Short of actually being told by the interviewer or someone else in the company during or immediately after your interview (which does happen on VERY rare occasion), after you finish an interview there are just some questions about the job you can’t answer for sure – even if you google the question relentlessly day in and day out groggy from lack of sleep looking for an answer – or even a clue.
And lord knows, don’t let job search advice blogs – even…ahem… good ones like mine – lead you astray! ;-) Some things you just don’t know and can’t know until you do know. It’s that simple.
So if you’re curious…here’s my top three job search unknowables list. (There are of course many more job search unknowables, so please feel free to add your own favorites!)
1. Did I Get the Job?
In my post about how to tell how you did on your job search, I offer tips to assess how the interview went. Often there are actions or things you notice that can provide some good insight into whether you might get the job offer – or at least get called back for a second interview.
But the truth is…unless you are actually made an offer – no matter what point along the interview process that happens – you just can’t know for sure…and neither can anyone else. Sometimes not even the people at the company know until they are ready to make the offer. Things happen. New candidates come along. Favorite candidates drop out. Position descriptions are revised – or frozen. Nothing is sure until you are made the offer and accept….and even then things can happen.
Am I saying this to scare you? NO…quite the opposite. I want you to go into this knowing you can only do your best and the rest is in the hands of other people – some of whom are not all that sure what they want or what they’re doing! So have patience. Don’t try to impose rules on them – or make too much sense of what’s going on or read into everything they say or do…you’ll only drive yourself nuts!
2. Is the Job Really Available?
Once again…there is no way to know for sure. I just saw a comment from one of my readers on a recent post How To Interview People for a Job (and Still Stay Human). She tells about something that happened to her a few years ago:
“I actually took the day off work to go on an interview. At the end, the interviewer flat out told me that he already had chosen someone for the position. (So why waste my flippin’ time?!) *aargh* “
Now this is certainly not the norm. But it does happen. Why? OK…this is about stuff that goes on behind the scenes: Sometimes companies have to show they’ve interviewed people even if they have someone in mind. In some types of organizations, there are also Equal Opportunity Employment forms that need to be filled out showing enough people have been interviewed and that an effort was made to look beyond “the usual suspects”.
Why shouldn’t you worry about this? First, it’s not all that common. Second, every interview is a chance to get seen. You never know if you might wow them enough to either change their minds or get them to consider you for a different job now or later. Look at it as not only a chance to get a job, but to begin a lifelong networking contact since you never know where people wind up. For instance, I’ve been impressed enough by some candidates to remember them later when I worked with other departments.
3. Will I Like the Job?
This one is the slipperiest of all. There’s just no way to know. Sure, you can get a feel about people during the interviews – and even by the way you’re being treated during the often mysterious hiring process. But until you actually start the job and have been there for a while, there’s no way to know for sure what it will feel like. Your coworkers. Your boss. The daily requirements of the job. The environment. Even the type of work, especially if you’ve never done it, may be a surprise.
Once again, I’m going to suggest “Don’t worry.” You can only make your best guess and then go with it. Even the worst jobs can bring unseen benefits.
I once took a job with a man who was AWFUL to work with. Not so much awful to me specifically, but the way he treated people was awful…and my job was to help make sure things got done HIS way. Ugh. I might have guessed from the interview, since he barely asked me anything about myself and he did almost all of the talking. It was always about him – and his rivalries – and his stupid staff – and even his love life. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. BUT…I wound up learning lots of things (about the work I mean) that later paid off big time. And I met really nice people – one of them is one of my closest friends to this day. Plus I actually was given his job – a total surprise to me – when he found a better one. (And if you’re wondering whether I helped…uh…encourage him to leave for the win-win of it…well, I’ll leave you to guess the answer to that.)
I guess the point of all this is, while there are certainly things about the job search (and job find) process you can’t possibly know the answers to (even though I know some of you are determined to figure it all out ), sometimes we just have to let go and see where we wind up. Truth is, since we’re blind to all the possibilities we can’t yet see, if we controlled every step of the way, it might feel better in the moment…but oh the things we’d miss out on. So take a deep breath – some of you maybe take two breaths – and just let it unfold in its own time.
If that’s too philosophically prescriptive, then just know sometimes there are no answers..and that’s ok.
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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, Career Nook and on Google+.