how to make waiting to hear back about a job more bearable

A reader writes:

I have a question about waiting to hear back about a job. I have been in the process of applying for a new position. I’ve had three interviews with the company, I know someone who works there who gave me a strong recommendation, and my background matches the position very well. Two days ago, they called me for a fourth time and asked about my location and the possibility of relocation (they have remote work options). I told them that I was flexible with my location and would be happy to move to the area because I have immediate family there.

It has now been two days of silence. I am hopeful, but as a person who is a bit desperate, the wait is painful. Do you have any advice on how to make this part of the application process a bit easier? This is a very large international company and so that is why I think things may be moving a bit slowly, but I really hope to hear something soon.

First, use this time to do your due diligence on the job. It sounds like you’re very focused on wanting to get an offer — but have you also dug into the possible downsides? Have you thought through concerns you might have, investigated what other people’s experience working there has been, and read online reviews? Do you know what outstanding questions you’d want to discuss if you do get an offer? Have you thought through what you’d need to see in an offer to feel good about accepting it?

I don’t want to deflate your enthusiasm! But remember that you need to be assessing the employer as much as they’re assessing you … and when you’re very focused on Must Get Offer, that can make you leap too fast.

Second, keep applying to other jobs. That can be hard to do when you’re really hoping your job search is coming to an end. But psychologically it’s helpful to keep looking because it’ll keep you from focusing too much on this job, and it’ll reinforce that there are other jobs out there that you might also like. It also has the advantage of keeping your job search active in case you don’t get this offer, or in case the offer isn’t one you end up wanting to accept … and it can prevent you from feeling like, “Well, this is what they’re offering so I guess I have to take it.”

{ 75 comments… read them below }

  1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    I am currently waiting to hear back from SEVEN different companies right now. Hiring managers out there, I know you’re busy and I want to help! All you have to do is hire me!

  2. Bookworm*

    I get this. I was encouraged to apply to a job recently after just dropping in my materials at a place that wasn’t hiring at the time. It hasn’t been that long for me either.

    I just try to take it in stride. Keep applying, hope for other opportunities, focus on other stuff. I’m at the point where it’s easier for me to accept that it’s easier to assume I won’t hear back so I’m not constantly thinking about it (and for legitimate reasons: some places can take FOREVER to respond).

    Good luck. You’re not alone in this at all.

    1. Laney Boggs*

      A friend recommended me at his law firm. They were clear that they didn’t have openings but wanted to talk anyway. The interview went OK, I guess (I had no description to go off of, my friend wasn’t a ton of help in that department, etc, so i was kind of freestyling) but it was the end of June and I never heard anything back :(

  3. Junior Assistant Peon*

    Expect to be ghosted and jerked around when you’re interviewing. You’ll make yourself crazy if you don’t.

    1. Mif*

      Exactly like when you’re dating… the whole time I was reading this one I was thinking of how the same advice could be applied when you’re waiting to hear back from a date/someone you’re interested in. AAM advice reminds me of dating advice so often and has helped me out in that area too !

      1. Junior Assistant Peon*

        I really regret that I didn’t approach the online dating game this way in my single days. I kept getting more and more frustrated trying to figure out whether schedule conflicts for second dates were real or fake, when I should have been going on more first dates instead.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      Yes! That’s why it’s so important to keep applying and interviewing to other jobs.
      A few months ago, I was a finalist for a role so I stopped applying to other jobs. Weeks later I found out that I didn’t get the job and I had wasted all that time waiting instead of continuing my job search. There were likely jobs that I never saw because they were posted and filled while I was daydreaming about the great new job.

    3. Exhausted Trope*

      Yup. Just went through this this week. Applied for the job in early September, went through an INSANE process: Resume, application, 2 editing assessments, phone screen, 2 behavioral assessments, phone interview, and three writing projects. This took HOURS of work.
      And all I received was a generic dismissal email!
      Makes me wish I had bailed after the phone screen.

