I had a great interview – why haven’t I heard anything back?

A reader writes:

I’ve recently gone through a time-consuming but positive job interview process. The hiring manager has been in communication with me from day one. We had a phone interview, followed by a video conference with one other member ever of the team. The hiring manager then requested some work samples and, after seeing them, scheduled a third and final (his words) video conference with two additional staff members.

The interviews could not have gone better, in my opinion. There was tons of back and forth questioning, and conversation was natural and informational. He even joked in the final interview, “She’s hired!” after I said something he really appreciated. He then asked me for three references. When I sent my references, he responded right away saying he really enjoyed meeting me, etc. etc., and would be in contact soon.

He told me I should expect to hear back two to three days after the interview. But it has been a week and a half now with absolute silence. I sent another email a week after the interview, reiterating my interest and asking if there were any updates on the position. In the past, he had responded to my emails within a day or two, but now it’s been three days since I sent it and I haven’t heard a word. (I also want to mention, I sent all the appropriate “thank you” emails after all the interviews.)

It’s not a corporate organization and only has about 30 employees, so I doubt this is tangled up in HR. have confirmed with my references that he did not contact them. Both the hiring manager and the organization overall seemed warm and just didn’t give the vibe that they would ghost someone, especially after how many interviews there were, how long they lasted, etc. It seems like if I wasn’t going to be hired at this point, it would have been a huge waste of everyone’s time. (The whole process ended up being dragged out over 1.5 months because of traveling, and initial scheduling issues. There were almost three weeks between the first and second interviews.)

What is your perspective on this? I want this job so badly and am just not sure when to give up hope.

Well, hiring almost always takes longer than anyone thinks it will, even longer than the people in charge of the process think it will, so the fact that it’s been a week and a half since your interview means absolutely nothing about your chances.

And even the fact that you’ve contacted them and haven’t heard anything back doesn’t really mean anything. An awful lot of employers simply don’t contact candidates until they have something definite to say, so it’s entirely possible that when the hiring manager got your email, he thought, “Yeah, I have to get back to her, which I’ll do once we finalize our decision.” That’s not great, of course — ideally he’d write back to say, for example, “Things are taking longer than we expected but I should be in touch in another week or two.” But realistically, hiring managers are busy and often pulled in a bunch of directions, and hiring can end up lower on their list than work projects with pressing deadlines now. (Since this is a common point of confusion: “hiring manager” means the person who will be managing you once you’re hired, not the person who’s in charge of all the organization’s hiring. So they often have other, higher priorities.)

Plus, you never know what’s going on behind-the-scenes. Maybe the hiring manager is out sick, or unexpectedly had to go out of town. Maybe a last-minute candidate emerged and he needs time to interview them. Maybe the CEO announced at the last minute that she wants to sign off on the final hire, and they’re debating whether to bring people back in for final interviews. Maybe a key person on the team resigned and now they’re thinking about reconfiguring the role. Maybe they’ve had a project explode spectacularly and that’s all anyone over there is dealing with right now. Who knows. It’s really impossible to tell from the outside what might be going on that could massively mess with their hiring plans or hiring timeline.

Avoid the trap of thinking this felt like a sure thing, because hiring is never a sure thing.
And you definitely should avoid the trap of thinking this felt like a sure thing, because hiring is never a sure thing. You can be a stunningly perfect candidate for the job, and then another candidate can come along who’s even stronger. Or you can be perfect but they decide at the last minute that they really need to go with someone who speaks Flemish. Or an internal candidate expresses interest and they value a known quantity over an unknown quantity. Again, who knows! I’m mentioning this because you mentioned that if you don’t get hired now, the whole process over the last month and a half will have wasted everyone’s time. But it’s very normal for a hiring process to take a month and a half or even longer, and for all the candidates except one, it’s inevitably going to end with a “no.” That’s just how this goes.

It’s also true that employers frequently do ghost candidates. Employers who ghost defend themselves by saying that they don’t have the time to get back to every candidate, but that’s pretty ludicrous in the days of electronic applicant management systems, which will send rejections with the click of a few buttons. (It was also a pretty ludicrous claim before those systems.) In any case, it’s incredibly rude and inconsiderate not to get back to people after interviews, particularly after someone has taken time off work, maybe bought a new suit or traveled a long distance, and invested time and energy into preparing for the interview. But it’s really, really common, so it’s possible that you are indeed being ghosted.

The frustrating thing is that you can’t know. Maybe you’re being ghosted and will never hear from this employer again, or maybe you’re going to hear back this week, or maybe you’re going to hear back in two months, long after you’ve given up hope. The most important thing to remember is that if they want to offer you a job, they’ll be in touch. If you’re their top candidate, they’re not going to forget about you over the next few weeks, or even over the next few months, just because you don’t keep checking in. So you don’t need to worry that you need to keep nudging them or find ways to stay on their radar. If at some point they want to move forward, they’ll let you know.

Meanwhile, the very best thing you can do for your own peace of mind is to assume you didn’t get the job and move on. Otherwise you’ll be stuck in this angst-filled limbo, wondering if you’re going to hear from them today, or maybe tomorrow, or what all this silence means, and did you offend someone in the interview, or maybe your skills aren’t as impressive as you thought they were, and agggghhhh. It’s so much simpler to just decide that you didn’t get the job and put it out of your head. Then, if they do contact you at some point, it can be a pleasant surprise, rather than the thing that you have been pinning all your anxious energies on.

Originally published at New York Magazine.

{ 249 comments… read them below }

  1. Hufflepuffin*

    We have some people waiting right now because one candidate could only make it the week after, and also my manager has been off sick. Stuff happens!

    But I wouldn’t tell yourself it’s a dead cert because it took x long, as it will probably have taken that long for other candidates too. Be hopeful, but realistic – and realistic but hopeful!

    1. Lauren*

      They could tell her if there are scheduling issues instead of leaving her hanging. It’s rude.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        Yes it is, but you as the job seeker have one thing going on – you’re interviewing for the job. Those at the company have a bunch of things happening at once. So like Alison said, there could be many reasons why OP hasn’t heard from them. I’m not excusing it because yes it’s rude, but it’s not always that simple. The bottom line is that OP needs to be realistic. No job is a sure thing, no matter how well you perceive an interview to go.

          1. H.C.*

            Agreed that job seekers have other things going on, which is more the reason why I wouldn’t pin my hopes up on one (or a few opportunities). YMMV but I personally give a few days of cushion time on top of the hiring org’s expected response turnaround.

          2. boop the first*

            Like negotiating other offers! Communication is in the best interest of the employer, if only they would realize.

      2. MommyMD*

        It is. But she’s contacted them and all she can do is wait and carry on as if she didn’t get the job.

      3. Fiberpunk*

        It’s rude if they never get back to her. It’s understandable if it takes them a little while, though.

  2. Ginger*

    Ehh, given you ran into scheduling delays with them before it sounds like a week and half isn’t so bad (even though it feels like it). They might be putting together an offer package or haven’t gotten around to contacting references. Or there might be another candidate that they are interviewing.

    1. Lauren*

      They could tell her that when she asks. This is the only time when employers think it’s perfectly acceptable to lie about a time frame and then ghost. Why? All they have to do is answer an email!

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Exactly. It takes two minutes to say, “The hiring schedule has been delayed a bit due to [blank]. We’ll get back to you as soon as we’ve made a decision. Thanks for your patience.”

        1. hbc*

          I have about 100 things on my plate that take “just a minute,” never mind the stuff that will actually cost the company thousands of dollars if I don’t spend the 30 minutes or hour on it. I’m good about never promising a certain timeline and generally good about replying to emails, but if I’m in triage mode? Realistically, the “I have no news to offer you” emails are going to fall down the list.

          And I can’t be the only one who gets an email like that and thinks, “Shoot, I never heard back from HR about the reference check. Lemme drop an email to HR so I can reply back with something substantive later today” and then loses track when HR doesn’t get back to me.

          1. Lauren*

            And so? You think you are the only one that has a busy job? These are people that took time to come in for an interview. Answer them!!

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Lauren, please rein it in; you’re being really intense on this post in a way that’s starting to come across as hostile to others here.

              1. Hiring needs a selling edge*

                Not sure it’s coming off as hostile. To me it’s coming off as frustrated. Lauren has a point about how candidates are treated and it’s shocking you are asking someone with legit concerns to “rein it in”. No rocking the boat?

                1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

                  Yes it is coming off as hostile, because if you read all of her comments (and there are many), she’s very closed minded and refuses to accept anyone’s explanation about WHY this happens. Just wants to complain that it’s rude, and everyone who does it is an asshole.

                2. Lauren*

                  I’ve actually been steadily employed for 2 years now. But it was really frustrating when I was looking for work. It was really infuriating how badly companies treat candidates who interview. And everyone seems to think it’s fine. And I disagree.

                3. Annoyed*

                  Yes it is hostile as she’s jumping on everyone who dares to disagree with her. I regretted commenting after having my head bitten off.

                4. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

                  Point taken, no need to say the same thing over and over, it is coming across hostlie.

                5. Lauren*

                  LOL. Because it is rude. You can “explain” it all you want but rude behaviour is still rude even with an explanation. I don’t have to accept an explanation if I don’t agree with it. Funny how that works.

                6. Lauren*

                  Except everyone keeps trotting out the same “explanations” so how is it any different?

                7. INeedANap*

                  Yes this is coming off as hostile. Aside from that, it’s incredibly repetitive – she’s basically responding with the same 2-3 fairly aggressive sentences to many posts, not genuinely engaging with a conversation or trying to understand any other point of view.

                8. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  What everyone else said. It’s the repetitive posts that do indeed sound hostile, particularly altogether.

                  I’ve written many, many times here that not responding to candidates is incredibly rude, so expressing that opinion isn’t “rocking the boat.” The issue is the hostility, which is never okay here.

                9. Annoyed*

                  I’m so sick of people using the phrase ‘tone policing’ in response to someone being legitimately told they’re being repetitive and rude.

            2. hbc*

              I actually give people a good timeline that’s about 4 times as long as it could take, and make clear when they can reach out to see if I’ve forgotten them. There’s zero chance I’d promise an answer in 2-3 days even if I was sure I’d turn it around that fast. So I wouldn’t have any applicants in OP’s situation.

              But I suspect you think I should hop-to on answering the email even if my timeline hasn’t expired. I’m sorry for whatever hiring processes you’ve been through that have you this convinced that all hiring managers are unconcerned about the feelings of their candidates.

              1. Fortitude Jones*

                It’s good that you give applicants longer estimates for when they can expect to hear back from you – it sets more realistic expectations for everyone. Unfortunately, a lot of employers don’t do this, so then you get a lot of disgruntled job seekers out there, lol. I almost got to that point myself not too long ago (though mine was an actual delay in hiring approval itself), so I sympathize with the letter writer.

