my interviewer asked to reschedule and then never got back to me

A reader writes:

What does it mean when an interviewer asks to reschedule and then does not follow up?

For the second time now, I have run into the frustrating situation in which I had a scheduled interview, the interviewer asked to reschedule the day before (for valid reasons), and when I responded that I would be happy to reschedule, I never heard from them again. I can’t tell what is going on or if I am doing something wrong, as this is the second time this has happened to me.

Most recently, I had a very positive phone interview during which the interviewer said that she was automatically going to move me to the next phase of interviews. We then arranged a Skype interview with three team members and the program director a few days later. However, the day before our scheduled interview, she said we would need to reschedule for later that week or next because their office was closed due to the recent blizzard in New York. This seemed perfectly reasonable, so I responded that my schedule was flexible and I could be available any day that week or next. It has been about three days and I haven’t heard back from her. I am wondering if I should have suggested a more specific time, but from my perspective I assumed because they had to coordinate schedules for all four interviewers, I should be more open-ended.

Did I make myself sound too available or desperate? It felt silly to say I was only available on a few days in case that did not work well with their schedule. I am not sure what happened and am feeling frustrated because the first interview went so well. Should I call or follow up again in a couple days? Did I do something to upset her? Any insight would be incredibly helpful.

You didn’t do anything wrong.

There are a few possibilities for what’s happened here:

* They’re still planning to get back to you to reschedule, but it’s taking a while. This could be because the person arranging the interviews is out sick, or because there’s a schedule conflict they’re trying to work out, or because a question has arisen about the position that they need to resolve before moving forward, or higher-priority stuff came up that’s taking all their focus (especially likely when snow days have messed up other timelines), or who knows. There are lots of reasons why hiring processes get stretched out, and any of them could be in play here.

* They have you on hold right now because they’re highly interested in someone else and think that might result in a hire, and they want to wait for that to play out before they get back to you. This sucks, but it happens. (And really, it could have happened even if your interview had gone ahead as originally planned. In this case, at least it’s saving you the time and hassle of an interview if someone else is going to end up with the offer.)

* They have lost interest in you and haven’t bothered to tell you. This could have happen if other candidates emerge who are stronger, or if the job has been reconfigured in some way that means you’re no longer the fit for it that you were earlier, or if the job has been put on hold or canceled altogether. If this is the case, it’s really rude for them not to get back to you and let you know, but leaving candidates hanging forever is very much a thing that happens.

We can’t know at this point which of these it is — but if it’s the first, they’ll get back to you eventually.

Do know, though, that if they did lose interest in you, it’s unlikely that it was caused by something you did in those rescheduling emails, unless you were rude or unprofessional when emailing them (which it doesn’t sound like you were). It definitely wouldn’t be caused by you seeming too available or flexible with your schedule. It would be extremely unusual for someone setting up interviews to think “ugh, this person is too flexible and thus is desperate and therefore is an unappealing candidate.” Really, to the extent that people setting up interviews think about this at all (and for most it won’t even register), it’s just “oh good, that makes this easier to schedule.”

As for what to do now: Try following up once more a week after your last contact with them. Because things were left hanging, it’s reasonable to check back in. If they still don’t get back to you, at that point I’d move on and let it be a pleasant surprise if you do eventually hear from them. And if you don’t, that’s on them for being discourteous, not on you for somehow causing it.

{ 56 comments… read them below }

  1. animaniactoo*

    Another VERY strong possibility (I was one of about 20 pick-your-adjectives that actually came to work at our company in NYC last week):

    They are busy playing mad catchup from the aftermath of the blizzard and work that didn’t get done and is delayed coming in from other places creating a trickle-down effect of being “all hands on deck” for a few days. They are probably just getting to the point of being ready to reschedule stuff like this now that they’ve got everything more-or-less back to “normal”.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I have a strong feeling it’s this (and any related fallout). My NYC colleagues are still catching up from the blizzard, and the interviewer could be in “chicken with head cut off” mode. But you definitely didn’t do anything wrong, and I’d send an email follow-up tomorrow to check in.

      1. animaniactoo*

        I just finished printing stuff this morning that I’d planned to do last week due to a domino effect. First they realized that some parts/toner that needed to be replaced/was running low didn’t have a backup in the office. That shipment was delayed due to storm. By the time supplies came in on Thursday, I was in the middle of another project that was on deadline. So I didn’t get to finish my print-to-file stuff until this morning.