      1. Tiffany Aching's imaginary friend*

        They asked you to do work *before* the phone screen? That’s totally ridiculous.

      2. Betteauroan*

        That is a lot to ask and it is very rude and dismissive, plus disrespectful of your time, to blow you off with a generic form letter. So sorry you went through all that. Wish you could tell us what company it was so I would never buy their product or whatever they were selling!!!

        1. Exhausted Trope*

          I wish I could tell you that, as well. I really want to post a Glassdoor review, too, but not sure they even have a page.
          The entire process was ridiculous and I shouldn’t have gone through it but I really liked the position. Lesson learned.

      3. Anonymous for this*

        I sympathize. After three interviews, I was given a “test” with 24 hours to 1) proofread a 7 page document 2) write out a sample request and 3) plot out a week-long international trip (a process that usually takes weeks to research, plan, and double check for accuracy.) I took a day off of work at my current job in order to have enough time to present something somewhat respectable. (But still a bit rough, because perfection takes time.) I thought I did a really good job, all things considered. And after all of that, I still didn’t get the job. The “test” is probably why, which is infuriating, given how crazy the time constraint was. I am dismayed by their demand of so much of my time and disregard for the fact that I have other responsibilities that can’t just be dropped on their say so. And the arrogance of demanding this much work from an applicant that they never intended to pay a dime to. But I am also relieved, because I am certain that I just dodged a huge bullet. Anyone who would be this inconsiderate and demanding to their applicants would undoubtedly be a nightmare to actually work for.

    4. BRR*

      I always feel like such a pessimist saying it but I have zero expectations to ever hear back. Last interview i had, the hiring manager stated that I would hear either way. Of course nothing. But it’s fine. Not caring about being ghosted is the best decision I’ve ever made.

    5. Xenia*

      While you’re right that expecting the worst is the way to go sometimes, it can be REALLY hard to actually do that without having some concrete alternative. I was job hunting last autumn and getting no hits. I kept telling myself that I was fine, that it took time, and thought I had myself under control. Then I got the offer and ONLY then did I realize how much stress I’d actually been under. Everyone I met for the next few days commented on how much happier I looked.

      So yeah, you can tell yourself that it’s rough until you’re blue in the face and it might not do a thing for you.

  4. CR*

    It’s hard but you have to remember that the people on the other side of the table have full plates with their own work and stuff going on, hiring you probably isn’t their #1 priority, people get sick or take time off or whatever, and the hiring process can be SO slow as a result. Two days is nothing.

  5. gododgers*

    Well, due diligence is ok when you have the luxury and are currently working in a not-terrible environment and just considering moving on. Other times you are not working, or dealing with a hostile boss, or on a PIP that’s not going well, or the company is floundering and layoffs are imminent – and you NEED a new job. Of course that’s always when a company takes it’s sweet time going through the process. It’s almost like they can sense any desperation. Sometimes, as long as they aren’t breeding alligators in the bathrooms, you take any job, bad reputation & Glassdoor included, and worry about the right job later.

    1. Littorally*

      Just because you’re taking the job regardless doesn’t mean due diligence isn’t helpful. Knowing what you’re getting into is invaluable.

      1. Tiffany Aching's imaginary friend*

        This. It’s so much better than being blindsided and then going thru all the “this can’t be real, can it?” thought processes.

    2. goducks*

      Sure, the urgency to move on can be greater in some situations, but just because you need to leave THIS job doesn’t mean that you should take THAT job. Moving from one bad situation to another (possibly worse!) one isn’t going to help. Alison’s advice to the LW is correct, she should be considering what this offer would need to look like, and really think through what she’d need to know to determine that a move would be an improvement worth making.

      1. Been there, done that*

        Unless THIS situation is unemployment with expiring benefits and no health insurance and bills piling up. Then you might just need to take THAT job. Sadly, a lot of people don’t have the luxury of being picky right now and that’s really a shame. The OP specifies that he/she is a bit desperate so this might very well apply to them.