          2. Not All*


            Happens all the time…especially since if we’re hiring, it’s also a given that we’re short staffed right now.

            1. iglwif*

              YUP. Why am I hiring? Because I don’t have enough people to do the existing work, either because someone left or because the work has expanded beyond current capacity. So the hiring process always takes place *on top of* a too-heavy workload.

              1. Kendra*

                And when you add in all the time it’s going to take to get the new hire trained, too, you’re AT LEAST doubling your regular workload for 2-3 months (possibly longer, depending on the position and how long the hiring process takes). I’ve known managers who would rather just work 70 to 80 hour weeks for a few months than hire someone, because it’s less work for them in the long run.

          3. Lily Rowan*

            This is the story of my work life. I’m trying to get better at writing back, “Let me check with X and come back to you,” but I don’t know that I’d bother doing that for a candidate, honestly. No news is no news!

          4. JediSquirrel*

            Oh, this. We had an ISO last week that we had spent weeks and months preparing for, and as it got closer, a lot of things just had to fall off the radar. There was literally no room for them. I’ve spent the first two days of this week sending a lot of emails saying “sorry for the delay in responding; our audit was last week” and everybody emailing me back saying they understand, because they are all ISO certified as well.

            And that’s for something that you can actually plan on. There are all sorts of contingencies that happen: two of the three members of QC calling in sick when the third one already had a PTO day scheduled. Containers arriving with tons of inventory that need to be received in on the last day of the month when you’re trying to close the books. An employee having a cardiac event, which actually happened a few months ago; fortunately, he’s doing great now.

            Yes, it can seem rude when you put in a lot of work applying and interviewing, but business is business, and delays and interruptions happen all the time. If you can’t deal with them as a candidate, you may have trouble dealing with them as an employee.

          1. Iron Chef Boyardee*

            “Maybe try to take it less personally?”

            Tough to do if you’re socially awkward or have Asperger’s Syndrome or something like that.

            Especially difficult to do if, during the interview, the person interviewing you comes across as friendly and interested and that sort of thing. I once had an interview where the interviewer asked me what I was looking for in a job, so I spent time talking about that, and she seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. Subsequent feedback from the employment agency that sent me to the interview included a complaint from the interviewer that I was talking too much about myself and what I wanted. I know you’re supposed to make it about how you can serve the employer’s needs, but they asked me to tell them what I wanted! So how can they criticize me for doing something they asked me to do?

            It’s not easy to brush something like this off, and not take it personally.

            1. MommyMD*

              Still it is better not to take it personally. Ruminating about it doesn’t help. No job is a given no matter how well you interviewed. And it’s a short period of time. You don’t have the job until you have the job so better to move on with daily life and keep up the search. And it can turn potential employers off if someone repeatedly contacts them. She’s contacted twice so all she can do is patiently wait and not count on it. It’s disappointing but it’s part of life.

            2. Thursday Next*

              Something can be difficult to do while being the appropriate choice. From the hiring manager’s/company’s point of view, the interview process is not personal. They are looking to fill a position. If they seem interested during the interview, that’s great! An engaged interviewer is better than a disinterested one. And if they’re asking questions designed to draw you out and talk about specific goals and skills, that’s also great! It’s good to have an opening to showcase your skills and interests.

              It feels personal because you are talking about yourself. But the interviewer is the representative of a company, not simply another individual engaged in a conversation with you. It’s not personal for them. I think that’s why commenters are advising not to take it personally (even though that’s hard).

            3. thestik*

              I am on the autistic spectrum, and I went through a gruelling job application process a few years ago. I actually had a really easy time not taking the hiring process personally after a few months. Even with friendly interviewers where I felt a job offer was possible, I still plugged away at sending applications because I figured the odds if rejection were still pretty high.

          2. Burned Out Supervisor*

            Seems like you’re really sensitive about this issue. I can’t imagine what it’s like to work with you in person.

            No offense.

  3. bdg*

    I’m currently on the other side for the first time. I work at a large company and we’re hiring for a position in my group. We have our candidates, we’ve brought them all in, and…. that’s it. I honestly don’t know what’s going on with this position yet. I’m just a body on the committee, it’s not in any way my decision, but we haven’t all sat down to discuss the candidates after we brought them in for a meet and greet (we did phone interviews prior to that). I don’t know if the hiring manager has made a decision, if she’s asked for more resumes, if HR is doing background checks… Honestly, most of the time I forget that we still haven’t (to my knowledge) made a decision. It’s just such a background noise in the midst of a ton of other stuff.

    On the one hand, I definitely have a greater appreciation for how stinking long hiring can take — it’s a lot of work coordinating with applicants and a manager and two supervisors and me. I’ve had to work on my off day just to make this happen.

    On the other, what in the world is keeping us from making a decision??

      1. bdg*

        I think the position was posted for 2 or 3 weeks in February. We reviewed and screened resumes around the beginning of March. We did phone interviews in mid April. The candidates came for a meet and greet during the last two weeks of April.

        I don’t think anyone has explicitly asked what the timeline would be. I also don’t think this timeline is wildly abnormal for our industry or company.

        1. irene adler*

          Thank you for responding. I was curious.

          I experienced much the same time line recently with a big company. About 2 months after the on-site interview, I contacted the HR rep whom I interacted with for this position. I figured that after 2 months they’d most certainly have hired someone. So I congratulated them, gave them my best wishes on having filled the position, and then asked that they please keep me in mind should they have any similar positions down the line.
          I received a very fast response. No, they hadn’t hired anyone. There’d been some issues with the higher-ups re: whether they should fill the position. Said I was most definitely still in the running.

          Then a week later I received the “thanks, but no thanks” email. Ouch.

          This is purely conjecture, but it just seems like “in the old days” hiring was more definitive. It took less time, employers’ hiring plans didn’t change so much and they seemed to know what they wanted in a candidate. Now there’s a host of hurdles (on both sides) that makes the process so frustratingly ‘iffy’.

          1. A Simple Narwhal*

            I think in the “old days” there was also much less of a “well what if there’s someone better out there” mentality. Your applicant pool was mostly limited to whoever managed to see the job listing, either physically at your place of business or in a local newspaper, so if someone capable enough came your way boom, we’ll take em.

            Now with the internet, employers can reach infinitely more people and are less inclined/forced to take someone good enough when there’s the possibility of perfection out there. Plus I’m guessing employers are more willing to let existing employees pick up the slack while they wait for a unicorn to apply.

            Granted, none of this comes from firsthand experience, just speculation on my part.

  4. 8DaysAWeek*

    It could be a million different things. The job I have now took over 3 months from my last interview to when I was given an offer. So much red tape on their end. And like you, I had multiple rounds of interviews.
    Now my company is in a hiring freeze. However they were in the middle of several interviews when the freeze happened and were told they can not hire anyone and can not tell the candidates there is a hiring freeze.
    Just keep on keeping on and I would say continue the job search in the mean time.

    1. Project Manager*

      This happens to us as well. Position is approved, funded, and posted. We start interviewing and have a few great candidates, and then are told we’re in a hiring freeze. We leave the job posting up and can even continue interviewing, but can’t make any offers. I feel badly for candidates because I know that it extends the process, but we also accept the risk that they will move on/lose interest/accept another offer.

      There are so many different variables and different companies, even different departments within a company, operate at their own speed.

      1. Grey Coder*

        Exactly this. At OldJob we had a CFO who would approve the position in principle but then drag his feet forever when it came down to approving an actual hire. We strung some poor guy along for way too long due to this. But you can’t actually say “sorry, we can’t make an offer right now because the CFO is useless.”

        This is also an explanation for the “interviewer didn’t seem interested” LW from a few days ago. OldJob CFO would pull shenanigans like withdrawing approval for hiring a Senior Teapot Structural Engineer and instead suggest we could hire a part-time Teapot Polisher. If I got this news just before going in to interview a Senior Teapot Structural Engineer, I would appear distant and uninterested, because I would be planning ways to murder the CFO. (In fact my desire to avoid murdering people led me to quit that job.)

    2. Overeducated*

      You can’t…tell them there is a hiring freeze? Why not?

      When we had our last hiring freeze everything was chaos for months after, but man, EVERYONE SURE KNEW IT.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Right. I had a colleague at my last company that interviewed while we were under a hiring freeze. Apparently, when she phone screened, there was no issue, and by the time they asked her to come in for an in-person interview, the freeze was in effect. They knew they wanted to hire her anyway, so they had to take the request all the way up to our parent company in the UK, and after making her wait a month, they finally got UK approval to proceed with her hire even while the company’s freeze was still technically in effect. But at least they kept her up to date throughout the process and she had a job already, so wasn’t desperate to hurry up and leave. She told me if they hadn’t told her about the issues, she would have assumed they weren’t interested and went somewhere else.

      2. Kendra*

        There are a lot of reasons a company might not want to let anyone know they’re in a hiring freeze. We had one in 2008-09 (who didn’t?), and weren’t supposed to spread it around both because of some local politics (we’re a small-ish municipal government, and there was a lot of finger-pointing and accusations of restricted fund mismanagement going around at the time), and because they were desperately trying to find a way to avoid laying anyone off, and didn’t want any more rumors flying around than absolutely necessary.

        For a non-government situation, I can also see it happening if the company is in final stages of talks for a merger or acquisition, or is about to declare bankruptcy, or some other major shake-up is going on behind the scenes that they’re not quite ready to go public with yet. Or they could be having a management shuffle, and they want to get everybody higher up the chain into their new positions before they fill any other openings, but don’t want to lose a bunch of good candidates while they do it.

  5. Hermione at Heart*

    To add to the possibilities Alison listed: There was an unexpected budget or funding problem and they’re not filling positions after all; someone important raised concerns about the search itself (not diverse enough? not thorough enough?) and now they’re talking to more candidates; they want to hire you and are preparing an offer, but someone who needs to sign off on it (accounting, HR, the big boss) is out of town; they have an offer out to another candidate who hasn’t accepted yet; there’s an internal power struggle about who the position will report to, or where it will be based, that needs to be resolved; they’re pretty sure they’re going to go with you, but one of the other candidates couldn’t come in until yesterday, and they couldn’t make a decision until after they’ve talked to them…

    All of these are scenarios I’ve encountered. Hiring is just complex. There are a lot of choke points and a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong. And even when we want to hire someone, we make the decision right after the interview, and there are NO complications, it usually takes at least a week to get our ducks in a row to formally extend the offer.

    The important thing is that you feel like you did your best. At this point, it’s out of your hands.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      We’re supposed to be hiring two intern positions on our team. We received resumes and interviewed students from a university local to one of our locations, and got some really good applicants. Then politics interfered, and we were told we need to get one intern from another location. So now we need to get some applicants from that other location, and interview some more. Hopefully, we won’t have to hire someone who isn’t as good, simply because of location, but that is possible*. And also, if the applicants from the second location are not as good, I hope some of the students from the first location are still available for us, once we finally figure it all out.

