview times, not taking care to say “you would” rather than “you will” (it’s not that hard) are kind of unprofessional, IMO. I still agree that the OP shouldn’t have jumped to any conclusions. If it was me, I’d have left that interview maybe feeling slightly more confident, but moreso just surprised that the interviewers would be naive enough to make such comments at all. So yes, you never have an offer until you have an offer, which I think is such an absolute that no interviewer’s comments would ever get me to forget it. But I won’t agree that the employer couldn’t have been more professional and, as Jamie said, maintained some ambiguity.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  First choice of interview times could have easily gone like this: “Let’s see, I have 2 slots in the afternoon on Tuesday, 1 slot Wednesday morning, or Friday at 3. You’ve got first pick since you’re the first one I called; which would work best for you?”

                  There’s just no reason to blame the employer for that.

                  The reason I’m harping on this so much isn’t just on the principle — it’s that overly parsing words like you guys are doing WILL HURT YOU IN YOUR JOB SEARCH. It is not good, and I’m going to keep pushing back against it.

                3. V*

                  Yeah, I agree. I think even if the employer were telling the OP that they were going to offer them the job tomorrow (a few people have written in about those falling through, so this is nothing!), it still isn’t final. Even if they take care not to say such things or if they say “We’re going to hire you tomorrow,” it really doesn’t matter until the offer is received. I guess what I’m saying is that I do think it’s easy enough to change the way some of these things are worded, but it’s also irrelevant since those things shouldn’t be causing the OP to jump to conclusions.

              2. Anon1973*

                Let’s just replace interview with dating:
                “Did the date go well? Have no idea. Really–have NO idea. Did they ask about your interests because they’re seriously interested in you or because they just do that to everyone they date? Who knows? You’re supposed to try to get a feel for what it’s like to be with this person long-term (that is, “read them” to some degree). But you must not read “into” anything they do or say too heavily. If they say they will call you, it means they might. Look enthusiastic, but don’t actually be too enthusiastic, lest you become disappointed later on.”

                1. Anon1973*

                  I agree with AAM: it’s not a date. But much of the agnst people are putting themselves through sounds very similar to what many of my friends just entering the dating world did.

      2. Rob*

        There is a big difference between hope and realism. AAM focuses more on realism and that is what my comment had to deal with. Sure, I could hope all day long that a positive interview ends up in a job, but the realist in me tells me to keep plugging away, as the decision is out of my hands.

        The OP certainly has the right to be wondering what happened. But based on his responses, he has come to realize that even though everything was awesome on his end, there was someone else who also was awesome, and he came up short. But, he will keep at it and will land that job after an awesome interview.

  27. Anony Mouse*

    I agree with AAM, and want to add one point that I haven’t seen mentioned yet: the HR Manager had not yet gotten feedback from the VP Operations or VP Talent Acquisition. How could she possibly be offering the OP the job if they hadn’t even gotten together to compare notes?

    Unless she is a mind-reader, there is no reason whatsoever to take her enthusiasm as enthusiasm from the entire team.

  28. The IT Manager*

    I agree with other readers that based on what was written the question, I think that the interviewee was misled (albeit probably not deliberately). But we are only hearing the interviewee’s description of the interview, and even though OP is a professional it could be that his memory of it is more positive than reality because of his own hopes and desires. That’s understandable, in my opinion.

    Alison, I write this as a person who is not an HR or hiring manager, and I have very limited interviewing experience. I get what you’re saying, but I empathise with the OP. I would probably think I had the job in the bag if I experienced an interiew like this. Not that that is the truth. I know that from your blog it’s not. But this may be something you simply cannot teach.

    1. jennie*

      Yes, it’s just the interviewee’s perspective. I hire people all the time and we’re constantly fighting against selective hearing in the interview process. No matter how many times we go over scheduling or benefits or whatever, someone will come back and say they were never told about that in the hiring process. We have it documented!

      I think it’s natural for the interviewee to focus on the positive and gloss over things that conflict with their ideal, but as AAM says, understanding how this works means realizing the organization may be having the exact same conversation with several other candidates and managing your expectations accordingly.

  29. Nameless*

    I am a guy, this doesn’t surprise me much. I’ve been on so many “good, & great” dates. Never heard back from some of the ladies after the date, not even a phone call. Next…

  30. KM*

    I think the reason this reads as misleading (and it does read as misleading to me) is that the statements described go beyond an expression of interest to become an expression of intent.

    If I say, “It might be fun to check out the fair tomorrow” that’s an expression of interest. But if I say, “We’ll go to the fair tomorrow” that’s an expression of intent, and, although I have the right to change my mind, it’s kind of weird and abrupt for me to do so, especially if I do it without any explanation.

    If you go to an interview where people express an intent to hire you, it’s not crazy to think they intend to hire you. If their intent is sincere, and they change their minds, then they should proactively explain why (if only to demonstrate good social skills). If they don’t honestly intend to hire you at the point they’re saying, “This is where you will work and this is who you will work with, etc, etc” they should rephrase to express interest rather than intent ie, “This is where you WOULD…”.

    /two cents

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I understand that some of you are saying that, but some interviewers use that construction with every single candidate they interview — “you’ll do this,” “you”ll sit here,” “you’ll be working with Bob.” It’s really pretty common.

      I guess if you haven’t encountered it before, it could be confusing — but frankly, it shouldn’t be, since it’s really unlikely that they’ve made final/absolute decision to hire you mid-interview, without talking to colleagues, finishing their interviews with other candidates, etc. Assuming you understand how the hiring process works, it makes no sense to interpret this type of language as a promise or as intent.

      You guys can argue the principle of this all you like, but I’m telling you IT DOESN’T MEAN WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS. And no, the employer is not at fault for using misleading language because THEY ARE ASSUMING THAT YOU UNDERSTAND HOW INTERVIEWING WORKS.

      1. KM*

        I agree with your basic advice that the only thing we can control is ourselves and so we should just try to manage our expectations and not count on an offer until we have one.

        What I’m saying is that it’s also reasonable to be kind of put off if someone makes intentional statements about the future and then backs away without any explanation. It may well be the case that most people who make these statements don’t feel an intention, but, to me, that means they should be more careful what they say instead of deciding that candidates should consider their words meaningless noise.