      2. OfficePrincess*

        I was coming to say the same thing. While my area didn’t get hit as hard as expected, we were fully shut down for a day Tuesday, and barely running Wednesday because the roads were still so bad. We have work from last week still coming in and have all kinds of overtime scheduled to try to get on top of it. I *think* today might be the day I personally get caught up, but as a whole, we are still behind. Anything below top priority is getting neglected right now.

  2. Ama*

    Reasons hiring processes I have been involved in have stalled mid-process:
    – Hiring manager was hospitalized over the weekend and did not return to the office for four months. In that case the position was a newly created one so the managers covering for her decided to wait until she returned. However it did probably take us two weeks before we got back to people we’d originally scheduled for interviews to explain that it was on hold indefinitely, just due to the general uncertainty surrounding her condition and recovery.

    – Hiring committee decided after inviting people to interview that they had a serious philosophical divide over whether to hire the junior candidates who made up the hiring pool into a senior position or to reclassify the position as a junior one. When the discussion had dragged on a week, I had to remind the committee head that we needed to send an email to the candidates waiting in limbo — and it took another two weeks before he finally wrote something up.

    – Hiring committee included an international member whose travel was derailed by an erupting volcano (seriously), and the committee did not want to proceed without him. In this case we did get the interview rescheduled fairly quickly but it was a couple months later before we could get both the candidate and the international committee member at the same time.

    So it could really be *anything* — and in my experience, once a schedule is disrupted it can take longer than expected to get everyone back on track.

    1. Delta Delta*

      “Volcano” is officially my favorite explanation for a delay. Because you can’t really do anything about a volcano.

  3. Antilles*

    In my experience (on both sides of the desk), most interviewers don’t even think twice about interviewee’s availability unless it’s so narrow that we flat out can’t find a time that works.

  4. Brett Conrad*

    You didn’t do anything wrong! The interviewer could just be swamped as many HR employees are. Give it time, but also cross all your T’s and Dot all your I’s to cover your back. Especially since there was just a massive blizzard, the person who said they would contact you just isnt at work. Relax, and continue to wait. The call will come!

  5. Decimus*

    I’ll just note that yes, it is on the company’s side and probably not to do with you. I once was told they’d be in touch for the second round of interviews, touched base over the next couple months a couple times to reiterate my interest… they never got back. Six months after the original interview, they called to offer me the job. Of course that should have been a red flag – that job sucked. But it’s unlikely to be you.

  6. ctm*

    I’ve had this happen as well. I followed up again, as Alison suggests to you, and then still didn’t hear from them for weeks. Long after I assumed that ship had sailed, I got an email reaching out to reschedule the interview.

    I went through the interview process, and found that the excessive delays, lack of clear communication, etc., seemed to be reflective of the culture of the organization as a whole, and that it would not be a place that I’d be happy working.

    All that’s to say – it could be blizzard fallout, it could be nothing, and/or it could be good information about the company if they do eventually reschedule.

    1. many bells down*

      I was ghosted by a company after my second interview; they told me they’d call me “after the holidays” (this was in November) to set up a time for me to come observe one of their classes and then never called me again. And it was also a lack of clear communication on their part that made me eventually decide not to chase them down. This would have been the third time I’d had to chase after them because they didn’t communicate; i.e. the night before my first interview they still hadn’t sent me the address of their office!

      The company still occasionally sends me emails offering me a discount on their classes. It’s been 3 years. It’s honestly a little insulting.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I’m currently being ghosted by a company I interviewed at over a month ago. The hiring manager was late to the phone interview and late to the in-person interview and of the 5 people scheduled for the panel portion of the interview, three showed up and one left after 15 minutes.

        I’ve done all the normal followup stuff, but at this point if I hear back from them at all I expect it’ll be sometime circa June. And honestly I’ve lost interest.

      2. emma2*

        I once interviewed with an organization where, after the fact, I looked at their Glassdoor reviews, and there were multiple accounts of interviewees who received e-mails from HR offering the job….only to never hear from them again. According to the reviews, these people followed up with HR multiple times asking about the job contracts they were promised, and received radio silence. Fortunately, I never heard from my interviewer again.

      3. SJ*

        Earlier this year I landed an all-day interview at a prestigious university, but they didn’t send me the list of people I’d be interviewing with until late afternoon the day before. I was VERY annoyed I had to do my research/notes on 16 different interviewers the night before.

