stop obsessively re-reading that email from your job interviewer … it doesn’t mean anything

The job search process can feel shrouded in mystery. Figuring out whether or not an employer is interested in you, or how good your chances are, or when you might reasonably expect to hear back after your interview, can feel like a maddening guessing game. And when the stakes are so high and the process so opaque, it’s not surprising that people analyze the smallest details of every interaction and obsess over what they might mean.

I regularly get letters from people convinced that if an interviewer gives them a tour of the office space and says something like “here’s where you’d sit,” that means that’s where they will sit because they will definitely be getting the job. Or if an interviewer says “we’re talking with other candidates but should be in touch in a couple of weeks,” they’ll believe the interviewer is hinting that they’re not getting the job. And a ton of people forward me routine emails from employers (like “thanks for coming in, we’ll be back in touch soon”) and ask me to tell them what the employer is really hinting at.

Today at Slate, I wrote about these attempts to read into the smallest details when you’re job searching. You can read it here.

{ 138 comments… read them below }

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Slate does. It doesn’t seem particularly click-baity to me (but we also might be seeing different titles since I think they sometimes A/B test them).

      1. LilLamb

        Interesting! The one that I’m seeing is “Stop Obsessively Rereading That Email From Your Job Interviewer.” Is that the one you’re talking about?

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          That’s the one I see too. I don’t think it’s click-baity and I don’t think Slate generally does especially click-baity headlines, but others may read it differently!

          1. Trout 'Waver

            Well, to me it seems odd because it’s telling me that I’m doing something that I’m not. But that’s just my take.

            1. jack

              To me, clickbait would be “Stop Doing This One Thing During Your Job Search” or something without telling you what “This One Thing” is. This headline tells you upfront what it’s about, so if it’s not about you, you know right off the bat.

              1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

                Right. I mean, every (online) headline is, by definition, click bait. They want you to click on it.

                1. Trout 'Waver

                  I kinda disagree. Every salesperson is trying to sell you something, but not every salesperson goes for the hard sell every time. I equate clickbait with the hard sell in this analogy.

              2. bonkerballs

                Yeah, this seems like the opposite of clickbait to me. Since you don’t do this, you already know this article is not about you and isn’t speaking to you. It’s very easy for you to opt out and know that you’re not missing anything. However, “This One Thing is Mucking Up Your Job Search” would be much more clickbait-y because you have to click to find out what that one thing is.

            2. Kathleen_A

              I think Slate can be annoyingly click-baity at times, but I wouldn’t say this headline is one of those times. It seems like a very accurate summary of the contents to me.

            3. ThatGirl

              So the article doesn’t apply to you? But a lot of people do obsessively reread emails – I know I’ve fallen into that trap.

        2. SometimesALurker

          Meanwhile, I laughed out lout when I clicked over to Ask a Manager and the first thing that came up was “Stop Obsessively Rereading That Email…” because I had just reread an email from a potential date!

  1. mcr-red

    I always think that “It was nice meeting you” is the kiss of death, whether it’s a job interview or a date. It reads (at least to me) that I won’t be seeing you again.

      1. hermit crab

        Me too (or some variant, like “it was great meeting you” or “it was nice to meet you in person”). What else are you supposed to say when you are saying goodbye to someone you’ve met for the first time?

        1. mcr-red

          I don’t know, I just feel like when you are interested in a person, whether it’s a date or a job, you send off different verbal signals than just a polite goodbye. I feel like in my experience, when there was interest, it wasn’t just “It was nice to meet you,” but more like, “Well, it was nice to meet you. We will be contacting you soon.” Dating, obviously, more like, “It was nice to meet you, would you like to do this again?”

          But again, that’s just how I read it when I hear it. It sounds like it’s a just me thing.

          1. pleaset

            Come on! It’s more nuanced than that:
            Great meeting you = some chance
            Nice meeting you = no chance
            A pleasure meeting you = we’ve instructed HR to ban you from any future employment

          2. Trout 'Waver

            As a hiring manager, I always go for a polite goodbye. Even if it is the dream candidate who can start tomorrow that I would love to hire, I still may wind up not hiring her. I’ve seen too many hiring processes get derailed by budget cuts, hiring freezes, bureaucracy, or reorganizations.

            1. Ozma the Grouch

              This is also VERY true. I’ve had to watch the person I *really* wanted slip away because the higher ups wouldn’t cough up enough money. And this person was worth it. Honestly, after what I’ve learned from reading this site, this candidate wasn’t asking for that much more money and my old company lost out on superior talent over mere penny pinching.

          3. Escapee from Corporate Management

            I purposely say the same things to every interviewee at the beginning and the end of an interview. Until the process is over (which can include other interviewers, reference checks, etc.), it would be a disservice to treat people differently. Most of the time, I cannot be sure where someone stands until we have met with every candidate, and even then, there may be a surprise.