  31. Laura*

    But we don’t know how interviewing works, or else we wouldn’t be consulting this blog. It really is confusing. All I’m saying is I think hiring organizations should learn to speak the language of the candidate, instead of the other way around. By the responses here, it’s pretty clear there isn’t a shared language. And the interviewer version of, “You’ll be working with Bob,” is very confusing, so I vote down their version. It’s not even consistent among interviewers. Interviewees are not allowed to be confusing in their responses. They are supposed to take utmost care to make sure they are not saying anything that might be misinterpreted. Interviewers should be clear too.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I hear what you’re saying, but we’re talking about the most fundamental understanding of what an interview/hiring process is.

      If candidates don’t understand this, it’s important that they learn … otherwise they’re setting themselves for heartbreak, bad decisions on their own behalf (see the new post I just put up this morning), and confusion.

      Employers are not going to stop expressing enthusiasm about a candidate when they feel genuinely enthusiastic, because they are normal humans, and normal humans do that. Nor should they be expected to stop doing that, frankly. Job seekers just need to be realistic about how this stuff works — which is not rocket science in this case: If the process is ongoing, nothing is guaranteed.

    2. fposte*

      Even if the organizations should change how they speak, though, they’re not going to–there’s no mechanism to change things in every workplace large and small and no incentive for them for something that isn’t actually a problem on the hiring side. So it’s more effective to keep job seekers informed about what these kinds of interview conversations likely do and don’t mean.

    3. Anon1973*

      “But we don’t know how interviewing works, or else we wouldn’t be consulting this blog. It really is confusing.”

      Interviewing is just like dating. Exactly like it.

  32. Doug*

    Alison, I think a lot of people (the OP included) have a subconscious understanding that getting rejected even when the employer sends of “enthusiastic” signals is all too common. Job searching is just such an emotionally draining experience. As a recent college graduate still looking for his first professional job, I can’t think of anything else that has been more depressing and just plain frustrating than this job search.

    In fact, this exact thing happened to me with a major employer in my city. I worked my connections hard to get the interview, I spent two weeks researching the company and the position, scheduled a mock interview at my Alma Mater’s career center for practice, and got my resume polished up by a professional. I had three interview with the company, each person seemingly more enthusiastic, and then got hit with a rejection. The rejection email even said that HR policies didn’t allow feedback, so I had no way of knowing where I messed up. I know logically that this is realistic, but at the time I was so angry I went to the garage gym at my friend’s house and beat his punching bag so hard I sprained my wrist (even though my hands were wrapped) and destroyed his bag to the point that he had to buy a new one (and I am known by my past employers and friends that I am a very docile person.) After a couple of days, I felt better, but that initial shock just hurt.

    I think the majority of your readers share your realistic views, Alison, but it’s so draining emotionally that it surpasses our logic.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes. It’s hard. It sucks. But people do themselves a disservice by not being really, really realistic about this stuff. (You sprained your wrist! More often it’s along the lines of not pursuing other jobs as aggressively as they should and/or causing themselves mental anguish that could have been avoided.)

      I do understand this stuff is very, very difficult and draining. But I’m not going to endorse unrealistic thinking or blaming an employer for something they don’t deserve blame for.

      I hope your job search resolves soon!

    2. Jamie*

      This reminds me of the oft used dating analogy. When things don’t work out and it’s not your choice it hurts and it sucks and there is a tendency to over analyze and read the tea leaves.

      But the friends who feed into the despair by letting you wallow in it and talk about it endlessly may feel supportive, but they are prolonging the pain allowing the band-aid to be ripped off one millimeter at time.

      Alison is like the friend who gets it, but as soon as the puffy goes down from the initial cry doesn’t dwell and keeps you focused on things that will help you move on rather than conduct endless relationship autopsies. They first set of friends (and there are always more of them) arent nearly as helpful and just ripping off the band-aid in one quick motion and getting on with things.

      1. Doug*

        Jamie, that is a good point. I do know people who wallow in self-pity and endlessly scrutinize dating rejections and dead ends. However, a girl turning me down won’t result in financial ruin, or problems paying bills, or having to move in with parents. Job searching has much more serious implications, in my mind, than dating, and it’s understandable that someone would be upset when for most people they’re just trying to do what they can to stay afloat financially. One one hand, I am grateful for my parents taking me while I slog along doing a retail gig, but I want to get a professional job with my degree so I can make enough money to become independent (that, and customers drive me absolutely bonkers.)

        My advice for people who have this happen to them is to take a day or two to be angry. They shouldn’t take it out on anyone, especially the company they interviewed with, but should find a friend to talk to, or a loved one, and find a venue to vent that anger (preferably something that doesn’t involve bodily injury like me spraining my wrist.) I think a big problem people have is they keep their anger vented in, and if they don’t find an outlet for it soon it can explode at a very inappropriate time.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Or strive not to get angry in the first place by understanding how this stuff works and vowing to remain firmly rooted in reality about it all.

          It’s actually not appropriate to have such intense anger toward an employer because they didn’t hire you, even for just a few days, just like it’s not appropriate to have anger toward someone who doesn’t want to date you.

          1. Doug*

            I think most people don’t get angry at the employers themselves for not getting hired, but either at the process itself or simply at themselves. Top that with an absolutely tepid economy, and it’s not surprising that people feel the way they do, especially in cases like this.

            Honestly, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to get frustrated or even angry at job searching and hiring processes. We are only human, and denying the emotions we feel only serves to bottle it up more and more until it eventually pops. It’s how we deal with our frustration and anger that sets us apart. I know people who, when frustrated, go exercise, or play a violent video game, or listen to Slayer or opt for something more relaxing like reading a book or going to the beach. Those are acceptable outlets. The people I know who hold things in tend to be the ones who release it at inappropriate times or to other people.

            Again, I think the majority of people don’t feel that towards the actual employer, but rather the process.

            1. JustAQuestion*


              First, my sympathies about your ongoing struggle to find a professional job. I recently finished my return to high ed, but still cannot secure a position, even with my combined education and experience.

              Secondly, I fully support and understand your comment. I, too, find myself more frustrated with the process and my own interview performance than with the company or my interviewers.

              I usually call up a close friend who has been there– I have three such people– and air my grievances to any of them for about an hour. I end the call truly grateful for incredibly sympathetic and empathetic friends and a hell of a lot less frustrated.

