has hurled a friend of mine into dating deja vu.
She had a great interview a couple of months ago with the public
affairs department of a major university. But after an afternoon
of coffee, compliments and the promising "we'll call you," she's
sitting by the phone.
It's not ringing.
"I feel like I went on the first date, had a great time, and misread
all the signals," she says. "Now I'm just staring at the phone and
wondering why it doesn't ring."
Umm, why doesn't she call the university?
"Oh, I couldn't do that," she says. "It would be too forward."
Yikes! Is there help for this woman??
Yes, interview experts say, but it's going to take some rewiring
of her basic assumptions.
First, jobs take a long time to fill, says Katherine Burik,
president of The Interview Doctor in Canton, OH, and an experienced
human resource executive. Figure 60 days on average, and "anything
less is a party." So the fact that my friend has waited a couple
of months isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Second, you can guard against waiting for a call. Before
an interview ends, ask what your expectations should be, says Sharon
Keys Seal, founder of Coaching Concepts Inc. in Baltimore, MD. What's
the process for filling the position? Where is the company in that
process? Is it all right to call in a couple of weeks?
"Don't let them get away with we'll call you," Seal says. "I would
try to be fairly assertive."
Then, follow up along the way. Send a note or email right
after that first interview, answering any questions that arose,
emphasizing your strengths, thanking the person who interviewed
you and reiterating that you'll be calling in a couple of weeks
if you don't hear anything before then.
"That, I think, can set you up to segue into that call a couple
of weeks later," Seal says.
Now that you have the roadmap, use it. If time passes, your deadline
arrives, and you hear nothing, pick up the phone and ask what the
status of the job is. But when you make that call, don't apologize,
Burik says. If you call with a subservient attitude, you're paving
the way for an awkward conversation.
"It's business person to business person," she says. "There should
be no awkwardness."
And think positively. "I would like to assume it's an indication
they're really busy," Burik says. If you find out the process is
ongoing, find out when to check up again, then avoid the temptation
to call every day.
"There's a fine line between following up and pestering," Burik
Of course, you might call and find that the position has been filled
and the hiring manager simply hasn't gotten back to you yet -- which
happens, says Lisa Gabriel, the corporate recruiter for ImageRight
in Conyers, GA. "It's a task that I find very difficult because
I'm not as tough skinned as I think I am, and I hate telling people
no," she says. So it's easy to push those not-so-fun calls to the
If that happens and you find out via your follow-up call that a
job has been filled, be professional. Don't cry. Don't get
angry. Ask instead what qualities the company would have liked to
see or what you might do to succeed the next time, Seal says.
"Obviously, they wouldn't have had you in if they weren't interested
in you," she says. "It's always worth a shot."
Susan Bowles is a business journalist based in Washington, DC.
She has 20 years journalism experience and has written for USA Today,
USATODAY.com, the Washington Post, the St. Petersburg Times and
The Palm Beach Post.