"Well actually, we went with someone else..."
Surprisingly, sales professionals will tell you that this by far isn't the worst answer you can receive when interviewing for a new job or freelancing gig. Actually they'll tell you that, "We'll let you know", "We'll have to think about it", or "We've got more candidates to talk to, then we'll get back to you" are the worst...more on this later in this post.
I know what you have to be thinking, "No" means, "I am out", but the other three responses that were listed above still mean I have a chance...right?
The answer is...well, yes...and no, it really depends. Many interview professionals believe that the decision whether to hire you or not comes within the first 5-10 minutes of the interview - everything after that is just filler. Hmm, I am not sure I completely buy that, but I do know that once we cast an impression on someone it can be difficult to change (so yes, first impressions are important!)
You might wonder then, "If the client or employer has already made a decision about hiring me, why would she/he try to stall by saying they'll get back to me?"
That's a good question...the answers might come as a bit of a rude surprise to you:
- First off, clients and employers (savvy ones anyway) of course want to avoid a scene. These people know that interviewing is a stressful and emotional time for job seekers and freelancers, so telling a candidate, "No thanks dude, you're not a good fit." right to someone's face might cause a scene. By stalling by saying, "We'll let you know" gives the client or employer the opportunity to let the stress level deescalate, and it allows them to tell candidates over email or the phone, where it won't cause quite a scene. And sadly, some clients and employers really have no intention of ever getting back to you, they just hope that you'll get the hint when you haven't heard from them in a while.
- Secondly, clients and employers might feel a candidate isn't a bad fit - maybe they like the person but they feel they might find someone better so they'll stall the first candidate in the hopes that they'll find someone better. If of course they don't find someone better they may end up going back to the first candidate, but by stalling they don't risk anything. While I don't care for this approach, it's done all of the time and is just part of the job/gig hunting process. In their defense, even if a client or employer has informally selected a candidate, they may end up going through with all of the interviews they've set up as a courtesy.
Okay, so going back to which is better: "No", or "We'll get back to you", it's important to note that there are times that "We'll get back to you" really does mean just that - they'll get back to you when they've made a decision - so it MIGHT not be bad. It's unrealistic to assume that clients and employers can make a yes or no decision right there on the spot, so affording them time to make a decision is just common courtesy on your part.Why Limbo Sucks:
Be honest, it's aggravating, really aggravating having the feeling that you have to just sit there and wait for a client or employer to get back to you. Perhaps you don't feel like moving forward with anything else until you've heard back - you just want to hear back from these people and then you look into other things. This is exactly why sales professionals, who get, "No", "Yes" and "We'll get back to you" on a daily basis, can't stand "We'll get back to you" - waiting in limbo means you have to check back with people (time consuming), and in some cases it can emotionally paralyze some candidates/sales pros from looking into other opportunities.
The reason why sales professionals often prefer, "No thanks" to "We'll get back to you" is that it allows them the emotional freedom to move on to other opportunities rather than having to wait for someone to get back to them, and while I know you're not a sales pro, but the idea still holds true for creative professionals. Being in limbo is no fun.
PS - Completely off the subject, but a couple of weeks ago I stumbled on Chris Brogan's blog. I've never met the guy but he's got some great content over there as well, check it out.