          2. Doug*

            And also, to use a dating analogy, it depends on how the rejector goes about turning someone down. If a girl says to me, “Doug, thank you but honestly I am just not interested,” why would I be upset? She was honest, forward, and respectful; all positive traits especially when you consider how tough it is to reject someone. On the other hand, I would be a little upset if a girl would say, “Oh Doug, we had a great time and I look forward to going out again!” and then drops off the face of the earth.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              My analogy would be one of those speed dating events where they have you talk with a bunch of people all in a row. If a girl there told you what a great conversation she had with you but then later contacted you to let you know that she enjoyed meeting you but she was going to go out with someone else instead, you’d presumably get it — because that was the nature of the event. It’s the nature of interviewing too — everyone is (or wants to be) talking to multiple people.

              1. Vanessa*

                It feels more like The Bachelor than a speed dating event. I don’t invest much time in a speed dating event and I know what I’m getting into ahead of time. On The Bachelor I feel my “chances” increase the longer I stay around. And when I’m standing on stage next to the lady, I have more reasons to believe she’ll pick me than not pick me. Although I know there’s a chance she’d select someone else. I’ve put in my time, we’ve gotten to know each other, and unfortunately I have put all my eggs in one basket.

                DON’T yell. I get it. I have to stop treating it like The Bachelor and treat it more like speed dating. But nobody clued me into that until now.


  33. ChristineH*

    Yikes….I was going to throw in my two cents, but I think I’ll stay quiet. lol. Suffice it to say that this entire thread has been a very humbling read. I’ve had it happen to me a couple of times. Sure, it stinks, but you just have to buck up and keep at it until something sticks. Much easier said than done, I know :)

    Good luck Drew (OP)!

  34. Anonymous*

    It may be “really pretty common” for interviewers to say “you will,” but that does not mean it’s right. Actually, it’s wrong. “If hired you will” is correct. “The Widget Analyst does this” is correct. The use of “you will” before an offer is made is factually wrong. It’s lazy, sloppy, and maybe worse. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn some managers have used such language to get interviewees emotionally involved with the people, position, and company. It would be nice to see management, i.e. AAM, argue for change in that part of the interview process instead of repeating the company position over and over with hope that everyone will magically believe it.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes, it’s conversationally lazy, like I noted above. But it shouldn’t matter, for the reason V noted above — job seekers shouldn’t be jumping to conclusions.

      There are millions of bad interviewers out there. There are people who only conduct interviews once or twice in their lives. There are people who are lazy speakers. As fposte said above, it’s unrealistic to think you can get them all to stop doing this. It makes much more sense for job candidates to be realistic and not overly parse interviewers’ words — it’s in their own interests, after all.

    2. V*

      Nobody is saying that job seekers don’t deserve crystal clear communication. Several hiring managers have commented on this post, saying that they try to say X instead of “you will” “your office” etc. So those are some of the better ones. For each of those, there are probably 2-3 who aren’t so great.

      But the advice given isn’t meant to put the candidate in their place or make them feel powerless, or to imply that hiring managers shouldn’t have to care how they present the situation. It’s meant to address the fact that millions of people conduct interviews and we’re never going to get every single one of them to conform to this standard. It’s much easier, FOR THE CANDIDATE, to accept that this is a very common thing and to just deal with it. I can see being highly disappointed very early in your career with very little interview experience, but once you realize how the game is played, how could this be a surprise?

  35. R*

    It’s ironic…

    I’m a specialist in the medical field (clinical) with a unique set of skills. And within 1 day, 2 different lab directors invited me for interviews. I went in for one job interview and I was basically told she has money for me to do overtime, weekends, and i’ll get published. It sounded as if I was in. Right? Wrong… I ended up not getting the job (found out 1 day later).

    The OTHER job I was invited in for an interview… I thought the interview TANKED. 3 hours of intense questions with 6 different people… my current mentor/advisor in school thinks I’ll get the job b/c if they didn’t want me, they would’ve told me so by now. they’ve replied to my last followup that they haven’t made much groundwork (this lab director is an MD). My advisor believes based on information I’m not divulging here, the PI of this lab I want into is a very decent guy amidst all the pompous a**holes out there in medicine… and if he didn’t want me, I would’ve known it by now. I’m not confident I’ll get this position, but hey… I thought the interview was crap, but apparently a lot of people think I’ll get this job.

    never try to over analyze any situation… IF you get the job the day of, great (doesn’t happen these days)… but keep searching as if you’re not getting that (but follow up obviously) and don’t give up til you get the job you want!

    good luck OP

  36. chica*

    I know Alison has talked about this before, but even if the OP got a verbal offer (hypothetically), it still doesn’t mean it’s official until it’s in writing. I’m still so thankful I never mentioned an impending move to my parents – after my partner got a verbal offer, but nothing in writing. They offered A, he countered B, they said “absolutely! we’ll send you the paperwork!” and then later backed out. It can help to be cynical when dealing with this process!

  37. Anonymous*

    As a person who does hiring I am now questioning my behavior. I am a very warm and welcoming person, I try to put everyone I interview at ease, I often introduce them to people they might work with. I tell them about what their responsibilities would be, what benefits we have, why they’d want to work for us. I probably hire one person to every ten that I interview. I don’t treat the nine I don’t hire any differently than the one that I do during the entire process. Usually until I’ve interviewed all ten I don’t even know who the top candidates are.

    I don’t know how to reconcile wanting to be welcoming with making it clear that there is no job until we offer someone a job.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Please continue being warm and welcoming and doing what you’re doing. That’s precisely what you should be doing, since good candidates are using this time to assess whether they’d want the job if offered, and what you’re doing will help them figure that out.

      Assuming you’re not making actual promises to people, you do not need to go out of your way to make it clear that there’s no job offer until you make a decision; many people would find that rude and off-putting, and people should know that you’re not offering them a job before you actually are (again, assuming that you are not making promises to the contrary).

      1. Anonymous*

        The only thing I ever promise people is that I will call them on “X” day and let them know if they’ve made it through to the next stage in the process. I typically do the first round of interviews and another manager the second.