          4. Rainy

            As a lady-shaped person, when I was dating if I said “let’s do this again sometime” it was always just a polite closing phrase, because I wouldn’t know if I wanted to go out again until I’d had some time to reflect on what I’d learned. The people who acted like it was a promissory note were the ones who never got that second date.

        2. Kathleen_A

          I say exactly this too, or perhaps the “nice to meet you in person” variation that Hermit Crab mentioned. Most goodbyes follow a formula, and it’s a big mistake to try to deep-read a formula.

      2. Ozma the Grouch

        Me too! But I am always exceedingly nice to people I am interviewing because I know how nerve racking interviewing is and I’m always trying to make people feel better.

    1. LaurenB

      I recently had an interview end with “I wish you the best in the future” and I just gave up right there. They just offered me the job. There really is no way to be sure what anyone means with this stock phrases.

      1. mcr-red

        Oh yeah, “I wish you the best in the future” definitely sounds like “Goodbye!” So weird.

  2. Doug Judy

    I rarely get a response to any email after an interview. Interview is scheduled, I get an email confirming. I send out thank you emails after the interview and that is it until I either get a rejection, another interview, or an offer. Thanks to the excellent advice here, after my thank you email, I don’t send another one.

    Side question I stop sending thank you emails? Do people really read them?

    1. SoCalHR

      There’s lots of discussion on thank you emails on this site. I think Alison’s recommendation is to still send them.

    2. BRR

      Keep sending them. Lots of people still read them. It’s very common to not respond to them (and that’s not considered rude). One interviewer replied something along the lines of good luck which just felt sort of weird since they were part of the decision-making process.

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      Don’t stop sending them. It’s totally normal not to receive a response (otherwise you’d be in an endless cycle of thanking each other).

      1. Allison

        Reminds me of when George Washington was taking office, and wrote to people saying he’s looking forward to working with them, and they wrote back saying they were looking forward to working with him, so he said he was pleased that they were looking forward to it, and not wanting to be rude, they responded to that as well and the whole thing kept going and if this is inaccurate I’m really sorry but it seemed hilarious, and exactly what you’d expect when there’s a new system in place and no one’s really sure what the etiquette is yet.

        1. Anna Moose

          The best part of this story is that both Washington and Congress used James Madison to write the letters, so he basically was having a conversation with himself.

    4. Bea

      Always send them. The very few people who don’t like them are limited. Responses are sparse, so that’s not personal.

      It gives the hiring manager the confirmation you’re still interested and could give you the slight edge.

    5. EA in CA

      At a previous EA position, when I was granted permissions to view my boss’s email and calendar, I noticed that she saved my thank you email and saw that she had forwarded it to the CEO and the other director I was to support with a note saying that it was a nice touch.

      Some people will like it, others may just skim through and discard it. I do not think it would hurt your chances at all by sending it.

    6. AnonyMouse

      I feel like responses to thank you emails are another area that people read into way too much when trying to “gauge” their likelihood of getting a job. Honestly, I’ve gotten responses then not been hired and vice versa. It means nothing and also shouldn’t influence whether or not you send a thank you email.

  3. Belle of the Midwest

    I am chairing a search committee right now and we are in the “reference check” stage that will proceed the verbal and written offers. And we have tried to be very careful about balancing honesty and confidentiality about where we are in the process. There are a lot of rules and regulations about everything from how we initially screen candidates to how many candidates the hiring supervisor should pick from. And don’t get me started on the forms and matrices we have to use. It’s a wonder candidates don’t give up on us before we get everything done on our end. Did I mention we are also having to do our regular jobs in addition to picking up the slack from the vacancy we are trying to hire for? Oh yes.

    So I tell students and job seekers I know to assume they need to keep on with their job search campaigns and interviews until they accept a formal written offer.

  4. Abe Froman

    We should do a poll on the worst part of the hiring process for interviewers and interviewees to see the differences. As a candidate, my biggest struggle was getting super excited about a posting and dreaming about how awesome it was, then sending my material in and getting radio silence.

    1. Ali G

      Mine – when they have an internal candidate already selected.
      I applied to a cool position that also required you to send in 2 writing samples (so more time invested than a normal resume/cover letter). I got an email 3 DAYS after the closing date saying they went with an internal candidate. So if you never had any intention of seriously considering external candidates, why make them jump through a bunch of hoops?

      1. Hapless Bureaucrat

        Sometimes we don’t know at the start that we have an internal candidate. I just had that happen; the candidate applied a few days before the position closed.
        Different shops do it differently, and mine has strict policies regarding internal candidates.
        If we know we’ll get internal candidates we might have an internal application process before we open it to the public, but we don’t always know.

