Tick Tock: How to Play the Waiting Game

Have you ever waited at a doctor’s office so long that you begin to wonder why the secretary even makes appointments? Yeah. We’ve all been there. We’ve come on time, we’ve read all the magazines, checked our email incessantly, asked (read pester) the receptionist, lost valuable time, all lessons of futility since we’re not really in control.  You begin to wonder was it worth the wait?



There’s one scenario that may be worse than the doctor’s office- waiting for a call back from a prospective employer.

I’m not talking about the initial invitation for an interview- which itself is a gut wrenching experience.  I’m talking about the painful wait after a successful first, and possibly second meeting.

After following all the suggestions of how to make your resume unique, after targeting companies in your niche, and after networking both online and off, you’ve finally been identified as a suitable candidate. Everything seems to be going in the right direction. Well almost everything because you’re stuck waiting.

For what? A simple response.

Instead of breaking out the champagne, you may find yourself checking your phone and computer every day, every hour, incessantly to see if perhaps the response is there. But alas nothing, nada, zilch!



After the second interview, you’re way past impressing the HR person.  You’ve done your research about the position, pinpointed where your skills can contribute to the growth the company. Hopefully, they’ve done the same.  In most cases it’s a place that seems like a good fit. Close to home, good salary, nice work environment, good professional opportunities, leverages of your past work experiences to help grow the organization, the works.

Heck, you’ve probably even turned down other solid positions because this position just felt right. Or at least that’s the image they portrayed.

Sure, many organizations and companies take weeks, if not months, to send contracts to prospective employees.  But the question becomes how long of a grace period is deemed acceptable?

Maybe they’re so busy with so many important issues, problems and programs that no one can find a few moments to email or pick up the phone.

Maybe it’s a cultural thing? Perhaps the professional attitude to which you’ve become accustomed is not how they operate? Could it be that the go-get-‘em and “time is money” attitude doesn’t work here?  Perhaps the position was designed to help enhance and expand the long term growth and efficiency of the organization? That’s exactly why they need you. But, if it’s in the organization’s best interest to have someone start sooner rather than later, why make them wait?

Here’s what we can learn from this scenario:

Prospective employees:

  1. Just because everything looks great, doesn’t necessarily mean they are.  Either identify the problems within the company and see where you can help or run for the hills.
  2. Carefully consider these options and the respective ramifications both immediate and long term.
  3. Don’t stop networking and meeting until that paper is signed. And even then don’t stop.


  1. Establish and explain realistic timelines throughout the hiring process.
  2. Remember that candidates are people!
  3. Consider that failure to communicate may be worse than asking for an extension. Remember: the integrity of your company is at stake.

Here’s one of my favorite Seinfeld skits in animation about waiting

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