      *The universities in the two locations have different emphases, so the caliber of student with the qualifications we want may differ quite a bit.

  6. Lauren*

    Because employers are jerks with no regards to the candidate’s state of mind or time. If you say within 2-3 days then follow up. If you don’t mean 2-3 days then say a different time frame. If you decide not to hire them tell them!! It’s rude to ghost candidates after interviews like this. I don’t care how busy you are.

    1. Amber Rose*

      That’s a pretty strong stance to take. Sometimes things happen, and the less important matters get shoved aside, forgotten, misplaced or you get a bunch of people assuming one of the other people did the thing and the thing never got done.

      Understanding and courtesy goes both ways.

        1. Iron Chef Boyardee*

          “There is no courtesy in ignoring someone who interviewed. None.”

          Especially when they make an unsolicited promise to follow up.

          I once had an interview where, at the end, the interviewer said that she would contact everybody who applied regardless of whether or not they got the position.

          She specifically made a point of saying that she didn’t think it was right for an employer to leave applicants in the dark about whether or not they got the job.

          I never heard back from that company.

      1. Lauren*

        And I really don’t care what the “reason” is. It’s crappy business practice.

        1. RandomU...*

          I take it you’ve never been a hiring manager before? Do please come back with an update after you’ve gone through this from the other side a few times. Hiring in the best scenario is a long process that turns into a part time job in and of itself.

          Here’s one thing to consider when you’re calling people jerks. Things are exponentially easier for a manager if they have a full team and aren’t putzing around with hiring activities. They want the position filled as much as the candidate does.

          Trust me, “Hmmm… I think I’ll just screw around with all of these candidates and drag my feet for no reason other than to make them wait” said no manager ever!

          1. Hermione at Heart*

            Yes, I think there are two things at play here: The fact that even a relatively efficient hiring process is going to seem slow for the candidate. If the stars aligned and you were able to schedule all your final panel interviews in one week, the person who came in Monday is going to have to wait a week, minimum, even if it feels like you’re busy the whole time.

            Then there are all the actual slowdowns, which are frustrating to hiring managers too. Someone who needs to be on the interview panel is on vacation, the person who approves offers is out of the office, oops a position in another department is open too and our budget isn’t what we thought it was, our first-choice candidate declined, etc.

            All of this often comes out for us when we’re setting start dates, where the candidate wanting a week or two between jobs suddenly turns into a big deal because the process has already lasted three months, what do you MEAN it’ll be another month before we have someone in the job… even though it’s not the candidate’s fault at all that it’s taken this long!

      2. kittymommy*

        Bingo. There’s no way to know what happened: maybe they are jerks and have just ghosted, maybe a budget issue popped up and things are in limbo, maybe they haven’t been able to get a hold of references (remote possibility), maybe the hiring manager got sick, got in an accident.

        I remember there was a position another department was hiring for where I’m at and they were in the interview process and pretty close to making a decision. The hiring manager, they guy who needed to make the pick and was also the director, dropped dead of a heart attack while at lunch one day. Complete shock and completely unexpected as he seemed to be at triathlon level health. And the hiring process got delayed (and TBH, the first few days afterwards, no one was really thinking about it).

        1. Drax*

          this recently happened with one of our customers – the guy got into a fatal car accident on his way to work sadly literally down the block from his office. They’re just getting back on track with orders and business in general 3 months later.

          They were in the process of hiring an team to report to him, I’m sure a lot of their applicants are mad they haven’t got a call back but hiring is unfortunately the least important thing after that. It’s not personal.

      3. Washi*

        Yeah, I would rank hiring communication as follows:

        1. Extremely rude, no excuse: never responding to candidates who came for an in-person interview and did not get the job
        2. Kinda rude but sadly common: never officially rejecting a candidate who just did a phone interview
        3. Annoying but understandable: not responding to intermediate follow up emails from candidates (but still reaching out once they are rejected)
        4. Slightly annoying but generally acceptable: never officially rejecting candidates who applied online
        5. Fine: Ignoring people who pester you on Linkedin for “more information” about a posted job

        Right now, all the information we have is that the 3rd situation is happening. Annoying, but understandable. If it ends up being the 1st situation, then I think the company is being truly rude, but we just don’t know that yet after only a week and a half. There could be a lot of reasons for the delay and if the hiring manager is trying to track down info from HR, it could very well take days to even have an answer to this kind of follow up inquiry.

        1. Hermione at Heart*

          I’d put one even above no. 1, which is “Never responding or offering updates to candidates *you recruited* into the process to begin with and did multiple interviews with.” I’ve seen that happen a few times lately and it’s so egregious to me. They wouldn’t even be in this position if you hadn’t reached out to them to begin with!

          1. Happened to me once*

            Ugh. Yeah, I got contacted by a recruiter on LinkedIn. I told her I was interested. She messaged me back asking if I could do a phone call about the position in the next few days. I said yes and asked when she was thinking. Radio silence. Granted, I could have followed up, but I wasn’t that interested in the position from the basic description she’d given me and She contacted Me. Just arrrrgh!

      1. Lauren*

        You have absolutely no basis on which to make that assumption so I suggest you don’t.

        1. Hufflepuffin*

          Your comments are making it pretty clear that you don’t understand how the other side can work.

              1. Lauren*

                I don’t have to do I? I can have an opinion on this like everyone else. Just because you don’t like it or don’t agree with it or think it’s against what you think is proper practice doesn’t mean I’m wrong either.

          1. Triplestep*

            Whenever this topic comes up, the idea of “not answering candidates” gets conflated with the idea of “why it takes so long.” This is typically owning to folks with recruiting experience getting into lengthy explanations about “how the other side can work.”

            Here’s the thing: we all have a pretty good idea of how the other side can work. But it doesn’t change the fact simply not responding to a candidate is rude. And ghosting a candidate is inexcusable.

            Don’t have an answer? Then have a boilerplate set up to say “I’m sorry I don’t have any news to share right now.”

            1. Kendra*

              Okay, but…we’ve still got to do our regular jobs. Every single second I spend on candidates is time I’m NOT spending on the people who already work for me, who still have stuff going on (sometimes major stuff!), or on my clients, who still need the same level of service they did yesterday, or on reporting to my own supervisor, who still expects a clear line of communication. It may be rude, it may be horrible, but at the end of the day, I feel like I need to honor the promises I’ve already made, to coworkers and clients I already have, before hypothetical ones to potential employees. Sorry, but if I HAVE to choose, and sometimes I do because reality sucks, that’s the choice I’m ALWAYS going to make.

              1. Triplestep*


                When I took time away from my job and family to apply for your open role, prepare for a phone screen, and sneak away from my office to interview in person (maybe more than once) I still managed to do my current job, pay attention to my current staff, service clients, report to my manager, etc. You don’t have less than a minute to answer an e-mail?

                1. Kendra*

                  Most of the time, yes. But all of the time? Nope. There are days I don’t have time to even open my email and wait for it all to download, much less actually answer it. When I’m trying to cover an open position, and do my own job, AND hire someone new, is VERY likely to be one of those days.

                  Asking that I drop all of my other priorities and commitments and deal with your problem first, even if it “only takes a minute” – which it never, ever does! – is a very high-maintenance attitude to have. Frankly, that’s more likely to get you tossed into my “never hire” pile than showing up ten minutes late for your interview would (traffic happens; a sense of entitlement doesn’t have to).

                  I’m sorry if you feel that’s rude, but I find it rude to jiggle someone’s elbow when they’re particularly busy, so maybe consider that the rudeness here might not be all one-sided.

                2. Triplestep*

                  Sorry, Kendra – if you have all these responsibilities, it’s not possible that you hold in-person interviews with that many people whose e-mails you’d need to answer on a weekly basis. It doesn’t add up. Unless you have an UNUSUALLY high turnover, which would point to another problem.

                  I actually am not someone who asks for follow-ups as a candidate, but I believe that people who DO ask for them deserve them. Your posts here point to a “knowledge disparity” that happens in hiring though. You think that wanting communication after an in-person interview would make me needy enough to get tossed into your “do not hire” pile, yet as a candidate, I would never get to know that you think treating candidates with respect is a hardship. That would place you squarely in my “never work for this person, and tell all your friends!” pile. But of course, I’d have no idea why you were ignoring me – just that your company thinks that’s OK.

                3. mcr-red*

                  I mean, Triplestep has a point. Job seekers are just as busy as those hiring, and have the added stress of having to sneak away from their current job, usually using vacation time, which I’m sure they’d rather spend on doing something fun rather than in an office potentially wasting their time.

                  I’m not saying you need to keep updating everyone over and over, but the people you actually ask in for an interview or multiple interviews deserve the courtesy of an update within the timetable YOU established. If you say, “We’re making a decision in a couple of weeks” after it’s been a couple of weeks, you really should at least send something saying, “We’re still making our decision, we will get back with you in a week/a month.”

                  If not, at least, “We will be making a decision by the end of the month. If you don’t hear from us, we’ve moved on with another candidate.”

      1. Lauren*

        Ok I don’t think people lay awake at night thinking on how to be rude and inconsiderate to interviewees. I still think it’s a crappy practice and I stand by it.

        1. PublicSectorMgr*

          Actually, I have been. Interviewed 32 people for two open positions (why we had to interview that many people is another long story). We made our decision last week, and now we are waiting on HR to do what it does.

          And I hate that it is taking this long. But there is nothing I can do about it. It isn’t up to me. Meanwhile, one of my employees had to have emergency surgery and their return is up in the air (if it happens at all), and they are my very best employee in all aspects, and I am incredibly concerned for their well-being, and I have other employees with other needs, and I haven’t even gotten to our clients who come in daily with needs of their own. Adding to these worries are the 32 people who are waiting on a response. So I have been losing sleep about it.

          But I also have other things that I am doing, and my day still only has 24 hours in it.

      2. Tammy*

        A friend of mine who’s a retired lawyer and mediator likes to say “you can’t be an a**hole in a vacuum, because you need somebody to be an a**hole to. So an a**hole isn’t a person; an a**hole is a relationship that’s in crisis”. I try to remember this when I’m judging someone in my head to be a jerk. When I hear my team doing it (we have historically antagonistic relations with some other teams which I’m trying to bridge), I like to ask the question “assuming [other person] is a rational professional human being who’s trying to do her best, what would have to be true for her to cause her to take that action?”