        1. AnonForThisPost

          That’s what happened with one of the department managers at one of my jobs; she was essentially a “department of one” & then when it was finally decided to create an actual department with more employees, she basically had to reapply for her current position. As a “department of one,” her job title was something like “Teapot Maker” & after she was “promoted,” her job title was “Teapot Maker Manager” even though she was essentially doing the same job.

        2. WalkedInYourShoes

          Had this happen at my last company. We were literally in the last stages of the onsite interview for a individual contributor role. I met with the hiring manager that morning of the onsite interview. In the meeting, the HM mentioned that a resume was forwarded to him from an employee who we knew of but for other reasons. Little did I know, the HM already scheduled his own phone interview. Well, we pushed the candidate through the interview process because of the employee and this person’s tie to the co-founder of the TeaPot Company. Amazingly, the candidate passed with flying colors as well as the other candidate. However, it pushed out the interview timeline longer. With that, the offer was extended to candidate with some internal politics (list is long) behind it. So, count your lucky stars that you were out of that loop. (I am!) I agree with AAM and others here, keep interviewing until you sign the offer and on-board. Things happen for a reason.

      2. Cat Herder

        Because sometimes they have to do a “real search” — they can’t just give the job to the internal candidate but must run a by-the-book search. So that can mean a fake search (I’ve been the victim of that), or it can mean a real search where the internal candidate was on top, or appropriately qualifed. Sometimes the internal candidate doesn’t get selected — either someone else is better, or the internal candidate bombs, or department politics squashes the internal candidate’s chances…

        1. Lily Rowan

          Yeah, I’ve had a couple of searches that may have looked like fake searches from the outside, but I was genuinely not convinced that the internal person was the right pick until the end of the whole process.

        2. Ali G

          Yeah I think what really annoyed me was the writing samples. Like if you are just trying to get an idea of what is out there compared to your internal candidate or aren’t doing a “real search” don’t add on hoops. I wouldn’t have care as much if I hadn’t spent the extra time on the samples.

      3. Teapot librarian

        That reads to me as “we have to make it look like we’ve done a real search, so we’ll make it onerous enough that we don’t expect anyone else will apply.”

    2. Bea

      Mine is thinking a job is perfectly in step with my skills and interests. Then to end up in a much different position.

      I’ve thankfully never got my hopes up prior to a response of some kind. I can see why that’s crushing to people :(

    3. Yet another Kat

      I am currently both searching for a new job and filling an opening in my current role. I find that the stuff that annoys me most in other h8iring managers (non responsiveness, inaccurate timelines, etc.) is the same stuff that I am most annoyed about having to do on top 0f my actual work (having to follow up with lots of candidates, keeping people appraised of timelines that are changing bc of jugging schedules/budgets). It’s a weird perspective. Also I dread phone conversations from both sides!

      1. Kat in VA

        Totally off-topic, but you ever notice how many people butcher our nickname?

        Someone asks me what I go by, and I’ll say, “Kat” and I immediately will get, “OK, Kate / Kathy / Katie / Kath / Pat.”

        IT’S NOT THAT UNCOMMON OF A NICKNAME FOR KATHY OR KATHERINE, GUISE.

        1. WalkedInYourShoes

          Totally feel for you! I have been called Gary, Joslin, Jolene, and the list goes on. These names are not even close to my nickname which I purposely made it short so that everyone remembers. (Right?!?)

    4. Environmental Compliance

      As a candidate: having to apply through those goddamn online form registration pieces of crap that require you to manually enter in the same information 3 times, but also force you to upload a resume & cover letter. *Especially* when they only do drop down lists to fill in certain things and your field doesn’t fit anywhere within the choices on the stupid list. *Especially especially* when they aren’t well formatted and pages go all wonky & out of order, or it times out after 5 minutes on the essay question page, and now you have to do it all over again because what are progress saves?

      I detest online forms, so, so very much.

      1. Kat in VA

        Lord save me from the crummy ATS!!!

        My favorites? The ones that ask for your name, contact number, email address, and provide a spot to upload cover letter and resume. BOOM! Done!

      2. ThatGirl

        My least favorite is having to enter every job I’ve ever had, manually, with dates and titles and pay.

    5. Mockingjay

      When I’ve been through an in-person interview (I discount phone screens), but the company never gets back in touch with me. Really? You’re ghosting me? I took time off work, prepped for the interview, dressed for success, replied with a thank you email, and you can’t be bothered to send a reject email. It doesn’t even have to be personalized; a generic form will do. Just let me know that I didn’t get it.

      “Don’t leave me this way. I can’t survive, I can’t stay alive, without your… job” *wails into hairbrush/mic*

      1. No Tribble At All

        I got ghosted badly recently, and I feel ya it sucks. Two phone interviews, four-hour in person interview, then *poof*. Whhhhy did you say I’d be a great fit if you were just gonna give me upppppp?

