Ask HR Bartender: When to Follow Up on a Job Interview

by Sharlyn Lauby on November 8, 2011

Today’s question is one I’m sure many people wonder about:

Couple weeks ago, I had a phone interview for a position with the 2 people I would be working with/reporting to. The interview went well and 3 days later I had an in-person interview with the company recruiter. After both interviews, I followed up with thank you e-mails and received positive replies that they would be in touch after they conduct additional interviews.

My question is, what is a reasonable time to expect any sort of communication after having 2 interviews, and at any point would it be acceptable/reasonable to send a follow-up e-mail inquiring to the status of the position?

I obviously do not want to come off as annoying, but at a certain point I don’t know if they’ve hired someone else and just haven’t bothered to tell me (plus the waiting is killer!)

Waiting for a reply about a job isn’t easy.  Even when the response is “we’ve selected someone else”, candidates just want to know the outcome.   Wanna know a good rule of thumb to following up at the right time?  Here’s my suggestion.

Any other advice you would give to this anxious job candidate?  Let us know in the comments.

P.S.  I want to thank everyone for sending over their questions.  I really enjoy answering them.  If you have a question, feel free to send me a note using the contact form here on the blog.

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Sam November 9, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Your video has good advice. But perhaps I missed it, was the original question addressed? I believe the original question was along the lines of “how long after”, not necessarily what to do for next time.

Sharlyn Lauby November 10, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Thanks for the comment Sam. I honestly believe the answer is … ask the recruiter. A good recruiter will explain the process and tell you the date they are trying to make a decision. As a candidate you can follow-up as appropriate to the recruiter’s response.

I’ve seen recruiting processes take days and others take weeks. Follow-up will vary, so I’ve always found the best approach is to ask the question.

Angelica February 26, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I know this is late, but I think the question still hasn’t been answered. I’m in the same boat as the commenter. As the interview has already happened, how does one address the follow-up issue? I can’t ask the recruiter because that time has come and gone, or are you saying to e-mail the recruiter with the question? Because then wouldn’t that technically be following up anyway?

Sharlyn Lauby February 27, 2013 at 5:26 pm

I wish I could share a no fail formula when it comes to interview follow-up. Unfortunately, I don’t have one. That being said, candidates can really make things easier by including these two questions in the ones they ask during the interview: 1) When does the company plan to make a decision? And 2) When can I follow-up on the status of my interview?

If someone misses their chance to ask these questions during the interview, consider using the thank you note as an opportunity for the follow-up. Let the recruiter know how much you appreciated their time then add “I forgot to ask during our conversation. What would be a good date to follow-up on my status?” Or if you feel comfortable, you can turn that into a statement. “Thank you for your time. I’ll follow-up with you next week to see if I can provide any additional information.”

Good recruiters will answer your questions. They aren’t trying to trick anyone. They want the candidate to have a good experience.

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