Their Silence is Deafening: Combatting Post-Interview Anxiety

I’ve seen many bizarre things during my career as an executive headhunter – this was a candidate’s worst nightmare.

Here’s how to ensure that it doesn’t happen to you.

After receiving positive feedback from an initial phone interview, my candidate was scheduled for three back-to-back in-person interviews with the organization’s top management team at the firm’s headquarters.

On the day of the meetings, the first interviewer quickly wrapped things up after fifteen minutes and casually excused himself – presumably to see if the next interviewer was ready.

The lesson? DON’T PRESUME

That’s when the nightmare started: The client’s recruitment coordinator entered the conference room where the candidate was patiently waiting and curtly stated that the other two interviewers were unavailable and they’d get back to him with next steps.

Then he was asked to leave…

There were no next steps.

Imagine the surprise, embarrassment, resentment, victimization, and shock that my candidate felt at that time.

If I ever came across a situation that required planning and taking preventive measures to stop from ever happening again, this was that situation.

What To Do

What could the candidate have done differently during the interview to avoid this treatment?

For that matter, what about individuals that believe their interviews have gone well and are waiting anxiously to hear back from a potential employer?

Here’s a 6 step game plan to obtain real-time, accurate feedback during your interviews before you leave.

  1. Probe for perceived gaps. Ask your interviewers whether they have any concerns about your ability to be successful in the particular role that you’re interviewing for.
  2. If no major concerns are raised, inquire about next steps: If it’s the  truth, you should state interest in the opportunity on the basis of what you’ve seen and heard so far.
  3. Request that they rate you. Say this: “I realize that the issue at the moment isn’t whether you’re prepared to make me an offer on the spot right now. We both know that between now and the time that you receive a formal acceptance and start date from your candidate of choice, you’re going to do what you believe is in the best interests of your organization. That’s not the issue. The issue is, how close have I come in terms of addressing my relevancy for this position?

Do you perceive my candidacy to be a strong fit for this particular position at your firm at this time, or would something need to change? On a scale of 1-10, 10 being that you’re absolutely delighted with the prospect of working together, and 1 being that you’re shocked that I’ve come this far in the process, where do I fall on your scale?”

  1. Find out whether the interviewer will recommend that you move forward: If the interviewer placed you high on the 1-10 scale, ask: “Will you be recommending that we move forward in the process?”
  2. Ask about their time frame: “Great! What’s the next step, and what’s your time frame?”
  3. Ask every interviewer that you meet for their business card. You should exchange business cards if you have one. Before the end of each interview, ask whether it would be all right for you to call/email/text message if you have any questions.

If they say yes, this opens the door for a status update in the event that the firm doesn’t get back to you within their originally stated time frame.

As one of my candidates seriously joked while waiting to be scheduled for a second on-site interview with a client: “Their silence is deafening!”

The second interview never materialized.

If you conclude your interviews this way, you’ll be contributing to lowering the global post-interview anxiety rate.

What’s your strategy to combat post-interview anxiety? Let us know below.


Alan Geller
Alan Geller
My name is Alan Geller. A journalist, actor, music promoter, executive recruiter, and automotive brand specialist, in summary, I find it best not to summarize :-)

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  1. Good strategy. And it’s a small world. One day that company or those individuals seek projects from that very person they treated this way.

    Yikes! One would think that common sense and courtesy would have led the first interviewer to say Something before leaving.

    Thanks for sharing this situation and suggestions to avoid these kinds of outcomes.