How To: Follow Up After a Job Interview

by Sharlyn Lauby on January 3, 2013

Enough can’t be said about the importance of follow-up. Especially in the interview process. We spend so much time making sure our resume is perfect to make sure we get that interview. Today’s reader question is about what to do once the interview is over:

Hello. I worked for a tech company for over 10 years as an executive assistant. Due to a company reorganization, my position was eliminated. This has been a very challenging time, as I’m having difficulty finding a job. I’m currently working as a temp for a large medical company. It’s a great company with many great benefits but I’m not happy in my current role.

I’ve come to realize I don’t interview very well. My true friendly personality doesn’t come out during the interview. I just applied for a terrific job, where I know I can make a difference. I had an interview and I believe it went well but I’m not sure I convinced them that I am the right person for the job.

I did send the interviewers a thank you email and they responded it would be a while due to the holidays. It’s been 2 weeks and I want to follow up with an email to show my continued interest in the position and in their company. What would be some words to add to this follow up email to convince them that I want this job and that I can be successful in this role? Thank you.

To offer some insight, I reached out to two very accomplished talent management professionals. Kevin W. Grossman, is an executive at BraveNewTalent, a leading social learning career platform and author of the book, “Tech Job Hunt Handbook”. Chris Havrilla is a sought-after recruiting consultant and author of the blog, Recruiter Chicks. I’m thrilled they graciously agreed to share their expertise.

So tell me, should candidates send a follow up note after an interview?

recruiter, recruiting, job, interview, job interview, follow up, follow-up, Kevin Grossman[Kevin] Yes, always. Whether or not a candidate is truly in the running, the interviewer can get crazy busy and it’s important to always follow up with a note and even a call in a week if there’s no word back on next steps. Candidates should never be afraid to ask for acknowledgement and closure, even if it’s not the news they want to hear.

[Chris] Definitely yes!  It is a great way to not only let someone know that you appreciated their time and insights – but also to make sure they are aware of your interest and enthusiasm, and reinforce how you “fit”.

The reader mentions “convincing the company that this is the job they want” in the follow-up note. Isn’t that too late? From a recruiting perspective, what’s the purpose of sending a follow-up?

[Kevin] The follow-up is a way to reiterate interest and reaffirm why the candidate is the best fit for the role. It’s never too late, although at that point the hiring manager may have already made her decision. But front-running candidates do decline offers and take other positions, so there’s always a possibility of being considered.

recruiter, recruiting, job, interview, job interview, follow up, follow-up, Chris Havrilla[Chris] A note will probably not be able to turn around an interview that did not go well, but it could be something that could help differentiate you from equally strong candidates.  From a recruiting perspective, I appreciate someone showing their understanding of and connection with the company, the role, and/or the people they met.  That could make a big difference.

Interesting story…I had a friend who had received an email that after interviewing, they had selected a stronger candidate for the role – and like your reader, had really felt it was a great fit.  I advised her to reply with a simple thank you for their time and consideration – and to keep her in mind for any future opportunities as she was still very much interested in them and felt she could make a great impact.  It established a connection and it kept a door open – and in this case, within a month, they did call her and hired her for an additional role that had opened up.  It can make a difference.

Is email an acceptable way of sending a follow-up?

[Chris] It is has become more acceptable, especially in today’s world – and in the interest of time, clearly the most rapid way to respond.  Having said that, a written note, which is becoming more of an exception than the rule, could still help you stand out.  Look at each situation and do what you feel would work best.

Name 1-2 things a follow-up note should include.

[Kevin] Again, the follow-up should always include: 1) your legitimate and enthusiastic interest in the job and 2) why you’re best candidate for the job, including a quick highlight of applicable experience and skills.

Is there anything a follow-up note should absolutely not include?

[Kevin] What your salary and benefits should look like. Seriously, that’s left to when you’re made and actual offer. And unless it was already discussed during the interview process, refrain from editorializing too much about personal or other professional issues that could affect your job performance in any direction.

Lastly, once a candidate follows up, should they ever follow up a second time?

[Chris] I think that really depends on the timing and the situation. You don’t want to ‘stalk’ – or push where there is no real interest.  However, if the company genuinely seems interested and is giving no reason to make you think they are not – keep the conversation open and take cues from them to decide the cadence.  You can even say, “…if I haven’t heard anything in the next week, would it be ok or appropriate to follow up with you directly?”

