6 reasons (other than "you bombed") you haven't heard back after the interview.

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One of the absolute worst stretches of time, especially when you reallywant that new job for which you just interviewed:

The post-interview wait.

You felt good about your performance. You've written genuine, thoughtful and timely thank you notes. 

And now you wait. For feedback. For follow-up questions. For an offer. 

You wait. And waiting is just no fun.

If this wait extends more than a couple of days, it's easy to allow your mind to start telling me that maybe you bombed it. Maybe they hated you. Maybe it's hopeless.

Stop that.

Having recruited for the past decade, I will tell you with confidence that manyvariables can -- and do -- delay hiring decisions, a lot of which have little to do with you. 

Among these:

1, The decision makers haven't yet pow-wowed. In a perfect world, everyone you just met with will sit down together, within 10 minutes of your departure, and finalize their hiring plans. In the real world, this rarely happens. Busy business leaders are typically pulled every which way, every day. It's common for it to take a couple of days for everyone to gather and share feedback following a candidate interview.

2. The team isn't unanimous on their top pick. This can really tie things up. If the team responsible for filling the role doesn't agree on their #1 contender, they may need extra time to duke it out and, together, make a decision.

3. The company hasn't completed that round of interviews. For all you know, you were the first person interviewed. Depending on what round of interviews you're in, the firm could have several more candidates in the pipeline. While you may get some early feedback following your interview, don't count on much if more people still have to come through.

4. The candidate conversations changed the job scope. This one makes recruiters crazy. And it's especially common when a company is working to fill a newly created position. Sometimes, as they meet candidates, decision makers may realize that certain elements of the role should be reshaped. And this can slow things down a bit as they make up their minds on the priorities of the position.

5. An urgent business priority popped up. I see this most frequently with small- to mid-sized companies. In spite of best intentions to fill critical openings, if an urgent issue crops up midway through your interview process, hiring managers may need to drop everything for a bit to put out a fire or focus on something else.  And you'll be stuck waiting.

6. They've extended an offer to someone, and you're runner up. This one might not make you feel very warm and fuzzy, but stay with me here. Sometimes, the reason for the radio silence is that the firm has extended an offer to someone else, yet they want to keep you "warm" in case that person declines. The bright side to this? It's actually not that uncommon for the top contender to ultimately decline an offer. And if the final outcome, assuming you want the job, works in your favor? Who cares?

So many variables can impact the speed with which you receive feedback following the interview. Your best bet is to ask, before you leave the interview, what the next steps are, and what timeline they're working to. This may not prevent a sluggish decision, but it will give you a timeframe. And, if the company or recruiter extends beyond that timing, you can (and should!) follow up to see what's happening.

photo: Flickr Creative Commons (angelrravelor)