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The Post-Interview Follow-up Dance

pc capture372 179x300 The Post Interview Follow up Dance

This is a guest post by Jonathan Rick.

If ever you've interviewed for a job you didn′t get, no doubt you've bumped into this unpleasant experience.

You interview, you send a follow-up letter"”maybe even with some writing samples or references"”and then you wait. A week or so goes by, and you check in, yet hear nothing. Another week passes, and your frustration mounts.

If you're lucky, eventually you receive a form letter that the position has been filled.

Excuse me, but what the fuck?

If two parties take the time to schedule and meet for an interview"”in addition to conducting any background research"”doesn′t common courtesy demand acknowledging subsequent communications? Is it that burdensome to respond with boilerplate such as, "We'll let you know if we decide to move forward"? Keeping people in limbo is just plain rude.

So what to do? A recruiter might advise you to keep your chin up and plug along. E-mails being ignored? Pick up the phone. Calls going to voice mail? Leave a message with an assistant.

Let me suggest an alternative. If a prospective employer refuses to give you the time of day, then check that company off your list.

Too often, we strain to craft the polite but pointed e-mail. "Just want to make sure you have everything you need?" "Was wondering if I should plan to uncork a champagne bottle this weekend?" "Thought I′d touch base"¦"

Instead, spurned job seekers would do better to take their talents elsewhere. Just because prospective employers tend to have the upper hand doesn't mean they should abuse it. And just because prospective employees need jobs doesn't mean they should let themselves be taken for granted.

Granted, many job seekers do not enjoy the luxury of being so choosy, especially when the unemployment rate stands at 9.8%

Sharpe's Peril ipod

. Yet this advice not only serves your self-respect; it's also practical, grounded in the experience that if a company is interested in you, it will get back to you, usually promptly. When that doesn't happen, rarely does  following-up change minds.

Jonathan Rick supports clients across the federal government on the strategy and execution of various digital initiatives. He blogs at No Straw Men and tweets at @jrick.

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6 Comments - Add yours!

Gerry Corbett (November 3rd, 2009)

Interesting perspective and the rational certainly makes a great deal of sense. Jonathan has a great point of view that perhaps satisfies a lot of pent up frustration. And it likely feels good to knock the company off your list. That said, get past it. Write a great follow up and thank you letter and put it out of your mind. If the fit is right, the company will get back to you. If not, please remember it is not personal. Just move on and learn from the experience. Enough said!

Abby (November 3rd, 2009)

This is a great suggestion. So often we’re so concerned with getting that definitive answer, even if it is a no, that we forget that we probably wouldn’t want to work for a company that is too rude to send a simple and polite e-mail to inform us we didn’t get the position.

Of course, it’s easier said than done to just give up. After investing time into researching, preparing and interviewing, it can be hard go on without a response. This is especially true if you’ve followed up a couple of times and know that you’re being ignored. Job hunters aren’t owed a job, but we are owed respect.


Bill (November 5th, 2009)

Great post, Jonathan! Even in theses difficult times we need to remember that an interview is a 2 way communicaton. Go with your gut and lack of common courtesy is usually an indicator that it’s problably not an ideal place to be anyway.

Jonathan Rick (November 6th, 2009)

Gerry, Abby and Bill: Thanks for your comments. Agree with everything you said.

Lisa Wu (November 12th, 2009)

Excellent points! First all of, I completely agree that employers should show more respect to potential employees. If an employer is clearly multi-faced and never returns phone calls or reply to emails, then maybe we should rethink whether we really want to work for them to start with.

However, if I were an employer, I would say the quality of the interview itself still determines who gets the job. If an employer weren’t going to hire someone, then follow-up emails won’t help much unless perseverance is something they really look for.

The Post-Interview Follow-up Dance - Jonathan Rick, No Straw Men (August 23rd, 2011)

[...] version of this blog appeared on on November 3, [...]

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