      2. Charisma

        What I find completely ironic are all the rejection emails I’m receiving (ok 3, I’ve received 3 rejection emails, but it still *feels* like a lot) from companies I haven’t even interviewed with or had any contact with outside of submitting my resume. Which, honestly… I could care less about, I forgot about the companies the moment I hit send. But companies I’ve ACTUALLY interviewed with have gone completely silent. (I’m at 4 now). I’ve heard that employers are taking longer to hire nowadays, but I’ve never experienced this before.

    6. DecorativeCacti

      I’ve been looking for a year and have applied for about 40? 50? jobs. I’ve gotten responses maybe from 10.

      I finally had some interest, went through phone screen, interview, and had an interview with their executive team set up. They email less than 24 hours before the final interview to say they were putting the position on hold. Now I’m back to zero and definitely doing the “what if” game Allison warns about in this post. (If I had taken the earlier date, would I have blown them away and gotten hired anyway? But then they could have just laid me off in six months, etc.)

  5. BRR

    This has always been one of the key things I have learned from AAM. When I first found the site, I read through hundreds of letters and I had to read about this topic dozens of times before it really sank in that there is no secret language. Even if there was, I imagine all companies wouldn’t speak the same dialect :).

  6. Queenie

    I’ve noticed that after I do a phone screening or interview, if I’m told the company will get back to me by a certain date or in a specific time period and I don’t hear from them by that time, then it means I’m going to be getting a generic rejection e-mail in a few weeks/months (or never hear from them again).

    I can understand not updating everyone who applies, but it’s frustrating if I’ve invested more time and was specifically told they’d update me by whenever.

    1. irene adler

      Really! Keep to your commitments, please. If you say you’ll get back to me by X date, then communicate something by X date.

      1. mcr-red

        Oh yeah, that’s a huge pet peeve of mine. If you say “I’ll get back with you next week,” then do it! And yes, in my experience if they don’t, it means you will get a generic rejection weeks or months later.

        However, my daughter had an interview on a Friday, they said, “We will be in touch by Wednesday at the latest.” Wednesday came and went. The next Wednesday came and went. She had a new job interview on that Friday, and they were like, “Great can you start tomorrow?” Friday afternoon, the first job called and wanted to hire her.

        So apparenty, yes, they can call after their supposed deadline, but for them, it can also mean that you’ve moved on.

        1. Baby Fishmouth

          I once interviewed on a Wednesday, and they told me I’d hear by the Friday.

          Exactly one month later, they called me to tell me they’d given somebody else the position. Now THAT seemed a bit excessive to me.

          1. mcr-red

            Yeah I think generally if you don’t hear back by their deadline, that means NO. They may contact you much later to tell you no, but if they were really interested, they’d call you by when they originally said. Or within a day or two at least, I understand can get sick, etc.

            1. Ali G

              I look at it this way:
              Them: We are looking to make a decision by Friday.
              Friday comes and goes – I assume they made a decision and it wasn’t me. They might have me as second choice (or not at all), in case first choice doesn’t work out. So if then a couple of weeks go by and I still haven’t heard anything, then I know I will either be getting a rejection or hearing nothing at all, ever.
              If by chance they contact me with positive news (or that their schedule got derailed or whatever) then that is a good but unexpected thing.

          2. Nanani

            I once interviewed for a summer job, aced the tests and felt good about the interview.
            They knew I was a student looking for temp work (and they were a place that hired students a lot)

            They didn’t call me back until the next school term had started.

        2. MatKnifeNinja

          That’s happened to me. I keep all my options open until I sign in as a new hire. I’ve had two jobs blow past the call back dead line, and then have the nerve to be AGGRAVATED that I moved on and accepted another offer.

          So happy for your DD that her employer wanted her on the spot. That’s a great feeling.

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        I agree that it’s rude, but it’s so common that on the job seeker side, the best thing you can do is to know it’s common and not get unsettled by it.

  7. savethedramaforyourllama

    I don’t know… I get that “this is where you’d” sit shouldn’t be a guaranteed indicator, but the example quoted below seems a bit extreme and I would probably be a little dumbfounded too if I didn’t get the role.

    “….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’m just dumbfounded.”

    1. Ali G

      HR says: These are the projects this person will work on
      Candidate hears: These are the projects YOU will work on
      HR says: This is the salary range and these are benefits
      Candidate hears: This is YOUR salary and benefits

      This is why when I was hiring I always, even if talking to my top candidate, say things like “The person who fills this position” or “the successful candidate.” It’s more wordy, but can’t be misconstrued.

      1. JanMA

        Yes, this! My boss is in the process of hiring. It’s down to three candidates and he just emailed one of them “I’d like you to come for a second interview on a day when Linda is here since you will be working with her.” I had empathy for the candidate. He should have said *would* be working with her, not will be. She probably thinks the dress is in the bag (and maybe my boss slipped and it is). It’s all about the tense!