        That’s kind of what I thought- but the response to this post seemed overwhelmingly against that behavior. I suppose I’m just wondering where the line is between welcoming and leading people on.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          As long as you’re not saying things like “I think the job is yours” or “we should have your start date nailed down in no time,” you’re being appropriate and not overly welcoming.

          One suggestion I might make, though, is to say you’ll contact them by X, rather than that you’ll call them. Lots of people hate getting rejections by phone (see the comments on this post and this post for lots of commentary on that) and prefer to get an email if it’s a rejection.

          1. Anonymous*

            I actually wish that it was practical for me to email candidates. I actually hire for a restaurant not an office so all of our contacting is done via telephone. It is not uncommon for me to have candidates who don’t have any kind of internet access at all. I was pretty jealous a few posts back of everyone who could email rejections to candidates.

            (And while it’s another topic entirely, I imagine a lot of readers might be surprised about how seriously a lot of restaurant and retail establishments take their hiring. We want to provide the best services and for that we need to have the best people.)

            1. R*

              It’s funny… hearing that. I was JUST hired by starbucks, i’d have to say one of the harder retailers to get a job with… I have an MS and I’m a medical student and CAN’T for the love of me… get a research position (b/c I’m “over qualified” usually…) even though in the last 3 weeks I’ve had 4 interviews or invites for interviews with them being very interested in my candidacy and impressed with my resume/education/training…

              go figure…

      2. Tami M*

        Amen, Alison!!!
        As an interviewee, I look for warmth, kindness and sincerity. I don’t expect sweet & fuzzy, but I do expect honesty and friendliness. It gives an initial impression of how the company culture ‘might’ be, and as you say, allows me to assess whether I’d want to work for them. (along with other things like cleanliness, condition of facility, behavior of existing employees, etc…)

        However, with that said, I would NOT misconstrue any friendliness or sincerity as anything but what it is. I’ve been in many interviews where the person was so friendly that I thought ‘I’d LOVE to work with this person’, but at no time did I think they were friendly because I was going to get hired. And when I didn’t get hired, like posted above, I thought…if an opening comes up, I’ll try again.

        Personally, I think Anonymous should follow your advice/guidance, keep doing what she’s doing, and she’ll be just fine. We’d probably like to have more like you and her, and this process would go so much smoother. :)

    2. Melinda*

      Say things like, “It was a pleasure talking with you.” Don’t say, “Your office will be over here.” I’ve had plenty of interviews with friendly people who made their hiring status perfectly clear. It’s not that hard to do.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        No, it’s not that hard to do, but it’s also not that hard to remember that interest is not a promise at this stage, no matter how strongly expressed.

        You have no control over them. You do have control over your own thoughts. You cannot solve this if your solution depends on getting millions of diverse interviewers all over the country to change how they operate. But you can easily solve it for yourself in about two seconds if you just keep the above in mind.

        1. ruby*

          I think what you’re not taking into account here is the sticky problem of human emotion.

          We don’t have total control over our own thoughts or our own emotions. What you are saying might be good advice in theory but in reality “Think X, not Y” can be exceptionally difficult to actually achieve.

          What’s the first thing someone asks you after you tell them you had an interview? “How did it go?” It’s a very normal thing. And how do you judge how it went? By how they responded to you and what they said. Do you know on a factual level that you don’t have a job until you have a job? Sure. But as a person with feelings and emotions, it’s extremely difficult not to feel hope when things seem to be going well in the interview process.

          At the end of an interview, if a hiring manager says “You’re a great candidate, you have a lot of what we’re looking for and I think you’d fit in well here”, the natural inclination on the part of the candidate would be to feel hopeful and positive and that they have a good chance of getting the job – that’s an emotional reaction but it’s based on real words.

          Does it mean you have the job? Absolutely not. But it means you are going to have a different emotional reaction to getting rejected from that job than you would if they had said “Thank you for coming in, it was a pleasure to meet you, we’ll be in touch”.

          I understand you are saying for the candidate’s own mental health, that the candidate should react to both of the above statements equally — neither statement is “You’re hired” so don’t be surprised, angry or hurt if you don’t get hired ultimately.

          But, I think you’re expecting a lot of people to be able to easily remove emotions from the situation even if it is in their best interests. I understand your frustration in that your advice is good, but I think you are missing a big psychological component of the issue. It’s just not as easy as “solving it in two seconds” by changing how you think and feel. If changing how you think and feel was that easy, every shrink would be out of business tomorrow!

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Understood, but I’m not in the business of coddling people here (and this would be a very different blog if I were). I expect people to deal in reality, or at least strive to, and to be able to recognize intellectually when an emotional response isn’t based in reality. A person might still have that response anyway, but they should be able to recognize its fallacy. That’s one of the hallmarks of mature thinking.

          2. jennie*

            But it is so much to your benefit to manage emotions, not get your hopes up, be rational. The only person harmed by the emotional investment is you (and anyone you might take the disappointment out on).

            I think people who have been job searching for a while understand that you can’t be on an emotional rollercoaster every time you’re waiting to hear about a possible offer, but for people who are new or infrequent job seekers, just feeling this way once or twice should make you want to adjust your expectations so you don’t have to feel this way every time.

        2. Tami M.*

          “You cannot solve this if your solution depends on getting millions of diverse interviewers all over the country to change how they operate.”

          Ok, just for yahoos, let’s say there are 10,000 interviewers with 10,000 jobs available; for each opening, let’s say each company gets 100 applications. That gives us a total of 1 million applicants, which in turn would indicate, based on the above statement, that it’d be easier to change the behavior of the 1 million applicants, than the behavior of 10,000 interviewers? Based purely on numbers, I’d have to say it’s easier to achieve the exact opposite.

          Not arguing…just sayin’. :)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            We can’t change the behavior of the entirety of either group. But I happen to be talking to you guys, so you’re the audience I can impact. Although apparently I can’t, judging from this post.

          2. fposte*

            You’ve missed a piece, though: there’s no incentive for the hiring managers to change, because misplaced applicant expectations really isn’t a problem for them. There is incentive for the applicants to understand the context better because that will help limit needless disappointments along the way.

            Or, to put it another way, no matter how much you want to to change, hiring isn’t going to. What do you want to do now?

