Where's the line between assertive and obnoxious?
June 16, 2011 5:35 PM   Subscribe

I interviewed for a job I really want on the 6th of June, sent a follow-up/thank you note a few days later, and have so far heard nothing. Is there any way I can do a second follow-up without being horribly irritating? If so, how and when?

The final deadline was in late April, and it took them about 5 weeks after the deadline to call me in for an interview. And when I went in, the office did seem very busy. Regardless, they told me that they would try to let us know within the week (that is, by the 10th), but that the final decision maker was going out of town on the 12th (I don't know the return date), and that if they weren't able to get to it by then, I would have to wait until he returned. The email I sent was the standard follow-up stuff: Thanking them for the opportunity and re-affirming my interest in the position. It seemed (to me) like the interview went pretty well?

I want this job a lot, and I can't relax until I at least know what's happening with it. If I didn't get it, that's fine - I just want to know so that I can move on, rather than constantly hoping and wishing and worrying. Can I call them? Send a second email? (I have the email addresses of two employees - one who arranged my interview, and one who I would be working directly under. I sent my thank-you/follow-up to the former. Can I email the latter?) Is there anything I can do other than awkwardly sit around and wait? If so, when can I do it? And what do I say? Should I just take the hint and give up?

posted by mellifluous to Work & Money (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
posted by rokusan at 5:39 PM on June 16, 2011 [4 favorites]

Wait until about two weeks after the interview, and then send an email asking if there are any updates on the hiring decision. I know it'll be an uncomfortable wait, but some companies are pretty busy and may need to interview other candidates, so you need to give them this break in order to not seem like another of their problems.

If they don't respond to the email, move on.

During the two weeks, actually, pretend that you are moving on and look for other positions. It'll be easier on you mentally, whatever the outcome.
posted by ignignokt at 5:41 PM on June 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Bugger. Seconding don't. You cannot make it go any faster than it already is, and if you do get the job, your first impression is 'yeah, that's the moron who kept nagging me.'
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:42 PM on June 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd say wait a while longer. Every hiring process I have been involved with has run long, which is shitty for the candidates but often is just the way it is. There are just a bunch of places for delays -- you need to get a bunch of busy people together each time a decision needs to get made; a key person is out of town; HR all of a sudden wants new paperwork; etc. I know this is the most important thing in your life at this moment, but for the people doing the hiring it's probably only one of ten or twenty fires they are trying to put out, and probably the easiest thing to delay at any given moment.

But having said all that, it's not inappropriate to ask after a couple of weeks where things are in the process.
posted by Forktine at 5:48 PM on June 16, 2011

Chances are your decider is still out of town. I would wait until the end of next week, or maybe even early week after that, in case they are out for two weeks.

Another follow up is not a terrible thing at that time, imho. If I am interviewing I always let folks know we went with someone else, if I don't do that I know I am opening myself up to be harangued!
posted by pazazygeek at 6:12 PM on June 16, 2011

Every single time I've been told that they'd let me know after x amount of time, it ended up being significantly more than x. You've done everything you could, there's nothing more you can do now (in your favor, that is; you can still screw it up). Keep in mind that although this is really really important to you, the people doing the hiring are busy with other things. So what seems like an eternity to you is a short amount of time for them. Go for a walk and wait it out.
posted by Simon Barclay at 6:13 PM on June 16, 2011

Anything you do will only harm your chances. They are being absolutely rude and unprofessional but wait it out. Knowing these companies there is probably some ridiculous HR approval process to go through.
posted by smithsmith at 6:13 PM on June 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

(Or, you know, I could have copied and pasted Forktine's answer.)
posted by Simon Barclay at 6:14 PM on June 16, 2011

Don't give up, but don't contact them again. Hiring takes a very long time in the best of times, and now that employers have the upper hand, as it were, they can take all the time they want.

I'd keep up with whatever job-hunting activities you're doing currently and try to be patient.
posted by xingcat at 6:18 PM on June 16, 2011

Another vote for don't contact. Assume you didn't get it and be pleasantly surprised if you do.
posted by futureisunwritten at 6:30 PM on June 16, 2011

Response by poster: Okay, I didn't expect the response to be so unanimous. Message received - I'll wait it out. It's a good thing I asked this question, because I'm pretty sure I would have let my anxiety/impatience get the better of me otherwise. Thanks for your guidance, everyone.
posted by mellifluous at 6:45 PM on June 16, 2011

Of course, in Australia, if you even followed up the first time I would have given you a black mark. But it does appear that follow-ups are the done thing in north america.
posted by wilful at 6:49 PM on June 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to say I'm in the same boat as you, and searching for a job SUCKS. I'll actually go against the majority here though, and say that there is no way these people would say "Man, I was going to hire that guy/girl except he sent me another follow-up email! What a loser!!" On the flip side, there is maybe a 0.01% chance that your second follow-up will make them remember you, or make them think your enthusiasm is worth a few extra points.