In this case, the company indicated that a decision would potentially be after the holidays.  I would send a holiday card to their main point of contact wishing them a happy holiday, reiterating her interest in joining their team, and looking forward to hearing from them after the holidays…

Again my thanks to Chris and Kevin for sharing their experience. If you want to get more of their recruiting wisdom, be sure to check out their blogs Reach West and Recruiter Chicks and follow them on Twitter at @RecruiterChicks and @KevinWGrossman.

Oh, and P.S. Check back this weekend when we’ll talk about the second part of this reader note – What to do when the interview doesn’t go well.

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{ 25 comments }

Ron Katz January 3, 2013 at 9:21 am

Great advice Sharlyn, and thanks to Chris and Kevin. I even advise candidates to follow-up after a rejection. Even if you didn’t get the job, don’t lose the connection. You got far enough in the process to get an interview so they must have liked you enough to possibly recommend you to someone else. Build bridges, don’t burn ‘em!

Jennifer V. Miller January 3, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Timely and specific job-seeking advice. Thanks, Sharlyn, for drawing in Kevin and Chris to address this important issue. Looking forward to the second installment.
Jennifer V. Miller recently posted..New Leaders and Low-Hanging Fruit

Sharlyn Lauby January 3, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Great point Ron. As a recruiter, I’ve reached out to candidates the company previously rejected. Just because a candidate wasn’t selected for a position doesn’t mean they can’t have another opportunity with the company.

Thanks for the comment Jennifer. It was a fun post to write!

Elizabeth Johnston January 3, 2013 at 8:16 pm

So to be effective, in an executive job search, you have to determine what role you want to play, what industries and organizations would support that role and what you’re geographical preferences and limitations are. The task here is not to look for open positions, but to look for the decision makers in organizations that would have the role that you are seeking to fill. Remember 30% of organizations are going to need someone, so it’s your job to initiate the introduction and chemistry match.
Elizabeth Johnston recently posted..HOW TO LAND AN EXECUTIVE JOB

Andy Phillips January 5, 2013 at 9:26 am

Great article. For me the main thing to remember is that recruiters are trying to fit a round peg in a round hole and while you may not fit a particular role there may be other opportunities at a later date with that company. You should therefore see all of this as part of a conversation. Positive engagement should be the focus of your post-interview contact.
Andy Phillips recently posted..How To Better Calculate Your Hourly Pay

Sharlyn Lauby January 6, 2013 at 10:12 am

So true. Thanks for the comment Andy.

jimmy January 9, 2013 at 9:03 am

So if you’re told you would be contacted after the holidays; how long should you wait before contacting them if you haven’t heard from them?

Ron Katz January 9, 2013 at 9:13 am

Jimmy,
Much depends on what day of the week New Year’s Day falls, but I would recommend certainly while still in single digits (i.e., before Jan. 10th). Give them a couple of days to recover and get back in the flow and then re-establish your candidacy.

This also can be influenced by the industry, so in some cases (advertising, certain retail) you want to get back to them almost immediately as their needs will be evolving earlier in the month. Academia can probably wait as they take longer breaks in january.

Don’t over look the things you can do DURING the break to stay in contact as well.
Only the best,
Ron

Sharlyn Lauby January 10, 2013 at 8:38 am

Thanks for the question Jimmy and the answer Ron! Holidays are always tough to judge.

William H Gutches January 10, 2013 at 11:25 am

Follow up is very important whether you are truly interested in the opportunity or not. We should include information to the interviewer about our interest, our growing knowledge of the company/position/industry issues, etc. We should also work our way to become a trusted advisor or information source about the company/position/industry so that, at least, we have a new network connection if not a new supervisor or co-worker.

Whendoyoustoplooking at gmail dot com

Sharlyn Lauby January 10, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Thanks for the comment William. I think we’re at the point where’s there no such thing as a passive job seeker anymore. Opportunities can emerge from anywhere and people need to be prepared.

mary ann January 15, 2013 at 7:45 pm

During interview, the accounting supervisor told me that she wanted to hire me but they have other applicants for interview. Then she endorsed/ accompany me to HR to meet the HR Manager for interview. But after few minutes, someone from HR told me to follow up after 3 days. I really wanted to get this job.