    2. hermit crab

      Also, I feel like discussing an employee’s visa issues with a person who doesn’t (yet) work in your HR department is inappropriate! Maybe that HR manager was just over-enthusiastic overall.

      1. Audiophile

        Yeah, that specific part caught my eye. If I was the candidate, I’d be somewhat bewildered that I was being provided, what I perceive as, personal information.

    3. GRA

      Agreed. I think the hiring manager at that company should re-evaluate how they treat candidates during the on-site interviews. I would have been confused with that one, too.

    4. Bea

      This sounds like someone with a blabbering problem who stinks at interviews to me! Sometimes it’s a sign they’re new as well, they haven’t had time to streamline or their procedures are just none existent.

      However I see why it’s blindsiding to then be rejected. Most people haven’t seen the inner tomfoolery of bad to mediocre interviewing skills of some of the high ranking officials that I have.

    5. Trout 'Waver

      It’s because the interviewer is selling the job as much as they are screening the candidate. Good candidates often get multiple job offers. Projects, work spaces, coworkers, and benefits are all critical components of evaluating an offer.

    6. Mr. Cajun2core

      I have to admit, I think this one was a bit extreme. I can’t blame the person for getting their hopes up.

  8. Ali G

    I had the most refreshing phone screen last week. Basically the HR director had pretty much decided I should be interviewed for the position, but wanted to see what I would say when she asked me about my gap in my work history and current position (quick version – left a high level job in Sept 2017, didn’t work or anything until January when I started volunteering, and then picked up my current part time gig as an AA to make some $ and get back into work until I found my next career move). I was upfront with her about everything and she said “That was basically what I put together from your resume but I wanted to ask. Thanks for being honest – I don’t actually care about your gap, I just wanted to hear your honest answer.”
    Then she told me the salary range!
    Then she told me all about their new CEO and how excited she was he was joining the team.
    Then she said it might be a week or two before she gets back to me on next steps because the CEO doesn’t start until August and everyone is on vacation, but that I am definitely in the pool.
    Oh and then she gave me some tips on things I should research before my interviews.
    I so want this job simply because they have the coolest HR person ever.

    1. savethedramaforyourllama

      totally true, but if you start talking about what we’re going to name our kids on our first date, I’m going to feel confused if I don’t get a second date.

  9. Bea

    Being versed in how we do interviews, I feel for anyone who thinks a tour is the sign you got the job. We give everyone who isn’t an obvious no a tour, it’s just how we wrap things up and give them a good glance around to see the settings.

    1. Drago Cucina

      We do too. It’s also a screening tool. The candidates who were good until 1. she talked about moving people’s offices for her convenience (the position was front facing and not near the offices she wanted to move) or 2. the person who wanted us to buy new computers because she didn’t like the brand we have. The tour can be revealing.

    2. WalkedInYourShoes

      I normally give tours to all candidates who interview so that they understand our environment see for themselves what the employees are doing during work hours. Also, I am looking for how the candidate reacts to the seeing the teams in meetings, how they engage with employees in passing, and how they feel about the small TeaPot environment, etc. For example, one time, I toured a candidate who was the lead in the TeaPot making role. The candidate’s phone rang. He did not even say, “I am so sorry.” He said, “Oh! I got a call. ‘Hi! How are you doing. . . blah. . . blah. . . blah'” Well, after the tour, I asked what he thought. Well, he didn’t remember what he saw or heard, because he was too busy talking on the phone. I mentioned it to the hiring manager, and that was the end of that interview process. Again, I give tours for a purpose.

  10. Eliza

    I’m re-reading the emails they wrote me
    I’m searching scanning for answers in every line
    For some kind of sign
    That that job was mine . . .

    1. Bea

      Giggling. Somewhere 13 year old me is cackling that Hammy is now everywhere I turn. Blessed.

  11. Xarcady

    The temp position I’ve been in for the last year and a half has finally been turned into a permanent position, and I was encouraged to apply, which I did.

    The position was announced on June 1. I have heard nothing officially from the company about an interview.

    However, because I’m here every day and I have a friend who works in HR, I know that the merger with another company three weeks after the listing went up put hiring for all open positions on hold while they were reviewed. And I know, because my supervisor told me just last week, that the position I applied for passed review, but because of the merger there are additional steps that have to be done.

    So it’s been seven weeks and no official communication from the company. I’m sure all the outside applicants have given up hearing anything, when in reality, the interviewing process hasn’t even started yet. But it would be easy to read into the complete lack of communication that you weren’t even considered for the job.

    1. Trout 'Waver

      Well, at that point they’re better off reposting the job altogether. So, in a way, the applicants would be absolutely correct in assuming they weren’t even considered for the job.

