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How to write a follow-up email after an interview

How to write a follow-up email after an interview

Artwork by: Nelly Borisova

  • Is it appropriate to send a follow-up email after a job interview?
  • How to write a follow-up email — everything you need
  • When to send follow-up emails (with examples)
  • Key takeaways

Thank you notes aren’t a thing of the past — they can actually help you get the job you want, today. In this article, we’ll discuss why following up after an interview is important and how to write a follow-up letter to get you noticed!

In today's fast-paced, technology-driven world, it's easy to forget the human factor. When it comes to interviewing, a sincere “thank you” can go a long way to establishing positive business relationships and making a good impression. While you might be tempted to just let it go, sending the right kind of follow-up email after an interview is not only polite, it can help keep you in the front of the hiring manager’s mind. Take the time to craft a personal, thought-out follow-up letter (and email is okay!) and it might just be the cherry on the interview cake that gets you the job.

In this article, we'll discuss the importance of writing a follow-up email after an interview, including:

  • Why you should write a follow-up email

  • How to write a follow-up email

  • When to send a follow-up email (with examples)

Is it appropriate to send a follow-up email after a job interview?

Absolutely. In fact, not only is it appropriate, it’s expected. While you don’t want to flood the hiring manager’s inbox with emails, a well-timed follow-up can keep you in the running for a position. And if you forgot to mention something important during the interview, a follow-up email is a great time to mention it.

A well-crafted follow-up email also reiterates your interest in the position. And you have three opportunities to do this: immediately after the interview (within 24 hours), if you haven't heard back from them in a timely manner (about two weeks), and to stay in touch if you didn’t get the job. 

There are three good reasons to send a follow-up email after an interview:

  1. It can keep you from obsessing over the interview. Not hearing back when they promised probably means that the interviewer is super-busy or, quite simply, forgot. It happens and has no bearing on you as an applicant. But to put your mind at ease, there's no harm in following up. Wait about five days after the date they gave you, and shoot them a quick email. 

  2. It gives you another opportunity to shine. Maybe you sent a thank you note and then realized you thought of something cool you wanted to share, had another question, or another example of why you're perfect for the position. Sending a brief follow-up letter lets them know you're still interested in both the job and the company.

  3. It can give the process a little nudge. For example, if you've received an offer from another company, it's perfectly okay to let your first choice know you've got another iron in the fire. In fact, it will be appreciated.  This will let them know that they either need to move things forward or say, "No, thank you." Either way, it will let you get on with things and have some closure at the same time.

Expert Tip

In a recent survey, 80% of hiring managers find follow-up emails helpful when reviewing candidates. However, only approximately 25% of them actively get them from interviewees. The bottom line? Taking a few minutes to write a follow-up letter to your interviewer is a simple way to make a good impression and move you to the front of the line for job consideration.

How to write a follow-up email — everything you need

Of course, every follow-up email should be tailored to the job you’re applying for, but the overall general format will remain the same. Follow these steps to make sure that your email is clear, concise, and professional. To start, you need:

  • A subject line. A good subject line will increase the chances your email gets noticed and opened. You can use something like, "It was a pleasure meeting you today," or "Thank you for interviewing with me."

  • A greeting. If you’re on a first-name basis with the interviewer, use that. Otherwise, use the person’s preferred honorific (Mrs., Mr., Ms., Mx)

The body of the email should be made up of four parts:

  1. The opening paragraph should include a statement of appreciation for their time and a reminder of the interview itself.

  2. The second paragraph should restate your interest in the position and mention any salient points from the interview. You should also highlight your qualifications for the position, and ask any pertinent questions you may have forgotten to ask in the interview.

  3. The closing paragraph should mention the next steps discussed in the interview unless this was discussed at the time. You can also include any additional information that was requested.

  4. Sign off. Use a phrase that correlates to the level of formality established in the interview. 

Examples you can use are:

  • Many thanks (semi-formal)

  • Warmly (semi-formal)

  • Cheers (semi-formal)

  • Sincerely (formal)

  • With appreciation (formal)

  • Respectfully (formal)

Make sure that you proofread your email thoroughly before sending it to avoid any typos or misspellings. 

Expert Tip

When in doubt, use a formal email sign-off. It's better to err on the side of formality than to be overly familiar, which might make the interviewer uncomfortable.

Email sign-offs you want to avoid are:

  • See ya

  • Talk soon

  • Thx

  • Hugs

  • Emojis of any kind

When to send follow-up emails (with examples)

So, when should you send follow-up emails after an interview, and how do you do it without making a pest of yourself? There are a few times when you should absolutely send them, but make sure you've given the recipient ample time to respond. Remember, you’re not the only person they’re interviewing, and the hiring manager no doubt has other responsibilities other than giving you the job. Be patient.

Here are 3 moments where it’s a good idea to send a follow-up and specific examples.

1. After the first interview

The first follow-up email is not optional. A brief note thanking the interviewer for his or her time is not only appreciated, but also expected, and should be sent within 24 hours. Failing to send one marks you as unprofessional, or not fully interested in the job.

