At the end of the third job interview, Helene was told by the hiring manager, "Congratulations, I am going to recommend you for the position. Expect a call from HR." Helene breathed a sigh of relief because her job search of six months was finally over.
Helene went straight home and waited by the phone all day. The phone never rang.
As the week drew to a close, Helene began to get nervous. She hadn't heard from HR. She wondered what had happened. She convinced herself that everything was fine, that the HR department must have been swamped. She wasn't exactly sure what would be more important than calling and welcoming her onboard, but she knew the HR department had a good reason. After all, Helene was the most qualified candidate; the hiring manager told her so.
Days went by and still Helene heard nothing. Confused by the situation, she anxiously glanced through the Sunday morning classifieds wondering what had gone wrong.
Unfortunately, this happens to many jobseekers. They are offered the position by the interviewer and they never hear from HR or it takes months before a firm offer is made.
But there are steps that you can take as a jobseeker to minimize your risk of being strung along by an employer.
An easy and often neglected step is to find out what comes next after each interview. Establishing the next step gives you some control over the hiring process, and helps avoid the guessing game. Make it a point to leave each interview with a clear understanding of what you are supposed to do and what the hiring manager is supposed to do.
E-mail, fax, or snail mail a follow-up letter thanking the interviewer for the job offer and that you are looking forward to hearing from the HR department. Sending a note stresses to the interviewer what you heard and if there was any confusion on your part, compels the interviewer to contact you and address the misunderstanding.
If you haven't heard from the employer in a timely fashion, call to reiterate your interest in the position. Here's an example of an effective follow-up call: "Thank you for your time and for a very informative interview last week. Based on our last discussion, you are seeking an Executive Assistant who can effectively serve as a corporate liaison, manage administrative affairs, and support organizational goals. After a series of interviews, you were enthusiastically going to recommend me for the position but I have yet to hear from the Human Resources department. The Widget Corporation is my #1 choice and I am very interested in joining your team. Unfortunately, I will be forced to consider other options if I don't receive an offer in writing by Friday at noon."
By providing a timeline you create a sense of urgency and put the employer on notice that you are in demand. This may encourage them to move the process along. But only use this tactic if you really do have other options because setting a deadline that an employer is unable to meet could get you dropped from consideration.
Although I recommend that you follow-up with a phone call, don't become a nuisance and call everyday. If you reach out to an employer several times without receiving a courtesy response, stop calling and move on.
As frustrating as it may be, you must always remain professional. Keep in mind that, until you are officially hired, every conversation you have with the employer is part of the interview process.
In conclusion, realize that a definite maybe does not qualify as a firm job offer. Therefore continue job searching until you receive an official offer. If an employer is interested in you, they will respect your time, return your phone calls, and make a concerted effort to keep you updated.
Don't waste your time waiting by the phone. You deserve more than that.
About The Author
Recognized as a career expert, Linda Matias brings a wealth of experience to the career services field. She has been sought out for her knowledge of the employment market, outplacement, job search strategies, interview preparation, and resume writing, quoted a number of times in The Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday, Newsweek, and HR-esource.com. She is President of CareerStrides and the National Resume Writers' Association. Visit her website at www.careerstrides.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.