Navigating Post-Interview Limbo
by Taylor Slattery | June 14, 2022
You just completed your interview and you feel like things went pretty well. You’ve sent a follow-up email thanking your interviewer for their time and you’ve got a rough idea of what the next steps will look like and when you can expect to hear back. Now what?
If you’re left scratching your head, you’re not alone. The period after an interview can be confusing. Especially so when you left the interview feeling great but the date you were told to expect contact by comes and goes without so much as a word.
To be fair, there are a number of completely understandable variables that could result in the elongation of the timeline you were presented with. It’s entirely possible that this position was contingent on the approval of a budget that finance has yet ok, or maybe the hiring manager is on vacation. An all-hands-on-deck scenario might have arisen that has everyone busy putting out fires.
None of that makes waiting and sitting in uncertainty any easier, though. Some companies are transparent when it comes to their hiring process. They’ve got the steps for various roles laid out on their site so you know exactly what to expect. More often though, things aren’t so clear.
If you find yourself waiting to hear back from a company, the best thing you can do is to stop. Accept the fact that once that interview ends, things are out of your hands. Get used to this uncertainty and focus on what you can do, which, in this case, is to just move on.
Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at your options.
Option 1: wait.
Say you feel confident about your odds of receiving the role. Your jokes were landing, your interviewer was sharing anecdotes of their own, and by the end of it, you felt like old friends. You might think an offer is coming any day and choose to wait. Rather than continuing your hunt, you use the time to relax and enjoy that final bit of freedom before starting work.
One of two things will happen. Either, you will have been correct, and an offer will come in which case, you’ve had a nice little break and can start work fresh, ready to make a great first impression. Or, an offer won’t come. Whatever amount of time you spent waiting has now been lost, along with any job listings that might have cropped up during that time, some of which might even have been a better fit.
Now, let’s take a look at option 2: move on.
The interview went great. They were thoroughly impressed with your portfolio and your experience is in close alignment with the role. Your interviewer more or less guaranteed you the role, framing the next steps as just a formality. You’ve been here before, though. The second the interview ends, you assume you’ll never hear back from them and continue your hunt. You reflect on the sorts of questions that were asked and analyze your responses, looking for ways to improve for the next time.
Like before, one of two things will happen. Say your interviewer really meant it when they said you were a shoo-in for the role and an offer comes your way, albeit two weeks later than expected. Because you reflected on what worked in that initial interview and put it into practice as you continued in the interim, you managed to replicate that success and place yourself in consideration for an additional two roles. By the time the offer comes around, you now have leverage you can use to negotiate a higher salary or you may decide to pass on the role altogether because you’ve found something more to your liking.
If things don’t pan out and an offer doesn’t come your way, then no harm, no foul. Because you continued to interview, you’re now in the running for another two roles and the cycle continues.
It should go without saying, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket. It’s much easier said than done—especially when you’ve found a role with a company you can really picture yourself thriving in. However, it’s best to save the celebrations for once you’ve signed the dotted line and to stay vigilant until you finally do.
Taylor is the Managing Editor of Notes on Design. Taylor is a graphic designer, illustrator, and Design Lead at Weirdsleep.