            1. Tami M.*

              Good point, fposte. I understand your logic, and it makes valid sense. :) I guess there isn’t much ‘to’ do, but to ‘suck it up’, play by the ever changing rules, and soldier on.
              And this is why multiple minds are better than one! :D

              1. fposte*

                And I don’t think anybody is saying it’s not rough–obviously it’s rough. The thing is, even if AAM agreed about language being misleading, it wouldn’t change what anybody faced tomorrow anyway, so she’d still be advising people to count on nothing but the actual offer. So you end up the same place either way, really.

  38. Wilton Businessman*

    Disclaimer: I didn’t read all 137 responses.

    The interview process did it’s job; it got the candidate excited about working there.

    Does it suck you were number 2 when you thought you were number 1? Sure. But they probably did the same treatment to number 1 and imagine how THEY feel right now!

  39. Emily*

    I have found the best way for interviewers to interview is by always maintaining that line between the candidate and themselves, no matter how much personalities may mesh. For instance, I recently had an interview for a position for which I was encouraged to apply. Similarly to your situation, it didn’t work out. In my interviews, the interviewers always made sure to say ‘the person in this position would have to…’ as opposed to ‘you would be in the office here and be expected to do this, they never mislead me which I’m grateful for.

  40. Suz*

    I think this post must have set a record for the number of commenters trying to get AAM to change her mind. lol

    I don’t think I can remember a single interview where the person interviewing me didn’t say “You’re office will be here”, “You’ll be working on this project” or something similar. It’s so common. I always took it to mean they are trying to picture me in the position I’m interviewing for. Just as I’m trying to picture what it would be like to work there if I got the job.

  41. Suzanne*

    I haven’t had an interview like the one the OP mentioned, but my son did. I also haven’t read all the responses, but enough to get the idea.
    With all that, I still do not understand why an interviewer would speak as though the interviewee has the job. In my son’s case, they even showed him what paperwork he would need to fill out, discussed at length what his beneftis would be (as in name of insurance company, etc.,). They did tell him in the rejection that there had been some budget changes and they ended up hiring an insider, so I think they had planned on hiring him, which made it a little easier to digest.

    But in the OP’s circumstance, I really don’t get it at all. Why say, “This will be your desk. This will be your spot in the refrigerator. This will be your cubby and this will be your spot on the IN and OUT board.” when the interviewer doesn’t know that for sure? It seems disingenious at best, a near lie to me. I know no job is secure until you sign on the dotted line, but why lead people on like that? I just don’t get it.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Come on. They showed the OP the desk and the coworkers, two things many people like to see while they’re deciding if they’d want to take a particular job.

      1. Anonymous*

        I hve never once been, yes I am experienced, shown where my desk would be or introduced to coworkers. In fact, I have never met potential coworkers at any place I was working when other people were interviewing.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Varies by person. Lots of people do want to see the space / meet the people they’d be working with. Others don’t even think to ask. But an employer showing someone both those things isn’t unusual, and it’s actually fairly thoughtful.

        2. Jamie*

          Introducing people to co-workers is a nice benefit for the candidate, but sometimes it’s also to get some casual and informal feedback about the candidate from the current employees.

          We had a position open where I was introduced to five candidates – the only tangential relationship I have to the position is being their IT. One, upon being introduced to me, winked and did that thing where you cock your finger like a gun and make a clicking sound with your mouth…you know that gesture? Anyway he did this and then called me Chickie. As in, “So Chickie, when I need something you’re the one I call to take care of me.”

          That quote was verbatim.

          30 seconds of introduction gleaned an awful lot about this candidate.

          Didn’t help that he called the owner of the company sweetie as he was letting her know he was much too busy to answer her questions. Did I mention that she happened to be at the front desk for a second so he thought she was the receptionist? Yeah – another couple of seconds which spoke volumes.

          So sometimes the co-worker introduction thing has multiple benefits.

          1. Tami M.*

            Here, Here, Alison and Jamie!!! :)

            You ladies hit the nail on the head! Introductions are helpful to both parties. I’ve only had a few employers ask if I wanted to take a look around, but I’ve always said yes. It makes a difference to see how the office is set up; what resources they provide their employees; the condition of the furnishings & equipment, and how the employees are interacting with each other. To me, it’s invaluable, but I’d never take it as an indication I was favored in any way.

  42. Suzanne*

    I’m not objecting to the interviewee being shown around and I think introducing them to the staff is a great idea. I’m objecting to the all this with accompanying “This will be your desk” as opposed to “This is where the chocolate teapot order manager” sits. By saying “will be your desk” there is an implication that you are being hired. Words do mean something.

    I would think the same of a tutor who told a child, after presenting the material, that “Your grade card will be full of A’s” or a college admissions rep telling a potential student that he/she shouldn’t worry about tuition because “This scholarship money will be yours.” They don’t know that for sure, so why act like they do?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I understand that some of you think that. But what I and others who hire are telling you is that it makes no sense to conclude that, because it’s so contrary to how hiring works.

      It doesn’t make sense to take a particular verb construct as a promise of a job when you know the interviewing process isn’t over and no offer has been made. Yes, it’s sloppy language. But it’s far sloppier thinking to assume there’s some inherent promise there.

      I understand that some of you don’t like that on principle, but it’s so very much to your own detriment to block this information out.

  43. Emily*

    I recently went through a long application process for a government job. I scored very high on the test, felt I did very well in the interviews, got a background check, and was told things like “Next you’ll be meeting with the chief” and “Your schedule is going to vary” and “Your training will take place here and here” and “This person is your direct supervisor.” I didn’t get the job and I wasn’t surprised. It’s just how places do things and I expected it.

    1. Anonymous*

      I guess I have been out of the interviewing world for a while. I thought employers ask you to complete background check forms after offering you the job; not before…

      I recently had to do this and I was optimistic that an offer would be forthcoming. However, now that I have not heard back, I have to say that I am concerned that I provided my personal information to a company that I have no relationship with.

  44. Ida*

    There is also always the possibility that it was given to someone from the following categories:


    This has happened to me twice (great interview then nothing).

  45. Chloe*

    So, to summarise: AAM “You should not assume ANYTHING until you get an offer, no matter how positive it seems”.

    Almost everyone else: “But that is REALLY UNFAIR and we kind of hate all you nasty recruiting people for subjecting us to all this false hope”.

