Prospective Job Hits Dead-End. . .Maybe


Q.  I’ve been searching for a full-time PR position for almost a year.  Recently, I interviewed with a company for a great position.  The initial interview went well, and I was back a week later for a second interview.  That went even better.  The morning after my second interview, the interviewer asked me for references.  I sent them and gave all of my references a heads-up that they may be contacted (I had a great work relationship/professional experience with each one of them).  A week passed and after hearing nothing, I followed up with an email.  I never received a response.  It’s now been a month and I have not received any additional correspondence from the company.  I sent another follow up email to the interviewer a few days ago, and again she did not reply.  What gives?  Should I write this position off?  Is it typical for a company to conduct two interviews, ask for references and then never notify you of their decision?

A.  You are not alone in receiving such rude treatment from prospective employers.  I hear similar complaints from numerous individuals vying for jobs at every level in agencies and corporations. 

Many variables could be at play with your experience:  an understaffed HR function, reference check glitches, budget cuts, changing priorities, and workloads that weigh down decision making. 

At this stage, don’t rely on email.  Make a direct call to the hiring manager and/or human resources contact.  Call before 9 a.m. or just before 5 p.m. when you have the best chances to reach them.  It’s okay to leave a message in voice mail, although I prefer direct conversations.  Rather than ask if they received your email, phrase a diplomatic question that reminds them that the ball is in their court:  “Just checking in to see if you’ve been able to complete the reference checks or to see if there’s anything I can do to help with the process.”  If no decision has been reached, your follow up comment tone might be:  “I recall that you have a full plate of work, and I’m eager to be of help.”  They’re likely busy and equally frustrated to get the job filled, so share their pain rather than revealing yours.  If they say someone else has been selected, don’t express shock and disappointment.  Bite your tongue and wish them well with their decision.  Remember:  Don’t burn bridges, even with rude people. 

One thought on “Prospective Job Hits Dead-End. . .Maybe

  1. Great advice – especially about the burning bridges part. It is very tempted to say what you feel, but at the end of the day when you’re in a job search – it’s best to remain calm, cool, and collected.

    I’ve been faced with this situation many of times in my search. The key is to find the right balance between expressing your interest and commitment to the job and not being a pest.

    Based upon the behavior of the hiring manager (two interviews, reference checks) the questioner has every right to follow up and ask polite questions about the status. If he/she winds up getting rejected, he/she should just move on and remember what it feels like to be treated so poorly. That way, when it is their turn to be on the hiring side, they’ll know how to be the utmost professional and communicate effectively with potential employees and – by the way – potential customers.

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