How To Follow Up After An Interview

How To Follow Up After An Interview

Woo! Congrats, you made it through the interview. Take a breather, but don’t get too comfortable. While it’s tempting to sit back and relax now that you’re out of the hot seat, you’re now about to enter the hardest post-interview phase: the waiting game.

 

The period after an interview can be one of the most stressful. It’s out of your control. You don’t know what the company is thinking, what the hiring timeline is, if you aced or bombed the interview — it’s a lot of uncertainty to deal with.

However, there’s a smart way to keep yourself in the game. It’s all about the follow up — how you communicate with the company once you’re out of the room — it can help make or break the hiring decision.

24-48 Hours After the Interview

Send a thank you note to each person you spoke with during your interview. You’re thanking them not only for their time, but for the opportunity to learn about the company and position. It’s also an opportunity to add something you forgot to mention in the interview, or to add to the conversation you had during the interview.

For example, when I interviewed at a large corporation I sent a thank you email (and a handwritten card!) to the hiring manager and the gentleman who interviewed me for the position and added a few lines about how I’d approach some of the challenges we discussed. When I interviewed at a startup that had me interview with five people (two in the position I was aiming for, my potential boss, the CEO, and a senior team member), I sent three handwritten thank you cards (to the team I interviewed with) and an an email to my potential boss.

If you’re thinking that emails and mailed thank yous are excessive, that’s on you. I did get three job offers in the same week after following my own thank you note rules, so I, for one, am not going to stop. Need help with what to say in yours? I used this email template as inspiration, but adopted a more formal tone when writing mine.

1 Week After the Interview

Now, this will depend on what you were told by the recruiter or hiring manager, but if they said you should hear back within a week, it’s fair to send an email asking about the status of the position.

Here’s an example:

Hi [Hiring Manager’s Name],

I hope you’re having a great week. I’m still very interested in the [job title] position that I interviewed for on [date] with [name of interviewer]. I wanted to check in and see if there’s any updates on the timeline. Appreciate your help!

Thanks,

[Your Name]

You’ll either receive an updated timeline (such as, “we’re still interviewing candidates for the next two weeks and you can expect to hear back from us at the end of the month”) or you’ll hear something like “we’ll let you know when we have an update.” Either way, you let the company know that you’re still interested in the position, which is a good thing to communicate.

However, once you hear back, don’t email again for a status update unless you’re well past the timeline they gave you. It’s great to be proactive, but it’s a fine line with seeming impatient or rude.

After You Hear News

About one year ago, I received:

Hi Nina,

It was a very difficult decision to make but we’ve decided to go with another candidate for the position. Best of luck in your career.

Best,

(Interviewers name)

Now, this wasn’t the news I expected or wanted to hear, but it was a learning opportunity. I responded with a quick and polite ““thanks for letting me know,” but then I realized I could go one step further. I wrote a second email a few days later (after talking myself past the fear of being annoying) asking for interview feedback.

I wouldn’t have asked if I hadn’t thought the interview went extremely well, and I’m glad I did. The department head who had interviewed me gave me some useful feedback and was very kind in her email. The takeaway? It’s worth reaching out and trying to see if you can turn a disappointment into something useful.

Final Word

I wish I could tell you that there’s a standard amount of time from interview to job offer, but there really isn’t — not between companies in the same industry, or even positions. It all depends on the organization. Startups can hire extremely fast because of less red tape, while larger corporations tend to have formal processes (like the military!) that take time to navigate.

In my own experience, I was offered a job within 24 hours of one interview, six weeks after another, and two weeks after yet another interview. What kept me sane and allowed me some semblance of control was communicating with the companies rather than feeling like I was in purgatory. When done politely and appropriately, following up keeps everyone happy.