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What Does It Mean When They Say They’re Still Interviewing Candidates?

November 18th, 2009 · 9 Comments

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images_nextHere’s a quick Ask Brian question that has been sitting in my inbox since last week. It’s a short question, but I think I have a short and possibly unpleasant answer. Here goes:

A reader asks:

What does it mean, a week after my interview they say they are still interviewing candidates?

Brian sayz:

Unfortunately, it probably doesn’t mean much good for you.

Not to be too harsh here, but interviewing is like dating. When you’ve found the one, you kind of know it right away.

The long and short of it is, if they thought you were the one, they probably wouldn’t be looking at anyone else.

I can really only think one of two things is going on here:

  1. Firstly, the most likely situation is that you did not meet their expectations for the position and they are continuing their search to find their ideal candidate. In that case, don’t worry about it. Chin up. Take what you learned from the interview process and move on.
  2. The second and more unlikely situation is that they have been forced to space out the interviews due to the interviewer’s schedule and they are committed to interviewing all potential candidates before making a solid decision. But this is probably only likely if you’re interviewing for a major executive and management position.

The time period following an interview can be a nerve wrecking experience as you wait for an answer. In an aggressive and competitive job hunting market-such as the one that we are in right now-employers that are hiring basically have the upper hand.

I know. You feel like you’re at their mercy, and their silence only serves to make things worse. The best you can do is be polite (see, How Long Should I Wait To Hear Back) and move on to the next application.

Also, you may want to read my article on reading the tea leaves and knowing if a job interview went well.

And as always, if you need resume writing help, you know where to go!

Related posts:

  1. Interviewing Tips From Someone Who Does The Hiring
  2. The Virtual Job Interview – Job Interviews Via Skype

Tags: Uncategorized

  • nicole

    What if they tell you that you are the first interview they have had and they still have others scheduled and will let you know in 1 wk? I think the interview went well, I really hit it off with the manager and the head nurse( hospital position) the atmosphere was very relaxed and they seemed very pleased with all of my responses to thier questions. They asked when I would be available to start and also were talking about who I would be training with. What do you think?

  • Jorgen Sundberg

    Great post and can’t remember how many times people have asked me that question! There are so many reasons for a job application not progressing. As long as you deal a good recruiter, they will tell you what is going on. The trouble is that most recruiters shy away from the bad news and string people along. I wrote a post on Recruitment Cowboys, it might be of interest…

  • Paula Caligiuri

    In cases when multiple people need to interview each candidate, scheduling interviews can take longer than expected. If a certain number of candidates were being brought in — the process lags. I agree completely though, as with dating, if they liked you they will often find ways to convey this to you and explain the delay.

  • YourNameHere

    Here is the real answer to the
    question “What does it mean, a week after my interview they say they are still interviewing candidates?”

    This means that they are still interviewing candidates.

    Unless you are trying to get a job mowing lawns or the like an employer will want to speak with as many qualified candidates as possible. Why wouldn’t they? The last two positions I was hired for took about a month to get back to me. I was hired. I wasn’t second or third choice. I have interviewed and hired people; between the red-tape of HR and making sure everyone who wants to give their opinion is able to give it . . . weeks go by!

    I usually don’t reply to posts like this but the answer given was so weak I felt that I just had to.

  • SIH

    While you are almost certainly right in a majority of cases, I got my current job after about 3 weeks of waiting. I later found out that they liked me but were a little wary of my lack of experience (this was my first real job), so decided to continuing interviewing other candidates. In the end, though, they decided that I was the best choice after all and gave me the job.

  • Anon

    This is basically bad advice. For my last job, they told me they were still interviewing people and would get back to me. Within about 2-3 days they called me back with a job offer. So yeah, the only thing it can mean is: they are still interviewing people.

  • Lou

    As with the previous posts I’d like to confirm that the answer to the question was very weak and, although a possibility, not the most likely scenarios.

    My first job after University I had 3 interviews, after the first two they said they were still interviewing me and would get back to me with an offer given on the 3rd one.

    I’m currently interviewing for a new job and they said that they still had 2 more 1st interviews to do before they shortlist for a second one, and that I’d find out in a few days.

  • Brian

    Acknowledge the critics I guess… I was responding to this question in particular. But if the point of the comments is that you never know and the phrase “still interviewing” doesn’t mean you should give up, then I’m all for it!

  • Deon

    Question: On Monday went on a job interview for a Household Manager. The first round went well and was called to meet with the owner of the house and Office Manager.  I sent my thank you letters and she told me they would have a decision by the Friday. Then today Thursday, out of me being so anxious I sent a follow up email regarding the position and she responds as ” Thank you for your patience with this, we are still
    interviewing candidates for the position as well as one million nannies!
    and will get back to you when we have a better idea.” I am nervous and very anxious to hear back from this job. What do you guys think?