Dear Matt: I was looking forward to working for a local company after being laid off from a previous position. The company I wanted to work for e-mailed me a 100- question test, which they said I did phenomenal on. I was then interviewed by phone, and then in person, off site. I then came into the company office for another interview. They told me I was next to be hired, probably within the next 4-6 months. I had a contact who kept in touch every two weeks for three months. Suddenly, I got an e-mail saying that after all of this, they were not going to hire me. After going through such a process, what is a person supposed to think?

Matt: If the company showed that much interest they did likely really have intentions of hiring you. That's why what probably happened doesn't reflect something you did. Instead, there were likely changes within the company that ultimately affected you, a trickle-down effect. Carole Arndt, who has 20 years of experience in corporate human resources and is president of Roseville-based The Human Resource EDGE, Inc. (www.humanresourceedge.com), agrees.

"Individuals making the hiring decisions could have changed, the department might be headed in a different direction, financial challenges of the company might have resulted in a hiring freeze, the criteria for the right candidate might have changed – these are all possibilities," says Arndt.

The biggest mistake you may have made wasn't with this company, but with your own job search. Did you continue to look for another job during this time? Did you still look for other opportunities, or for ways to improve your skills? Until you are actually working for a company nothing is for sure, especially four to six months down the road. While you were waiting, another opportunity could have come up - or may have passed you by.

If you must know what happened, contact the point person who kept in touch with you.

"But be prepared, you may not hear back," says Arndt. "Unfortunately so many employers are afraid to tell the truth for fear of saying anything that might result in a lawsuit, so it's easier just to say nothing."

Use this as a learning experience, and remind yourself that you have to take control of your job search and not let others control you.


Matt Krumrie has written and specialized in career advice for 10 years. He lives and works in the Twin Cities. Matt answers readers' questions every week; e-mail him at askmatt@startribune.com.