How Long Should I Wait to Follow Up After a Job Interview?

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Q: How long should I wait to follow up with a potential employer after a job interview?

A:

You’ve just aced the interview. Whether a phone conversation or an in-person meeting, your immediate priority should be to follow up to a job interview with a thank you letter to the interviewer(s) thanking them for their time, and also reaffirming your interest in and qualifications for the role. And then, you wait and see, eagerly monitoring your inbox and phone for a return response initiating next steps.

How soon is too soon to follow up on the interview?

Best case scenario: You complete the interview and the hiring manager gives you somewhat of a definitive timeline of when you can expect to hear from them – “by next Monday” or “we’ll be done interviewing by the 15th” – allowing you a metric by which to gauge your follow up response.

In most cases, however, you’ll receive a more vague cliff-hanger response along the lines of, “It was great meeting you – we’ll be in touch shortly,” or “I’ll circle back after I discuss your resume with the team”. This type of generalized response doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re out of the running, just that you’ll have to work a little harder to gauge the timeline of the process.

General rules of thumb to follow up after a job interview:

  • If a timeline is given, be sure to respect that timeline. If the timeline approaches and you still haven’t heard back, give them a 1-2 day buffer to still reach out to you. Plenty of hurdles come up, including administrative hold-ups, or unexpected absences.
  • If no timeline or sense of next steps is given upon exiting the interview, allow at least 4-5 business days (a week) before following up, as it’s likely that they are interviewing additional candidates and haven’t yet made a decision. Over-eagerness bordering on impatience will not do anything positive for your chances.
  • Normally, if a candidate is being strongly considered, or in the final steps before making an offer, it’s likely that the hiring manager will provide you with some expectation of next steps and when you can expect to hear from them.  However, it doesn’t always work that way. If no timeline is given, but you’re left with a distinct impression that they want to move forward, or extend an offer, again, allow roughly 4-5 business days before following up.
  • Remember that HR manager and recruiters don’t always have answers, as they’re subject to the approval of upper-level decision-makers. Particularly if you are aggressively approaching your job search, or actively interviewing, give yourself a timeline of when you will pull the figurative cord on the opportunity in the interest of not missing out on other potential interviews or offers. Positive feedback is never definite – anything can happen between the time you walk out the door and the offer letter.

In each case, the point of a follow up is twofold: it’s an opportunity for you to reaffirm your interest in the role and why you feel you’re a strong fit, and also to maintain a presence on their radar as they’re moving through the hiring process.  Try this:

Hi Dana –

Thank you again for your time on Tuesday. I want to reaffirm my enthusiasm in being considered for the role, and confidence in my ability to bring a lot of value to the team. I look forward to next steps – is there any additional information I can provide on my end to help move the process forward?

Thank You,

Matt Smith

Ending the outreach on a question gives them an extra push to respond to you, versus a “simply checking in” letter.

The key here is to be slightly aggressive, but in a tactful way that respects the fact that the hiring manager, no matter how swiftly a response they may have promised you, is a busy person likely handling multiple job openings, and many factors outside of their control can arise and inadvertently slow down the process.

What Next?

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I had a interview on Thursday and they had asked me for refenence’s handed me the drug test info and said she needed to talk with the other two people that I had interviewed with, and get in touch with me. I sent a thank you that same day of my interview. Not sure if I show email again or not? It’s been two business days.

AD

What if the interview ended with them telling me they want me to meet with another member of the team but did not give me a date? Also they are moving offices the next week so that could indicate even more time to reach out. What do I do. I know the interview went super well but I have not heard back its been only two days though.

Wilson

Your piece of advice is quite helpful. I did a telephone interview on Thursday evening, the recruiter told me it was great and later gave me an assessment test immediately after the interview to which I completed on Friday and she said she would check it on Monday this week. How long should I wait to follow up? Thanks

Cortney

I got, “we still have several interview lined up, and 6 spots to fill, we should get back to you with a week or 2 although it could be longer, especially with the Holidays.” I have no idea when it would be appropriate to follow up. In previous job searches they have contacted me before I even started to want to follow up, so I am kind of lost

Jay

I had one phone interview that was really good. Then I got a second in person interview. I thought it went well, but no one called references and they said they would put out offers on Monday. No one called or emailed.