You had a great interview, and you’re excited about the possibility of a new job. The recruiter has your contact information and has promised to let you know as soon as possible. So you go home and wait.
Before you start feeling like you've been "ghosted," take a beat. There are many reasons why you haven't heard from the company yet, some of which may have nothing to do with you. So, what do you do? Follow up!
Far from being aggressive or annoying, following up after a job interview can be helpful for both you and the interviewer, and, done right, can help you maintain a positive image as a candidate.
In this blog, we’ll discuss:
When and how to write a follow-up email
Examples of follow-up emails
What to do while you’re waiting
According to Glassdoor, the average length of the job interview process in the United States is 23.8 days.
The first follow up
Your first opportunity to follow up should be a thank you letter, sent to your interviewer within 24 hours of your interview. You still have the option of mailing a thank you letter, but these days an email is perfectly acceptable.
Your thank you note should:
Be brief, gracious, and relaxed.
Reiterate your interest in the position and reasons why you’re a good fit.
Thank them for their time.
Include any pertinent information you might have forgotten to mention in the interview.
Whether you mail a physical letter or send an email, this gesture of appreciation could tip the job scale in your favor. It leaves a positive impression on the recipient, and that is always helpful.
According to an Accountemps survey of HR managers, 24% of HR managers receive thank-you notes from applicants. However, 80% of HR managers say thank-you notes are helpful when reviewing candidates.
Consider sending a snail-mail thank you note if the company you interviewed with is more conservative or formal. A typed letter is standard, but also consider sending a handwritten note to others in the office who helped you out, such as a receptionist, administrative assistant, or office manager. Making the effort to send a note of thanks demonstrates that you’re serious about the position, and might just give you an edge in the hiring process.
Dear [Interviewer Name],
Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me today to discuss the executive assistant position. I enjoyed our conversation, and after learning more about the position, I am very excited about the possibility of joining your team and helping to [what job entails] for [company name].
I know what it takes to [detail about position responsibilities]. In my last position as a/n [position] for [company name], I helped manage [provide a brief description of how your skills line up with the position].
I know my years of experience working on [job field.] would greatly benefit [company name].
Please keep me posted on the status of the hiring process. I look forward to speaking with you soon.
While much of the content of your post-interview thank-you letter may have already been discussed during your interview, there is nothing more effective than a personalized note to remind your interviewer what benefit you could be to their company.
Time to follow up
There is nothing wrong with sending a quick note after some time has passed after your interview. It's expected and reminds them of your interest in the position.
Are you worried that sending another note will make you look desperate? Don’t be. Following up is standard and part of the process. If you handle your follow-up with care, you will demonstrate that you are professional, conscientious, and attentive, and be able to lay the foundation for a continuing professional relationship. It never hurts to gain a good reputation in your industry.
When to send the follow-up note
Remember, hiring managers and recruiters have a lot on their plates, and it’s important to remind yourself that the hiring process often takes time. This may be frustrating, but companies take hiring very seriously, and they want to ensure they’ve chosen the right person.
So when should you go ahead and give them a nudge?
After a phone screening
Follow up the same day after a phone interview to let the interviewer know that you enjoyed meeting with them, you appreciated their time, reiterate your interest in the position, and any “next steps” that you discussed.
After an In-person interview
Wait about five to ten business days before following up after an in-person (or Zoom) interview. If the employer provided a follow-up date at your interview, wait one business day after that to check-in. Include the job position in the subject line of the email, keep it to no more than one paragraph, and restate your interest in the job and are seeking an update. Offer any additional information that might be helpful, and say, “thank you.”
I hope all’s well!
When we last spoke, you mentioned that you hoped to confirm your choice for the [insert the role] position by [date]. I’m very excited about the prospect of joining your company and I look forward to your update.
Please let me know if there’s any additional information I can provide to assist in your decision-making process.”
“I’ll let you know”
You may receive a pre-emptive "I'll let you know when I have some information" email from an interviewer as a response to your follow-up. Don't despair, and be patient. At this point, you have to take a “wait and see” attitude, as you can’t rush their process and another press for information might be viewed as being pushy.
However, there are two circumstances under which it’s perfectly fine to follow up after receiving the “I’ll let you know” email:
If you've received another job offer, it's considerate to let the interviewer know, especially if you plan to accept the offer.
