Ask Dorothy: Only Time Will Tell

Ask Dorothy

Welcome to another section of Ask Dorothy, where I post a comment or answer to questions that I have received from Twitter: @dorothyjs, my contact me page or through the comment sections of my posts.

Only Time Will Tell

I think we would all agree that the worst part of an interview is the length of time you have to wait to hear back from the recruiter or hiring manager. It can take some recruiters a few weeks to a month to get back to you or sometimes you don’t hear from them at all.

Once your interview is finished and you have sent your Thank You letters the length of time that passes until you hear back from the company is a very good indicator whether you will get the job. They won’t wait 2-3 weeks. They will contact you almost immediately once they know that “you’re the one” and either offer you the job or keep you in the loop on the process. The point is they don’t want to lose you to another job/company.

Here is a great example how one person heard back from HR right away. They were not offered the job right away but they were kept in the loop on the process. Here is Andrew’s story:


Hi Dorothy,
Here is my situation in a nutshell. Went in for a 4 hour interview a week ago on Monday, went great, sent followed up emails to all 7 people I met with. Received a email response from the HR person right away asking if she could call me to “debrief.” We spoke on the phone the next day, and she essentially said “Everyone loved you, do you have a specific timeline on a start date, etc. She then said “I would probably go ahead and start thinking about some references you could give us as well.” However, she didn’t “officially” request them, and said they were still going through the process (likely more interviews?) but that she would be in touch soon, most likely. This was Wednesday afternoon, and it is now the following Monday. Should I continue to sit tight, should I voluntarily send her my references if I don’t hear back by say Tuesday or Wednesday? Thoughts on this situation would be appreciated!

My Response

Hi Andrew,
“Still going through the process” just means that they still had to go ahead and interview candidates that were already scheduled to come in. Even if they think “you’re the one” they have to finish the process. If I were you I would email your contact and ask them two things 1. For an update 2. See if they want your references. You should see by either their hesitation or enthusiasm for your references whether you have a chance of getting the job. I think if you just email them your references you may not get a response back, which just means more waiting. I think you still have a good chance so I would contact them tomorrow (Tuesday). Good Luck!


Hi Dorothy,
Great news, I got the job! They mentioned they are going to be sending me a hard copy of the offer and other information today. Here is my question….They asked me during my interview what my current salary was and the range I was looking for….I realize now I should have kept this more confidential, but I stated the range of my current position and that I was hoping to be 3k-10k more than that. Well, in my research (a website called glass door), I found the exact position with the company at a range of roughly 20-30k higher than what I had indicated….how should I proceed here, considering I expect them to give an offer in the range I indicated, but there is evidence the average salary is much higher?

My Response

In regards to salary negotiations I would be very careful. First I would wait and see what they offer you. You maybe surprised. Now, since you already told them that you expect to get between 3K-10K more than your current salary if you turn around and ask for 20K-30K more they may withdraw the offer. One of the decision to hire you may have been your salary requirements. If you ask for too much more they might pass on you and go with candidate B. So I would wait to see what they offer you and then ask for up to 10K increase but you need to justify it with your years of experience, what you bring to the team etc. not just that you did some research, even though you should point that out as well. Keep in mind they may just say that times are tough and they no longer have the budget to provide the salaries you found in your research. At the end of the day you need to negotiate something that you will be happy with and try not to take the original offer. Good Luck!!!

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28 thoughts on “Ask Dorothy: Only Time Will Tell

  1. Fritz
    November 8, 2011 at 10:05 am

    I think that even if they seem to keep you in the loop, it can be misleading. “We are still going through the process” could also just means a whole lot of BS : they might just be waiting for their first choice to accept and to make sure that their background check on that candidate is ok before kicking you to the curb. So you might think that you are in the loop while actually you’re not and they are just using you as a backup plan…

    1. November 8, 2011 at 11:04 am

      Hi Fritz,
      Thanks for leaving a comment. That maybe be true if “we are still going through the process” is the only message you get. When you hear that management loved you, that you should get your references ready, or any positive feedback right after your interview or in response to your Thank You letter you should consider it a good thing. The point is the longer the (positive) message from the recruiter and how quickly you hear from them after your interview are both very good indications that you are either going to be offered the job or you are one of their top candidates, which at that point you need to figure out how to quickly become their #1 candidate.