Sam 27 February 3, 2013 at 7:35 pm

I have been interviewed the 22 Jan 2013, the V.P told me they will decide by Feb end due to the load of emails. i had sent a thank email following my interview for a PM post, but I wanted to maintain the link between us by showing my interest working for them, how many times do I have to send email ?
P.S:1) I have been told by the VP that being called for the interview is already a good sign.
2) Asked if I can send him a followup emails, he agreed.!

Craig March 5, 2013 at 8:35 am

I interviewed 3 weeks ago for a position and was told it would be 2-3 weeks before a decision would be made. I sent a follow up email to thank everyone for their time, etc., 2 days after the interview. I have reached out to recruiting once a week to get updates, but they tell me they are still in the interviewing processes. This is a position that I would really like. Is it appropriate to send an email to the hiring manager at this time for an update or should I continue to communicate with recruiting? I’m afraid that recruiting is not letting the hiring manager know that I’m still reaching out to them.

Sharlyn Lauby March 6, 2013 at 7:55 am

@Craig – I don’t doubt for a minute that you really want the job. Based on your comment, I have no reason to believe the company is lying to you. If they tell you they’re still interviewing…maybe that’s what they’re doing. It’s very possible they’re behind schedule.

Ashok March 9, 2013 at 8:06 am

Hi,

I got mail from Recruitment Consultant via LinkedIn. He said, the company just hired them and he wants test engineer position in Sweden based company(right now I live). His from US.
After mail sharing, he sent the job description and asked few questions in the mail, like ” Do I have work permit, salary, local language & English, date on available and update CV ” so on..
I mailed him clearly about my expectations and his answers.

He was very happy with my answers and arranged an interview in Sweden with Test Manager.
I performed well in that interview, manager said ” I may have next round with QA team and HR Manager”.

I didn’t get mail from him, I mailed him and interested in the position and would like to know the process. After a day he mailed me, I have an another meeting with HR Manager. Then HR Manager mailed me and sent some personality test before meet her. I did the test and had an meeting with her nearly two hours. I got good feedback from their test and performed well in that meeting.

He mailed me after a week, I have not selected from their final list. I just mailed him to said thanks. After a two day, he called me from US, he mailed me wrongly instead of other candidate and apologize his inconvenience.

He said, the company still interested me and have an another final meeting(Head of Engineering, QA team) and some written test on same day at next week(Thursday).

I was happy and concentrated the test which I have. I went to the company and performed well in the written test, and nice conversation with QA team and meeting with Head of Engineering. HR Manager asked me to provide an references to send her mail. I just mail along my references details on the same day. She mailed me to get back me on next week.

I have contacted my references but she does not contact them yet. He mailed me on next week Friday, the HR manager is still in the process of taking references and will contact him on Monday and he asked me ” am still interested in this position” . I mailed him, yes I am very interested in this position.

The interview process is nearly more than 40 days more, Why they are not contacted my references yet? and what they think right now? Do I have chances to get the job offer?
Do I call HR manager? or wait for a week or mail them I am in another interview how long do you take?

Note: The current QA Engineer left the position on Friday(8th March), I just got know from the QA manager, He told me that when we had an meeting.
In mean time, I had a another company interviews( internship) and waiting for that result too..
I am very happy to join this QA Engineer position most because of my matched skills, salary, flexibility so on..

Can you help me for my situation? I don’t know how do I feel now, either be happy for waiting positive result or waiting long time for the company results. I ‘m little depressed too.

Thanks

Sharlyn Lauby March 10, 2013 at 11:16 am

Hi Ashok. Thanks for the note. In my experience, I’ve been hired on the spot and I’ve been hired after months of interviews. Every company has their own process. That’s why it’s so important for candidates to find out what the process is … it will guide your decision making.

References are an interesting subject. Some organizations put a lot of stock into them. Others not so much. In my experience, asking for references is not an indicator of whether a company will use them.

Regarding the specifics of your situation, it sounds like you answered your own question in the last paragraph. Only you can decide if you want to continue pursuing this opportunity after the way you feel you’ve been treated during the interview process. Remember, you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you.