    AAM: “But feeling that that is a total waste of your time and emotion, its the way it works, just suck it up.”

    Almost everyone else: “NO. We don’t WANT to.”


  46. Bashuka*

    I just had this happen to me as well. First interview, I passed and did well. Then I got another call that there will be another phone interview, and this thing was dreadful, I had been rescheduled multiple times, though it was only thru phone, it still sucks cause you’re waiting for a call that never came. Then yesterday, I finally had the interview and it went well but the person said I had to wait for 20 or 30 days before I could get the job maybe since it’s near Christmas so they won’t be able to offer me. Then just a while ago, I got an email that I did not have an offer and I emailed back what about the waiting for 20 or 30 days. Was I misled? If that guy just replied back I would know if I would keep waiting the 20 days or move on…

      1. Bashuka*

        Yup, good thing he replied. Unfortunately, he said no job for me. The problem is the first interviewer was my boss from my previous work, and when the company was bought by another big one, major changes came and my boss offered me to come back since they are really looking for people now. Then this second interviewer came and wanted me on his account since my former boss’ account is on hold they had to send me on that account. I really thought I could get the job since my boss told me even before I took the exam that I will get the job, well it really goes to show that without a job offer, there’s no guarantee even if you know people from the inside. Texted my boss about it, I guess she’s gonna find out what happened.

  47. AR*

    I would like to share my experience here which I am currently undergoing. 6 weeks back I got a call from a big MNC for an open position and asked for my interest. He called me back after couple scheduled my interview for next week. On the day of interview it happened to be 2 interviews instead of 1, one technical and another with hiring manager. After that I didn’t heard anything for next 2 week and den suddenly got an email asking for 3rd interview with onsite person. That onshore interview happened 2.5 weeks back and went very well. 2 days later I got email from recruiter asking for payslips documents for salary discussions and i provided all the required documents. After that I didn’t heard anything for next 10 days, and I called the recruiter to know the status. He started discussing about salary (current,expected etc.) and few other things. He said offer letter will be sent by tomorrow noon, but nothing happened that day. I called him again next day and he said approving authority was travelling so he couldn’t obtain his approval, but now approving authority is back to office so he will send offer letter by evening(19/12/12) or noon (20/12/12). But day has passed and I didn’t received anything.
    Now I am really confused what is going on? Really don’t know what should I do next call them again or forgot about it.. :(

  48. Kiminonata-COCO*

    Was that your final interview? If they called again for another interview, better move on.

    You shouldn’t call them everyday, maybe wait for a few days. These bastards may think you’re too desperate and consider that as a negative.

  49. Anonymous*

    with so many people out of work…and nepotism in the work place…i would have a rule where once that person is hired and their first evaluation is done…and 2nd….if it is not satisfactory…..YOU’RE FIRED….and the person that interviewed for that position FALLS right into that job….

  50. Nina*

    I had an interview last month that went very well, they like me and we discussed almost everything. Two weeks later I called to check my application they told me they will send the offer tomorrow, but i didn’t get anything. Then I called again in the following week, and they apologized for the delay and said I’m their first choice and they will contact me today or tomorrow, but again i didn’t heard from them. I’m wondering, and don’t know what to do! should I email them and ask or move on? I don’t want to look desperate or annoying if. Any advice plz!

      1. Nina*

        Thanx for your replay,

        You mean Saturday :) I’m from a different part of the world that have a Thursday-Friday weekend, sounds odd I know :).

        But don’t you think I look annoying and desperate by following up three times?

  51. sai*

    alison- just curious, what if the people who referred you inform that ‘you should most likely bag this? as in I have been intervied by 3 people in the org. so far and then saw the job posted in a job site with my resume matching to the T with it ( heck they have even taken my key skills and put it in the jobholder requirement!!) – the last person I met had told me that their ‘process’ entails going thru referrals first and then going out and trying to get matches- the funny part was she never said ‘decision’ she kept saying process some 4-6 times when I asked her the next steps….but in the meantime the 2 inside ppl who referred me keep telling me I must’ve bagged it – am confused as to what should I go by…telling myself what you’ve just written here – its not mine till I get it in writing..!!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Keep reminding yourself that none of this is a promise. You’re overanalyzing a bit, as people tend to do in this situation — “process” vs “decision” isn’t really significant :)

  52. Still Looking and Interviewing*

    In general, having gone through this very same thing THREE times in the last year, I have the following to add:

    1. HR people lie to you, its their job. “We will contact you on x date with a decision” and date x comes and goes, no response. You send a polite email asking the status of the position, they never answer.

    2. A surprising number of companies are trolling or testing the waters. They want to see what sort of talent is out there, how desperate they are (Very desperate in this job market, but NOT desperate enough), and what compensation they want. Then they will try to bring in a foreign worker and hopefully get some sort of tax credit like here in Manitoba.

    3. Not only do companies troll for talent, they also skim off nice attributes from great candidates who have been rejected. Remember all those notes the HR person jotted down during your interview? The person they do hire is given a short list: “Try to have this attribute, this personality trait, etc”

    Bottom line – companies and HR are firmly in the drivers seat. Doesn’t matter if you have 2 decades of skills, talents, and accolades, they can and will push you out to pasture and get a cheap import or an entry level person at one half your salary.

    I had to learn to stop caring and just move on, and NOT take it personally. I take – well, took as that is now past tense – great pride in my work and USED to endeavor to exceed the expectations set forth. No more.

    So keep looking and interviewing until a decent enough job comes along. Don’t fall for the HR game of “we will contact you on x date” because they NEVER DO. You might, just might, have actually picked up a job if you had kept looking, instead of waiting by the phone to be LIED TO

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Honestly, it’s not this adversarial. The vast majority of people aren’t deliberately lying; they intend to get back to you on the date they say. When they don’t, it’s for a reason — higher priorities got in the way or whatever. It’s frustrating, but it’s not what you’re painting it to be.

  53. Still Looking and Interviewing*

    I appreciate your comments.

    However, out of 3 interviews with 3 totally different companies, the result was the same. To me that smacks of indifference at best, lying at worst.

    I forgot to mention that in 2 of those 3 interviews, I also knew the other interviewees. That may be an unfair advantage as we could compare notes afterwards. Eg, here is the conversation about 30 days beyond the promised date of callback:

    Me: So, did you ever hear back from company XYZ?

