Interviewing for a potential job is stress-inducing enough itself, without even considering the whole follow-up process. What if you think it went well but you don’t hear back from anyone? Sometimes this is a sign of bad news, and sometimes it isn’t. You want to follow up and find out what’s going on, but you don’t want to be annoying. Here’s how to handle this situation effectively.
When a friend of mine was in this position, he asked me how I’d word a follow-up email. When I tried to come up with something, I realized I hadn’t written one in many years and my skills were a bit rusty. So, I asked experts for some help and got some good advice. Most agreed on a very simple process.
Send a thank-you note immediately after the interview
Most people suggest sending a thank you note right away, via snail mail, as it takes a few days to arrive and serves as a positive reminder to get back to you. If you’re not sure what to say, keep it short and end with something along the lines of “I hope to see you again soon.”
It’s pretty simple, but very effective. The problem with calling or writing to ask for more information is that you’re essentially reminding them that they forgot to do something. Although it is legitimate to send this reminder, there’s a decent chance they’ll be annoyed that they have to deal with you (if they didn’t like you) or at least feel bad for ignoring you (if they did). A thank you note is simply a polite and positive reminder that you exist. It will help your interviewer(s) want to get back to you.
Still need some help writing that thank you note? We covered this a few months ago:
These don’t need to be a long missive, in fact, they shouldn’t be. In a thank you note you simply want to send a short note 24-48 hours after your interview thanking the person for taking the time to talk to you and briefly reminding them why you think you’d be a good fit for the job.
Send a short, polite email to check in
When you’ve finished your interview, you’ll often be told when you can expect to hear back. If not, that’s a question you should ask before the conversation is over. If that amount of time passes and you haven’t heard anything, it’s reasonable to call or write to check in. An email is less-intrusive and won’t put your interviewer on the spot, so it is generally a better way to ask the question.
If you’re looking for a template for this type of email, Zety has a few available, including this one:
Subject line: Pleasure to learn more about [Company Name]
Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me about the position of [the position you’re applying for] with [Company Name] this morning. It was a pleasure to learn more about your [innovative strategy / upcoming challenges / core values / industry insights].
The details you provided me with about the position convinced me that this is a job I would enjoy and one where I could make a valuable contribution with my skills and experience [refer to your specific area of expertise and how it can benefit your employer].
I was also thinking about what you said regarding [specific issue discussed during the interview]. In my last role as [your current or most recent position] I found that [data-backed explanation of how you would tackle the issue in question].
Finally, attached you will find the details of some of my projects we talked about. Please feel free to contact me if you find you need any more information. I look forward to our call next week as discussed.
Thank you once again, [Hiring Manager’s Name].
Of course, this might be a bit formal. You’ll want to make the note sound like you and be as formal or casual as is appropriate for the situation. Either way, the content is pretty straightforward and only takes a few minutes to put together.
It can be a little anxiety-inducing to ask for an update when you were supposed to hear back, as it feels like you’re asking for bad news, but that isn’t always the case. If you get bad news, there will be other job opportunities, but sometimes you’ll find out that the company needed an extra day because another interview was postponed or they simply haven’t had time to get back to everyone. You never know, and that’s why you should ask.
This story was originally published in 2012 and was updated on 12/4/19 to provide more thorough and current information.