Skip to main content
opinion

Everyone knows that being at the tail end of a job interview process is nerve-racking, to put it mildly. You have had at least two interviews, your references have been called, and the Friday of a long weekend is approaching. You are anxious, impatient and want answers – or, best-case scenario, an offer. What do you do?

The answer is nothing, but in today’s world of instant information and expectations of immediate attention, many have a hard time with that. From creeping LinkedIn for other known candidates, to calling with additional information or suggestions on the role, many avoidable mistakes are made at this critical juncture.

If the employer was considering making you an offer, such impatient moves could cost you the job. Even worse, you might also be remembered for a long time as that candidate whose impulsivity wound up negatively affecting the relationship. No one wants that sort of legacy.

Earlier in my career, I held that hyper-anxious frame of mind. Unemployed and eager to get my career (and regular paycheque) up and running again, I was driving everyone around me crazy with questions like “Why have they not called?” or “This is taking too long!” My final lament was that, “I must not have gotten the job – they have not called me in the last two days”.

Finally, a friend and human-resources professional said to me, “Has it ever occurred to you that you are not the most important thing going on over there?” It was a much-deserved adjustment to my expectations, prompting me to stew in private – and I was offered the job three days later.

So much of the hiring process is about control. Until the offer stage, the employer has it. You get some control back when an offer to consider comes in, but until then, it is not in your hands. Don’t try to make the employer show their hand prematurely.

Once the interview process is complete and the company is deliberating who to hire (including signs that they’re checking your references), follow some of these guidelines:

  1. Do not reach out to the person in charge of the hiring process in order to offer a last-ditch effort to sell yourself for the job. They like you: that is why your references have been checked and why they have talked to you on more than one occasion.
  2. Do not reach out to the board of directors or go above someone’s head to try to gain the upper hand. That will only end up getting you remembered for all the wrong reasons.
  3. Do not ask others you know to call members of the hiring committee to provide unsolicited/unofficial references. Any friendly references should have been given much earlier in the process, which probably is what got you the original interviews. Leave the hiring committee alone. Period.
  4. Do not try to rush things along by telling the person in charge of the process that you have another offer (especially when you don’t). The other offer may come in handy when you actually have two offers.

If you must reach out, only do so if you were given a date and time for a response, and that date and time has passed by several days ago. If this is the case, a small and polite “poke” may do two things:

  1. It may calm your anxiety somewhat.
  2. It will let the employer know that they need to update you, given that their self-imposed deadline for response has passed.

Simply send an e-mail or leave a message to let them know that you last spoke about a date when you were likely to hear back by, and you are inquiring to see where they are in the hiring process. Keep it light and polite.

Waiting for a job offer is one of life’s few, true surprises, and it should be kept that way. It is also a decision that no employer should make lightly, for the sake of the company and the new hire. The deliberating process should be free of outside influence and pressure from others, especially candidates.

If the employer has given you a time frame to hear from them (and if they didn’t, ask for one), respect it and keep your mind and body busy until you hear back. Any knee-jerk action from you will likely result in making their choice way easier – for someone else.

Eileen Dooley is a principal and executive coach in the leadership practice of Odgers Berndtson, global executive search and leadership advisory firm.

Stay ahead in your career. We have a weekly Careers newsletter to give you guidance and tips on career management, leadership, business education and more. Sign up today.

Report an error

Editorial code of conduct