    2. Bea

      I laugh when I get contacted 2 or 3 months after I applied. No, I’m not still available let alone interested. They hopefully are scratching the original batch and reposting, they are going to waste a lot of time otherwise.

      1. Collingswood

        I once got a rejection email like 10 years after I applied for a job. I assume someone just entered some date information incorrectly into a database and thus my autoreject email was extremely delayed, but it was still kinda funny. Like, I hope you didn’t think I was still waiting to hear about this job…. :)

      2. CurrentlyLooking

        So, if a job is reposted and you are still interested then should you re-apply?
        Like after 4 months and you didn’t previously have an interview?

  12. Environmental Compliance

    I once heard back from a state agency I had applied at a year after I had applied. I had assumed that after getting no response past the “we’ve received your application’ email that they had filled it & I wasn’t going to be considered. Probably the weirdest job-related email I’ve ever gotten, since I had by that point pretty much forgotten I had even applied for that job. It was just a basic entry level science job too, nothing too special. But apparently they put the entire dept on a hiring freeze, and that caused a massive delay.

    1. mcr-red

      My dad had something similar – had experienced a job layoff, applied somewhere, got a call back for an interview a year later.

      He had been working for like 9 months by then and wasn’t interested in switching.

      1. Kat in VA

        Wow, and I thought getting rejection emails for jobs I’d applied to back in APRIL was out of the ordinary!

        I’ll get a rejection email and think, “Uh, who is this company? I don’t even remember…”, then go check my JobHunt folder where I save all the standardized ATS emails and oh, look at that, I applied on April 18th, and it’s now July 23rd and they’re just getting back to me, how adorable!

        1. Ali G

          I got one a couple of weeks ago from I job I didn’t even remember applying for – but apparently I did. In December.

      2. Environmental Compliance

        Yeah, I think I confused the HR person that reached out to me by withdrawing, TBH. They just sent me the form email with “here, pick one of these 3 interview times, we look forward to working with you!”. Uh….yeah, I found a job already, thanks….within a different dept of your agency, my name’s already in your system!

        1. Collingswood

          Meant to post this here. I once got a rejection email like 10 years after I applied for a job. I assume someone just entered some date information incorrectly into a database and thus my autoreject email was extremely delayed, but it was still kinda funny. Like, I hope you didn’t think I was still waiting to hear about this job…. :)

    2. NotAnotherManager!

      This happened to someone who works for me. When she decided to move on from her prior job, she applied for a position with the federal government. After working for us for nearly a year, she got a notice that she was no longer in contention for the position – the only communication she’d received from them since the automated your-application-is-received message she got after uploaded all the necessary documentation the prior year.

      1. Charisma

        LOL, years ago I applied to Amazon and they sent me a rejection letter 9 months after I had already started a different job. When I originally received the email I was completely confused as to what it was. Then I opened it and read it. My boss was just a desk away and he heard me make an astonished noise and came over to find out what was going on. I told him Amazon rejected me. I think I must have looked a little hurt even though I didn’t even need or want the job anymore. He just smiled at me and said something along the lines of them not knowing what a brilliant and talented person they missed out on because he thought I was such a rockstar :)

      2. soon 2be former fed

        Long time fed here. The hiring process is slower than molasses. You definitely need another source of income when pursuing federal employment.

  13. Elsie432

    I had a weird interview experience a number of years ago…

    Company flew me to their headquarters in another state for an interview. They were starting a new project which would require dozens of people in a new location for them (near my home). There were several other people there that day who had also been flown in to interview for the project.

    I interviewed with four people, including the hiring manager and a C-level exec. The C-level asked me what my expected salary range was, and I told him. The interviews went very well. I sent personalized follow-up letters to all four people, mentioning things we’d discussed in our conversation.

    A few weeks later, I got an e-mail from the hiring manager saying that he was excited that I’d be working with them. No mention of salary. I responded with enthusiastic thanks, and stated that I would wait for an offer letter before tendering my resignation at my current position.

    A couple days later, I got an invitation to a conference call from the hiring manager. On the call were about 20 people, many of whom were current employees of the company (obvious from their comments before the organizers got on the call). I said nothing on the call other than “Here” when they called roll. The call organizer started the call by saying “You’re on this call because you’ve been selected to work on XYZ project.” He proceeded to talk about the details of the project.

    A few days later, I got an invitation from the hiring manager to attend their quarterly meeting, which would occur in a couple weeks at their company headquarters. I responded that I would be happy to attend, and mentioned that I had not yet received an offer letter.

    That was the last I heard from them.

    1. Ali G

      That’s so weird! Have you ever googled them to see if they actually set up the new office/did the project or even exist??