I don't think you're getting this job, but you should follow up one more time for your own peace of mind. I did this a month ago after interviewing, being told I'd hear back in a certain amount of time, and having that time go by with radio silence. I got a reply to that second email saying they wanted to see me again but were busy. I never heard from them again.

My second follow-up probably had no effect on them, but at least I felt like I had done everything in my power. It gave me slightly more of a feeling of control over my destiny, which helped with subsequent interviews.

The actual note I sent was along the lines of "It's been a while since I've heard from you. I'm very interested in the position and hope I'm still under consideration. If not, good luck with your search and all the best for your company."

On another note, I try to think of the job search process as basketball rather than hockey or soccer... In that the key to winning is to just keep shooting, no matter how far away from the net you are. Expect to apply to 100 jobs before you find something.

Also, find some friends who are also looking for a job, because no one else will understand or want to hear about it. Even your friend who was looking until last week will have already begun to suppress the traumatic memories.
posted by hammurderer at 7:09 PM on June 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'll actually go against the majority here though, and say that there is no way these people would say "Man, I was going to hire that guy/girl except he sent me another follow-up email! What a loser!!" On the flip side, there is maybe a 0.01% chance that your second follow-up will make them remember you, or make them think your enthusiasm is worth a few extra points.

I actually agree, quite strongly. I wouldn't have my current job (or the one before that) if I hadn't been willing to follow up vigorously and often. However, you still need to give more time than seems right in the heat of the moment.

When you are the applicant, a week is an eternity. For the person doing the hiring, a week is just five days full of deadlines, meetings, phone calls, lunch meetings, family stuff, and all the other stuff that dominates our lives. On the week's checklist of things needing to get done, "select final applicant" and "make offer" might be on there, but are a lot easier to bump for a few days than a major client changing a deadline or a key supervisor getting the flu.

And even if that person makes their choice, it still probably needs to go up the food chain, maybe sideways to HR, back to someone with budgetary authority, etc -- all steps that take time, and if someone is out of town or sick or busy can get stalled for days and days.

In other words, yes, follow up... but do it on hiring person time. Give it a couple of weeks before you ask. If the answer was promised for Friday at noon, don't call at 12:01, and instead give it until later the next week.

Someone called it 'unprofessional," and I'll agree if you are getting blown off by a dedicated HR department. But when hiring is done by the people in the trenches, allow them the same flexibility that you would need in that situation.
posted by Forktine at 9:20 PM on June 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

mellifluous: they told me that they would try to let us know within the week (that is, by the 10th), but that the final decision maker was going out of town on the 12th

Is it possible this person was going on vacation on the 12th?
posted by DarlingBri at 10:21 PM on June 16, 2011

I would say that if you haven't heard from them by the 10th-12th of next month, you would be well within your rights to send a short inquiry to the HR department.

8 years ago I had a great interview and follow-up interview for what really would have been a dream job... they told me that had two other candidates to talk to, then they'd make their decision, and would be in touch either way.

After about a month of waiting obsessively to hear something I sent a very brief e-mail asking if there were any updates in the process, and got a very apologetic e-mail; the department manager had been away at a conference, and there was a temporary hiring freeze, so it would be another few weeks before they could actually bring someone on, and so on. They did finally get back to me to tell me I would have been the first choice if I hadn't lived so far away, but they had given the job to someone else.

In the meantime, as ignignokt said, don't stop looking for other opportunities no matter how badly you want this one. During that same job hunt 8 years ago I had applied at a book store out of desperation, figuring it would be a stopgap way to earn *something*. I interviewed there and would have been hired on the spot if I hadn't opened my big mouth and said "I'm waiting to hear back about this other job any day now." (Even at the time I knew that was a big interview no-no... but I wanted that job so badly I think I was trying to will it into my life by keeping the path clear.) As it was I spent another month or two unemployed, and that bookstore job really would have helped.
posted by usonian at 5:37 AM on June 17, 2011

In all of the hiring I've done, I've never been positively impressed by the applicants who emailed me for "status". It showed they didn't understand that when a decision is made, I would let them know when I had the time. Not only was I not purposely keeping them in the dark for some nefarious purpose known only to me, but hiring was only one small part of my otherwise busy work life.

It will happen when it happens. I know it sucks, but at this stage the best you can do is cool your jets and use your time productively. Keep looking for and applying to other jobs.
posted by hollisimo at 11:40 AM on June 17, 2011

« Older A Garden Tragedy   |   Help Me Learn Geography Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.