    Interviewee 2: nope, how about you Interviewee 3?

    Interviewee 3: Nope. Weird.

    When I was still working I was considered a “model” employee. Come hell or high water, if I made a PROMISE to do something, such as email or call, you can bet I did! Otherwise I never made the promise to begin with. Of course none of that mattered when I – along with 27 others – were let go due to “right sizing”

    In this day and age of smartphones, desktop synch, all manner of electronic nannies, it’s simply no excuse to suggest that Person X somehow got too busy to reply. Unless they had a personal crisis to deal with.

    I had to deal with the cancer and death of my mother while our team was in the middle of an urgent project. I delegated as much as I could to others. Kept up with whatever couldn’t be delegated, to the best of my ability.

    When she died, a week later I followed up with those I had delegated to, just to make sure nothing fell through the cracks. Received a glowing letter from the Veep of the company, saying how sad they were to have learned of my poor dear mum passing away, and what an inspiration I was to others in the company etc etc etc.

    When I – along with the others in my department – received our Dear John letter from the same veep, it was much shorter and to the point.

    Since I have been on both sides, it smacks of laziness and a general “I don’t care, not my problem, too bad so sad” attitude on the part of HR and management when they casually make promises and fail to follow through.

    To those wondering what to do in the same situation: don’t assume anything until you are actually working for them!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Oh, not ever getting back to candidates after interviews is totally rude and inexcusable — I completely agree with that. (I thought you were just talking about delayed responses earlier.)

  54. Still Looking and Interviewing*

    Rude is farting or belching at the dinner table. Frustrating is the cat puking up a hairball at your feet.

    When a person makes a promise to call/email and never does, they are a liar. Companies can play games, lie to you, because with the huge pool of skilled unemployed workers to draw from, they simply CAN.

    I would like to remind those reading this to never, ever put faith in anything HR tells you. Keep cranking out resumes and keep looking until the morning you start at your new job.

  55. Rescinded Offer After 1st Day*

    Last year, I received a job offer (in writing, specifying benefits & salary, signed by the COO, etc); I sent them my signed acceptance letter and they followed up several times–verbally and in writing–confirming my official start date.

    Excited, I quit my job (gave two weeks’ notice), turned down other opportunities & told my recruiter that I was no longer on the market.

    On my first day, they informed me $800 would be deducted from my paycheck monthly for health insurance (they originally told me insurance was free!). Coincidently, on the same day, I found out that I needed a minor in-office surgical procedure. I explained the situation to my direct supervisor & emphasized it wouldn’t interfere with my work–I just needed clarification regarding insurance.

    She tersely informed me that they couldn’t risk having an employee with a “health problem” (stitches on my knee!) & told me not to bother coming into work.

    Then I received a letter stating that my offer was rescinded due to my failure to show up at work!

    By the way, the job has still not been filled, even though they needed someone “yesterday.”

    1. Still Looking and Interviewing*

      Oy …..

      What the hell is wrong with these companies? Any little lie and excuse, out you go.

      That said, I really don’t see what you can do about the situation. I had a “firm offer” yanked away just like that. Even went to a lawyer as the first 20 minute consult is supposed to be free. I picked a good lawyer, he didn’t spend very long with my “case”

      Me: Is there anything I can do about this?

      Lawyer: Nope, not a thing. Sorry. Your free time is up.

      Me: Ok. Bye.

      It seems everybody has to pretend they are stepping on eggs these days. I am very sorry this happened to you, and hope you can either go back to your old job or find something soon.

      1. Rescinded Job Offer After 1st Day*

        Kind thoughts in response to the types of situations described here are so much more helpful than one might imagine. Disappointments of this nature can be very depressing, and many people don’t understand. Sometimes a kind word is enough to put a smile on your face and give you enough motivation to go back out there and move on. That’s the only way to survive…I hope everyone here remembers that there are people in the world who are kind.

        This is sappy, but I think a good dose of askamanager’s advice mixed with a pinch of understanding is the perfect mix to get you to keep on moving.

  56. Hare*

    I was at an interview where someone indicated me and told their colleague, “This is the person who’s going to be working with us”(!)

    Nevertheless, I took it as intended – as a concise explanation of who I was (prospective employee and co-worker) – and not a sign of an offer. It’s hard not to get excited and to read things into it, but it’s often just pleasantries.

  57. Bashuka*

    Get this… I was here I guess 2 months ago stating I didn’t get picked after that interview.

    Then last week my backer who held a very high position in the company called the recruitment and they told her that I should take the online test again but the funny thing is now I didn’t pass the exam. I was like what the? It was the same test I took before which I passed and now I didn’t.

    You think that the company just did that to play games. It’s kind of bull right?

    Good thing, I’m not as much interested as before there but it’s quite sad how they can manipulate certain things.

  58. Still Looking and Interviewing*

    Hare, that was the best way to handle it. Don’t believe anything until you see funds being deposited into your account

    Bashuka, sorry to hear that. You’re right, nothing but games they play.
    I hope you have found something, things are tough out there.

    I’m lucky. No mortgage, house paid for, no car loans, no other debt, and very meager savings. I was able to pick up some part-time work

    1. Bashuka*

      Yes, I’m glad I did. It’s just disappointing how they can manipulate results.

      Just remember it doesn’t matter if you know the boss or something because HR can fuck you up with test exam or interviews. It would be better if you didn’t know any to be honest with you.

  59. Jialing*

    Actually I had a similar experience that the program director was really nice and his secretary was there too. They introduced me about the pay, the schedule of the program as if I have had that position. I showed them a video I prepared and he even emailed me to send him the youtube link of it. But at the end they rejected me.

    My bf is applying to a faculty position at a state university now. He had the on site interview two weeks ago. There are three finalists and last interview took place last week. he was the second one and all the faculty were super positive and the department head even told him he hopes him can make the program the leader in this field. The interview went on 2 days and everything was really positive. Today they emailed my bf that they will call him on friday. His professor said it’s a good sign. nobody will email you to inform that they will reject you in a few days. your experience made me kinda nervous. they might still be arguing. As you said, you don’t have an offer until you have the offer.