        There are all sorts of things we do that can have the impact of being rude and inconsiderate, but without having been motivated by a desire to be a jerk.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I think we have all been candidates at some point in time so I’m willing to bet that most employers are not jerks with no regards. We are people with competing priorities, limited time, and faulty brains, just like everyone else. I am in the middle of hiring someone right now and while it’s important to me, the rest of my job didn’t just stop because I’m also hiring. I have to do 100% of my usual tasks while also reviewing 200+ resumes, scheduling interviews, being ghosted on interviews, following up, debating between candidates, etc. etc. It’s added at least 15% of work to my already full workload and when something has to give, it’s sometimes me responding to a candidate. It’s not personal and it’s not deliberate; it’s just what happens sometimes.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      Interviewees don’t have the job until they have the job. That’s it. As tempting as it is to think that the interview went really well and SURELY THEY WILL BE IN MY LAP ANY DAY NOW, waiting by the phone is not a good use of one’s time. You keep on doing whatever you were doing before you interviewed until you hear otherwise.

      1. sunny-dee*

        I actually got told this, once. I was absolutely getting the job, they would send me an offer letter by Monday (it was Friday). I didn’t hear back for over a week — because it turned out that the letter had to be approved by a VP who wasn’t in the office for a week, and the hiring manager didn’t know that.

        Stuff happens.

        1. Hermione at Heart*

          I just did this to a candidate recently and I felt so bad about it! It was a lower-level position and I’d cleared the hire with my manager and our department head; I had completely forgotten that the CFO signs off on all offers the company makes as a matter of course, and the CFO and his assistant were both out of the office. There ended up being a weeklong delay and I was terrified there was an actual problem, so I didn’t want to reach out to reassure the candidate everything was fine in case it turned out it wasn’t.

          1. lnelson in Tysons*

            Sometimes the truth can be easy.
            Waiting to get the CFO’s approval and he’s out of the office until XX. Thank you for your patience.

            1. Fortitude Jones*

              This. And if the hiring manager doesn’t have the time to do this, why not have the HR recruiter do it assuming you work at a company with an HR department that handles these types of things?

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      If you feel a company is wasting your time or ghosting, then just write them off and be done with them. Go so far as to not use their products or services even, I’m not above a personal boycott when someone in an organization treats me poorly.

      But you should also never lump entire entities together, that’s a dangerous path be treading down. Yes, some employers are jerks. Some follow through and take their promises seriously. Some candidates also ask for too much and are over the top.

      1. Burned Out Supervisor*

        Exactly. I do a lot of hiring, and we do have some amount of red tape involved when we’re selecting a candidate (I select the person, but I have to pitch it to my manager and director). Then HR reaches out to the candidate, etc. In my time doing this, I’ve also experienced a fair amount of candidates that apply for a position, and either reply to calls for a phone interview, don’t answer their phone on agreed upon time for the phone interview, take forever to call me back to schedule an in-person interview, or ghost me entirely for the in-person interview. In the meantime, I could have interviewed a really great candidate, but I still have to contend with the other candidates that are on some spectrum of the above timeline. Believe me, I certainly don’t want to come off as rude to candidates, but I think people have to have some empathy for the hiring managers of the world and what red-tape might be involved in their open position. FWIW, I usually tell candidates that I’m looking to make a decision within a week, but to not panic if they don’t hear within exactly 5 business days.

    5. Kathleen_A*

      Of course they shouldn’t promise a decision on an unrealistic time frame – because it’s pretty unlikely that a decision will have been made in just a couple of days even if everything had gone well – and of course they should let those candidates they’re interested in know when there’s a delay in making a decision.

      If they do make these two errors, though, it doesn’t mean they’re bad people (or “jerks”), and it doesn’t mean they’re bad people to work with or for. It just means they messed up. Should they correct these problems? Yes, they should – it’s so unpleasant and demoralizing for candidates. But candidates need to keep a little perspective here, and from my disinterested perspective, a week and a half isn’t a long time in the interviewing game.

    6. Rose Tyler*

      I felt this way too until I got experience on the other side of the hiring table.

      Now I just don’t commit to getting back with applicants in a certain time frame unless I’m 100% sure that I’m the only one involved in determining the next step (which hardly ever happens). Otherwise it’s “we’re still finalizing our decision and appreciate your patience”. I always make sure to let anyone we interviewed know once we’ve closed the position. But beyond that I don’t owe candidates frequent status updates, even when asked – I have way too much on my plate for that. Trust me, if you’re great and I want to hire you, I don’t want to lose you so I will not forget about you just because it’s been a few weeks since we connected.

    7. MommyMD*

      How do you know someone didn’t die? In the hospital? Injured? Child is sick? Spouse just got diagnosed with cancer? House burnt down? I’ve seen all of these scenarios. A major account could have been derailed? Half the staff out with the flu? Let just the slightest doubt in there for a scenario. Because things happen. I’m sorry if you are jaded if it’s happened to you.

  7. Legal Anon*

    It took my current job (a small-medium sized law firm) over a month to offer me my job – after they recruited me and didn’t interview anyone else. I knew I was exactly what they wanted and couldn’t believe I didn’t get an offer. Had entirely given up hope when they called and were basically like ‘oops we meant to get around to this sooner.’

    1. MommyMD*

      See. This happens all the time. Time has a very easy way of getting away from you. It doesn’t mean anything sinister is going on.

  8. LaDeeDa*

    I have been on both sides of it. A couple of years ago I had interviewed the candidates, made my choice, sent it for final approval, where it sat for months. MONTHS. Until I found out that I lost my headcount due to a restructure. It had been held up because the people way up there knew it was coming.
    Last year I had completed interviews, had selected my final candidate, and during the week it was in for final approval I got pneumonia and was in the hospital for 3 weeks and on leave for 5 more weeks, and nothing happened.
    My current role – from the final interview to offer was 6 weeks! I only heard from the recruiter one time during those 6 weeks.
    So many things can happen. You just got to keep moving on and keep interviewing other places, just in case.

  9. JR*

    Totally agreed with the above that a week and a half is forever when you’re the candidate and barely any time at all when you’re the hiring manager. That said, in both of the cases where this has happened to me, it’s because they were working on finalizing the offer with another candidate. In both cases, I was one of two finalists, and everything had gone really well in the interview process. However, for one reason or another, the other candidate was a better fit. So when they said, you’ll hear back by X, what that really meant was they’d be making a decision by X, so it was really X plus a week or whatever for the other candidate to negotiate and finalize the offer. And they didn’t want to tell me that, because I was still a strong candidate if the other person declined, so they were vague or slow to respond.

    1. Lauren*

      That’s a bad, bad way to handle it. They should have told you they were going with someone else (because that’s what they did) . Then if that didn’t work out contact you. The way they did it is incredibly rude and really I don’t know what the word is but stringing you along like that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
      Honestly it feels like job searching is the only time we give a pass to such rude behaviour.

      1. fposte*

        You can hate that if you want, but it’s absolutely standard hiring practice to wait on rejections until a hire for the position, not just the extension of an offer, has been made. They weren’t yet going with somebody else–they were asking somebody else if they’d take the job.

        In my hiring I do rejections for the non-finalists when the finalist pool is chosen, but I don’t reject other finalists until I know they’re actually rejected and not just a neck behind my current choice. And that’s pretty standard, and I don’t really think it’s bad behavior–just hiring logistics.

          1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

            A lot of people – including candidates – think that the alternative is far more rude and unprofessional, which is notifying a finalist that they didn’t get the job, only to turn around a week later and say, “Just kidding, our first choice declined, so you’re up!”

            1. Lauren*

              It’s better then waiting and not knowing. Of course a company has a first and second choice. At that point you can decide if you want to go forward. At least you would know for the xxx number of weeks while you were waiting. You would rather sit there for days and weeks wondering?

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                The fact that you’d prefer that doesn’t make it unacceptable that employers aren’t doing it that way. The intensity of your opinion on this is an outlier.

                1. Lauren*

                  Or I’m just the only one being honest about it instead of pretending it’s ok when it’s blatantly not.

                2. LapisLazuli*

                  Lauren, it’s showing up as you having an ax to grind rather than speaking honestly. No one is really saying it’s ideal, but most candidates would rather not know if they were the second or even third choice or be rejected then offered the position. It creates a mess and is less ideal that keeping a candidate waiting.

                3. fposte*

                  @Lauren–I think you’re mistaken on that, actually; even in this recent post there’s somebody saying they’d prefer this way to being rejected when they’d still have a chance of getting the job.

                  But honestly, this is such a standard part of the process that it’s like saying it’s rude for doctors to require you to schedule in advance. It may be much more to their benefit than to yours and you could call doctors and employer rude for that reason, but it’s too intrinsic to be worth your energy to rail against.

                4. Lauren*

                  no axe to grind. I’m just being honest. Everyone seems perfectly willing to sweep this terrible business practice under the rug without calling it what it really is.

                  And the comparison to doctors isn’t even close. That’s ridiculous. And you don’t get to pick what I want to use my energy against. Wtf do you care?

                5. fposte*

                  @Lauren–you can use your energy against anything you please; as you suggest, it’s no skin off my nose. But it’s not going to change the situation.

                6. Kathleen_A*

                  I don’t even see why it might count as “rude.” Your feelings are your feelings, Lauren, and I don’t want to discount them, but for myself, I don’t want to hear that I’m out of the running unless I’m, you know, actually out of the running. I think most people would feel that way, but hey, YMMV. If the company doesn’t know for sure if they’ve got the position filled, why is it rude to behave as thought the position hasn’t been filled? I don’t get it.

                7. Lauren*

                  Removed. You cannot be rude to people here. I’m putting you on moderation because you’ve ignored my request to rein this in. – Alison

              2. LapisLazuli*

                You would presumably move on and keep applying to other positions and keep busy, at least in my experience. I’ve waited up to 6 months before even getting an interview. I was employed during this time so it was a non-issue for me. But hiring, especially for certain industries/fields can be exhausting and slow. Sometimes the position is newly created and the hiring manager has to fight to even get approval to fill the position, let alone schedule and hold interviews. It’s also not as though the HR rep you initially were in contact with has all the insight or significant pull within the company to push it along. Sometimes hiring managers are busy with other priorities

                1. Burned Out Supervisor*

                  Your time stamps on your comments and your need to have the last word state otherwise.

              3. hbc*

                I’ve hired when the person knew they were second choice (through their recruiter who shouldn’t have shared), and even though it was definitely a situation of “you’re both awesome and he edged you out by a hair,” she would rather have not known.

              4. JB (not in Houston)*

                Yes. Because I’m not sitting there for days and weeks pinning my hopes on it before I have an offer, and I’m looking elsewhere anyway. I’d rather not be told I was officially rejected (and then possibly take another job I liked less in the meantime) and then be told “oh wait never mind” a week later. You can feel however you want about it, but please don’t try to speak for everyone on this. You’re asking for there to be a standard practice on the basis that everyone feels the same way about this, but that’s just not the case.

          2. Kendra*

            Saying “we hired someone else” would be LYING. They haven’t, and until the other person accepts the offer, they can’t possibly know that they’re going to. How is refusing to lie to someone rude??