      4. many bells down*

        So, holy crap, I was going through job listings today and this company is hiring again. It’s a teaching position, and this is the first thing on the job listing:
        “Please do not apply if you do not have teaching experience. Food service and housecleaning is not teaching. Thank you”

        Is it just me, or is that second sentence kind of … dickish?

        1. emma2*

          OMG – they could have just emphasized they wanted teaching experience. Yes, very dickish.

  7. Allison*

    In my last job hunt, I had what seemed like a strong lead after we’d had a very positive phone interview. But somewhere in the process of scheduling me to go in and speak with the hiring manager, he ghosted me. Not sure why, not sure if I said something via email that rubbed him the wrong way, if something happened to the job itself, if something I said in the phone interview left a bad taste in his mouth he tried to shrug off but couldn’t shake, if he received bad news about his own job at the company later that day, or what . . . but either way, I never heard from him. Really unfortunate.

    BUT the fact that he ghosted said more about him than me. Maybe I was a tad persistent in getting a confirmation during the scheduling process (come on dude, “3:30 works for me, see you then” or “something came up, let’s touch base Monday and aim for later in the week” doesn’t take that long to type”), but I don’t believe anything I said over e-mail would have made a reasonable person change their mind so abruptly. If you change your mind about a candidate, you say so, even if it’s awkward. “Unfortunately, the status of this job changed and we are no longer scheduling interviews at this time.”

  8. always in email jail*

    I’d like to second Alison’s first bullet point, as some of those above did. They’re likely still catching up from the blizzard. On top of that, they have to get the panel to coordinate their schedules (which will likely take a few days) and possibly even reserve the appropriate conference room they planned to sit in to skype you (which is probably getting filled up with rescheduled meetings).
    I agree with Alison that you should follow up after a week, but I wouldn’t do it sooner. They’re scrambling to play catch up. I know getting hired is your priority right now, but for them they likely have other priorities to clear up before they get back tot he hiring process. Especially if the hiring manager has to accommodate the schedules of the rest of the panel. They should get back to you by the end of this week, though.

  9. TootsNYC*

    Do know, though, that if they did lose interest in you, it’s unlikely that it was caused by something you did in those rescheduling emails, unless you were rude or unprofessional when emailing them (which it doesn’t sound like you were). It definitely wouldn’t be caused by you seeming too available or flexible with your schedule. It would be extremely unusual for someone setting up interviews to think “ugh, this person is too flexible and thus is desperate and therefore is an unappealing candidate.” Really, to the extent that people setting up interviews think about this at all (and for most it won’t even register), it’s just “oh good, that makes this easier to schedule.”

    I suppose if you made a big typo, or a horrible grammar error, then your email might have been problematic. (Though, I sometimes forgive those things in casual emails, even for copyeditors. If it looks like they were on their phone, especially. I don’t ignore it, but it may not be a killer, unless it indicated some base deficiency. I once bailed on a copyeditor who spelled it “oppertunity.”)

    1. TootsNYC*

      I canceled–I didn’t ghost.

      If I ghost, it’s much more likely that nothing has actually been decided. If I decide to not proceed with someone (whether bcs I’m rejecting them specifically, or bcs I’ve made an official hire), I’m much better about getting in touch to let people know.

      So if it were me, I’d say that it’s just that the interviewer hasn’t carved out time to truly begin again.

      1. always in email jail*

        I once unintentionally ghosted on candidates I’d interviewed (I was under the impression HR was contacting them to say we weren’t moving forward…. found out months later that that wasn’t the case) and I still feel horrible about it. It was about 2 years ago and was my first time hiring employees.

        1. emma2*

          I do attribute a lot of ghostings to this exact misunderstanding. A lot of hiring managers probably depend on HR to send out the news, and HR doesn’t know.

  10. ThisGuy*

    I had an phone interview with a large company rescheduled twice, (both times at the last minute, within an hour of the scheduled time.) The first time, we rescheduled via email for a few days later. The second time, when I replied with my availability for the rest of the week in order to reschedule, I never heard back from the interviewer. I followed up twice in the following week, but never received any response from her.

  11. jebly*

    Oh this happened to me a lot during my last job hunt. It’s so frustrating (especially because I was unemployed at the time and every day I waited felt like an eternity). I found out later that one was because of a complete company re organization, and the other because the deal they needed help on fell through. Sh*t happens! Good luck!