        1. goducks*

          If the LW is in a truly desperate place where they need ANY job, then the advice to apply, apply, apply is especially valid, and they shouldn’t be putting too much energy into stressing this one job because they need to take any job at that point, and more applying means more chances at landing one. The fact that the LW is eagerly waiting on one specific job leads me to believe that they are not in a place where they have to take what’s offered, no matter what.

          1. Been there, done that*

            That one job that they are eagerly waiting on might be the ONLY serious bite they’ve had in weeks or longer and that’s what’s creating the desperation. I agree that they definitely need to keep looking up or until they have an acceptable offer. But just because this is a “job searcher’s market” right now, it’s not as easy as people think to find a good job. Especially if you are middle age with 25+ years experience who can’t afford to work for peanuts.

            1. Lauren Comrade*


              Currently in the final stages of the first interviews I’ve had since I started my hunt in like February or March. I’ve applied for about 40+ jobs at this point, 80% of which I was a perfect candidate for on paper. So not even making it to the interview stage has been completely demoralizing. The only reason I got my foot in the door for this one was because of a referral.

              So I totally understand OP’s pain of hinging all their hopes on this prospect. Working in an incredibly toxic environment has messed with my mental health and it’s taken a lot of therapy and meds to get to a place where I can get out of bed and face the workday. For all we know, OP has done their due diligence. Having gone from one toxic workplace to another out of desperation (and better pay) despite the red flags, I’ve been super selective with where I apply.

              Idk how I’ll cope if I don’t get this job and waiting to hear back has my anxiety in overdrive and I’m obsessively checking my phone >.< SOS

        2. Kella*

          If that’s the case, the majority of Alison’s advice still applies. Gathering information and deciding what you want in an ideal situation and what you’re willing to compromise for, are valuable practices regardless. If you are desperate for work, that just means your research is unlikely to lead you to the decision to not take the offer. But that’s not the only reason to do this research and decision-making ahead of time.

          And Alison’s advice of continue applying and don’t get hung up on this one job is even more important if they are desperate for work. There’s no guarantee that this company’s timeline will line up with the OP’s if they are running out of money and another company might hire them faster.

    3. anonymous73*

      It never hurts. Even if you’re desperate for a job at least you can know what you’re getting yourself into before you start. I would rather go into a situation prepared than go from one miserable situation to another with doe eyed hope that this time it’ll be better.

      1. Agency Survivor*

        That happened to me. I was angry during a reorg and someone aggressively courted me on LinkedIn. I jumped at it with almost no research, thinking that ANYTHING would be better than being underappreciated and demoted at my current role. I was so, so, so wrong. The new job had much in common with cults. It took me 2 months to realize I made a mistake and 13 months to carefully research my way into a role where I am now happy, going on 2 years.

    4. BRR*

      I think it’s implied to do due diligence if you don’t need to accept the first job that comes Your way. Even if you’re in a bad job it still makes sense to do some. My last job was toxic and I’m thankful to this day that I passed on an offer from a job that would have likely been awful, just not quite as awful.

    5. Laney Boggs*

      Ugh I feel this. Any job I take will require a pretty substantial relocation… companies in the cities are still working from home right now, but if you’re going back to the office in January and drag your feet until December hiring me…. I’m going to have a bad time.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      You aren’t wrong, but in my experience taking this approach and “settling” often leads to even worse work disasters.
      But I get that sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to survive. I’ve been there a few times myself! It used to be you could get temp work to tide yourself over if you had to suddenly quit a job, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside nowadays.

  6. ThatGirl*

    Two days is practically nothing. I went through a hiring process that took almost 3 months, from initial application to starting. There was behind the scenes stuff affecting it that I knew nothing about, but it didn’t matter – I just needed to be patient and I kept applying/interviewing elsewhere.

