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How to navigate the interview follow-up

Q: I participated in the interview process (2 rounds) with a prospective employer this past August. The second round consisted of a meeting with the hiring manager and a senior executive in the company. Since then, I received positive feedback from the HR liaison shortly after the second interview, however, I have not heard back from this organization during the last 2 months. What can I reasonably expect in terms of communication from this organization as to the status of my candidacy? Thank you.
T. L., East Freetown, MA

A: Unfortunately, you’re closing the barn door after all the cows have escaped.

If you didn’t ask for a time frame for their decision, then two weeks from your last interview, you should have felt comfortable calling to ask about the status of hiring for the position. Given your situation—two months has passed without any word from the company—you may feel you don’t want to do this because, in essence, you are calling them out for not contacting you. One way around this awkwardness is to indicate that you are concerned they might have sent you information that you did not receive, essentially giving them the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, if you haven’t heard from them in two months either they may not be hiring at all or they may have gone with someone else.

In the future, at the end of an interview make a point to inquire what exactly the next step is or when you can expect to hear from the company. If you hear from them by that date, great; if you don’t, then it is appropriate to contact the company within a day or two after that date to ascertain your status and where they are in their decision making process. At each stage of the job application/interview process, you should always find out what the next step is and when you can expect to hear about it. By not asking, you can end up in the awkward position you are in now of not knowing when to follow up.

One piece of advice I’d like to share: Keep in mind that the interview process is a two-way street. You are gathering information about the prospective employer just as much as the employer is learning about you. If I were in your situation and the employer had indeed not contacted me about the position in two months—especially after two rounds of interviews—then I would wonder if this is a company I would want to work for.

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