P.W. May 10, 2013 at 2:21 pm

I recently went through two interviews and completed a take-home compatibility test for a paid summer internship. The first interview, with the owner/president, went extremely well. He then brought in the HR VP to continue the interview. I left with a take-home test to complete and return, which I did (the interview was on a Friday, and I scanned the completed test in to my computer and sent them as PDFs Sunday night). On Monday, I received an e-mail thanking me for quickly returning the test. On Friday, I was called to for a second interview on Monday. Monday’s interview went extremely well. I spent time with the department head and his employee, the owner/president and the VP of HR. The owner/president told me I had absolutely crushed the test, which they have very strong belief in as an indicator, and that I was not only someone they would like to hire, but also a strong candidate with the potential to promote. The VP of HR then said that they would like to hire me and she would have an offer to me soon, as well as explaining the process of background check and signing non-compete agreements, etc. At this point, all indications pointed to having secured the position. At home, I sent a thank-you to HR as well as the department head. The department head and his underling also e-mailed me with more information about the position and asked for clarification about my current schedule (currently I am in school two days a week until finals next week. They implied interest in starting me part-time until the end of the semester, going full-time through the summer and part-time when I resume class in the fall). Those conversations (via e-mail) occurred within a day or two of the second interview. The rest of the week came and went, hearing nothing. Monday, after having had a full week had pass since the second interview, I began to get anxious. I began doing research on the internet, asking family, friends and professors when I should follow up. Everyone’s advice was different, ranging from a few days after the interview to over two weeks, as well as the method of following up (e-mail/telephone, HR or Department head). Eventually I e-mailed HR asking for a status update and restating my interest. It is now Friday, 9 business days after the second interview, and I have heard nothing.

I am wondering what to do. Should I call? If they have decided not to hire me, what is the likelihood of them notifying me. This is definitely a potential possibility, because I have been convicted of a DUI and driving on a suspended license, even though that is not relevant to the position and I was not asked to disclose the information at any point. If that is the case, I can understand that, and even if they do not cite that as a reason for passing on me, I would like to know if I am still in consideration or not.

Sharlyn Lauby May 11, 2013 at 9:07 am

Thanks for sharing P.W. I know the waiting and wondering can be brutal.

As you’ve already discovered, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to interview follow-up. The good news is you’ve done the right stuff – prompt thank you notes, follow-up and expressed an interest in the position.

hrVirgin June 3, 2013 at 11:26 am

HI,
When is an ideal time to connect (add) with the interviewers via social websites. Do we connect with them right after the interview, before the result, or post the result?

sam27 June 3, 2013 at 1:03 pm

I thought about this task prior to my second interview due to the time and location difference…but on the other hand i wanted to have the physical presence rather than virtual…
If you really want this make sure you have a good web cam and a fast internet system to avoid all interference’s…

neel July 8, 2013 at 4:52 am

It’s really a great advice, Thank you for sharing it. A follow up is a must after an interview, it’s the only way for a person to make the recruiters feel he is still interested with the job. And your suggestions on how to do a follow up, what all things to avoid are really helpful. Doing a follow up after an interview will definitely fetch brownie points. If not for the interviewed job, then may be for another role. It keeps the options open for both the recruiter and job seeker.

lisa July 24, 2013 at 12:51 pm

i have a job interview a week ago, i emailed both the interviewers a thank you mail. Now follow up should i call or email, and when, i really want this job.

lisa July 24, 2013 at 12:51 pm

i have a job interview a week ago, i emailed both the interviewers a thank you mail. Now follow up should i call or email, and when, i really want this job.

sam27 July 24, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Hi Lisa
From own experiences, trust me to tell you that almost all of the HR’s after the interview they do anticipate :
-A good thank you letter in which I HOPE you did mention what you talked about
-Points which you may have forgotten to mention { this is your bonus }.

Now just sit back and bite your nails, donnt send another email nor call…they donnt like to be stalked.
I once did a follow up to my application and the HR told ” will call you if their is anything..”

IF you went through an agent…call even every day.
It is very unprofessional to leave the job seekers without response even if it is negative… It makes me feel ” ah you are not good for us”

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