      1. elsie432

        Yes… I’m very familiar with the company. It’s a decent sized company (~3,000 employees at the time). The project did go through and was very successful.

    2. irene adler

      Sounds like your email got included onto a list of internal employees.
      Hafta wonder how many events you would havebeen invited to and participated in before someone realized you are not an employee.

    3. Abe Froman

      Makes me think of Kramer getting pulled into a meeting when looking for a bathroom which let to him working there.

      Boss: I’m afraid we’re going to have to let you go.
      Kramer: I don’t even really work here!
      Boss: That’s what makes this so difficult.

  14. Kat in VA

    This is timely. I just found out the two jobs I’m supposedly top tier at are both (a) interviewing other candidates and (b) not nearly as into me as I am into them. I discovered one of them isn’t planning on making a decision until MID-AUGUST which doesn’t sound so bad except I interviewed June 27th…and then again July 17th.

    I’m supposedly “in the running” for both jobs, and the first one is supposedly making a decision by Friday (that’s six weeks into it). I was obsessively going over the emails from the recruiters and reading for clues and now I’ve just thrown my hands up and left it to the Employment Gods.

    Either I get an offer or I don’t, but I’m still applying to other jobs. It’s been a learning moment for me; I haven’t worked at an office job in 20 years (four kids, don’t’cha know) and applying, interviewing, and hiring processes have changed *substantially* in that time.

    1. Baby Fishmouth

      It definitely has! That’s a big part of the reason you’ll hear of people getting awful job searching advice from their parents (a common topic here) – 20-30 years ago, the job searching process was completely different.

    2. Yet another Kat

      The timing on these, and that they’re interviewing other candidates, both sound very normal for the current job search process, so don’t despair! But also, don’t stop actively searching/interviewing until you have actually accepted an official offer.

      1. Kat in VA

        There was a bit more to the “6 week” company – I’d gotten an email the week before saying I was the top candidate and that they were working on approval to make me an offer. So I read that as “After Finance / HR / whoever signs off, we’re making you an offer.”

        Imagine my surprise when the recruiter called to touch base and said that I was HER top candidate, but they needed someone to compare me to, and there was another candidate interviewing tomorrow and yada yada yada.

        My fault for reading the encouraging tone of “offer” as “We’re looking at making you an offer ” versus what it really was…which I’m still not entirely sure about yet. Harrumph.

        Still applying to other jobs. I guess I didn’t realize that companies really consider 6-8-10-12 weeks to be totally acceptable from first phone screen to actually offering someone a job. Gosh, I’d hate to get another position in the meantime, but if I do, I will be honest when I tell them, “Sorry, I did accept another position because, unfortunately, your hiring process was unconscionably long.” Maybe they’ll learn something from it if they have to start the process all over again?

        (More than likely they’ll just go to #2 Pick who’s probably been waiting on tenterhooks like me, but one can dream…)

  15. jack

    I applied for an internal opening and even when I knew they were working on the offer paperwork before I even interviewed for the position (they asked me some questions about COLA), it still took 5 weeks from application to job offer. I was very likely the only person who interviewed (maybe one other person). Companies are just, not very quick. Especially when there’s various HR people that have to approve AFTER a person has been selected for the position.

  16. The Lady Amalthea

    This was timely for me. My husband just received a rejection last week that stung…a lot. In his field it is more likely than not that interviews and decisions are made by people without HR, management, or even hiring experience. This can lead to a lot of analysis on our parts because, in our experience, people will say things that professionals probably wouldn’t (i.e. “I’m on your side,” “you’re the one we really want,” “I hope you get this job”). This most recent job search began with an interview he felt went really well, reference checking literally the day after the interview, then several months of radio silence while they interviewed other candidates, then a request to come and visit to speak with other references, and then a call on a Monday evening to see if we could come up together that week for a 3 day visit. Visit went really well–lots of “you’ll see when you get here,” etc, continued back and forth to get important financial information over the weeks that followed—and then a call last week that they’d gone with someone else (and without any feedback other than “you’re just not who we picture filling the role at this time”). Needless to say, I wish there was a way to get less emotionally invested in the whole process. Maybe then I could avoid the endless analyzing.

    1. nep

      Sorry this happened to your husband. That is really rough.
      This seems to me a perfect example of why–no matter what–we’ve got to work to remain open and never feel like something is locked in up and until there is a firm offer on paper, in hand. Easier said than done but good to keep in mind.

    2. Kat in VA

      I’m sorry. I know your husband’s feels and it really, really sucks…especially when you get encouraging information like the financials et al.

  17. Charisma

    I’ve been job searching and have been submitting applications to a lot of organizations that are looking for my skill set. I’m still fully employed (and frankly a little swamped at work right now) so I’ve been sending out quick applications to orgs that don’t require Cover Letters and then more traditional applications to orgs that require full attention on weekends/evenings. Today I received a rejection letter from someone/some company… but I don’t know who it is. It has a person’s name in the email (using a re-routed email), but NO MENTION of the company. How can you be devastated by something like that when the company is that flaky?