    In fact, in my (gulp) almost 20 years of professional experience, I’ve only had ONE hiring process actually go quickly – my current job, from application to offer, took about 3 1/2 weeks. And even in those 3 1/2 weeks I wasn’t holding my breath; I did my research on this company and job but I also kept looking elsewhere.

  7. Elizabeth West*

    This is one of the worst parts of job hunting. I have two things sort of hanging right now, and I’m still combing through listings. It seems to go in waves. I’ll find a ton one week and then the next, there’s not a lot. This week, there doesn’t seem to be much.

    I try to do some due diligence before I apply—I read Glassdoor information, google for complaints, look at the company website, etc. OP mentioned relocating and having family in the area; for applicants who want to move but don’t have that, I also recommend checking out available housing, particularly in high-COL areas. Of course, it would help if companies would post their salaries and lower-income housing restrictions went by area cost of living. Trying to figure out take-home pay is a PITA.

    But yeah, moving on is best. It focuses you on the future and other possibilities and keeps your mind out of a thought loop where this and only this job will do. Job hunt/dating analogy: there are other fish in the sea.*

    Good luck, OP; I hope it works out.

    *shh, universe; you didn’t hear that, don’t jinx me or the OP

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Yes, I also find that just finding jobs to apply for is feast or famine!

      Applying for other jobs was a productive way I kept myself distracted from my job search anxiety. As is dating (exercising my skills at being rejected) and intentionally choosing to *NOT* search for periods of time (as opposed to being too exhausted to search). The latter was a healthful reminder that I have a life and identify outside of my career.

  8. ThisIsTheHill*

    I had 2 video interviews with the same company over the 4 business days of Memorial Day week for a contract-to-hire position. Was told they’d have a decision by the following Weds. Crickets. It took another week before the offer came in, enough time that I assumed their first choice declined. When I finally started in July, I discovered that the org is really just disorganized, though they don’t have an external reputation of being so.

    Like others said, keep applying, & know that you’ve made it further than most in the process so there is reason for hope until you’re told otherwise. Find your happy place away from a computer/electronic device; for me, going out & working in the garden distracted my mind enough that I wasn’t completely fixated & wracked with anxiety. Best of luck to you!

  9. Smithy*

    Definitely recommend trying to find other jobs to apply to. First of all it’s a good way to distract that part of your brain, but also it may help in identifying something else that might be interesting. I’ve found it MUCH easier to weigh pluses and negatives of any job when I’ve evaluating more than one, as opposed to just wanting and waiting on one.

    In my last job hunt, it was a case of seeing the “dream job” posting – that even though it felt highly likely was never a sure thing. At the same time a recruiter reached out about another job with a title I assumed would pay too little. I went through with the interview and we discussed salary that was ultimately too little. The recruiter came back, and said they could make the salary work and requested I stick with the process. I did and ultimately had both processes going on in parallel. When the second job came in first with a job offer that was, in fact still too little, it was certainly irritating but then a few days later I heard from dream job with the offer I ultimately accepted.

    In isolation, the process with the second interview was annoying because we were never aligned on salary. However, during the process it was so good to be distracted by multiple interviews, by having a back up in case my current job became completely intolerable, and by forcing me to weigh what I liked/disliked about both jobs. Also, dream job was slow on absolutely every timeline they ever gave me. And telling myself not to be worried vs actually not being worried are never the same thing.

    1. Smithy*

      One more thing to flag – in weighing the pluses/minuses other jobs may also just help give you a gut check around how you feel about moving. In another job hunt, I had two jobs I had listed as 1A and 1B in my mind, but 1A meant moving and 1B didn’t.

      The year before I’d been offered a job that meant relocating and ultimately I’d passed, because it didn’t quite seem like the job to move for. Having an option where I didn’t have to move, but still wanting to move was something I found really helpful in evaluating my own interest in the overall opportunity.

