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Silence is the New Black

Congratulations on landing the interview, but what happens when the office goes silent? Is this a convoluted game of playing hard to get? Or is no answer really a "no" answer? Hill Navigator discusses.

Q. I finally landed an interview for a Hill internship after many attempts (I'm a college grad but after many failed attempts at staff assistant/LC jobs, I'm willing to do anything to start a career on the Hill). I thought the interview went fairly well, and afterwards they asked when I could start if I got the job when I e-mailed a thank you note. I don't think it went as well as it could have, partially because they didn't interview me for the job description I applied for, but rather something that seemed oddly tailored to my work experience and policy background. However, it's been two weeks and I have not heard from the office ... What do I do?
A. You follow up.  

Send a friendly email, reiterating your interest in the position, how much you enjoyed meeting the office, offering to provide them any additional materials they might need. Then you can go back to waiting.  

But waiting is rough, isn’t it?  

We’ve all been caught in the impatient waiting game of job searching — even the best of job hiring processes have lag times, which seem endless when you’re kept in the dark. Hill Navigator completely sympathizes with the confusion you’re going through, and Capitol Hill is a prime offender in slow, obfuscated hiring processes. But, in an attempt to ease your frustration, here are a few things to ponder that might give you a glimpse into the furtive world of HIRING. (But none of these, except the follow-up email, might make it go any faster.)  

Sometimes, the office doesn’t know either. Maybe they want to hire you, but they don’t have the office manager’s sign-off. Maybe the chief of staff wants to do another round of interviews and her schedule isn’t open. Or maybe the congressman has instituted an arbitrary hiring freeze so he can donate money back to the Treasury. Whatever the reason, it might be just as frustrating to the staff who wants to bring you in. After all, if there's a job opening, it means there's work to be done, and someone’s had to pick it up until that spot is filled.  

Sometimes you aren’t their first choice. Hill Navigator thinks you’re awesome, and maybe the office does too, but sometimes you aren’t their number one. Second choices do get hired. They get promoted, they get big jobs, and sometimes they need to wait a bit longer for the first choice to walk away. It happens.  

And face the cold, ugly reality: It might not be your job. Maybe you aced the interview and maybe you didn’t. Maybe they want to hire someone from western North Dakota and you’re from Fargo. Whatever the reason, sometimes silence does mean rejection. Give it one more friendly follow-up before crossing the office off your list. And know this: It happens to the best of us. Securing a job on Capitol Hill is no small feat, and one recalcitrant office shouldn’t get you down.  

Got a question for Hill Navigator? Email hillnavigator@rollcall.com All submissions will be treated anonymously.