  2. Fritz
    November 9, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Hi Dorothy, I get your point. But I’m just saying that, as you said many times, each situation is different. Personally, I’ve heard “we are still going through the process” AND the team loved you… Maybe I’m a bit jaded (been looking for a job for 19 months now and I have a Ph. D and postdoc…) but I’ve learned my lesson: Only get excited when you get the written offer. Anything else is just conjectures and speculations. But I get your point, if you hear from them quickly it’s a damn good sign and it sure beats the waiting game…

  3. November 16, 2011 at 11:33 am

    As always these posts are really great! Super useful and informative.

    1. November 16, 2011 at 11:43 am

      Thanks Duncan!

  4. ASIA.D
    December 22, 2011 at 12:24 am


    1. December 22, 2011 at 6:32 am

      Hi ASIA.D,
      First of all, many recruiters ask candidates when they can start, the hours that are required for the role and the starting salary (especially, if there is no room for negotiation). All this does not mean that you got the job. It’s just all information. Second, what did she mean when she said “when they get an opening”? Did you not apply for a job that was currently open? After the holidays I would contact the recruiter again and make sure that there is in fact a real job opening here and that you didn’t just sit in on an informational interview. Hope that helps.

  5. ASIA.D
    December 22, 2011 at 3:47 pm



    1. December 22, 2011 at 4:56 pm

      I guess you’ll just have to wait ASIA.D.

  6. Asia D.
    January 22, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Asia D. – I have been on lots of interviews in the past year. Almost at every interview they have asked me when I could start and I got none of the jobs. So that is definitely not an indication that they want you for the position.

    It sounds to me like they don’t have a real opening now. They are just doing what alot of employers do and that is interview, see who is availalbe in case they wanted to hire.

    1. January 22, 2012 at 10:30 am

      Hi Asia D.
      I really don’t think employers interview for the sake of interviewing and seeing who is available. Recruiting takes a lot of time and money and companies will interview when they have an actual job available. Some jobs are harder to fill than others and therefore take longer to fill. I agree that just because an interviewer asks you when you can start does not mean they are offering you the job. They need to know when you are available and some people are available right away, some need to give 2 weeks notice and others need to give 30 days. Thanks for leaving the comment.

  7. T. Jayne
    January 25, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Hi Dorothy,

    I have been having major post-interview anxiety and your blog has really helped! So thanks! I interviewed for a position last Wednesday, the interview went very well (as far as I can tell), they said they would send me an offer after they call my references. The boss, who I would be directly under, came in, met me, and said “see you on Monday”, so of course that got my hopes up big time.

    Anyways, the job was through a recruiting agency and the recruiter asked for my references yesterday, all three of them were called. My number one concern is, the recruiter said “____ just wanted me to ask one more question: “what will you do if there is a lot of idle time at the beginning of your time with the company because they have not completely developed your role yet, will you get bored?” I really emphasized in the interview that I want to be challenged, kept busy, etc. when really what I should have said was none of that maybe?

    I am wondering if they are now re-considering me because I am “overqualified” for the position or they think I will quit if I get bored? I know there is nothing I can do at this point, but I was wondering if you had any tips on how to present myself during an interview. I DO want to be kept busy and be challenged but maybe I can say it in a way that makes me look more ambitious than antsy? Or do you think my post-interview anxiety is just making me nuts? I feel a little nuts…

    Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.

    1. January 25, 2012 at 8:22 pm

      Hi T. Jayne,
      I think the most important thing to remember when interviewing is to really listen and then ask good questions. I’m sure if you asked about the role i.e. Was it newly created? Why did the person leave this role? etc. You would have found out that they were still developing the role and then you wouldn’t have emphasized how much you need to be challenged and kept busy. The interview is over now and try not to over analyze it but to learn from it. Did you follow up with thank you notes? Overall it sounds like you may interview well (since this employer really liked you) so if you don’t get this job I’m sure you won’t be job hunting for long 🙂 Hope you hear from them soon and good luck!

  8. T. Jayne
    January 27, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Hi Dorothy,

    Thanks so much for the advice and this very helpful website! I ended up getting a job offer yesterday from them! I’m stoked.