Example


Subject: Thank you for meeting with me today


Dear Mr. Johnson,



Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today to discuss the position of [job you interviewed for].  I really enjoyed meeting you and learning more about [the position and any challenges/goals/values/insights the company might have]. Clearly, [company name] is the type of dynamic and productive work environment I'm looking for.


I particularly appreciated our conversation about finding someone who can generate insight and value from data from an analytics perspective. It’s quite a challenge, and I’ve been thinking about it since we spoke.


In my recent career, I’ve come across many of the same issues we discussed: client hesitancy and cumbersome supply-chain policies. Prioritizing the quality of the data insights over the delivery of cold facts and figures has been one of my best methods for overcoming this and is one of many ways I’ve routinely exceeded company and client expectations.


Problem-solving, creative solutions, and clear communication are three ways I focus on building confidence and maintaining integrity, and I am eager to bring that skill set to [company name]. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me, either by phone or email.



Sincerely,



Mary Smith

555-321-1234

[email protected]

If you had a phone interview rather than an in-person meeting, the length of the email can be shorter, eliminating some of the details from the third paragraph.

2. If you haven’t gotten a response

If two weeks have passed, and you haven’t gotten a response from the hiring manager after your interview or thank you email, can send an email to “check in.”

Keep it brief and let them know you’re looking for information, but don’t appear agitated or impatient. Include the job you interviewed for in the subject line, and keep the message to one paragraph. You just want to remind them that you’re still interested, and are just looking for an update.

Example


Subject: Checking in regarding the sales director position


Dear Marsha,



Hope everything is going well. I am checking in on the sales director position to see if there are any updates. I really enjoyed meeting you and your team earlier this month, and please let me know if there is anything else you need to assist you in the decision-making process.



Best,

John Hightower

555-321-5678

[email protected]

Don’t hesitate to send this brief "nudge" email. You won't look frantic or irritating. The hiring process can be slow. You're politely asking for an update, not stalking them. And it never hurts to remind them that you really want the job.

Expert Tip

Following up after a job interview is not only polite, it can help you build your professional network. Lindsey Pollak, the author of "Recalculating: Navigate Your Career Through the Changing World of Work, said, "[With] each touchpoint you have with another human being, you're building your personal brand and showing who you are." By viewing each connection as establishing relationships rather than being merely transactional, you’re “sewing the seeds” for future success.

3. You didn’t get the job (aka The “stay in touch” email)

If it turns out that you didn’t get the job, or you never heard back (frustrating, we know!) it’s okay to follow up after an interview to keep in touch with the interviewer or hiring manager. You’re not complaining, you’re just trying to establish a professional relationship for your career network.

Like the second follow-up email, keep it concise and professional. Keeping it to two paragraphs, at most, restate something you found appealing or motivating about the company, and then request (not demand) a future phone call or coffee meeting.

Example


Subject: Keep in touch


Dear Mike,



Hope everything is well. I want to take this opportunity to thank you again for your time and for considering me for [name of position]. I really enjoyed speaking with you and meeting some of your colleagues at [name of company]. I also found the story of your personal career path highly motivating, and as a person who is also trying to develop my career in [name of field], I would really like to learn more about how you've grown and utilized your skills.


I realize that you are quite busy, but if you have a bit of time to spare, I would really like to be penciled in on your schedule. Are you available for a phone chat or coffee meeting in the near future?



Thanks again,


Stan Peterson

555-321-7890

[email protected]

If you didn't get the job, a follow-up email, no matter how well written, is unlikely to change their minds. However, it can let them know that regardless, you’re still interested in that company and would like to be considered for any appropriate positions in the future.

Do
  • Send multiple thank you notes if you interviewed with more than one person.
  • Be patient. The hiring process can be long and drawn out, going through multiple departments and levels.
  • Continue to follow up, especially if you have been told you're still in contention for the job. Just don't go overboard.
Don't
  • Be aggressive. You’re giving them a gentle reminder, not demanding information.
  • Be afraid to ask for the job. If you feel you’re the ideal candidate, let them know.
  • Forget to proofread your follow-up emails. Nothing is reassuring about misspellings or poor grammar.

Striking a good balance is vital to following up after an interview. Too much, and you risk looking overeager; not enough, and you might fall off the interviewer’s radar. Sending a couple of polite, concise, and professional follow-ups will show the interviewer that you're interested in the position without overwhelming them or looking desperate.

In the meantime, keep applying for jobs and scheduling interviews. Even the most well-crafted follow-up email won’t make the employer move any faster. And don’t forget to do a little self-care. The interviewing process can be stressful, and you want to do everything you can to stay positive, reduce anxiety and keep yourself in top form. Remember, it’s a process. If you’re patient, proactive, and professional, you’re sure to land on your feet no matter the interview outcome. 

Key takeaways

  1. A follow-up email after an interview is appropriate and expected, and can keep you in the running for a position. 

  2. Keep your follow-up emails brief, and reiterate your interest in the job.

  3. Send a thank you email within 24 hours of your interview, and a second follow-up if you haven't heard back within two weeks.

  4. If it turns out that you didn’t get the job, it’s okay to follow up after an interview to keep in touch with the interviewer or hiring manager, which will help develop your professional network.

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