What the Heck Goes On Behind the Scenes After a Job Interview?

You know the drill. You get the interview. You ace the interview. In fact, it was the best job interview you ever had! You head home dreaming of the offer for the new job you’re pretty sure you just landed. And then…you wait. And you wait. And you wait some more until you just want to scream! And then maybe you do scream. And rant a little. And even think of all the things you’d like to do to that stupid company you once thought was so perfect for you.

But before you decide the company is made up of former Guantanamo guards trained to torture you in some sick waiting game, take a deep breath and let me take you behind closed doors. It’s time you learn more about the mysterious steps of the interview hiring process – what goes on inside the secret rooms – and why you aren’t getting any feedback from the company even though you send e-mails and call them hoping for even the tiniest clue.

Hard as it is to believe, sometimes there are good reasons – really! – why a company’s interview hiring process steps take so long – and why all too often you have to wait forever (or so it seems) before you hear back from an employer after a job interview.

So what does go on behind the scenes after an interview?

I was recently asked to guest post on the Pongo Resume Blog, and decided this would be a great topic since I get sooooooooooo many e-mails and comments about how painful the waiting game can be. I once even wrote a post begging Human Resources people to be more considerate. But sadly, for many reasons, the torture continues and you’re still waiting.

I hope by telling you about what goes on behind the scenes after the interview, you might be able to relax just a little more knowing one week, two weeks, even three weeks or more of waiting can be perfectly normal.

Possible reasons you’re still waiting after the interview:

Here’s an excerpt from my guest post:

  • Sometimes HR controls all communication and that means people you write to are advised not to respond to individual candidates. Why? It could be a mandate from legal to prevent any miscommunication. (A poorly worded response from the company could be construed as an offer when none exists yet.) Or it could simply be HR wanting to call all the shots. It happens.
  • Someone critical to the process (aka SCTTP) may be sick or called away. Why not work around the person? They could, but sometimes the company prefers to wait for the sake of continuity — even if that means you wait too.
  • Our SCTTP may suddenly have been put on a top-priority project that’s taking all their time. Even if they said they want to hire quickly, the hiring process can get put on the back burner. I’ve seen this many times.
  • Our SCTTP has been fired or quit and must be replaced first.
  • The department is going through a reorganization — again.
  • The job is being rethought and possibly needs to wait for HR to approve a reclassification. Why? Sometimes they find a specific candidate (maybe you) whose skills are even more suited to their needs than their original concept. Or they find two people they like and decide to split the job into two different positions.
  • Hiring may require numerous people who did not interview you to sign off on various steps of the process. Meanwhile, you wait.
  • Sometimes it simply takes weeks to find room on everyone’s calendar for the next round of interviews.

So if you’re stuck in the waiting game, try not to get caught up worrying about things you can’t control…like all the stuff behind closed doors. Instead know you’ve done your best (that’s all anyone can do), make sure you’ve sent a great thank you note and, after a couple weeks have passed, follow up with a polite e-mail and/or phone call saying you’re still interested and would love to know your status. You might even ask if they need anything else from you.

Other than that, you just wait. As long as it takes. I once waited four months and I was their top candidate!

Meanwhile, do what you can to keep yourself busy and diverted so you aren’t obsessing about the wait. Also…keep looking! Not only does the action help you stay sane, but you may actually wind up finding an even better job in the process.

Good luck finding the right job for you.

Ronnie Ann

Some other posts you may find helpful

12 Ways to Stay Sane After a Job Interview

I Got the Post-Interview Temporary OCD Blues

How to Tell If a Job Interview Went Well

I Messed Up My Job Interview. What Can I Do?

To read my guest post on the Pongo Blog

Why the Post-Interview Waiting Game Takes So Damn Long!


About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.


  1. Hi,

    Firstly, I think the article is great. It touched on the age old question of what exactly happens behind closed doors in the hiring process.

    I recently had a second interview for a position with a big company this week. Previous to this week, I interviewed with the same company which went really well and I was called back for a second interview. This time, I was going to be talking to 5 people back to back. So total a 2 and a half hours long sitting. I think they went really really well where I seem to get along with all 5 people and I answered to their questions relevantly. However, some of my math was tested where I made a few mistakes due to me not working with a calculator. That really got to me as I am scared it might hurt my chances completely at this crucial stage of the hiring process where margins are extremely tight.