        1. Anon for Now*

          That is the way I handle things as well. Especially in this job market. The last thing I want to do is to send a rejection to someone I may want to hire if my first choice candidate declines.

        2. SarahTheEntwife*

          Yeah, I’d much rather maintain the polite fiction that I was their top candidate than know for sure that I was the second choice (even though I know from the other side that sometimes both candidates are brilliant and you’re just going with the first choice because they’re somewhat stronger in X crucial field). When I’m on the interviewing side, I do try to give reasonable timelines that take into account how long the process is going to take and not say “we’ll get back to you by Monday” if I know perfectly well it’s more like “we’re hoping to have a decision by Monday but it might be as long as two weeks”.

      2. LapisLazuli*

        I actually think it would be worse to hear back that I didn’t get a job, then be offered the same job later, knowing I was the second choice and I may have gone with a different or less desirable offer because I was prematurely rejected. I would then, what, burn the bridge at Company B in order to knowingly work at Company A as a second choice? IMO, it would be better to be waiting on multiple offers than to have that regret. It sucks that some hiring managers don’t use realistic time-frames or language with candidates but it would be a bigger mess and leave a bad taste in the mouth of candidates if they were told they were second or even third choice for the job.

      3. animaniactoo*

        Well, no. The correct way to handle this if you expect to be making a decision within a week is to tell people to expect to hear from you within 2-3 weeks.

        So that you can reach out to the candidate who is your first choice when you make a decision in a week, and still have time to contact the other candidates who are your runner-ups within the time frame they’re expecting to hear from you.

        You are under ZERO obligation to say “We’re going with somebody else and will contact you if they don’t accept.” From a psychological standpoint that would be a pretty detrimental practice to make standard, so no – they should not be saying that.

          1. animaniactoo*

            Argue for that then – listen to what everyone here is saying and don’t stand on “but that’s rude!” without offering a better way to manage the things that are intrinsic to the nature of the process.

            Push that hiring managers should reign in their optimism and pad their expectations, and that they should be factoring in enough time to make an offer sooner than a candidate may be hearing from them – that there’s no drawback to a candidate hearing sooner than expected and the premise shouldn’t be trying to get them the “soonest answer” time frame rather than the “time for us to make sure we can still ask you if you’re the 2nd choice and the 1st choice doesn’t accept” time frame.

            You’re right that nobody should ghost a candidate who made it past an initial phone screening stage (and some would argue not even the ones who were called for a phone screen), but the rest of it – this is the logistics and people are screwing it up. Stop telling them that’s rude, because they’re not trying to be rude, they just don’t see a way out of it. Instead, listen and start helping them try to figure out how to fix their logistics and their messaging so that it works for both sides.

            1. Julia*

              So what you are saying that people need to read comments on an advice blog instead of figuring this out for themselves? I would think the logistics and manners of this would be obvious but I guess I would be wrong. That must be why it happens so much. It’s simply too hard to conquer.

              1. animaniactoo*

                No, what I’m saying is that when you’re talking to people who are all saying “It’s not that we entirely disagree with, but it’s the nature of the beast”, these are people who have become inured to the status quo, because it *is* the status quo. And unless you have a better solution to offer, simply repeating “It’s rude!” isn’t going to get you anywhere.

      4. JR*

        I know both of the hiring managers outside of this interview process, and they’re both gracious, thoughtful people. In one case, I think they were surprised themselves when they realized they needed something different in the role than they originally thought. In the other, it was more that they realized I wanted more money than they were prepared to pay, and I suspect (though don’t know for sure) that they were trying to figure out if they could get what they needed in the budget they had available, and ultimately did. Which is a long way of saying, stuff happens. They both probably thought they’d get back to me in the window they gave, and then that it would just be another day or two so why follow up with no real update, and then maybe someone was sick or had to go to a conference or whatever so another few days went by, and then it was the thing on their to do list that got pushed to the next day three days in a row, and so on. And I should be clear, in this case, they didn’t go radio silent, they just weren’t prompt in responding to my follow-ups, and I can totally understand how that would play out in these situations.

    2. iglwif*

      Yep. I was a hiring manager for ~15 years and because Ex!Company (nonprofit) didn’t pay very well and our HR had (IMO) stupid policies about revealing salary ranges ::rolls eyes::, we not infrequently ended up striking out with our first choice and needing to go with our second. Much, much easier to do that if you haven’t already said “sorry, nope” to that second choice! (I did always respond to people, though, even though the responses were some variety of “we’re still figuring things out, I appreciate your patience”. Alison is 1000% right that every stage of any hiring process always takes waaaay longer than you think it will or think it should.)

      Also, sometimes the decision between first- and second-choice candidates is agonizingly close! I’d hate for someone to feel bad that they were the second choice when in reality, there were two awesome candidates and choosing between them was really difficult. So I would never say No to anyone on the shortlist until someone else gave me a definitive Yes.

    3. MoopySwarpet*

      We absolutely wait until our first choice has negotiated and accepted their offer before telling our other strong candidates that we’ve gone with someone else. We’ve had several time where we’ve extended an offer and the person took an offer somewhere else while we were discussing. We’d rather take our second (or third or fourth) strong candidate than start the whole miserable process over.

      We’ve always hedged our bets with “We hope to make a decision by _____.” Normally, we already have a favorite at that point, but leave a few days for the possibility that our favorite is also someone else’s favorite. However, we would touch base with the other candidates if the process was lasting longer than our anticipated decision date.

  10. fposte*

    I’m going to take a slightly different tack than Alison, which is to say hiring is like planning a wedding or remodeling a house: you start filled with optimism and with confidence about your limits, and it’s often only in retrospect that you see how much in denial you were. Target dates told you by hiring managers are like the promises of vendors and contractors–we mean well, but we almost never speak realistically.

    I would never, ever tell anybody they’d hear from me in a couple of days about a hiring decision. It’s almost never true. But I understand the temptation–it seems like something that *could* happen in a couple of days. But even in a best case scenario, there are 42,000 other things that have to happen in those same days, and that’s before you factor in delays to the process itself.

    1. pcake*

      I agree to the maximum with all you’ve said.

      And I would never give a solid “hear by” date, as things happen and I wouldn’t want to leave someone hanging. I could tell them “I’ll contact you as soon as I know something”, and maybe let them know there are other processors or people involved in the decision, so the interviewee doesn’t sit waiting by the phone.

      1. Lauren*

        Except EVERYONE does. And then they don’t contact you and ignore you. What’s the point? Why would I want to work there after being treated so poorly?

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          So, serious question: let’s say someone told you you would hear back from them in 2-3 days. You don’t get a call until a week later. Do you consider that poor treatment or consider that it might have been an unavoidable delay?

            1. Hufflepuffin*

              Good luck with that outlook on life. Which will come back to bite you some day no doubt. Sometimes stuff happens.

                1. fposte*

                  It might be mistaken, but it made reasonable sense. A milieu where everybody defaults to reading mishaps as character flaws is a hard one to live in.

                2. AvonLady Barksdale*

                  It makes a lot of sense. Your outlook on this is unnecessarily rigid. If you expect people to give you the benefit of the doubt, then you have to do the same in return. Sometimes stuff really does happen. Sometimes things get in the way. This is the case in all aspects of business, not just hiring. I had to reschedule a presentation yesterday at the last minute because of a building evacuation; were my clients annoyed? I’m sure they were, but they gave me the benefit of the doubt and everything worked out in the end because both sides were willing to be flexible.

                  The difference between 2-3 days and 7 may feel like an eternity, but it just isn’t. If something comes up and a hiring manager calls you on the 7th day and says, “I’m so sorry, something came up,” and you hang up on them and refuse to speak because they have treated you “poorly”, then that is a terrible reflection on you, not them.

                3. Alexandria*

                  It makes a lot of sense. Your outlook on this is unnecessarily rigid. If you expect people to give you the benefit of the doubt, then you have to do the same in return. Sometimes stuff really does happen. Sometimes things get in the way. This is the case in all aspects of business, not just hiring. I had to reschedule a presentation yesterday at the last minute because of a building evacuation; were my clients annoyed? I’m sure they were, but they gave me the benefit of the doubt and everything worked out in the end because both sides were willing to be flexible.

                  The difference between 2-3 days and 7 may feel like an eternity, but it just isn’t. If something comes up and a hiring manager calls you on the 7th day and says, “I’m so sorry, something came up,” and you hang up on them and refuse to speak because they have treated you “poorly”, then that is a terrible reflection on you, not them.

                  I don’t think it’s up to you to say this. How she wants to live her life is up to her. It’s not up to you make this kind of judgment call. If she doesn’t want to deal with people that she thinks are rude then she doesn’t have to. I don’t think she was saying she would dismiss out of hand all communications. Just ones that aren’t showing any consideration. At least that’s the way I read it. But then again it’s not your business nor is it mine.

            2. thestik*

              I’d go with that if the callback was three weeks after the offered date. A week, though? That’s not that bad.

          1. mcr-red*

            OK, but here’s another side of the equation. Company X tells me they will get back to me in 2-3 days. They don’t. I assume that means they weren’t interested. Meanwhile, Company Y calls me and interviews me, says they will get back to me in 2-3 days and actually DO. Since I think Company X isn’t interested, I take Company Y’s offer. Then Company X calls me a week later. Company X missed out.

        2. fposte*

          Well, nobody’s making you work for them :-). But plenty of employers do notify about timeframes and send rejections and respond to queries when the timeframe changes.

          I don’t know that I’d use that as the dividing line, though, between jobs I’d take and jobs I wouldn’t. Hiring *can* signal employer culture but it’s not a neat sample, and you’re talking about common enough problems here that rejecting an employer for being optimistic in their notification timetable would be about as rigid as rejecting an applicant for not using a possessive before the gerund. Both sides are free to do that, but it might not be actually getting them the best result.

      2. Pommette!*

        What I would give – and been given, and was grateful for – are “won’t hear until” dates. Something like: “I’ll contact you as soon as I know something. We have a few more interviews lined up over the next few weeks, so that probably won’t happen until after the end of the month.”

    2. Fergus*

      I had one time an interviewer tell me I would hear by the end of the day one way or another. I am still waiting….lmao. I do not ever ask anymore when may I might hear back. It’s a pointless question because 99.9% of the time it never happens. Most hiring now at companies is a broken system, and with some companies not hearing back believe me is a godsend. There is three companies in my career I wish rejected or ghosted me.

    3. Washi*

      Yeah, I didn’t realize until I had to do some hiring how hard it is to give any kind of time estimate. Until I learned my lesson to tack on 2 weeks to whatever estimate I was giving, the first time or two it went like this:

      My thought process on the spot: “well, I have candidate A’s process done and candidate C and D have their final interviews next week, plus they really need to start asap, so I’m sure I’ll have some news in two weeks.”