  60. Ashok*

    Please help my current situation:
    I got mail from Recruitment Consultant via LinkedIn. He said, the company just hired them and he wants test engineer position in Sweden based company(right now I live). His from US.
    After mail sharing, he sent the job description and asked few questions in the mail, like ” Do I have work permit, salary, local language & English, date on available and update CV ” so on..
    I mailed him clearly about my expectations and his answers.

    He was very happy with my answers and arranged an interview in Sweden with Test Manager.
    I performed well in that interview, manager said ” I may have next round with QA team and HR Manager”.

    I didn’t get mail from him, I mailed him and interested in the position and would like to know the process. After a day he mailed me, I have an another meeting with HR Manager. Then HR Manager mailed me and sent some personality test before meet her. I did the test and had an meeting with her nearly two hours. I got good feedback from their test and performed well in that meeting.

    He mailed me after a week, I have not selected from their final list. I just mailed him to said thanks. After a two day, he called me from US, he mailed me wrongly instead of other candidate and apologize his inconvenience.

    He said, the company still interested me and have an another final meeting(Head of Engineering, QA team) and some written test on same day at next week(Thursday).

    I was happy and concentrated the test which I have. I went to the company and performed well in the written test, and nice conversation with QA team and meeting with Head of Engineering. HR Manager asked me to provide an references to send her mail. I just mail along my references details on the same day. She mailed me to get back me on next week.

    I have contacted my references but she does not contact them yet. He mailed me on next week Friday, the HR manager is still in the process of taking references and will contact him on Monday and he asked me ” am still interested in this position” . I mailed him, yes I am very interested in this position.

    The interview process is nearly more than 40 days more, Why they are not contacted my references yet? and what they think right now? Do I have chances to get the job offer?
    Do I call HR manager? or wait for a week or mail them I am in another interview how long do you take?

    Note: The current QA Engineer left the position on Friday(8th March), I just got know from the QA manager, He told me that when we had an meeting.
    In mean time, I had a another company interviews( internship) and waiting for that result too..
    I am very happy to join this QA Engineer position most because of my matched skills, salary, flexibility so on..

    Can you help me for my situation? I don’t know how do I feel now, either be happy for waiting positive result or waiting long time for the company results. I ‘m little depressed too.


  61. john*

    I think the HR manager and company is psycho for wasting 5.5 hours with you and not give you an job offer. I wouldn’t want to work with this company or place in the future. If this was a high level position I could understand them wasting this much of your time.

  62. misba*

    Now a days for a single vacancy,100’s of job seeker’s are coming to the interview…..?

    that’s what they didn’t get the job……………

    for me this is one of imp fact for not getting the job

  63. Karen*

    Whenever that happens, and it has happened to me several times, I try to contact the hiring manager or recruiter and ask WHY? Ask if it was a skill you don’t have, if you rubbed someone the wrong way, or you were wearing different colored socks and didn’t realize it. Ask it in the context of learning for the next interview, not in the context of “why didn’t you hire me you idiot.” Most people will tell you why and you might get some great advice along the way.

  64. Karen*

    I spent one whole day at a company in Virginia interviewing for a management level job. Had the whole salary, benefits, relo package talk. Didn’t get the job. The job was posted for almost a year after I interview. They hired an outside recruiter to fill the position and I talked to them. The hiring company had a checklist (literal) of skills and experience the candidate had to possess and if they couldn’t check everything off, that candidate wasn’t hired. That job went unfilled for over a year because of a checklist. Sometimes it’s just that crazy.

  65. Bri*

    Sorry but I think this answer is poor and doesn’t really even address the original post/ question. The problem imo is that the management led this person to believe the job was basically theirs or extremely likely their’s, however you want to word it. The interviewee never just assumed he got the job, as the answer states OVER AND OVER again. They were simply disappointed and very surprised after the management went SO far with their suggestive commentary. I’m reading this all bc something similar happened to my dh today. We never assumed he got the job but the interviews strongly suggested it and then obviously it was not offered. I don’t really see a reason for them to use that type of language even if they think they are sure- just save it for the offer phone call!

  66. jennifer*

    if I sent a follow up email and was replied that they will get back to me on monday and also said at the bottom of the email thank you very much for your interest; how should I read into this?

  67. jennifer*

    but this is after the second interview and it was never stated in the previous emails that was sent to me.

  68. Clandess*

    I hate it when HR don’t abide to their scheduled interviews. I remember being rescheduled for a phone interview four times in a span of almost 1 and a half months, then the call came and boom, after the interview which was obviously rushed, I didn’t get the job.

    I really wanted that job, so after a few months, came back again. I was interviewed by a different person and the good thing was she said this is our schedule and she did do that.

    I think if HR really wants you, they will get to you quickly but if not, they’ll try to prolong your wait, keep you hanging, until they get tired of you waiting and just let you go. I think it’s sick.

    It’s them trying to find more suitable candidates than you, so they would stall, stall, and stall until one of you gives up.

  69. Venky*

    Wow! this a mindblowing sentence which is very true “Never, ever assume you’re getting an offer until you’re reading the email that contains it”

    My HR also says that vocally that my offer is confirmed but i am still waiting to see it officially in the email.

  70. Anxious waiting*

    I went for an interview for a job at a school district. After the interview the panel said ” you will have a decision on Monday whether or not you have the position.” That was several days ago. Should I just move on? Anxiously waiting.

    1. Laura*

      Congratulations on being interviewed at a district. Those are pretty rare these days. I had the exact same thing said to me–down to “Monday,” with the addition of “I don’t like to keep people hanging,” which he absolutely did. I caved in and made the guy reject me by email. Regular public schools usually move pretty quickly, but once in a while some snarl comes up and they can’t officially make an offer. Once in a blue moon the job disappears after the interview. If you have something to move on to–do it.

  71. Sarah Lawson*

    “You don’t have an offer until you have an offer.”

    It’s such a simple statement, and yet, so powerful! A lot of job seekers tend to get ahead of themselves, especially after a seemingly ‘perfect’ job interview. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t take it against the interviewer. You might have just read the signals wrong. Just keep your head high and look for other opportunities.

  72. Lurking*


    It is all about WHO you know. What you know means nothing! That is why this country has so many screwed up businesses, etc.

    This person was probably led on to meet a certain quota of some criteria.

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