When to Follow Up After an Interview
“Thank you for your time. I look forward to next steps.”
You’ve just wrapped up the interview, you’re feeling confident, and now it’s time to keep a close eye on your inbox for that coveted response inviting you to the next round in the hiring process. So you wait. And wait. And wait.
The hiring process can be a slow drip, and that can be frustrating to job seekers eager to find out whether they’ve scored their dream job (or, next job). Unfortunately, you can’t force the process. But you can set yourself up for success by understanding how the hiring process works, and how to navigate the delicate dance of following up after the interview.
As a rule of thumb, you should follow up after any interview within 24 hours to thank your party for their time, and also reaffirm your interest in the position. While a traditional hand-written note has a certain effect, we live in a world of immediate communication, and failing to follow up within the appropriate timeframe may impact your chances of landing the offer.
Instead, send a brief email extending your gratitude, and use that as an opportunity to recap 2 or 3 key points from your conversation that reiterate your qualifications. For example:
Dear [INTERVIEWER NAME]:
It was a pleasure speaking with you earlier in regard to the [JOB TITLE] with [COMPANY NAME] and thank you again for your time. I feel confident that my extensive operational and leadership experience will bring value to the team. In summary of our conversation, I can offer:
- Deep background touching all aspects of business operations, from staffing, to customer service, sales support, inventory, and manufacturing.
- Experience leading teams, managing projects, and effectively delegating tasks.
- A track record of implementing process improvements that have led to cost savings, efficiency, and multi-million-dollar growth.
Please let me know if I can provide any additional information, and I look forward to speaking with you further.
Sending a thank you note is easy. But when is the appropriate time to follow up on the status of your application? The answer depends upon how next steps were communicated in the meeting.
Ideally, you completed the interview and the hiring manager gives you a rough timeline of when you can expect to hear from them. For example, “By next Monday" or "we'll be done interviewing by the 15th" - allowing you a metric by which to gauge your follow up response.
The likely scenario is a more general response. "It was great meeting you - we'll be in touch shortly," or "We’re still interviewing candidates. I’ll keep you posted.” This doesn't necessarily mean that you're out of the running, just that you'll have to work a little harder to gauge the timeline of the process.
If you’re still unclear, follow these guidelines in crafting your response:
Respect the Timeline if One is Given. Don’t be “proactive” and follow up early. If the timeline approaches and you still haven't heard back, give them a 1-2 day buffer before you reach out - and do via email. Plenty of hurdles come up, including administrative hold ups, new priorities, or unexpected absences.
Wait 4-5 Business Days. If the hiring manager provides neither a timeline, nor an expectation for next steps, wait 4-5 business days (a week) before following up. It's likely that they are interviewing additional candidates and haven't yet made a decision on who to cut and who to keep. Over-eagerness bordering on impatience will do little more than hinder your chances of moving forward.
Consider the Stage of the Interview. Was this an initial phone interview, a solid first interview, or your fifth time meeting the team? That matters, and the further along you are in the process, the higher priority the communication. If a candidate is being strongly considered, or has advanced to the final steps of the interviewing process, it's likely that the hiring manager will provide some expectation of next steps and when you can expect to hear from them. However, it doesn't always work that way. If no timeline is given, but you're left with a distinct impression that they want to move forward, it’s acceptable to follow up within 4-5 business days.
Side note: You do not need to send a thank you note multiple times to the same person, but you should always send one to each new contact you meet with - even if it’s your eight time meeting with the company.
Prioritize Your Own Timeline and Urgency. Hiring managers and recruiters don't always have answers, because they're subject to the whims of upper level decision-makers. If you are actively interviewing or have potential offers on the table, determine a timeline of when you will pull the figurative cord on the opportunity in the interest of not missing out on other prospective offers.
In the end: Always remain professional, and remember that many factors in the hiring process (availability of schedules, budget, priority among other open positions) can impact the timeline and urgency that a company gives a particular job opening.