    Thanks again,


    1. January 27, 2012 at 10:21 am

      CONGRATULATIONS T.Jayne!!! That’s great news!

  9. Cindy
    February 4, 2012 at 8:05 am

    Speaking of an interviewer asking for references….

    I had an interview a couple of weeks ago. I thought it went very well. They had me do some aptitude and skills testing, and I knocked their socks off with my scores (not bragging, but I really knew my stuff). They asked me for my references, which I supplied. They told me that they will get back to me as soon as they’ve completed my reference checks.

    I’ve contacted the people on my reference list, and not one of them has been contacted by the company! I just don’t understand. If they say they’re going to call your references, why don’t they? This has me not only confused, but a little ticked.

    1. February 4, 2012 at 8:34 am

      Hi Cindy,
      Maybe they employer is not in a rush to fill the role. Maybe they will check your references closer to filling the role. It is very odd to ask for your references and not actually check them. I would follow up with them and ask them when they are expecting fill the role. I hope you hear from them soon.

  10. Cindy
    February 7, 2012 at 11:06 am

    So, I did follow up. First with a phone call, but I had to leave a message since the person wasn’t in. She hasn’t called me back BTW. Same day I sent a follow-up by e-mail, basically just touching base and wondering if they’ve had a chance to contact my references, that I am still very interested in the position, etc. etc. No answer…complete silence.

    I mean, if they didn’t like me and/or I didn’t get the job, then just say so. But don’t ask me for my references at the end of the interview if you have no intention of following through. My reference contacts don’t want their details handed out all over town, and specifically asked me to let them know when their deets were given out, and to whom.

    I should mention that I am an older (or should I say “mature”) job seeker, after having spent the past 22 years raising my family. I held a part-time position during this time at a family-owned business, where I have built up my skills and am willing/able to prove my skills to anybody. I also spent many years working for free for several organizations (i.e. volunteering). I constantly feel like I’m being overlooked for the younger candidates, even if they have less experience and skills. And if I apply to “entry level” positions, the employer doesn’t think somebody my age would be a good fit; I am more than willing to start at the bottom and work my way up again. I never state my age; however, it doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to figure out my age, based on the dates and number of years of experience on my resume.

    I’d really love if you could put together a separate post for older people, specifically stay-at-home moms who are trying to re-enter the full-time work force. Moms who are coming back after one or two year mat. leave still have a chance, but for those of us who are reaching the age of 50, it seems like an impossible battle unless we “know somebody” who will help us out.

    1. February 7, 2012 at 11:37 am

      Hi Cindy,
      I know looking for a job can be frustrating but you need to have faith. You need to have a positive attitude about the process. It sounds like you have some great experience and you shouldn’t use your age as an excuse. I know that ageism does exist but I find that many times it has nothing to do with age and everything to do with attitude. When you are searching for a job your references need to know that for the next few months since they agreed to be your references that their contact information will be provided in hopes that you get a job. I don’t understand why they care when or to who their information is given out to. They should be positive people in your life who are trying to encourage you and help you as much as they can to find a job. It also definitely does help to know somebody in a company where you would like to work. This is why LinkedIn is a great tool. It can connect you to so many people that you might have not thought of who could help you get your next job. So be positive and confident. Those are traits that employers want in an applicant. Good Luck! and thanks for the post idea.

  11. Nick
    March 2, 2012 at 2:42 am

    Hi Dorothy! I need your thoughts. I have hust gotten to the second round but here I encountered a small surprise. The hiring manager wrote to me that the CEO wants to meet me in person (that was not supposed to happen in the first place) and that this interview would take place at a trade fair in a remote city (completely unexpected). In addition they want to conduct the interview in German (it is a German corporation) although German skills were not required for the role as was stated in the job description. At the previous interview though I was asked to speak some German even though I am not perfect at it. Should I just decline the invitation for the interview? Or is it a indication of interest in me and I should give it a shot and try to do my best at the interview languagewise? Please, advise. Nick

    1. March 2, 2012 at 5:35 am

      Hi Nick,
      I would not decline the interview. Think of it as a challenge and since they said that speaking German was not required for the role then I would not be too worried and just give it your best try. Good Luck!