  12. Seal*

    I had a situation where they scheduled a phone interview and asked that I hold some dates 2 weeks after that because they were planning to move fast on in-person interviews. This was for an academic librarian position halfway across the country, so their timeline was a bit unusual to begin with; nothing ever moves that quickly in academia. As it turned out, the dates they wanted me to hold coincided with a conference I was not only expected to attend but present at; a bit problematic but doable if they avoided a particular day, which I conveyed to them. I did the phone interview and heard…nothing. Normally I wouldn’t have started to worry so soon after a phone interview but they had specifically asked that I hold those days and I was facing an increasingly narrow window of opportunity to rearrange my conference schedule. So I contacted them a week after my phone interview, which was a week before they said they would be starting in-person interviews and was more than a little irritated to find out that they weren’t planning to invite me for an in-person interview after all. Not sure if they were planning to wait until after they completed their in-person interviews to cut me loose or thought that given their ridiculous timeline I would figure it out for myself, but given the circumstances I thought it was incredibly rude. I’m still a bit disappointed because on paper the job looked great, but in reality I know I dodged a giant bullet.

  13. dahlia206*

    This is literally happening to me right now! How frustrating.

    We had a skype meeting scheduled for Thursday, and she got stuck in a meeting so she suggested today, asking what time works for me. I suggested 1:00, and then did not hear back. Fast forward to this morning, and I send an email confirming that we will find time to touch base today, ideally at 1:00, but to let me know if that time doesn’t work. And 1:00 came and went. I was thinking I would give her a call tomorrow, but it sounds from Alison’s advice that I should leave the ball in her court. I hate feeling like there is nothing I can do!

    Driving me mad!

  14. Gracie*

    At my current job my interview was rescheduled 9 times. Yes 9. I was very naive in not understanding that this wasn’t normal but now I understand it wasn’t really her fault. Hr hiring kept scheduling it during a very busy time. Think beginning of April for tax accountants and then add some. At one point she called and rescheduled but said she’d get back to me with a time. It took a week to get back to me and I figured I was out of the running and she didn’t want to tell me and I moved on and had other stuff lined up. Eventually I was interviewed and hired and I’ve been here for ages. We laugh about it now but then it was upsetting.

    Basically there could be a million reasons why and a snowstorm is a good one for getting behind. Either way it’s best to keep moving otherwise you drive yourself crazy with what ifs

    1. Snazzy Hat*

      At one point she called and rescheduled but said she’d get back to me with a time.

      Akin to the asocial friend (I’m talking about myself, folks) who really wants to leave the house and spend time with you but doesn’t know what you would be interested in doing and doesn’t want to suggest anything square. “We should get together sometime. I don’t know what day, or what time, or what we’ll do, but yeah!”

      Seriously though, I can completely understand that desire to interview with lack of planning. Plus you got a couple of steps higher than what happened to me last year, where a recruiter with whom I spoke at a job fair left a message saying the hiring manager would love to interview me, I never heard another word from her again despite calling and e-mailing “Yes I’m interested, I’m available all week”, and about a month or two later I received the rejection letter.

  15. Sunshine*

    I think we can safely say that “sounds too desperate” is not a thing that normal hiring managers think. It’s literally never crossed my mind. Though I understand the impulse to look for SOME explanation, more often than not, the reason will have nothing to do with the candidate.

  16. Clever Name*

    Ugh. I hate when stuff like this happens. If it’s any consolation, maybe you dodged a bullet and don’t realize it yet? I’m not saying that not getting back to you is a huge red flag or is always indicative of an egregiously bad organization because it’s not, stuff happens. I am recalling when I was last job hunting and I got an email requesting a phone interview at a certain date and time. I was employed and was scheduled to be in the field, so I would be unavailable to take a phone interview then. I emailed back responding I wasn’t available and asked to reschedule and I never heard from that employer again. A while later, after I was working my new job at a different company, one of my coworkers who used to work with the company that wanted to do a phone interview told me that the company treated their employees terribly and it was a toxic environment. So it was a blessing in disguise! Hopefully that makes you feel a teensy bit better.

  17. Arduino*

    This happened to me twice: once when the interviewers forgot about me (academia nuff said).

    Another there was a 6 month gap of no conversation after the hr screen. Turns out I had applied to an old posting that was already filled but they loved myresume and wanted to hire me So they were working behind the scenes to create a role.

  18. Drew*

    I got ghosted before even getting to the interview stage – in fact, I never heard ANYTHING from the company, not even “We got your resume,” not even after a followup “Hey, did my resume get eaten by the spam filter?” note.

