The Waiting Game

Waiting on the results of a job interview can be really frustrating– sometimes days or even weeks can go by without some clear message of where you stand as a candidate and it can drive you completely insane! Just consider a few things before going postal on the search consultant you’re working with.

Indecision by the Client: Happens all the time. Candidates are interviewed and multiple people invest tons of cycles into a search only to be put in some ‘holding pattern’ for an indefinite period of time. Remember that the client (your future employer?) is calling the shots here and you need to show some patience. It’s not all about you, and if you push too hard you could shoot a hole in your foot. Stand down.

They Have Hired Someone Else – You Just Don’t Know It: So this case is a tough one because the search consultant has either: a): dropped the ball and not told you while they’re waiting for the ‘chosen one’ to actually resign from their old position; b) is keeping you ‘warm’ until they’re sure they can negotiate and get the candidate of choice to sign the offer letter; c) has tried their best to avoid you because they hate to deliver bad news or d): just doesn’t know anything. Something is happening internally with their client and the search consultant is just clueless. There are (of course) other potential issues, but the search consultant should ALWAYS keep you informed. Period!

The Client Wants to See Other Candidates: Most people don’t want to admit that this issue isn’t at the top of their list. Let’s face it – we all want to believe that we have the right stuff and that prospective employers need not look any further than our resume to know they’ve struck gold. But it works both ways. Having the chance to compare you to others in your field could actually work to your advantage and may even make you more appealing to the company, so just take it in stride while you’re waiting for some clarity.

Budget Issues: This particular delay is one we’ve heard quite a bit about as the economy nose-dived over the past 24 months. You have to realize you’re powerless- it’s sort of out of anyone’s control, and you-the-candidate have very little influence to pull the trigger on a new hire if the economics are upside-down. It’s best to continue your search even if you feel the company is perfect- sure, they may come back to you- but you just as well might never hear from them again. Keep looking!

These issues (and more) can be extremely frustrating for you as a candidate. Just remember your search consultant is in your camp, and in many cases has a very limited ability to push things along. So whatever you do- even if you get frustrated about the lack of news or updates- don’t shoot the messenger.

About the author


Tim Tolan

Tim Tolan is the Senior Partner of the Healthcare IT and Services Practice of Sanford Rose Associates. He has conducted searches for CEOs, presidents, senior vice presidents, vice presidents of business development, product development and sales. Tim is also the co-author of "The CEO’s Guide to Talent Acquisition – Finding Talent Your Competitors Overlook," available on Amazon.


  • Thanks for sharing all these legitimate reasons that create the waiting game. I think it is fine for a candidate to reach out to ask for a current status as long as they are not too persistent or needy!

  • Joe – thanks. I agree – it”s ok to request information. Candidates deserve feedback. I get that. Stalking…that’s a different issue altogether.

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