      What actually happens: Something comes up with my boss’s schedule so candidate C’s interview is moved back a week, candidate D drops out of the process, but candidate E squeaked in an amazing application as we were about to close the posting, so we’ll try to squeeze in an interview with her, plus there’s a huge deadline for another project coming up OH SHOOT IT’S BEEN 3 WEEKS and I told candidate B I’d get back to her in two.

  11. pcake*

    My ex-husband applied for a job for the city he lives in. They called him in for a couple interviews, which were months apart. He didn’t hear back and ended up with another job. Two YEARS from the first interview – that’s right, years – they contacted him and offered him the job.

    Ya just never know what’s happening with job interviews.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Wow. And I thought the six months I went between interviews and offer was wack.(Mine was internal and for a promotion, so I wasn’t worried about it or going anywhere else, at least.)

    2. Lauren*

      That actually makes more sense because it sounds like they hired someone else and they left and they hired from their saved resumes. (Or tried to)

      1. pcake*

        I’m sure you’re right. Otherwise the position would have been unfilled for two years *LOL*

    3. The Original Stellaaaaa*

      That seems like they hired someone else and then that person left after two years, so they just went through old applications.

    4. Goose Lavel*

      Did he take the job or counter offer that he has a new hire salary range requirement?

      1. pcake*

        For reasons I can’t comprehend, he didn’t take the job. It paid literally double what he was making with great benefits, but he was thrown by the two-year gap and talked himself into believing it was a red flag. Even though he knows several people who had happily worked there for years.

    5. MtnLaurel*

      I had a similar story when I was interviewing a year from when I applied. I had written that job off even though it was “perfect.” Ended up getting that job, which wasn’t as perfect as it appeared.

      So,yes. You never know what’s going on inside the organization, and often it is a balance between keeping candidates informed with uncertain internal processes.

  12. 30 Years in the Biz*

    This waiting game happened with me. I had just about given up after about 2 weeks of no contact when HR came back and said “We’re working on things”. It turned out they were trying to get me a higher title and a salary that matched the lower end of my target range – which was high to them. I had a lot of experience in an area where they needed a ton of help and the hiring manager had to advocate for me. I eventually received the offer and the explanation for the delay. I’ve been in the position for about 5 months and things are going well – except for the open office plan, which stinks.

  13. Mr M*

    Still waiting to hear back from eleven companies I interviewed with multiple times in 2015. Guess it’s time to follow up!

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      My favorite is the rejection letter that comes years after you applied!

    2. voluptuousfire*

      :snorts: I’m still waiting to hear back from a job I applied to as an admin in 2006–and it was a company I was hired by only a few weeks later for a different role and was at for 5.5 years. LOL

    3. irene adler*

      I was contacted to interview for a position a year after I’d already interviewed for it (it was the same job ID # so I know it was the same position).
      They acted like I was a new candidate.
      When I responded with interest, reminded them of the prior interview, they ghosted me.

  14. Rainy days*

    I do a lot of hiring, so I have sympathy for the fact that it DOES take much longer than I always expect. I believe that when I hire, I am representing my organization’s brand, and that ill-treatment of a job candidate is just as bad as ill-treatment of a client. To this end, I have never failed to inform a candidate that they have not been selected–for an interview or for the final position. But with that said, sometimes these notifications take longer than I want them to.

    For example, occasionally the candidates I hire run into immigration / work permit issues. I always err on the side of notifying candidates that they have *not* been selected for the position as soon as our top candidate has officially accepted the job, because it can sometimes take 1-2 weeks for the new hire to gather all the documentation necessary and for me to verify it. However, I have once or twice been in the embarassing position of having rejected a candidate and then coming back to them and saying, “Hey, this position re-opened and we’d like to offer it to you” due to the top candidate’s paperwork not being in order. The fact that these paperwork issues are uncommon but do happen always makes me wonder…should I wait the extra few weeks to notify candidates that they’ve not been selected, pushing the timeline far beyond what I promised them? If I were to update them honestly during this time, the update would be something like, “We’ve already offered the job to someone but it takes time to process their paperwork and I’m leaving you hanging as a backup!”

    So while it’s very frustrating, I don’t necessarily blame companies for not notifying candidates until very late, once the hire has been 100% confirmed and for not being able to give updates. I do blame them for ghosting, though…I don’t even use a fancy hiring system and it’s quite easy for me to BCC candidates I’m rejecting. It takes about 10 seconds to set up.

    1. Lauren*

      It’s better to take longer than not to do it. It’s nice to see that someone does do it. It’s not even that they notify late – they ignore emails and don’t notify at all.

      Maybe you could do wording like “we’ve offered the job to another candidate but we’d like to keep your application on file in case anything opens up?” (only worded better) Then it leaves an opening for both of you?

      1. ScienceTeacher*

        I think that’s the best way to do it- be as honest as you can, don’t give unrealistic timelines, and please please please KEEP TO YOUR WORD.
        If you said 2 weeks and it will take 3 or 4, just shoot an email to the anxiously waiting candidate and let them know that they haven’t been ghosted, they’re still in the running, etc. I agree with everything you’ve posted, Lauren, so you’re not the only one who deplores the things job candidates get put through and the very minimal courtesies that are expected of companies.

        1. Washi*

          I think most people agree with you in principle, and if you’ve done a lot of hiring, you learn to have a certain post-interview routine – write your notes, send info to HR, update the application portal, put a note on your calendar to reach out to the candidate in 2 weeks as promised. But the thing is, lots of hiring managers don’t do much hiring and don’t know much about it. They’re muddling through the process, maybe don’t have clear instructions from HR, are balancing a bunch of other priorities, and don’t remember what they told the candidate when trying to come up with a time estimate on the spot.

          Yes, they should try to be organized and realistic about timelines! But I think candidates also need to mentally add on a week or two to whatever the hiring manager is telling them, and as Alison is always advising, put it out of your mind and move on.

  15. Artemesia*

    I know someone who had been told to expect an offer who got ghosted and found out that his former boss who had volunteered to be a reference had sandbagged him by saying ‘he wasn’t up to being a (particular high level job)’. The person dropped this guy from his reference list and was hired in that same high level job elsewhere and did great. A sneak bad reference can do you in as can a blackball from someone in the company. Or maybe they are just slow. In any case, all you can do is put it out of mind and move on with the job search and be happy if it was just a matter of being slow. It is frustrating when you are being courted and then not.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      Yeah, I didn’t even think about what a possible bad reference could do to the timeline. That was really lousy what happened to the guy in your story – it’s a shame the company didn’t try to reach out to other references to see if they would corroborate the bad reference, especially if they really liked the guy. But it sounds like he ended up somewhere better, so maybe it was for the best.

  16. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Alison’s suggestion that they may not want to update you without something concrete/substantial is a good one; I find that’s often the case. It sometimes happens when I’m the one emailing updates, too– I prefer to wait until I have something to report because otherwise it gets to be a whole lot of, “We’re working on it, we’re working on it,” without any movement.

    My partner has been going through this. He was offered a job and negotiated, but the negotiation got caught up in a centralized HR system. The hiring manager sent as many updates as he could, but I got the impression that HR told the guy he would have an answer by the end of the day, the HM waited, got no answer, then had to wait until the morning to follow up… it was just a ridiculous cycle. My partner, in the meantime, started catastrophizing and it was super stressful. However, I don’t think the HM could or should have done anything differently, because my partner was going to stress out either way.

    I don’t think there’s an ideal way to go about this from either side, to be honest, except that candidates should try their best to mentally move on, and that hiring managers should check in when they can.

    1. NW Mossy*

      I know that when I’ve done the interview rounds, any contact from the hiring organization can swiftly go from “OMG YAY this is the offer!!!” to “oh, nope, just a timeline-free follow-up, sigh” in the time it takes to scan an email. I don’t love that emotional up-and-down, but YMMV.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yup, that’s exactly it. In my partner’s case, the hiring manager was trying really, really hard to avoid that, and even if my partner didn’t appreciate it at the time (he does now), I certainly did!

        At my last company, they made us send daily emails to clients with project updates, even if there was nothing to update. I hated it. So did a few of my clients. Too much inbox clutter, not enough substance.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            I resisted it SO HARD. I even had a client who asked me to stop. I had been on the client side and told the CEO that it was excessive, which was one of the things that made him hate me and contributed to me leaving that job with nothing lined up.

            To tie that in to the initial question, for a lot of people, it’s more important to wait until there’s actually news than to reach out with nothing. It’s all about balance.

  17. JenJen*

    I think if he said within three days (that’s so specific), he should have reached out with an update or at least responded to your email.

    IME, the most common explanation for the delay is that they have extended an offer to another candidate and are working through that process before notifying the rest of the candidates. I have had the experience of hiring my second choice after a week or so of negotiations when the first choice that didn’t pan out. But even in that case a simple “Just wanted to let you know the process is taking a little longer than expected” email would be courteous.

    Something to keep in mind, too, is that when you have an outstanding interview it’s hard to imagine you WON’T be offered the job. But very likely they are choosing from several well qualified people who interviewed well.

    1. Rainy days*

      I’ve had very positive impressions of people during interviews and then passed on them for many reasons, including the following:
      – We hired someone with a background not currently represented on our team when we needed a diverse team to build trust with different types of clients.
      – Someone else did not have a great impression/great rapport with the candidate, and I valued their input even though it’s technically my decision.
      – We preferred a good-enough local candidate to an outstanding remote candidate.
      – We didn’t advertise for someone who spoke Spanish AND Korean (for example) because we didn’t think it was a realistic ask, but then someone came along who spoke both.

  18. A Simple Narwhal*

    I’m witnessing the other side of this. There’s an open position on our team, and my manager interviewed someone for it a week or two ago. She said that they were fine, could probably do the job, but I could tell that she wasn’t super excited about them. But they’re the only person HR has approved to interview yet, and I’ve heard that if you don’t fill an opening quick enough, the powers that be take it away (and presumably give it to another department), so we’re playing with the gamble of is it better to hire someone that will probably be ok (but might not be) just to ensure we fill the role, or hold out hope that someone better will come along soon?

    I’m not sure what she told them but I’m sure it must be pretty frustrating to be left hanging on their end.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      If it were me, I’d hold out for a better candidate. If the person interviewed isn’t exactly wowing the hiring manager and they’re only okay at the gig, that person may not last in the position once hired, and then the hiring manager will end up right back where she started.

  19. ThatGirl*

    My current job took long enough that I really thought they were ghosting me – I had a phone interview, a great in-person interview, and then radio silence. There was a big corporate move in there and HR then let me know that the person who would have been my manager had their position eliminated. I was pretty sure that was the end of that and they weren’t hiring anyone after all. And then I got the call for my references. Even after that it still took a little time for the formal offer, but at least I knew it was coming.

    so yeah. patience sucks, moving on sucks, but you gotta do it :)

  20. LizArd*

    One point Alison didn’t mention: the OP is assuming that the hiring process should be more straightforward at a small org without a big HR team, but in my experience the exact opposite is true. At a small org, nobody’s #1 priority will ever be hiring because everybody is juggling more plates. Maybe the prospective manager has an urgent deadline, maybe the one HR person is out on vacation or trying to finalize a new insurance policy, maybe there’s an all-hands-on-deck event next week, etc.