    I sent individual thank you letters to all 5 and three of them responded as an acknowledgement. However, I couldn’t help but require some behavioral analysis on two sentences which they used and which have been bothering me ever since. The first, one of them said in their replies was

    “You are one of our top candidates for the position. Competition for the position is high so you should be proud that you made it this far”.

    My concern is that is this sugar coating disappointment? Am I good but not good enough?

    Second sentence which bothered me was when one of them responded with “Best of Luck”. Again, is this what you say to someone who lost the race?

    I hope I am not over-analyzing this hiring process too much in a negative way. I REALLY want this position simply because I have become acquainted with the nice people I met there in a short time period during the process and also considering that I spent 3 and half hours in total just interviewing for this position. The job is great and a big boost to my career. Now the wait is on. The interview happened two days ago and not an hour goes by when I regret making those mathematical errors which wouldve not been an issue had I had a calculator on me AND which I would have either ways when I’m performing the actual job if I am hired!!

    Any help and feedback is greatly appreciated! Thank you.

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Mobi,

      The problem with email is that you can’t see the face or hear the tone of voice. Yes, you are probably over-analyzing the situation, which is a natural thing to do in these circumstances. You did your best, sent your thank you notes, and there’s nothing left you can do.

      Now, keep hunting for a job until you are holding a written job offer for the right job in your hands.

      Hope this works out for you!

      Good luck with your job search!
      (I wish everyone good luck, BTW)

  2. I had a second interview for a job at a medium-sized non-profit last Monday. The hiring process seemed to be moving very quickly. I was told that the hiring process would happen pretty fast. A day after my second interview, my references were called, and by the end of last week, all of my references had been spoken to. All of them gave positive feedback. Monday came and went, and I heard nothing. I called HR on Tuesday, and was told the hiring manager had yet to make a final decision. HR said the hiring manager would be the one calling me if I got an offer, and I would hear from HR if I didn’t get it. So I spoke with the hiring manager as well. She said that she hoped to make a decision within a couple of days and would get back to me very quickly. Now it’s Thursday and still nothing. I’m confused as to why my references were contacted by HR if the hiring manager hadn’t made a decision yet? What the heck is taking so long? This whole waiting process is driving me crazy, and I’m honestly very confused. I was under the impression that once my references were called, the hiring process was being wrapped up and I’d have known for sure by now. Any insight?

  3. Thank you for writing this article and providing information pertaining to ‘SCTTP’. The current job that I have took about nine (9) months for me to get. I had taken another job in this time period which they were working out a restructuring plan on their end.

    My question may be related to over-analysis like Mobi. I recently went on an interview the second week of February. There was two phone interviews (Senior Recruiter and VP-PM) and four in-person interviews. Interviews process on this day was 3hrs. Each Interview talked to me for no more than 30mins. They all had extremely busy schedules. Each person thought I had a terrific skill set and I thought interviews went well with each member.

    One Executive Director thought we should keep in touch in case something comes up in the near future and replied back to my email saying:

    ‘It was a pleasure to meet with you Jay. Keep in touch and wishing you the best of luck with this position’.

    Another Executive Director first question was So have you decided which team do you want to work for?’ with a smile on her face. During the interview, there was six different compliance teams mentioned that I would be VP for. I didn’t want to single out specifically which team I would like to work for b/c I didn’t want to eliminate her group. I simply stated that based on description of each team and my skill set, I can do well on any team that would want me as a potential candidate. If I need to be a PM on all team projects, I can do so as well.

    But at the very end of the meeting, she smiled, was glad to meet me and went to her next meeting?

    My question to you: I know you weren’t in the interview process, but based on ED’s phrase ‘So have you decided which team you want to work for?’ means that I got the position?

    Could you please give me your opinion?

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Jay,

      As the old saying goes, “It ain’t over until it’s over.” And, while that comment was certainly encouraging, most hiring decisions involve more than one person. So, you may have a big fan, but unless that fan is THE sole decision maker, it’s hard to know what the final result will be.

      This sounds promising, but I would keep looking. Just in case…

      Good luck with your job search!

Speak Your Mind