  10. anonymous73*

    In addition to everything Alison said, always ask when you can expect to hear from them about a decision or next step. And be realistic. When a company is hiring, they’re generally trying to coordinate a bunch of schedule’s to make things happen and can take longer than you would think. And there are also a lot of companies who choose ghosting you rather than being decent humans and telling you they went with someone else. I was laid off last year so I get it. Unless I’m given a specific time frame, I usually give it a week and then assume it’s a no.

  11. learnedthehardway*

    I would suggest that you keep on applying to other things – that will spread out your interest among a number of different opportunities, and not focus so much of it on just one. If you’re already doing that, perhaps put some dates/times in your calendar when you feel like you can follow up on the job appropriately, and then put it out of your mind as much as possible.

    Good luck!

    1. MMM*

      Also, I have to say that even if you end up taking this job, it is SO satisfying to be able to reply to any future requests for interviews with “Thanks so much, but I actually just accepted a new position!” I’m still getting some straggling requests from jobs I applied to before my current new one was official

      1. ThatGirl*

        yes! that was very satisfying when I accepted/started my current job.

        The most satisfying one was when a company I’d interviewed with waaay back in 2007 called me again, and was really focused this on the quasi-prestigious school I went to for undergrad, instead of the 18 years of work experience I’ve had since. Then they followed up with a “quick question” about something on my application **from 2007** (I’d just been fired from a job at the time) and the whole thing just gave me serious snob vibes – so I was thrilled to tell them I didn’t need them anymore!

          1. ThatGirl*

            Reading the GlassDoor reviews, I got the vibe that they care mostly about having “big name school” graduates working there and that was why they were so fixated on my undergrad (which, again, I graduated in 2003; this interview happened at the end of last year). So in 2007 I would have been super happy to work there, but this year I feel like it was a bullet dodged.

  12. Ashley*

    When I was playing the waiting game, in addition to continuing to job hunt I tried to keep myself as busy as possible to try and minimize the obsessing about why I hadn’t heard. I tried to channel my energy into things I could control. — cleaning and purging can soothe me. I also read and watched a lot of movies to disconnect.

  13. Momma Bear*

    Or it might just be the company. Right now we are trying to do five things at once and if the interviewee doesn’t get a response by the end of the week, it will simply be because there’s another fire. I hope you get a response soon, OP. But it’s probably not personal.

    I also agree to keep looking, just in case or for comparison.

  14. Me*

    In addition to what Alison listed, research the area. I know you said you have immediate family there, so you are likely familiar, but are you familiar with the nuts and bolts? What’s it going to cost you to rent/buy? What areas can you afford to live in? What’s your commute going to be like. What are the prospects for your social life?

    But also keep looking as if nothing happened. Its just like when your first dating someone. Emotions are high, but in reality there’s no guarantees. Easier said than done. Don’t try not thinking of it either. Doesn’t work. Instead acknowledge the thoughts when they come then consciously move on to something else instead of allowing yourself to ruminate. There’s lots of good techniques for breaking thought cycles on the interwebs. Good tools to have for lots of different reasons.

    PS two days is nothing. nor is a week or even a month. It just depends on the hiring practices of the business. I’m government so sometimes I’m looking an months for the proper wheels to do their things. You never know what comes up that might delay the process. Just keep swimming.

    1. Kella*

      I get the sense that OP isn’t complaining about how long the wait has been but noticing that they are already having a hard time dealing with the wait after only a few days. Knowing it could be longer may or may not calm that anxiety but either way, OP is asking for ways to cope with the stress that comes with waiting.

  15. Impatient*

    Feeling this right now!! So ready to hear back from (what feels like) my dream job, but still keeping my options open.

  16. RJ*

    How to keep busy? Continue to look/research other jobs. Hiring is insane right now and there’s absolutely no set time table. I just heard back from a company I’d applied and interviewed for in February 2020, asking me for an updated resume which I sent to them. Meanwhile, I’m doing some MOOC courses (Coursera) and working on my degree online.