  18. nep

    I’ve seen a handful of ‘tips’ on LinkedIn recently (in posts/articles and in comments) favouring following up ‘a maximum of three times’ or something like that. I can’t believe people actually think this is good and effective. At my part-time job I take calls from young people asking for the hiring manager–just wanting to check on status of their application. Why are people still doing this?
    It’s tough to do, but send it out and move on–whatever recruiters or interviewers say to you.

    1. Anon-A-Llama

      I had a friend in grad school who was convinced that you MUST send two thank you notes to everyone you interviewed with, one via email and one hand written. She would exhaust herself after every interview sending an upwards of 20+ thank you notes because every person got two. I don’t know where she heard this advice but she latched on to it and treated it like the holy grail of interviewing etiquette. It’s strange how these job search “trick” myths get started and how so many people latch on to them as necessary.

  19. Anon-A-Llama

    I want to send this article to a few people I know, but I may just passive aggressively post it to my Facebook and LinkedIn instead. A few weeks ago I posted about my coworker, Sam and how he’s having more job search luck than I am. He’s currently driving me crazy with the detail obsessing after every interview. He also pulled the “They showed me where my desk would be, that must mean I’m their top choice.” He also read into the timing of an email (he got invited to a second round interview quicker than the timeline they originally gave him) and little comments that the interviewers make (“the director told me my presentation was excellent and that they’ll DEFINITELY be in touch in a week”). I keep wanting to scream at him that none of this means anything!

    I also had a friend in grad school who was convinced that sending two thank you notes (one via email and one hand written) was like the magic key to getting hired. She also got really mad once when she didn’t get hired, and discovered that the person who did get hired had more experience than what they asked for (“But they wanted someone with 1-2 years experience. This person had three! I was a better match to the description!”) Having to explain that one to her was a little heartbreaking…

    I don’t share these stories to imply that I’m perfect or anything like that. I’ve definitely fallen victim to obsessing about any and all communication from a hiring manager. These are just the most amusing stories I have related to this topic and typing them out is actually oddly cathartic for me.

    1. Kat in VA

      Don’t be mad at Sam. It’s easy to look for those little details when you really, really want a job…even if AAM and everyone know you around you is warning you to not see things that aren’t there – BECAUSE THEY LOOK LIKE THEY’RE THERE lol.

  20. Dan

    I find office tours or a brief “meet and greet” with people not part of the interview process to be out of place at the first interview stage. I get you can’t please everybody, but that’s a level of familiarity that isn’t appropriate at the first (or only) interview. IMHO, it’s no different than asking about how much vacation a company offers before one even applies.

    Speaking of which, I’m all for up-front disclosure of benefits at some point during the negotiation process. A good benefits package will impact my salary demands. But it too feels a bit awkward if presented at a point where an employer isn’t serious about offering me a position.

    1. Collingswood

      I don’t think a tour or meet and greet is at all out of place, especially if there won’t be a second interview at the work location. It’s nice to get even a brief view of work space, coworkers, work atmosphere, etc. I think it helps paint a picture of the office. And while it may not provide enough information to push me to a yes decision if I am offered a job, it could definitely give me a reason to rule a place out. Could be my industry (law), but these things are pretty common parts of interviews I’ve had.

  21. Former Lois Lane

    I made myself read this yesterday before a second phone interview (would have been in-person, but I’m out-of-town and there was no possibility of travel reimbursement, which is fine). I’m debating whether or not to send a thank you email today. Probably should, since this was in lieu of a face-to-face group interview, right? But beyond that, it’s out of my hands. It’s probably mostly out of my hands anyway.

  22. Greg

    I may have told this story in the comments section before, but back when I was in college, my roommate came home one day raving about how he just had the best interview EV-AH! He completely hit it off with the interviewer, conversation flowed, they went way beyond the scheduled time, etc. A couple weeks later, he didn’t get the job. Then he happened to speak to a friend who had also interviewed with the same woman, and discovered she had had the exact same experience. And he realized that was just her interview style.

    It’s basically the real-life version of the “I don’t have to out-run the bear” joke (https://jokes.boyslife.org/jokes/you-cant-outrun-a-bear)

  23. TardyTardis

    This sounds like “Rejectomancy”, the science of reading rejection slips and rating them according to various factors. We had a panel on it once at a science-fiction convention.

  24. karenc

    I was given the “office tour” after several job interviews and eventually received job rejections for every single one of them. I agree that the tour and the “Here’s where you will sit” comment really doesn’t mean anything in the end. These just seem like niceties some interviewers like to end interviews with.

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