If it’s been at least seven to ten business days, you are justified in following up. It’s a judgment call on your part — you can check in, or take the interviewer at their word or assume there's been a hold-up. These decisions do take time, and you have to decide how proactive you need to be.
I haven’t yet received an update to your last email, so I wanted to check back in to see how the interview process is moving on your end.
I was wondering if there were any updates you could share concerning the <JOB TITLE> position. I’m still interested, and I look forward to hearing from you when you have any information to share.
Why is it taking so long?
While you're waiting to follow up, you might be wondering what the hold-up is. The truth is that it often takes much longer to hear back from a company than they said it would. There are several reasons you might not hear back from them in a timely fashion:
They're still interviewing.
Finding the right candidate can be a laborious process, and a lot of factors come into play. Depending on how many people are being interviewed, you'll have to wait quite a while as they finish with all the candidates and then reach out to all of them afterward.
They’re waiting for information.
You may have met with more than one person, and companies usually gather input from all the interviewers before making a decision. There are a lot of moving parts — people get sick, go on vacation, get stuck in meetings, and have to travel on business — and it can take weeks to analyze the data.
Interviewing job candidates likely isn't their only responsibility, and sometimes following up with candidates isn't at the top of their "to-do" list.
They just don't know yet.
Sometimes when they say they don’t have an update for you, they’re not being evasive — it’s the truth. Recruiting and hiring a new employee can be expensive and cumbersome, and the company wants to make sure they’re making the right choice.
You didn't get it.
Sometimes silence means you didn’t get the job. It’s unfortunate, but depending on the number of candidates, an interviewer may feel they just don’t have the time to contact everyone. Instead of wallowing, however, focus on what you did right, and continue to do that as you forge ahead in your job search.
In general, if you haven’t heard from the hiring manager in about ten business days after they said you’d hear from them, assume they went with another candidate.
What to do while you’re waiting
First of all, continue with your job search until you have an offer. Keep applying for jobs and setting up other interviews. No matter how great your follow-up email is, it won’t make the process move any faster. Stay productive.
Some things you can do while waiting to hear back about a position:
Look for more opportunities
Tailor your resume to each position
Write customized cover letters
Go on any other interviews that come your way.
Work on growing your professional network
Staying in touch
Whether or not you get the job, view this as an opportunity to grow your network. Even if the hiring manager has not-so-great news, it’s not all bad. This person might turn out to be a helpful person to have in your network. You never know — they may keep you in mind for a future position or as a valuable industry colleague. Just make sure you don’t go overboard, and stay professional and proactive, not pushy.
Here are some ways to build some professional bridges:
Connect on social media. Engage with their posts, or send them interesting, relevant articles once in a while.
Keep your profile active. Update any skills, education, certifications, or accomplishments.
You can also send them a short, friendly email to establish a professional relationship. If you didn’t get the job, this email won’t change that, but strengthening your network is always beneficial. If you do reach out, keep things brief, and professional, and don't put any pressure on them.
We spoke last month about the [position] at [company name]. In our conversation, you highlighted some emerging trends in [relevant industry]. I've attached an article about the same topic and thought that you might find it interesting. No response is necessary —I hope you find the information useful!
Stay on the company’s radar, but remain respectful and professional when following up.
Bombard the hiring authority with emails.
Allow some time between emails — they simply may have not made a decision yet.
Assume that you didn’t get the job if you don’t hear back right away.
Wait for the established timeline and deadlines to pass before following up.
Make demands, or insist that they tell you what’s going on.
Remember, you have no idea of what is happening on the company’s side. Worrying will not help, but checking in just might. Do what you can to stay on the employer’s radar, and make sure your tone is friendly and approachable. Whether or not you get the job, following up in a timely manner can put you in a positive light and make you a valuable, viable candidate.
Be sure to send a thank you note after an interview, ideally within 24 hours.
If no timeframe was established in the interview, wait at least five business days before sending a follow-up email. If they said you'd hear by a certain date, wait until that's passed before making contact.
Understand that a long wait time is not a reflection of you as a job candidate. There might be a lot going on “behind the scenes.”
Be patient, and take the opportunity to develop your skills and grow your network.