    1. BRR*

      Working at two smaller employers, I’ve seen the vacation thing play out multiple times. If you need two people to sign off and they’re out back-to-back, that’s going to cause a huge delays. I still think employers could and should be a little more considerate of candidates but I’ve just grown accustomed to the hiring processing being held up.

    2. StressedButOkay*

      That’s an excellent point. It took far longer to hear back when I applied to a smaller nonprofit than a larger one. They were too small for an HR person, so the hiring process was on the shoulders of the head of the department, who was juggling that and 500 other things that had a direct impact on the mission.

  21. Hiring needs a selling edge*

    Too many companies approach hiring without urgency or service orientation, wasting competitive candidates’ time, leading those candidates to look at other options and even talk poorly of those companies to their network. If companies make promises to candidates they need to honor those promises. Bottom line. Hiring is a customer service task and it’s entirely unreasonable to expect candidates to put up with being lied to or ghosted. If sales reps lied to their customers like hiring managers and HR lies to candidates the sales reps would be canned.

    Candidates need to remember that while companies are looking at them for a fit, they are also looking at companies for a fit. A company that makes promises they don’t keep and call that normal will have disfunctions elsewhere.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Considering the sketchy lying sales people I’ve met in my life…have you never bought a car before? Not even a used one.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, I don’t know that sales would be the best analogy here, but hiring folks need to do better.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          That’s for sure, I think that they need more training and better systems in place. So many systems are nonexistent and whimsical or overly tedious and scarily long!

          1. Hiring needs a selling edge*

            I don’t deal with sketchy sales staff. I walk and take my dollars elsewhere.

            No kidding though about training. It’s not fair to the hiring staff to expect them to put up with bad hiring practices, let alone deal with miffed candidates.

  22. MissDisplaced*

    Unfortunately, this is so normal!
    One place I worked at interviewed me and It was 3 months until I heard back and was offered the job!
    I had almost written them off, but I did receive an email from the hiring manager saying she wanted to hire me, but it was just taking a long time.
    Hang in there, but continue to interview.

  23. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    We have had personal emergencies and technical difficulties really throw curveballs into the hiring process before, both as someone interviewing and as someone doing the hiring! Emails can often get filtered or lost in cyberspace, so it may be that he never saw your follow up and that something is happening on that end that has him all tied up.

    I have seen it happen a lot in small businesses. Especially since you’re doing so much more than hiring at any given time. Unlike somewhere with an HR department or some kind of recruiter system involved, there’s nobody to say “Yo, you remember that opening for Unicorn Productions, where are we at on that?”

  24. Mel*

    I had a similar situation with my last job. I interviewed several times, was told I’d hear back by X day and a couple weeks after that date I decided they’d ghosted me.

    But they ended up offering me the job a few days after I decided that not only was it not happening, but they weren’t even going to let me know.

  25. Res Admin*

    I once waited over 3 months to hear back about a position. Turns out that it was a done deal as soon as my name turned up in the applicant pool (this group was already very familiar with my work) so the two interviews were just to see what I wanted to do and come up with the best option. I didn’t know most of that at the time. It just took them that long to iron all the details out with the upper level chain of command. Nice surprise when they called and offered me the position.

    In the meantime, I had interviewed for a couple of other interesting positions and explored new options at my then current position. There is no point in worrying about things that are totally out of your control–and often out of the hiring manager’s control as well. Most hiring managers don’t deliberately ghost people or drop out of site for awhile–things just happen. Even a really motivated manager can be overwhelmed by bureaucracy and circumstances.

  26. Alanna*

    OP, I feel you. I recently had an interview process that had 2 intro interviews, and SEVEN video interviews, one of which was with a SVP of the company. It took the better part of my week and went SO perfectly, it was pretty clear i had it in the bag. They said they wanted to get this done quickly, were happy I wasn’t interviewing with a competitor, etc. I followed up, nothing. Nothing. Followed up more. Nothing. A couple weeks later was our major industry conference. I tried to find the folks I interviewed with. Couldn’t get a hold of them. Finally got a phone call that I’d hear back the following week. At which point I got a 30 second “we’re not moving forward with you.”

    I was PISSED. This was for a fairly senior position, too. The good thing was, they sent me a survey to ask how their interviewing process was. It was very detailed. I was polite, but told them everything.

    1. StaceyIzMe*

      Wow! Seven interviews! That sounds like some sort of a record! I hope that your next experience is a good one. And I have to wonder- at what point would a candidate say “I’ve done all the interviews I’m going to, good luck with your evaluation process.”? Somewhere around three? More than that would make me wonder if they had any clue as to what they actually wanted.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I’d lean towards three as well. I mean, I technically had four for the job I’m in now, but the first one was a 25 minute phone screen with the HR recruiter and the second one was also 25 minutes with someone I’m dotted line reporting to. Once we got to the fourth interview with my direct manager’s boss, he said the last step was a writing exercise and then possibly a discussion with his boss, the VP of Sales, but VP probably felt how we did because it never happened – once I turned in my writing exercise, they made me an offer the next business day.

        Then I waited two and a half weeks for my hiring form to be approved, which, if it had gone on any longer, I would not have been able to give my former employer a proper two weeks notice.

      2. Fergus*

        I have heard some people have had 25 interviews with Amazon before I got the job. I have been contacted by Amazon, no no and no in all of nopedome

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Amazon pulls some crazy stunts but the person I know that was recruited by them was hired really quickly, so it will depend drastically on the department and the position and whoever is in charge.

        2. Anon Amazonian*

          I think that’s quite an exception to the normal state of affairs. With such a huge company, you’d likely be interviewing with a completely different team that is basically unrelated to your friend’s prospective team, and if not, it’s probably turned over since then.

          The general process for everyone I know has been: 1 phone screen with a recruiter, 1 or 2 phone screens with team members, on-site interview with 4-6 interviewers from that team and other teams. The decision is then made, and the candidate notified, within a week. I’m sorry if that hasn’t happened for you, but I wouldn’t let someone else’s bad experience from a while ago stop you.

      3. Alanna*

        Yeah, it was a lot, but most of them were scheduled upfront, and then a couple more were added in. So it was all really one phase of the process but it was SO MUCH. And I had to put the rest of my life on hold for days to do these.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I would be pissed too, omg.

      Do you share a name with a serial killer that you got mixed up with when they ran your background check?! The fact they just straight up ghosted until finally responding because you weren’t just going away silently [because they gave you good reason to think you had the job, wtf].

  27. StaceyIzMe*

    This is one of those “you don’t know what, if anything, happened and you don’t know what, if anything, is next”. It’s hard to make peace with that when you really want a job (or that special date or whatever). Essentially, though, yes- focusing on what you CAN control will empower you, balance you and fulfill you. As you continue to search for other jobs and go through more interviews (if you choose to do that), remember that a significant part of your discretionary energy and focus should be on self care. That makes you more attractive and opens up more opportunity. If you need some time to grieve this and let it go, do whatever you need to and then move forward.

  28. voluptuousfire*

    Hiring is never an exact science. I remember interviewing for one role in July, getting a follow-up email in September saying they would be in touch about next steps and an email in December saying they scrapped the role.

    One thing to count on when job hunting is that things never go at the rate promised. If someone told me they’d get back to me in two days, I mentally added a week to the estimated time and generally forgot about it.

  29. RandomU...*

    Oh dear, this seems to have hit on some nerves. Yes it sucks being a candidate and waiting to hear. It sucks just as bad being a manager waiting to tell!

    Honestly I just don’t know what can be done. The last hiring round I went through, we tried to reach out to candidates to keep them in the loop, but you do what you can and I’m sure people got anxious waiting and wondering.

    It could always be worse :) I’ll describe my husband’s hiring adventure for his last position.

    1. Went in and filled out a card to be added to list be notified when a hiring process was going to be started.
    2. Waited 6 months
    3. Got notified of a test date
    4. Waited a month
    5. Took test(s)
    6.Submitted application
    7. Waited 4 months
    8. Found out rank on the applicant list based on test scores and application (was ranked in the top 20)
    9. Invited to interview
    10. Waited 8 months (wrote off job at some point during this 8 months)
    11. Invited to interview again
    12. Waited 1 month
    13. Received offer

    1. Drax*

      I applied for a job probably around 2008-ish. In 2010-ish I was invited for an interview, about a year later was asked for a follow up phone interview and no joke – three years ago now received a very personalized rejection email saying they went with the other candidate and enjoyed speaking with me. I hadn’t spoke to them in at least 4-5 years at that point.

      I found it hilarious but I could see how that may rub people the wrong way. I think I figured out after two years the job was a no go.

      But one of my friends actually got one of the positions we both applied to like 6 years ago about 2 years ago. It took 4 years of random interviews before he got hired but he did get the job (and it paid well too)

  30. IWishIHadAFancyUserName*

    Years ago, I interviewed for JobA, and eventually received a “thanks but no thanks” letter from the hiring manager. It was a job that I really wanted for an organization I really wanted to work for, and I was crushed.

    Three months later, the hiring called me and offered me a position as JobB — better job, better pay, etc.

    Turns out, JobB was just being developed at the time of the JobA hiring. Board had to approve all new positions over a certain level. The proposal hadn’t even been put before the board yet. This wasn’t mentioned in the interview, because there were no assurances that the position would even materialize. But based on my interview for JobA, they didn’t even complete a round of interviews for JobB, they just offered me the job.

    And I’d wasted all that time being disappointed about not getting hired for JobA.

  31. Person from the Resume*

    … just didn’t give the vibe that they would ghost someone, especially after how many interviews there were, how long they lasted, etc. It seems like if I wasn’t going to be hired at this point, it would have been a huge waste of everyone’s time. (The whole process ended up being dragged out over 1.5 months because of traveling, and initial scheduling issues. There were almost three weeks between the first and second interviews.)

    This is an oddly self-centered statement. Does the LW assume she is the only one who made it that far in the interview process? Usually there will be 3-5 people invited for the first face to face interview. If there were 5 people interviewing for only one position then 4 of them interviewed and don’t get it. It isn’t a waste of time for the company; it is how they select the best candidate. It may seem like a waste of time for the candidates, but they have to participate in the hiring process.

    Also a month and a half is short interview process in my opinion! Three weeks between the first and second interview isn’t that shocking especially when you assume several other people were interviewed (at least for the first one), and all the interviewees may not have come in on the same day LW did.

