Applying for a new job can be an exciting, nerve wracking, and in some cases, soul crushing experience. Essentially, you’re taking a big step by putting yourself out in the market and hoping some new company accepts you. During this process, recruiters and/or hiring managers will interrogate you to break you down and discover if you are in fact qualified. Sure, this is also your time to interview them and see if this is the right company for you, but let’s face it, they hold most of the power. 

Now that this job market has gone digital, it’s easier than ever to apply to a ton of different jobs in minutes. But casting such a wide net can open you up for a lot of rejection. As a human being, it’s perfectly natural to feel let down, and in turn, it’s pretty easy for you to get your hopes up once a company actually reaches out for an interview. Keep in mind though, the interview process can be long and full of multiple steps, so at what point is it ok to actually get your hopes up about landing that new opportunity? Let’s break it down:

1. When the recruiter reaches out for an interview

This is an exciting first step. You applied to a job like you’ve done dozens of other times, but this time, they actually want to speak with you. In a market flooded with candidates, this first step can be the hardest.  While it is a big step, it’s not the time to get your hopes up yet. Someone reaching out to schedule an interview is not an interview. Now that everything has gone digital, some recruiters send emails asking for availability, but to a mass audience of candidates. Similarly, some of these programs they use to accept applications, auto-send emails to candidates if it thinks they are somewhat qualified. Even if you respond promptly and professionally, you may end up receiving no response. That’s right, just like your dating life, you just got ghosted by that company you were interested in. Until you actually schedule an interview, the opportunity is not real.

2. After the first interview with the recruiter.

You read HeyMoney’s “How to win your next interview” so you came fully prepared and performed as well as you could have. Really, the interviewer is using this call to just screen candidates, so chances are the questions will be high level and focus more on the details of the position such as general pay range, location, etc. The hiring manager is essentially the person who will make the final decision of who gets hired, but they are busy doing their job, so the recruiter needs to filter through all the candidates before sending a restricted list to the hiring manager. The recruiter may end the call with something like “ok well I’m going to forward your resume to the hiring manager and once I get their feedback we will schedule a meeting with them.”  Even though the recruiter may have liked you, that doesn’t mean the hiring manager will be impressed with your resume. So just because they do forward the resume, doesn’t mean you’re getting a follow up interview. If you’re lucky, the recruiter will say “sorry I don’t think you are a good fit for this position” and end it right then and there, but in most cases you may never hear from them again until you receive that automated “Thank you for applying but we have moved forward with another candidate” email. This isn’t a real opportunity until you actually schedule that interview with the hiring manager.

3. After the first interview with the hiring manager

This is the meeting you should have been most prepared for as this is the interviewer who truly knows the details of the position and will ask the questions that reveal if you are in fact qualified. Basically, this will be your new boss, so you want to impress them. It should be pretty obvious if you performed well and for some managers, you can tell by their responses if they think you will be a good fit. Unfortunately, you’re not the only candidate, so even if you rocked it, there may be another candidate who totally excelled where you fell short. If they want you to advance in the process, the HR coordinator will reach out to schedule another interview. Until someone reaches out for next steps, this isn’t a real opportunity.

4. After the Follow Up Interviews

The interview process is becoming much longer these days with candidates having to interview with multiple managers before being selected. Personally, I have interviewed with multiple companies that had me interview with 4 – 5 managers, some even including a session that includes a case study. Just because you have been invited to multiple interviews does not mean you can be confident that you will be chosen and that you can let your guard down. You must approach each interview as if it’s the first, because one bad impression could ruin your chances, even if you nailed all the other interviews. If they schedule you for follow up interviews, it doesn’t mean you got the job, it just means they’re still trying to figure out if you’re a good fit.

5. After you receive the Acceptance Letter

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the only time to get your hopes up about a new job is after you accept the offer letter. For some companies, you may receive a verbal confirmation that you’ve received the job, but don’t actually receive the written offer letter until weeks later. Once you have that written notification saying you have that letter, you can start to relax and prepare for your new role, because unless you fail the drug test, you’re hired.

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