  12. Becky
    March 8, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Hi Dorothy,

    I’d like your input if you don’t mind. I had an interview for an HR position last Friday. I thought the interview went ok but they didn’t show me around and the interview was only about 35 to 40 minutes long so I was pleasantly suprised when I got an email from the hiring manager on Monday telling me that she had already called one of my supervisors and wanted permission to speak to my current supervisor. I emailed her back and told her that she could speak w/ my current supervisor and I also supplied my other references. I haven’t heard anything yet so now I’m getting really nervous. Do companies normally check multiple candidates’ references? I sent a follow-up email yesterday stating that I was still interested in the position and that I just wanted to make sure she’d been able to contact my references and that I could fax her my two previous performance appraisals if she needed them but I never heard back. I’m wondering if that’s a bad sign.


    1. March 8, 2012 at 9:02 pm

      Hi Becky,
      I honestly think most interviews are less than hour long and the fact that they requested to check your references is a GREAT thing. You’re just getting excited and getting your hopes up, which is a good thing. Be patient and I’m sure you will hear from someone soon. Oh and make sure you scan and use email rather than fax a document. It’s much more professional. Hope that helps.

  13. maxie97
    June 10, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Hi Dorothy
    I have been on a job 30 yrs in the union as CSR . Recently within my company there has been a few manangement jobs that have posted. My only experience with in the company is that of a CSR. I just furtherd my education and received a MBA I want to go further but I am 59 I left a very busy corporated office and now I am in a smaller office closed to home, 2 people and I am stress free to go on would be back in busy environment and no protection of the union at this point no plans on retiring but I would like to retire at a hire pay rate. The new job I only have a little experiece but learn easily. I now that there are others with more experience than me. What are your thoughts.?

  14. Mr. John
    August 2, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Hi Dorothy,

    I sure enjoy your blog-you offer some great insight. I applied for a “dream job” with a very large airline, and was contacted about 7 weeks later for an interview. I flew across the country and interviewed for 1.5 hours, and spend another 2 hours observing operations. (This is a technical Flight Operations position). I sent appropriate thank you emails to the 3 managers and senior employee that interviewed me. 2 1/2 weeks later I was contacted again and asked for my professional references. I have heard nothing nor have my references been contacted (Submitted references one month ago today). I have sent a few emails to the company HR/Recruiter and also left 2 voice mails but she will not respond. I’ve also emailed and left a voice mail for the Hiring Manager that called me, but nothing! So frustrating to be treated like this. I keep thinking that maybe there was just a hang-up, or some sort of delay, but am only met with disappointment! Do you have any thoughts or ideas on what I might do from here besides the obvious answer (“keep applying to other jobs”). Thanks so much!

    1. August 2, 2012 at 3:16 pm

      Hi Mr. John,
      I can’t believe airline is making you wait this long. I don’t see any excuse for this at all. They should at least tell you if there is hang up or not. During the interview did they tell you what their timeline was? Maybe they weren’t thinking of filling this role quickly. I honestly don’t know and it really makes me mad that Recruiter hasn’t even gotten back you. I hope you hear from someone soon.

  15. natasha
    August 4, 2012 at 12:39 am

    Hi Dorothy,

    I need your advice, I have given this interview 3 weeks back which lasted for 45 mins, after interview same day I was asked to fill n send the background check forms, then 3 days later I got call for HR who told me my interview was good n she wanted to discuss some duties and responsibilities as hiring manager wanted to make sure that I should be aware of this n should not have any problem in performing these duties n responsibilities & I said yes for everything, now its 3 weeks completed n I didnt got any mail/call for HR, also wen i inquired 1 week back, she did reply n said, she wil check with the hiring managers n get back as soon as she has any update….I can also see the job posting has been taken out from the job site…m very worried now, as this was my dream job…what do you think, Is there still some hope left ?or should I accept the fact that I didnt got the job…

    1. August 4, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      Hi Natasha,
      Honestly, I think they went with someone else. If they really wanted you they would have communicated with you more. I think you were probably the runner up which means that they did love you so if your dream job is posted again you should definitely apply. At this point I would continue to contact HR and ask them for a response so at least you can have closure. Hope that helps.