Photo by billiardphotos.

The Rails job market is as hot as ever, but that doesn’t mean Rails developers are offered every job they apply for. Oftentimes when a job offer doesn’t come through, developers want to know why (understandably so). There are some common reasons that a developer isn’t offered a particular job, such as: lack of technical skills, not a good cultural fit, or a personality mismatch with the rest of the team. But there’s another very common reason why developers don’t get a particular job offer and it’s often overlooked. The reason? Momentum.

Most interview processes start with a phone interview and some type of technical screening, pairing session, or code review. Oftentimes developers we work with really knock it out of the park on those first interviews. They know they did a great job, even before we share the positive feedback from the employer. The dangerous part is what comes next: developers think that because they did extraordinarily well in the initial interview, the job is all theirs.

The reality is: there’s still a long way to go before an offer is made, and it’s key to keep momentum building until that offer materializes. The next step in the interview process typically requires sending in a code test or scheduling a time to come in to the office to meet the team. When developers do very well in the first interview, they often don’t act with a sense of urgency in this next stage. We’ve seen many relationships dwindle at this very stage.

While it might seem like a small detail, a delay in responding to a scheduling email or a delay in submitting a code test can cause the interview process to come to a complete halt. For the employer, doubt starts to creep in as they wonder: Is he really interested in working with us? Is he too busy interviewing with other companies? If we make him an offer, would he just shop it around? Was he as good as we thought?

Communication is key throughout the process, and while you might be juggling a few other potential employers, each one requires its own attention and sense of urgency in order to arrive at the offer stage.

So when you do an awesome job in your first interview, you should feel awesome. Just don’t take your foot off the gas. Instead, power through the rest of the process, keep the communication going, and keep your enthusiasm level high. You’re not there yet, but if you use that initial momentum to your advantage, you’ll have an actual offer in hand soon. And then, instead of wondering what went wrong after such a great start, the choice will be yours!