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How to Handle Post Interview Silence

Written by Peter Jones

We’ve all been there. You get the interview.  You do well.  You send the requisite thank you note to follow up. And… nothing. The doubts set in, so does the despair. Rather than sit there doing nothing, and going quietly insane, consider any of the following options.

1. Gently nudge

Don’t be annoying. Don’t stalk anyone. And don’t call multiple times. But you can make one targeted phone call, or send one email to follow-up after your follow up and inquire as to their hiring time table.

2. Strategize

If you’re going to go for the nudge, make sure you make a plan. Fight off the urge to nudge again after your nudge—ad nauseum. Promise yourself you’ll not follow-up again for two weeks, or whatever time frame makes most sense, then stick to that. Set yourself a follow-up calendar if you have a hard time keeping track. It’s good to show your interest and eagerness, but bad to take a step over the line into pestering.

3. Take the high road

When you do get a person on the phone or via email, and you get slightly disappointing news—they’re waiting for a more experienced candidate, they’re nowhere near making a decision for internal, logistical reasons, or whatever else—try fielding it with grace. Being pleasant and professional and upbeat will go a long way. Even if you don’t get this job this time. Your demeanor will be remembered well.

4. Work your connections

See if you know anyone in your social media network who works at the company. If you’re close enough to ask them, they might be able to give you some insights into the hiring process for your position.

5. Take your cues

Before you reengage to follow-up again, think about how your efforts went over the last time you got in touch. Was the door left open? Or did they make it more or less clear that you should follow the “don’t call us, we’ll call you” rule of thumb? Pay attention to the signals you’ve received and act accordingly.

6. Aim higher

If you’re applying to a bigger company and feel your file has gotten lost in the bowels of HR, and you’ve weighed the risks, it might be appropriate to take your candidacy up the food chain. Try shooting a polite and professional inquiry to the person you’d be working for directly. You never know; they might admire your initiative.

7. Trust yourself

Listen to your gut instinct. Is it saying “you didn’t get this one, just let it go”? If that’s the case, cut your losses and move on. There is no call for desperation. There are other opportunities. Open yourself up fully to those once you realize a door is closed.

8. Don’t take it personally

If you do get rejected, or worse, just ignored, it probably says a lot more about the level of professionalism at that company than it does about you. It might even be the case that, over the course of your application, the company changed the scope of that position, or eliminated it entirely, and aren’t keen to publicize that fact. Sometimes never hearing back is just an unfortunate thing that happens. Let it go, smile wide, and move on. And keep the way they’ve handled this process in mind should they reach out to you in the future.

About the author

Peter Jones