Job Interview Tips

Ghostbuster: How to follow up with an unresponsive interviewer

Written by Eric Titner

You’re likely aware that today’s job market is more volatile—and competitive—than ever before. Across all industries, the number of people vying for a limited number of coveted positions continues to rise. Amidst the uncertainty and economic fallout caused by the global pandemic, one thing is abundantly clear: if you’re going to cut through the competition and get noticed by the headhunters and gatekeepers who stand between you and locking down your next great job, you’re going to need to be tenacious and at your absolute best at every step of the job hunt.

Let’s assume that you’ve heeded this advice and have approached this process ready to outdo your fellow job search candidates. You’ve crafted a stellar resume that perfectly highlights your experience and accomplishments; you’ve developed a cover letter that grabbed the attention of hiring managers and held it long enough to snag an interview, and you’ve dazzled the folks you met at the interview and were able to make a clear and compelling case regarding your value proposition should they bring you on board.

Everything seems to be going precisely according to plan, and at this point, you may be thinking that all you need to do is sit back, relax, and wait for the call to let you know that an offer is being made. Not so fast—like most things in life, the job hunt process doesn’t always go according to plan. If the moments you’re waiting around for that coveted callback start stretching out longer and longer into eternity, you may be starting to worry that something went wrong.

If you’re currently in this position or fear that you may find yourself here in the future during your job search then relax, breathe, and consider the following strategies for dealing with a potentially unresponsive interviewer before your anxiety levels get the better of you.

Be realistic

The truth is, what may seem like forever to you while waiting to hear back from an interviewer may not actually be. If you think that you’re bound to get a call or email that same day or even that same week, it’s time to tamp down your expectations a bit. The folks who have taken the time out of their busy schedules to interview you likely have a lot of other responsibilities eating up their time, so before you start assuming that you’ve been ghosted try to determine if it’s just you who needs to be more patient. A good rule of thumb is to expect a wait in the range of 10–14 days before hearing back either way. If you’re lucky, you’ll be alerted during an interview about how long you should expect to wait to hear a response—if so, be sure to heed this helpful information before assuming the worst.

Be polite and professional

Let’s say that a significant amount of time has passed (at least 2 weeks) and you’ve still heard nothing. At this point, it’s ok to start thinking about a follow-up call or email. Make sure that the purpose of your follow-up is to enthusiastically restate your interest in the position and to reassert your potential value-add in a calm, polite, and professional manner. Use clear and precise language and keep things brief and straight to the point. Check your emotions at the door, even if you thought the first interview went amazingly and you’re shocked and hurt that you haven’t heard back yet. If you’re planning to call and think you’ll do a better job scripting out your message beforehand, that’s always an option—just be sure to practice saying it a few times beforehand so it doesn’t come off as too wooden or artificial. And be sure to leave your contact details on the message, just in case. If you’re going to send an email you’ll be able to plan and draft your message carefully, just be sure to follow the same advice as above before sending it.

One and done

Once you make your call to follow up with an interviewer, that’s it—you should only make an attempt once. Any additional attempts may come off as desperate, annoying, or possibly unprofessional. If you still don’t receive any response after a few weeks, it’s safe to assume that they’ve moved on, and you should too. Although you may be waiting for a call back for your absolute dream job, the truth is you can’t control everything in life—no matter how badly you may want something. Plus, when it comes to job hunting it’s never a great idea to put all your eggs in one basket. You may never get that response you’re waiting for, good or bad, and it’s in your best interests to open yourself up to other potential opportunities.

Hunting for a new job can be a significant life challenge in even the best of times; in today’s ultra-competitive, rapidly shifting, and volatile landscape you need to do whatever you can to stack the odds in your favor. Dealing with a potentially unresponsive interviewer is just one of the many hurdles you’ll have to face and overcome on the road to landing your next job—but if you handle the situation effectively you’ll be helping to set yourself up for success.

About the author

Eric Titner

Eric is a NYC-based editor and writer, with years of experience in career-focused content development across a wide range of industries.