These seven steps will help keep your candidacy strong, while also keeping you from going crazy with suspense.
1. Send a follow-up note. Within a few days after your interview, send a follow-up note by email or postal mail. These are often thought of as thank-you notes, but a good one will go well beyond thanking your interviewer for her time. A really effective note will reiterate your interest in the job and build on the conversation from the interview, even referring back to points that were covered and your thinking on them since then.
2. But don't follow up excessively. As eager as you might be to hear back from the employer, following up too frequently can turn a good candidate into an annoying one who won't get hired. Phoning or emailing weekly or checking in before the time when you've been told a decision is overly aggressive and may kill your chances for an offer.
3. Review the questions you were asked in the interview and how you did. Were there questions that tripped you up, or where you felt your answers were weak? Write these questions down so that you can practice better answers for next time.
4. Think about whether you want the job. Too many job seekers just accept any job that's offered to them, without thinking through whether they're the right fit for the work, the culture, and the people. That, of course, is a recipe for ending up in a job where you're miserable. So think through what you've learned about the job and the company. Is this work you'd like to do every day? Is the manager someone you'd want to work for? Being thoughtful about these factors can help you end up in the right job, not just any job.
5. Realize that hiring often takes longer than anyone involved thinks it will. Don't be alarmed if you don't hear back from the employer immediately. The hiring process often takes longer than the employer intends, for all sorts of reasons—the decision makers are out of town, scheduling conflicts have delayed a final interview, the bureaucracy required to finalize an offer takes time to work through, and so forth. It's nerve-wracking, but don't read too much into it.
6. Keep applying for other jobs. Whatever you do, don't stop your job search while you wait to hear back. It doesn't matter how great your interview was, or how much you clicked with your interviewer, or how perfect the job seems for you. It doesn't even matter if the interviewer told you that you were the top candidate and you should expect an offer soon. Until you actually have a firm job offer, preferably in writing, keep applying for other jobs. Too many people have stopped their job search because one particular job seemed like a sure thing—only to have the offer never come through. Don't let that happen to you.
Plus, applying for more jobs is a good way to burn off nervous energy while you're waiting for them to call.
7. Move on mentally, if necessary. If you find yourself agonizing and frantically checking your email every 20 minutes, wondering when you're going to hear something, do this instead: Move on. There's nothing to be gained by the agonizing and waiting and wondering; you're far better off putting it out of your head and moving on. If the employer eventually calls, it will be a pleasant surprise. And if they don't, you'll have already moved on anyway.
Alison Green writes the popular Ask a Manager blog, where she dispenses advice on career, job search, and management issues. She's also the co-author of Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager's Guide to Getting Results, and former chief of staff of a successful nonprofit organization, where she oversaw day-to-day staff management, hiring, firing, and employee development.