    1. fposte*

      Yes, it’s a waste of time if *nobody* got hired after a search (though hopefully there was at least some learning about where they went wrong so it wasn’t completely fruitless), but time spent on individual candidates that aren’t than hired isn’t a waste; it’s an expected part of the process.

  32. Noodles*

    I always try and assume I didn’t get the job and move on after every interview. Doing so has lowered my stress about the whole process immensely. I’m starting a new job on Monday and I applied and interviewed in late December/early January and it went well, and then didn’t hear from them for four months until they called me out of the blue (end of April) with an excellent job offer which I accepted. I can’t imagine how gruelling it would have been to be wondering/worrying all those weeks about what was happening with that hiring process.

  33. Yvonne*

    There are a lot of comments about why this sort of thing happens, and fair enough. But the issue for me is if you tell me I’ll hear in 2 weeks and I send a polite inquiry after 3 weeks that is met only with silence, that is just inconsiderate, reasons aside. As a current job hunter, I promise you I’d be satisfied with “Sorry, it’s taking longer than expected, we will be in touch.” I don’t need detailed explanations, just an update. Delays are understandable, not telling people there is a delay isn’t.

    To be honest though, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been notified I was not selected in over 30 years of working. I just assume I won’t ever hear from them again, no matter what they assure me of in the interview, unless they’re hiring me.

    1. fposte*

      I think most of us are on board with that. Alison actually used to have a service that would send out messages to interviewers who ghosted applicants :-). While I don’t think, as a hiring manager, I can do much to redress the power inequities in the relationship, I sure as hell can send a form email saying “Thank you for applying but we went another way” or “We’ve hit a delay and won’t be able to notify people on our original schedule.”

      1. Triplestep*

        What?! that service is sorely needed! The only thing better would be if she kept a running list here at the blog. I could see this becoming a popular feature, with companies hoping to keep their names off of it.

      2. Fergus*

        I use the same excuses when I don’t want the job

        I am going in a different direction.
        I have decided to continue interviewing for other position?

        and yes if I don’t want the job and they continue to call and email there are great blocking features.

    2. Triplestep*

      +1 to all of this, including your second paragraph down to the number of years in the workforce. I pretty much expect never to hear back, and more often then not, I do not.

  34. Amyiriel*

    Not after an interview, but I sent my resume/applied for 2 jobs at a company. They cold called me wanting to do a phone interview, but the thing was, I had sent my information in 3 and almost 2 months previously.

  35. cheluzal*

    I feel like there is a variation of this, and similar advice, about once a week…

  36. Belle8bete*

    Sigh. My husband and I are hoping he gets a job at a place I currently work. I’m not sure the position was listed…but a program director left suddenly a few weeks before the busy busy busy season starts (everything runs in the summer), and the job was forced onto someone else at the organization who already has too many jobs (like the vice president is now forced to oversee dozens of programs). I was encouraged by others to send my husband’s info along to my boss, my manager sent it over to another manager, etc…he got a call from an outside recruiter last week that works with the company, and we’ve heard nothing since.

    I know a lot of folks at work (low down in hierarchy, the staff that has all their feet on the ground) are rooting for him, because they hated the last director and have met (and like) my husband and think he’d do well. It’s a little tough to have to force it all out of my mind when I go into work–I have to keep telling myself to assume nothing will come of it, and not to let it bother me, or it will mess up my current job happiness. I’m careful to avoid saying anything to my manager or other mangers so I don’t seem pushy or make things awkward. It would solve a lot of our current problems if this worked out, though, and it’s hard to stop thinking about it.

    A part of me thinks “wouldn’t they put a rush on this since the programs all start in June? It must mean they don’t want him.” But I know that’s not necessarily true, at all. And that there’s nothing I can do about it, anyway.

    This doesn’t help the OP, but typing it out made me feel better.

  37. AlmostRetiredHRLady*

    Alison’s advice is always, always spot on about this topic. Hiring is time consuming, and it almost always means that other tasks and projects were left unattended for a period of time while meeting with candidates. Hiring managers always think it can happen faster than it ends up happening. And often times, companies end up in the enviable but difficult dilemma of having TWO or more “perfect” candidates and having to make a choice — ensuring that at least one of those candidates won’t understand why they weren’t selected.

    In the “FWIW” department – in each of my last two job interviews – one 15 years ago (current job) and one 10 years before that — I left thinking I’d done my best but highly expecting to not get the job. Both offers came several weeks after I’d interviewed, and both offers were happy surprises. (in one case, i think my answer to “we’d like to offer you the job” was something like “you’re kidding!”) Just let it go, in the knowledge you gave it your best and if that’s not what they’re looking for, it wouldn’t have been a good fit anyway!

  38. mark132*

    I love the “sound of silence” I sometimes get after an interview. “Cynical me” wants to send them an email inquiring after their health (cuz if they weren’t in the hospital they of course would respond out of basic human courtesy), “practical me” just laughs (somewhat bitterly) and sends in another resume to someone else.

  39. Kate Clevidence*

    A long time ago I interviewed, it went well, got told I’d hear back. Never did. Shrugged my shoulders and moved on. Then, three months later I got a phone call offering me the job. Turns out that there were two offices, the one I applied to work at and a main office in another location. The one I interviewed with had decided to hire me, communicated that to the Main office only to get back “Oh oops, we already hired someone, she starts on Monday”. The person I interviewed with said “Fine, let this other person (me) know since they are waiting on our decisions and it’s your job to make these calls.” Main office said “Sure! No problem! Will do!” then didn’t.

    The first person didn’t work out, hiring manager remembered me and immediately gave me a call to offer me the position. I accepted and ended up working there for almost three years, parting on great terms and getting amazing references to further my career in another direction. No hard feelings, stuff happens. Was it optimal? No. Was any particular person at fault for it? Not really. Should someone have called? Sure. For all I know they were fired the next day and no one even knew the situation existed. It simply wasn’t personal and no one was being a jerk. Had I decided to default to that I would have missed out on an opportunity that served me very well for no particular reason other than making a pretty common and arbitrary action my Hill to Die On that day.

  40. Bulbasaur*

    Ah, the eternal question. There are about a million possible reasons and you may never know which.

    Write them off for now, mentally at least. You may still be in the running, or you may not be. Either way, nothing you do right now is likely to make any difference. If you are close to accepting another offer then you might like to check in with them one more time, assuming you would still consider them if they did want you. Otherwise, assume you missed out and forget about them. Then if they do get back to you it will be a pleasant surprise.

    This has happened to me a few times. Usually it meant I didn’t get the job. Once I heard nothing for a few weeks, then suddenly got a call from a very stressed-sounding HR person who wanted to set up an interview ASAP, but it needed to involve a couple of very senior people with packed schedules and it was really difficult to find a time, and of course she would work with my constraints as well but if I was able to be flexible on times it would be REALLY appreciated… It can be helpful if you learn to flip an emotional switch between “this job is great, I’d love to work here and here’s why I am a good fit” and “oh well, nice idea but it wasn’t meant to be” since you may need to do it several times in a row with some employers.

  41. 653-CXK*

    In most of the interviews I had, if I didn’t hear back in two weeks from the time I interviewed with them, I sent them an email asking for a status report. If they didn’t respond, I wrote it off as ghosting. Only rarely did I get a quick Letter of Nope (“Sorry, you’re not moving forward”), usually the day after.

    In the job that I hired for, I interviewed in early February but didn’t hear back until late February – my current boss had a death in their family, so they were delayed in calling my references. Completely understandable, and worth the wait.

  42. Argh!*

    ““hiring manager” means the person who will be managing you once you’re hired, not the person who’s in charge of all the organization’s hiring.
    So they often have other, higher priorities”

    Sometimes, the vacancy itself is stressing out the organization! Someone has to do the work while they wait to fill the position.

    I found out at a conference what happened to a job that I didn’t get: they decided not to hire for the position and to convert that line into a completely different position in a different department!

    In that case, I had decided that my potential future boss was a jerk and I didn’t want the job anyway, but it was good to know the reason … eventually.

  43. Tan*

    “you never know what’s going on behind-the-scenes” is so true and some people really don’t understand that hiring is a real process or project for a company. Then again my company will usually tell you within a few days if you are still being considered or not (although it is usually weeks, sometimes months after interviews that an offer is made). I think a lot of (particularly young) people expect <1 week turn around and that's probably because they have only had waitress /store assistant type jobs where I would expect (never been an interviewer for these so don't know for certain) it's easier to decide who is best as there is fewer criteria to assess (and perhaps an expectation the person won't be there long-term).
    Although my favourite interviewee "not understanding the process" moment came when a soon-to-be graduate (who had 2 months work experience but otherwise text book knowledge) accused us of bringing him in for an interview to steal his knowledge (we usually spend up to ~60 minutes on technical knowledge / "what would you do with x problem" questions) and not hire him (is that even a thing?). It was clear from any company documents /our website we'd been in the industry for over 30 years, and he thought we couldn't do basic troubleshooting.

  44. My approach*

    I’m in the camp of “apply for a job and then forget about it.” If they call me for an interview, great. If I end up having a great conversation with the hiring manager/team, great. If I don’t hear from them, oh well. It sucks, it’s disappointing, especially if I really wanted the job.

    But at the end of the day, if I don’t hear from them it’s because they’ve most likely decided that I was not the right fit for their team or that someone else was a better fit and I don’t need to stress out about it. By that point, I’ve also put in other applications so I’m not putting all my hopes on them/their job.

  45. Missouri Girl in Louisiana*

    I work in an industry where it’s not really easy to get a job where I live, so I have to be patient. I have had 2 interviews with one company and a phone interview with a headhunter representing another. The first company’s second interview was about 2.5 weeks ago (it’s really a state agency) and the other company has gone radio silent. It is very stressful (and I’ll admit, a bit demoralizing) that one doesn’t hear anything but I get it. The second company’s opening is something that I had a much better fit, but go figure. It is hard to sit and wait but I also know bugging my contact at either place (besides the thank you email) doesn’t make any difference and can just annoy them. There might be a lot of factors happening, which don’t apply to you (but it’s hard not to think that way).

  46. Cara_L*

    I am currently going through this now. I am interviewing, and had great interviews with two separate companies (at least, they seemed great from my perspective!).

    I did send follow-ups to both. One replied and gave me an update on timing; the other hasn’t responded at all.

    I am not taking the lack of response personally; stuff happens, including better candidates, hiring freeze, internal delays, etc.

    But, here’s the thing – I am also evaluating these companies to see if I would like working there, and if I would fit into the culture. And just like a thank you note from an interviewee isn’t expected, but appreciated, so too is a response from a company. It can also end up being the make or break in making a decision.

    If both came back to me with an offer, I’m going to be naturally inclined to go with the company that replied to my follow-up. And for the company that hasn’t replied, and might take weeks to do so – who knows, my job search might be over by then. Companies assume that great candidates are going to sit and wait for them, but not everyone has the luxury of time.

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