Author’s Note: This manager and the entire HR department of Brewer Science, Inc. follow best practices for hiring candidates, including ethical standards, diversity and inclusion, and all Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) federal guidelines.
You were flown in for an in-person interview, where you had the chance to meet and get to know the team. It went great! … or so you thought, but it’s been over a month since you’ve heard from the hiring manager. The job posting is still “open,” and HR said they’d get back to you within two weeks. What happened?
From your point of view, it looks the company where you were so excited to work may have ghosted you, but what seems like radio silence to you is probably a flurry of tasks for the hiring manager to complete before you can be offered the position. Read on to understand some common reasons why you haven’t heard back and what to do next.
1. It’s not you — it’s me
Maybe this was an inconvenient time for your soon-to-be supervisor. Perhaps they squeezed in your interview just before going on vacation. It’s super-convenient for the manager, but it’s not so convenient for you, since you have no way of knowing about the travel. Once the manager returns, they’ll trudge through all the email from the last few weeks, until they get to the swath of HR messages that say, “We still need a decision on this person!”
It could also be that internal communication has been unclear. Once the hiring manager has decided they would like to extend an offer to you, that manager needs to contact HR. …Or was it HR that was supposed to follow-up? Did anyone in HR send out an email to clarify? Gary, could you touch base and find out where we are? These situations happen easily in a busy company environment.
2. Fess up: did you embellish a little? (A lot?)
Senior executives at Hewlett-Packard have suggested that women will apply for a job when they meet most, if not all, of the requirements of a job posting, while men are comfortable applying at much lower levels of qualification. In my experience, both men and women who feel lacking in a specific area will find ways to make one relevant detail in their resumés into the crux of their entire application.
On paper, a job candidate can skate to the next round using this tactic, but in person, you may be required to discuss this topic at length and describe how you would use that experience to propel the company forward. You may be willing to learn the skills you need, but if the manager suspects that your resumé is a lie, they won’t hire you.
You’re better off with honesty. If you only meet 60% of the qualifications and requirements of a job posting, the hiring manager will focus on the reasons why you think you are a good fit for the job and ask whether you would be open to learning the skills that the job requires.
3. You’re not quite what we’re looking for
As the manager of a multidisciplinary team, I select unique candidates who are somehow different from the rest of my team, but this kind of team-building can mean that, despite an outstanding resumé and a stellar interview, I might think that your education and experience are too similar to the professional background of another team member. The way that you see your experience isn’t easily communicated in a resumé but is discernable once you’re conversing with the team. When a recruiter says, “Your personality wasn’t a good fit,” a team dynamic like this could be at play.
Unfortunately, there are also toxic environments that discriminate during the interview process, especially once they see what a candidate looks like and how she speaks, but you can use this knowledge to get a foot in the door. Check social media accounts for the company and find real world images of the company’s demographics. How do they dress? What do they do for fun? If you’re a female Millennial with a tattoo sleeve but social media indicates that the company makeup is majority “white male over the age of 60,” you can be prepared with a black blazer and a sleek updo. It’s not fair or right that you should be the one to adjust to get the job, but this is an environment that perpetuates. Once you have the job, then start changing the culture from within.
Where do you go from here? If it’s been a month and you still want to be a member of this team, go email your HR contact! Two weeks is enough time for most companies to make a decision, so check in.
Make it a brief note: “Thank you again for your time during my interview on [DATE]. If you’ve had a chance to touch base with [hiring manager], I would appreciate knowing if they have come to a decision or if they have any further questions.” Wanna be gutsy? You can also throw in a line about having “other offers to consider.” It accelerates the timetable—but could also be an immediate rejection. If you have a phone number, use it! You might get a real person to answer the phone. Be prepared and polite, and check any impatience at the door. Try your luck! The worst they can say is no.
Dr. Amanda Riojas is a freelance writer and computational chemist living in Austin, Texas. She is the recipient of the 2018 David Carr Award, for her writing on the intersection of life and technology, and her articles about life as a working mom have been syndicated at WorkingMother.com and SheKnows.com. When she’s not advocating for women and minorities in STEM, Amanda enjoys spending her time traveling, cooking, and preparing for impending arrival of Baby #2.
A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.