  17. Little Lobster*

    That first point, about doing due diligence on the company, might be pointless if you’re in a desperate situation that will force you to say yes to any offer you get, as the LW might be. I know, because I’ve found myself in that position for most of my career. I’m in my mid-30s and I’ve only had the luxury of willingly quitting a job for something better once. (And then that “something better” job laid me off!) Every other job I’ve ever had has been out of desperation. So I really know how LW feels. You might start reading reviews and find out it’s a miserable place to work, or that they go through directors at a rate of 1 per year, or that their finances are under scrutiny, or something else, but there’s nothing you can do with that information because you’re desperate. You can’t say no. I don’t have any advice for this, just know that everyone out there who’s in this situation has my utmost empathy. I’ve been there so, so, so many times, including right now.

  18. Move on*

    Most important thing is to immediately move on. Ideally, use the downtime to apply to their direct competitors.

    I was literally hand-picked for a position over linkedin. Hiring manager reached out directly, gave me a range and said interview was all but a formality as we have some prior interactions and this position is identical to my current one at a larger company.

    After interview, he handed the packet off to an HR rep who then ghosted me and he told me to expect an answer within a week. I haven’t heard from this woman for over 6 months, and the hiring manager and I still talk to this day about industry trends and make light hearted jabs about what it will be like when HR finally gets their act together.

    HR is worthless, has no desire to make business positive decisions, and cannot be expected to show an ounce of common human decency. Don’t even waste a single second of mental energy on someone who can’t be bothered to do the same for you. Just give them just enough rope to hang themselves and laugh when they eventually manage to get the job done.

    1. ThatGirl*

      While your situation sounds deeply frustrating, I wouldn’t assume that it’s all HR’s fault, and it’s definitely not fair to paint all HR reps as worthless.

    2. HMM*

      HR very often has less power than a manager does. You sure your manager just didn’t reconsider his offer in haste and is using HR as an easy scapegoat to keep you warm?

      1. Artemesia*

        I’d be surprised if HR has the power to keep a hire that a department is desperate for from happening. Maybe so, but I would be dubious.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          At my company, HR apparently does have that power to some extent. To be clear, I heard this second-hand.

          The head of the department handpicked a candidate, who has a stellar reputatuon in the field and is highly sought after. Hiring is notoriously slow here, so Department Head was trying to get them to skip the background check, since this candidate was coming from the US federal government; we definitely do not have a better background check than the government.

          But, nope, HR is forcing them to to through the same agonizingly slow process as everyone else (think 6 month delay).

          1. Loulou*

            But this is a different thing than HR overriding the department’s choice, which I think is what Artemesia was calling unlikely. I would be surprised by HR saying “you can’t choose this candidate” but I expect to be at the mercy of their process once I’ve made the selection.

      2. Loulou*

        I don’t think it’s really about who has the “power.” At my org, and I think many others, the search committee or hiring manager is fully empowered to make the selection, but they then need to submit their choice to HR and HR is ultimately the one who prepares the offer and extends it. There’s absolutely no way for the hiring manager to circumvent HR, and HR usually has way more things to juggle hiring-wise than any one department.

  19. AnotherAlison*

    High praise to the company that moved from a recruiter cold contact on LinkedIn to an offer in a month. Their recruiters must be incentivized or something. My first job out of college went pretty quickly, too. That was 1999 and I connected with the recruiter at a new grad networking dinner. Anytime I’ve had a direct contact, whether an internal or external recruiter, it’s been pretty quick to move through the process, but when I send applications out into the universe, it’s been worse, even post-interview when you have those HR and HM connections. I had one offer where I waited so long after my interview that I gave up, but then did make the offer and I rejected it because I felt like they weren’t that into me. Could just be slow, but I had too much time to think about it and make up a story.

