Why nobody calls you back and what you can try to do about it
There are many annoying truths about the job search but one of the biggest is the lack of contact from employers, mainly after the interview, but really at any stage in the process.
It’s the way it is. People aren’t going to call you back. In one survey we did we found that nearly half of candidates (43%) say they didn’t even hear back after their last interview. That’s crazy.
Why is this? Well, it’s possible that they did call you back and your voicemail was full and you missed it. But the main reason is that those hiring managers are big jerks. I could try to sugar coat it but that’s the truth. There is literally no excuse for not taking three minutes to email someone who took time out of their day to meet with you and let them know they didn’t get the job, particularly when you know that a person’s livelihood and future rest on your decision.
Another, more generous interpretation is that they’re busy. Their intentions were good, and they meant to get in touch but it slipped their mind. Or perhaps they feel guilty and don’t want to send a message they know will disappoint someone. But that’s a self-serving, cowardly reason.
Add to that the fact that you’re not going to hear back nearly 100% of the time after sending out your resume and cover letter, and that’s a whole lot of feeling ignored. Ideally companies would have a system in place to let people know at every stage in the process whether they’re being considered or not. But most can’t be bothered.
Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot you can do about that part except make sure your contact information is visible. But there are a few things you can do to lessen the chance of getting ghosted after the interview.
1. Ask about next steps during the interview. Don’t be shy to say “What are the next steps and when will I hear back from you?” The manager should outline the process, saying, we’re going to be checking references and should let you know within two weeks. Note that if they say, “We just have a few more candidates to interview,” you probably didn’t get it. Employers don’t keep interviewing candidates if they’ve found one they like.
2. Follow up with a Thank-You note. Do this immediately afterwards. Thank the interviewer for meeting with you and reiterate your interest in the position. Very briefly highlight your key qualifications again, and single out something they said that was interesting or insightful. Stress that you’re looking forward to hearing from them and include your contact information.
3. If you haven’t heard anything in a week, follow up again. Just send one or two sentences this time, saying you’re still interested and asking if any decision has been made.
4. Harass them with follow-up emails – and chain letters, and inspirational stories about angels, and those lame jokes your grandpa spams you with. Then, when they block you, call them out on Twitter, phone them, and then go to their office and cry.
5. I’m kidding! Don’t do that. Yes, anyone who has left you hanging for a month probably deserves it but it won’t help you get the job and will hurt your chances if they’re still making a decision. You have to move on.
Take comfort in the knowledge that if they treat everyone like that their employer brand will suffer and they’ll only be able to hire second-rate people and will go out of business.
Probably. Maybe. Maybe not.
Life isn’t fair.
Go read an inspiration story about an angel.
You’re not alone in this. It happens to almost everyone.