How to follow up after a job interview is a common question.
As technology has helped make the hiring process faster and easier, it’s also blurred the traditional rules of interview etiquette.
But according to Nicole Wallin, staffing consultant at Colonial Life, one classic rule still applies: The best time to find out information about follow-up protocol is at the end of the interview when you’re given the opportunity to ask questions.
“Ask a question that will allow the interviewer to set your expectations on when you’ll hear from them and who you’ll hear from,” Wallin says.
Here are a few examples of questions she says you can ask:
- What are the next steps in the process and what kind of timeline should I expect?
- When should I expect to hear an update on next steps in the interviewing process?
- Who would it be best for me to follow up with on next steps?
- What is your target start date for the candidate selected and when do you anticipate candidates will be notified?
However, your follow-up work still isn’t over. Once you leave the interview, keep in mind these 5 additional tips:
- Always follow up. Even if the interview went badly. As tempting as it may be to abandon the follow-up note after a bad interview — don’t. The note is still a reflection on you. While it might not change the interview outcome, send a follow-up note that, at minimum, thanks the organization for the conversation. Wallin suggests directing your follow-up to the recruiter who guided you through the interviewing process, unless directed otherwise.
- Decide if email or a handwritten note is best. There are no definitive rules when it comes to the proper medium for sending the note. However, a couple of things that could help make the decision include:
- The hiring timeline. If the organization indicates it’s taking its time, then a handwritten note might be okay. However, if it says it wants to make a decision quickly, then email might be best.
- The communication culture. While you’re there for the interview, notice how the organization communicates. If it appears to have a high-tech culture, then email can demonstrate you’re a good fit. On the other hand, if you notice a lot of people walking around with paper and pen, maybe a handwritten note makes sense.
- Use the note to leverage your strengths, not negotiate. The purpose of a follow-up is to strengthen your candidacy. Wallin suggests including three things in an interview follow-up: 1) reinforce your interest in the role, 2) highlight what you learned during the interview, and 3) acknowledge the time the interviewing team took out of its busy schedule to meet with you.
- Be conscious of the timeline the interviewer provided. If the recruiter told you it would take 2 weeks to hear back, be prepared to follow up in about 2 weeks. Don’t reach out about your application’s status before then. Stick to the timeline provided during the interview. Wallin says as a rule of thumb, “It’s a good idea to wait at least one full week to follow up on your application’s status.”
If the recruiter doesn’t have an update to share by that time, he or she should let you know when additional information might be available. Follow up at the time he or she tells you to. If the recruiter doesn’t know when an update will be available, wait another full week before following up a second time.
- Finally, if you don’t have an answer after 2 follow-ups, wait for the recruiter to reach out to you. Wallin reminds us there might be other things preventing you from hearing a decision, such as the hiring manager going on vacation.
“If other things are slowing down the process, following up multiple times will only cause you and the recruiter additional frustration,” Wallin says. “Have confidence the recruiter will reach out as soon as he or she has information to share.”
There’s a fine line between demonstrating to a prospective employer enthusiasm for the opportunity and becoming an annoyance. Practice good judgement and follow the information provided during the interview for follow-up success.