  20. Cobol*

    I have problems with this, especially not applying for new jobs when I have a progressing opportunity with an organization. But……….

    I found I’m far happier when I forget about a job after I’ve done my follow up. There are so many things that could be happening that it doesn’t make sense to even think about it. Do what you need to do, then move on, and then if they get back to you, or if you make it to the next round, it’s just a positive.

  21. Maglev to Crazytown*

    I have learned to just not get hope up at all. I recently applied for a role at a different company, interviews went well with someone I have had excellent reputation and professional rapport with, and was told I would be getting an offer.

    I did not in fact end up getting an offer.

    1. Artemesia*

      My husband followed me giving up a really good job and it was really tough getting re-established — much more than we naively expected as he had been hot stuff where he was in another city. Then he is actively recruited, told a job offer is coming, and we are invited to a firm BBQ. As soon as we got there, I knew it had gone sideways because we were not welcomed; it was awkward; he said ‘but he just told me last week the offer is a sure thing so I’m sure it is okay’. Turned out one partner didn’t want to go ahead and so no job. WORST dinner ever. The guy recruiting him had somehow forgotten about the social invitation and not called and warned him off. SO awful. And after a long search in a brother in law town where we had no connections. Thinks eventually got better but tough times.

  22. EH*

    Always always always keep applying until you have a negotiated and signed offer! And, tbh, even then it would be a not-terrible idea to keep searching until your first day. Businesses can and will ghost you at pretty much any stage.

    My partner got ghosted when the next step was the company deciding between him and the only other person who’d made it through all the interview rounds. They ghosted and then reposted the position a month later!

  23. Goldenrod*

    Alison’s advice is spot-on, as usual. I recently was job searching, and I found that if I had a few irons in the fire at a time, it really took the pressure off. That way, if something doesn’t work out, you psychologically have something else to focus on.

    But I also want to say – the place that ended up hiring me took almost a month to make the offer! It turned out that they wanted to offer me more money and had to jump through a lot of hoops to do that. So, it can take a long time even when the employer really wants you. Hang in there!

  24. Lobsterman*

    You gotta find the Zen spot of giving good effort during the interview, then assuming the company will probably not get back to you, and you’ll never learn why, until some company does get back to you — and you’ll never learn what’s different.
    Better to concentrate on what you can affect, like continuing to apply and interview until literally the day you accept — and possibly the day you start.

  25. Deb*

    When I’ve been in your shoes in the past, a lot of what I tortured myself with was the “what if they don’t call me and what it means” game. i.e. This job is SO wonderful and if I don’t get it, I’m missing out on this future life I believe I’ll have working there. And if I don’t get it, then it means there’s something wrong with what I did in the interview and that one mistake is the reason I’ll miss out on this one life-changing opportunity.
    It’s ridiculous because I’ve worked in HR and I know that there are many reasons not to hire someone that have nothing to do with them and no job is perfect, but I’ve still been in that internal dialogue spiral.
    The biggest thing I’ve learned though is that if I don’t get the job, there’s a good reason and it wasn’t the right job for me. (By the way, this is also true of dating.) I’m not into fate/destiny/spirituality, but I have had enough situations where I was lucky enough to find out later why something didn’t happen or behind-the-scenes info, and often why I was lucky it didn’t happen. Sometimes this was years later. But every time, it confirmed that it was ultimately to my benefit. (This was true even when I totally messed up in an interview and lost the job I was desperate for. I would have been maxed in the salary for that job if I had gotten it. But the one that I ended up getting a month later had lots of room for growth and I benefited from that for the next five years in that position. And it was a wonderful job where I learned so much.)
    So OP, if that’s where you are, please don’t torture yourself with these kinds of thoughts. If it’s the right job for you, you’ll get it. If it’s not, you won’t. And in the meantime, what can you do with your time that you won’t have the freedom to do when starting a new job? Any last minute prep or “time off” things you want to squeeze in? Set a deadline to enjoy the hope that this job is the right job for you and use the time until that deadline to work on that list. If you hit that time (ex. a week) and haven’t heard, start applying for other jobs.

