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Follow These 5 Steps When a Job Interview Process Stalls

man being interviewed

You did everything right.

You updated your resume. You researched the job openings you’re qualified for at the companies you’re interested in. The initial phone screening got you an in-person interview, which you nailed. And then…


As the days and weeks go by, you wonder what went wrong. Was it the interview? Did someone give you a negative reference? Are you not as qualified as you thought you were? It can start to feel like the worst high school memories — getting cut from the basketball team or not getting cast in the spring musical.

Job searches are stressful even when everything goes according to plan. As the job market adjusts to the challenge of COVID-19, more searches are likely to be put on hold.

What’s the best way to respond?

Aerotek’s Taylor Marous, a senior account recruiting manager lead, recommends these five steps to deal with a stalled job interview. 

1. Be proactive

Don’t wait for the radio silence to take charge of the situation. Take the initiative at your interview.

“Ask the hiring manager what their next steps are and when you can expect to hear back from them,” says Marous. “Ask what the targeted start date is and if there’s anything you can do to be a more viable candidate.”

This is also the time to get the hiring manager’s contact information and communication preferences. Find out when, and how often, you can reach out to them. Then follow those instructions.

If you don’t have that information — and next time, you will — email the HR office and ask the same questions. If you’re working with a recruiter, they can provide guidance as well.


2. Be sure to communicate

The first step — it should be automatic — is a thank-you communication, which Marous encourages you to take one step further.

“Whether it's an informal phone screen or a final interview, you definitely want to send a thank-you email,” says Marous. “But don’t stick with a generic message. Share what stood out for you in the interview and why you’re excited about the opportunity. That will help you stand out.”

If you’re working with a staffing agency, touch base regularly with your recruiter. They’ll have inside information that you don’t.

“Having an Aerotek recruiter assisting you through the process can definitely help move things forward,” says Marous. “We have relationships with the decision-makers. We’re able to find out what’s going on and share that with our candidates.”

3. Be transparent

If you’re juggling multiple potential opportunities, don’t be afraid to share that information during your interview.

“If you’re being considered by multiple companies, be transparent in your interviews,” says Marous. “That will give each hiring manager an idea of where they stand and what your options are.”

If you have a clear first choice, let the interviewer know. In your follow-up communications, make your interest clear. A recruiter can help get that message to the right person and create some urgency.

And remember that transparency works both ways.

“If a candidate won’t be getting an offer, we can share constructive feedback from the hiring manager,” says Marous. “You’ll gain some helpful tips you can apply to your next interview.” 

4. Don’t take it personally

There are a lot of reasons why job searches are halted. Major events, such as the coronavirus pandemic or natural disasters, force businesses to change plans. Circumstances within a company can change too.

“I’ve seen instances where the funding for a position gets withdrawn,” says Marous, “or the hiring manager didn’t get the necessary approval from the CFO. In many cases, a postponed job search has nothing to do with the quality of the candidate pool.”

It’s also helpful to remember that the interview process is a two-way street — finding the best position for you is just as important as the employer finding the best applicant.

“If you haven’t heard back from your first choice, maybe you need to reconsider,” says Marous. “If they lack communication and commitment, you may be better off somewhere else.”

5. Maintain your positive momentum

Don’t let one stalled process get in the way of your job search. If you’re waiting to hear back from an interview for a job you really want, keep looking.

“There comes a time when it’s best to move on and not put all of your eggs in one basket,” says Marous. “The best solution is to continue to interview until you get a solid offer.”

Now, if only you could keep trying out for the basketball team and the musical...