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Post Interview Protocol

Dear Joan:

I have been unemployed for six months, due to a lay-off, after a wonderful career in aerospace. I recently applied for a job with a small start-up company. The HR rep called me within minutes of submitting my application and set up an interview with the CEO.

I arrived slightly early for the interview dressed in my best interview suit. The CEO explained what they did and what would be expected of me. He also said he was impressed with the experience I would be bringing to the position. The interview ended with the CEO telling me he would make his decision on hiring for the position in a little over a week. He mentioned the call would be delayed by the fact he was going on vacation for a week.

When I got home, I immediately wrote him a thank you letter and snail mailed it to his business address. A week went by. A second week went by. I sent the HR rep an email and asked her if the position had been filled. She emailed me back and said the position had not been filled and she would contact me.

Another week has gone by and I am wondering if it would be appropriate for me to write a follow-up letter expressing my continued interest in the position, or if that would make me seem desperate?

As of this Friday, it will be over a month since I interviewed for the position. I am continuing to apply for other jobs (a minimum of five per week, to qualify for unemployment compensation), but I really want the job I interviewed for with this small company.

I have been out of the job search arena for so long, I am not sure of the appropriate post interview protocol. Please advise.


Don’t lose heart. A start-up company typically doesn’t have the resources—including HR systems—that larger, more established firms enjoy. Every employee, including the CEO, wears so many hats, priorities shift on a daily, if not hourly, basis. If I were to take a guess about what is happening at this particular start up, I would wager the CEO took his vacation, came back to mountains of problems and opportunities and simply hasn’t been able to focus on hiring for this new job.

Of course, it is also possible that he feels the perfect candidate hasn’t been found and wants to widen the search. If so, you will have to hope he circles back to you.

In the meantime, you are doing the right thing by continuing to apply for positions. You have done other things right, too. You sent a thank you and followed up with the HR representative. Since the CEO said he was impressed with your credentials, you can only surmise that you are still in the running.

I would suggest a friendly email to the HR representative that:

With this approach, you can be genuine and enthusiastic, while letting her know you won’t become one of those candidates that HR folks dread—calling and emailing constantly.

Another suggestion is to offer to work on a project immediately, on a contract basis, so they can make a first-hand assessment of your skills, and at the same time, you can see if the company is the right match for you. They may be very keen on this approach, if they feel the pressure to fill the position but just can’t get it done fast enough.

In addition, if you are offered a job with another company and you still prefer this position, I recommend that you contact them and let them know you have been made an offer but you would prefer their job, if it’s still available. Sometimes this is just the shove a company needs to shift out of neutral and make a decision.

And finally, even if you do accept a position with another firm, and this company finally offers you the job in two months, there is nothing preventing you from taking it. Even though it would be awkward to leave so soon, your new employer would still have a batch of fresh candidates to choose from, since they filled the job so recently. It actually happens more often than you think.

Good luck!

- Joan Lloyd

Joan Lloyd has a solid track record of excellent results. Her firm, Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding. This includes executive coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, customized leadership & presentation skills training, team assessment and teambuilding and retreat facilitation. Joan also provides consulting skills training for HR professionals. Clients report results such as: behavior change in leaders, improved team performance and a more committed workforce.

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