    That told me all I needed to know about that company, and before then it was a job I was really interested in. Absolutely infuriating but there’s nothing I could do in that situation except be glad I dodged that artillery shell.

    1. StartupLifeLisa*

      Is it really that unusual not to hear anything about a cold application? I guess if you were working with an internal recruiter who expressed real interest in you that would be weird, but I usually don’t expect to hear anything after submitting my resume unless they’re interested in an interview.

      1. JustaTech*

        I certainly like it better when I get an automated email saying “we got your application!”. Now it only hurts when I’ve submitted an application to a company where I have worked with at least 15 people in the department I’m applying to and none of them will even acknowledge my existence. (I took it as a sign to give up on that place.)


    Being near NYC, I can tell you that businesses shut down on Tuesday, in anticipation of the weather. When our subways cease operation by early evening (in a 24/7 running city), that also impacts workers.

  20. Aeth*

    I had a situation last year where they hired somebody else who ‘didn’t work out’ so called me for an appointment a few weeks later to discuss whether I was still interested. I waited by the phone at the scheduled time but received no call. I called twice and left messages that day and later that week, but never heard from the manager so I decided not to follow up again.

    The company went out of business shortly afterwards.

    I’m pretty sure there were more pressing issues that the manager had to deal with, and I’m counting it as a bullet dodged.

  21. wearing too many hats*

    On a related note, we completed a lengthy interview process (months, because it took that long to find the right person) and I got sidetracked by several urgent projects and I neglected to follow up with the candidates that interviewed with us. How late is too late to say thank you for interviewing, but no (because the no is obvious at this point)? I feel terrible about not MAKING the time to send these notes when it would have been appropriate.

    1. hbc*

      Just like personal thank you notes, late is better than never. Include an apology for the delay and maybe include an acknowledgement about your long process, but otherwise make it your standard thank you.

      I got one four months after I interviewed, which was 2 months after my unreturned phone call, and it made me feel a lot better about the company. Like, the difference between whether I’d tell people “they don’t respect their applicants, don’t bother” and “their hiring process seems to take a long time.”

      1. wearing too many hats*

        Okay! I’m going to do that RIGHT NOW! Thanks for the nudge! Knowing that it really did make a difference to you even 4 months later really helps!

      2. wearing too many hats*

        It turns out that it’s “only” been two months! Still absolutely terrible (and NOT the kind of employer we want to be!), but at least we’re not the worst out there (and I’ve learned a lesson – I’ll never delay again!!).

      3. wearing too many hats*

        I just finished sending them all! 1.25 hours, but D-O-N-E. I feel so relieved. Thank you for the encouragement, hbc!

        1. wearing too many hats*

          oh my gosh, not 1.25 hours – it was only 45 minutes! wow. I really should have made the time to do this before.

  22. Snazzy Hat*

    It definitely wouldn’t be caused by you seeming too available or flexible with your schedule. It would be extremely unusual for someone setting up interviews to think “ugh, this person is too flexible and thus is desperate and therefore is an unappealing candidate.”

    Thank you, Alison, since the appearance of desperation has been my biggest fear when applying for jobs. I’ve tried to stick with things related to my preferred areas — you won’t see me applying for industries and jobs that have zero appeal to me — but I’m often nervous about saying I can start tomorrow or my schedule is wide open or things like that.

    Added scary bonus: coupling “my schedule is wide open” with “I want to work the same hours every workday”. Rational Me says that makes perfect sense. Irrational Me says “but you just said you have an open schedule! what, you’re not flexible anymore?” Oy.

  23. emma2*

    I complained about this on this site before, but I was ghosted a few months ago by a HR person, for a job I was referred to! She was supposed to call me for a phone screening, and didn’t. She also didn’t reply to my emails.

  24. Brian*

    The other option is plain and simple age discrimination. The same afternoon an employer “required my birthdate to allow access to their labs” They went silent. Coincidence? Sure, could be… but more likely they say a 4 and a 9 and shuffled the deck.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It’s actually not against the law. It’s against the law to discriminate against someone for being over 40, but it’s not against the law to ask the question.

  25. ES*

    I just have a similar situation. The Office Admin (not even the HR) confirmed an interview for next morning, then ask to rescheduled after 2 hours of the confirmation. When I specified that I have a schedule conflict and can’t accommodate the new schedule and suggest perhaps a rescheduling. Then I got the reply as “we do not have anything at this time but if another available time comes up in the future we will contact you.”

    I was wondering if it is against the EEO if they contacted you and drop it like this?

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