Be A Better Applicant: How to Follow Up After An Interview
Here’s what you need to know about how to follow up after an interview or job application so you can stand out in all the right ways.
Waiting for a potential employer to contact you is a stressful part of an already fraught process. As the hours, days and even weeks tick by, you may feel a growing sense of impatience, annoyance or even frustration. When you want to reach out to understand where they are in the process, how to follow up after an interview or job application may not be intuitive.
Any contact you make now will either support or refute the impression you made with your application materials or interview. In short, how you follow up matters. That doesn’t mean you should be afraid to follow up, but it does mean you should bring the same level of professionalism to every part of the process. Here’s what you need to know before you contact a potential employer so you can stand out in all the right ways.
The Pace of Hiring May Be Slower Than You Think
Before we get into the specifics of how to follow up after an interview or job application, it’s important to be aware of the timeline. From the employer’s perspective, hiring is often a complex process. What seems like a long delay to you, may be just the normal pace of hiring.
A business will almost always move more slowly than an individual. It may take you just a few minutes to decide you want to apply for a specific job, but it will likely take the employer much longer to decide whether they want to interview you. If you apply soon after the job is posted, you may not hear from the employer until they’ve collected more applications and have gotten a sense of the talent pool.
Once they invite you for an interview, the waiting begins again. It may be weeks before they are able to coordinate interviews with everyone on their list. After all interviews are complete, it may take between days and weeks for their team to talk it over and reach a decision, and then additional time for HR to complete a formal offer letter.
From your perspective, it looks like nothing is happening, but there’s actually a lot of activity you can’t see. All of this should ease your mind. A slow response doesn’t mean they’ve gone with someone else.
How to Follow Up On A Job Application
Never call an employer to follow up on a job application. Hiring managers are busy and can get dozens or even hundreds of applications in response to a single job posting. Imagine if every one of those people called to follow up. The employer wouldn’t have time to actually review the applications.
In fact, there’s really very little reason to follow up on a job application at all. At this stage, employers are focused on the written materials like your resume, cover letter, and whatever else they’ve asked for. Unless you have reason to believe there was a technical glitch that could have prevented your application from landing in their inbox, there’s no reason to follow up at this stage.
Give them time to sort through applications. This process could take weeks. Ideally, an employer will let you know if you’ve been removed from consideration, but many won’t. Assume that no news after several weeks is likely to mean you didn’t get the interview. If you did, the employer will call or email to let you know.
Send a Thank You Note After an Interview
Within a day or so after an interview, it’s a good idea to send a thank you note to your interviewer. This has become such common advice, that people often send generic thank you notes just to cross this task off the list. If you do that, you’re missing an opportunity.
The post-interview thank you note is about more than politeness. It’s a chance to tie up loose ends, connect your experience to their needs, and show that you were paying attention during the interview. Not sending a thank you note is unlikely to affect your candidacy (unless a hiring manager is really old fashioned) but sending a good one can help you stand out.
Here’s a template to help you write a thank you note after an interview:
Thank you for meeting with me today. It was a pleasure to learn more about the [title] role. Based on our conversation, it sounds like [company name] has an opportunity to really [ramp up course production/scale its efforts to meet the needs of even more students/something else relevant].
That’s an objective I’m familiar with/would be excited to take on. [A sentence or two reiterating your experience].
I would be thrilled to join your team and look forward to speaking with you again soon. In the meantime, here’s a link to my portfolio so you can see some of the projects we discussed.
If there’s something you forgot to mention during the interview, or a question you wished you’d been more prepared for, you can address it here. Try using sentences like the following to tee up this information:
- “After we spoke, it occurred to me that…”
- “When I reviewed my notes, I realized I hadn’t mentioned…”
- “Your question about [topic] had me thinking about…”
You may get a response to your thank you note, or you may not. Neither result says anything about your candidacy. So don’t try to read anything into it.
How Long to Wait Before Following Up After an Interview
Ideally, sometime near the end of the interview, you asked about their timeline for next steps. If it’s more than 5 days after their projected decision date and you still haven’t heard from them, you can send a follow-up email. If you didn’t ask about timelines during the interview, wait two or three weeks before sending your follow-up.
Here’s a template to help you follow up after an interview:
I interviewed for the [title] position on [date]. At that time, you mentioned you were hoping to fill the role [by date/as quickly as possible]. Are you able to share an update on where you are in the process? I would be happy to talk to you again anytime.
Keep your email short and to the point. Don’t assume whether you have the job and do make it clear that you understand their timeline may be different than what they initially told you.
Interview Follow Up That Stands Out
You don’t have to do anything gimmicky to stand out when you follow up. Professionalism and respect are more effective than aggressive follow-ups or multiple phone calls. The best follow-ups:
- Respect the employer’s time
- Acknowledge the realities of the process
- Use clear, grammatically correct language
- Reiterate your interest in the position.
Remember, every communication with the employer helps them build a picture of what it will be like to work with you. Make sure they’re getting a clear image.
Working With a Staffing Agency
If you’re working with a staffing agency like Teamed, you can expect more frequent communication. The agency will keep in touch with the employer throughout the process to keep you informed of what’s going on behind the scenes.