  26. Skippy*

    I feel you, OP. The best piece of job hunting advice I ever read is to assume that after every interview you should assume that you will never hear from that company again. But that’s so much easier said than done.

    I also have to add that these long, drawn-out hiring processes don’t make it any easier. You have to invest so much time and energy into these companies in order to be considered for a position and it becomes so much harder to detach.

  27. CW*

    Two days is not much. But two weeks, that means you likely have been ghosted. When I was job hunting a couple years ago after getting laid off I completely miscounted how many times I have been ghosted. It was deflating, but I never gave up. In the end I kept applying until I got a formal offer. I end up finding a job at a great company and am still happily employed here.

    On the other hand, some employers wouldn’t actually ghost, but make you wait more than a month (yes, a MONTH) before scheduling an interview or in between interviews. I once applied to a certain company, didn’t hear back within two weeks and assumed I was ghosted, only to hear back 5 weeks later after I applied asking to schedule a phone interview. Not surprisingly, I totally forgot I even applied and didn’t accept the request to schedule the interview, as I had already found a job by that point. Nobody has time to wait a month between rounds. A reasonable employer would know that, but sadly, not all employers are reasonable.

  28. Anonymars*

    At the job I just accepted, they scheduled my second/final interview FIVE WEEKS after my first interview. Like OP, I thought the job was a great match, I vibed really well with the leadership, and felt like I really killed it on the tasks. It was torture. I spent the next 5 weeks biting my nails, practicing and practicing for my next interview, researching the company, and imagining what it would be like to work there. But to Alison’s point, I was careful to not put all my eggs in one basket (even though, mentally, I kind of was). I still applied for more jobs and had interviews at 4 other companies, which helped solidify why I felt like this company was truly going to be the best fit for me.

    At the end of the day when I finally accepted the job and signed the offer letter, the people who interviewed me said “Oh yeah, you were our top choice all along, it was unanimous, we’re really sorry at how slowly we moved.”

  29. Sled Dog Mama*

    My current job is the only job I’ve ever applied for that had a quick hiring process, and that was probably because I had worked with the owner at a previous company before he started this one. From the day I sent him my materials (because I decided it was time to move on from previous job) to when I started was 34 days. That’s lightning fast in my industry, and they wanted me to start a week earlier but I just couldn’t get it coordinated. Prior to that 3 months was the fastest I’d seen from application to offer or rejection and then usually 4-6 weeks for notice period and maybe relocation.
    Yeah it’s no fun to wait a week when someone says they’ll get back to you in two days but cut them a little slack, you don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, maybe the hiring manager is suddenly out sick or the person who told you two days didn’t realize that a person who needed to sign off on something is out for the next two days.

    1. Sled Dog Mama*

      Totally forgot to say, Also check your junk mail folder. My job offer ended up there even after I had been emailing back and forth with the person who sent it.

  30. overeasy*

    I wish I had some good coping mechanisms for you, but after just finishing a six month job hunt, I never really found a great way to cope with the anxiety of waiting for a specific job. I will tell you one hopeful thing, though. The job I ended up finally getting, I went through at least 4 separate periods where it had been so long since I’d heard from them (1-2 weeks after I was supposed to) that I was sure I hadn’t moved on. Except I had! When it finally came down to the last round, I was so sure I hadn’t gotten the job that I emailed them to check in just so I could get the bad news and finally just deal with it but then turns out I DID get it. All in all it took about 3 months to get from first contact to offer even though they’d initially told me they were moving quickly. lolsob. It is so frustrating, it is a hard kind of limbo, but the thing I did learn is that you cannot guess what’s going on on the other end. Find your best distractions, keep yourself busy, have friends/family to rotate venting to. You’ll make it.

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