Here's When And When Not To Follow Up After A Job Interview

You want to stand out — but not in a bad way. Here's when and when not to send that email.
A follow-up message can remind a hiring manager about why you're the perfect person for the job. Just don't overdo it.
AzmanJaka via Getty Images
A follow-up message can remind a hiring manager about why you're the perfect person for the job. Just don't overdo it.

After your job interview ends, your hard work is not over.

Ideally, you want to keep the conversation going with a hiring team so that you can stay at the forefront of their minds. Oftentimes, that means sending a brief follow-up email about your enthusiasm for the job.

You want to be memorable ― but not in a bad way. It’s an art and skill to be polite without pestering about why you’re perfect for the job or why you’re still interested when you have not heard back.

Here’s what recruiters shared for when it helps to follow up and when doing so can backfire:

An immediate follow-up email should not be required, but enthusiasm is appreciated.

After your job interview is over, there is a short window of time where you can follow up about what you talked about in the interview. Take advantage of it.

This follow-up message goes beyond a generic email thanking a hiring manager for their time. A sincere, specific message of enthusiasm that reminds an employer of why you are the best person for the role can help you stand out.

Bonnie Dilber, a recruiting manager with app-automation company Zapier, said she does not think negatively of candidates who do not send a follow-up note after the interview, but it can help them.

“When someone does send a follow-up, it tells me they are really interested, and it can also be a way to highlight their strengths, add on information,” Dilber said. “I had one candidate send me a blog post they’d written on a topic that came up in our conversation as an example, and that can help establish their expertise.”

Gabrielle Woody, a university recruiter for the financial software company Intuit, said a follow-up message has not swayed her hiring decisions, but it has helped candidates stay on her mind for future roles.

“These follow-up messages demonstrate their commitment and passion for working at the company, making them memorable candidates for future opportunities,” she said.

You should follow up if you hear nothing back, but don’t do it multiple times in a row.

Hearing silence after a job interview you thought went well can be frustrating, but often it has nothing to do with you.

Unfortunately, it’s normal for a hiring process to drag on for weeks or months. A LinkedIn analysis of 400,000 confirmed hires who applied to jobs between 2020 and 2021 found that engineering, research and project management roles took the longest to hire (49, 48 and 47 days, respectively), while customer service and administrative jobs were the quickest to hire (34 and 33 days).

Sometimes, the wait can be because a company is still interviewing other candidates. But many times, it’s due to bureaucracy. Frozen budgets or chaotic staff turnover are common reasons why a hiring process gets stalled.

Ideally, your interviewer shared a hiring timeline with you and is keeping you posted if that changes. But if they did not, you can ask about it.

“If they don’t contact you by the date stated, follow up the next day,” said career coach Kristine Knutter. “Keep it positive and don’t mention they didn’t contact you. Simply reiterate your enthusiasm for the job and ask for any updates regarding the hiring process for the job.”

Woody said emailing a week after an explicit deadline about an application status is acceptable, but she advised against sending multiple follow-up nudges because it can make you seem “impatient and overly persistent.”

“The recruiting process evaluates how a candidate may react in future workplace situations,” Woody said. “If you excessively follow up, some employers may worry that if you were hired onto the team, you might not demonstrate patience when waiting for decisions from your leaders.“

Dilber agreed that following up with multiple people within 24 hours of an interview or being abrasive in your communication “could then raise concerns about what it might be like working with you.”

The hard truth is that a follow-up email about your application status is not likely going to change a company’s answer on whether or not they want to hire you.

“I tend to find that companies stay on top of their top candidates, so if communication is falling short, it often means they are more focused on others,” Dilber said. “That said, there may have been some turnover or other changes impacting your communication, and if done professionally and politely, it doesn’t hurt.”

If your hiring manager promised an answer in two weeks and it’s been a month of radio silence, you can always say something like, “Some other processes are progressing quicker than expected, but ‘Company’ is still my top choice, so I wanted to check on your timeline,” Dilber said.

Dilber added that two of these follow-ups are fine, but after that, “I’d assume they are making a choice not to respond.”

However, if you truly want this job, you don’t have to give up just yet. Sometimes, the hold-up can be addressed by contacting someone else on the hiring team.

“If you try the recruiter twice and don’t hear back, you can always email the hiring manager and check with them,” Dilber said. “This also alerts them to any potential issues if a recruiter isn’t keeping up with communication, or sometimes a recruiter has left and their candidates get lost in the mix.”

Ultimately, no answer after a job interview can be an answer in itself to what you should do next.

Instead of sending follow-up messages, a better use of your time is to take control of what you can in the job search and to keep applying to other jobs. A company may have their own idea of who they want to work with, and so can you.

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