The interview process is a sales process
You are the “product/service”.
The employer is the “target audience/customer”.
The interview is the “sales meeting”.
One of the most important parts of any successful sales process is following up with customers about the sales meeting. Your job search success will rely somewhat on how well you follow up.
3 great reasons whey you should follow up to interviews
#1: Shows your professionalism and written communication skills
#2: Emphasizes your interest in the role and why you feel you’re a strong fit
#3: You stay on the employer’s radar as they’re moving through the hiring process
What kind of follow-up is recommended?
1. Thank you emails
After each interview, you should send a thank you email, whether you’re interested in the position or not. It’s just polite. Also, just because the position wasn’t a good fit, you don’t want to burn any bridges – ever. There’s always a chance the employer will consider you for another more suitable role or refer you to someone else.
In my opinion, you don’t want to send it within minutes of the interview but don’t want to wait too long either. I think the happy medium is waiting a few hours.
For instance, if your interview was Friday morning, you could send the email that afternoon. If you interviewed Friday afternoon, you could send the thank you follow-up Monday morning. As long as you do it within a one day business window, you should be okay. If you wait more than one business day, you could be mistakenly labeled as not that interested.
2. Interview follow-up emails
There’s a fine line between being genuinely interested and looking desperate and needy.
While you want to follow up in a timely fashion, avoid doing it too soon and not multiple times, otherwise you could be seen as impatient and get disqualified as a result.
I totally understand why you can become incredibly frustrated with the interview process. However, despite your feelings about this, you don’t want to appear as “difficult” by getting too aggressive in your approach. Assertive is fine, aggressive isn’t fine.
My advice is to accept the process for what it is because complaining about it isn’t going to change the reality and won’t help you in the long run.
However, there are things you can do to take back a bit of control.
If there is a specific timeline
If the employer divulges an interview timeline, then you must respect that timeline.
Let’s say HR tells you that it will take 5 days to hear back after the phone interview. You could clarify if that’s calendar or business days. I typically use business days.
So, if you had the phone interview on a Tuesday, 5 business days is the following Monday. If you don’t hear back by then, you can wait another day or two and then send a follow-up email.
You want to be professionally persistent without looking desperate. At the same time, don’t let too much time lapse either, as that can be perceived as “not interested”.
If there’s no timeline given
This is where you need to take matters into your own hands. Here are some recommended guidelines that apply to phone or in-person interviews.
It’s perfectly reasonable to ask the recruiter/HR/Hiring Manager directly what the timeline is during each interview stage so that you can get a sense of when to follow up. It makes you look professional and interested.
If they say it will take about a week to hear back, wait a week plus one business day and send your follow-up email.
If the employer doesn’t know what the timeline is or won’t say (sometimes they’re purposefully vague) or they give you a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” kind of answer, it’s probably best to follow up as outlined below.
I think it’s ultimately rude and inconsiderate to make jobseekers wait more than about a week to get some kind of update. If you don’t hear anything after about 5 to 6 business days (which is about one week), you should send a follow-up email to see what the status is regarding your candidacy.
Delays in the process can happen and that’s perfectly understandable but you have a right to know if there is a delay and if you are still under consideration.
Don’t wait too long.
The employer might not follow up with you and is waiting for you to get back to them first. It could be a “test” to see how genuinely interested you are in the job. Personally, I find this tactic lame, but it can happen.
Make sure to follow up within the recommended timeline (see above). The longer you wait, the more likely you will disqualify yourself without even knowing it.
Should you stay or should you go?
If you don’t hear back after a week or more since your first follow-up email, that’s when you have to decide if you’re going to just move on or follow up a second time. You could frame the second email as making sure they got your email, etc., etc. However, in most cases, they did receive it and have gotten back to you for some reason.
It’s totally possible there has been a delay or the Recruiter/HR genuinely doesn’t have an answer and are waiting on upper-level decision makers to get back to them. That’s fine, but how long do you want to wait with no response? Two weeks? One month? You need to decide at what point you pull the plug and move on to greener pastures.
Sample follow-up email:
You want to make the message as short as possible without losing impact. By including the date and position, you are jogging the interviewer’s memory about who you are, because they might not remember if they have numerous candidates under consideration. You could even include a key point that you discussed during the meeting. By asking a question, you are encouraging a response.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:
Hi (enter name here)
Thank you again for meeting with me on (enter date) regarding the (target job title) position.
I want to reiterate my strong interest in the role and hope that I will be under consideration. I am confident that I can bring a great deal of measurable value to the team and look forward to next steps.
What kind of additional information would you like me to offer that would help my candidacy and move the process forward? I would be happy to send that to you.
Enter your name.
When to move on and why you should
If you’re at the beginning of the process and it’s been weeks and no one’s getting back to you after you have followed up at least once, I’d say it’s time to move on. There could be a whole bunch of reasons why they don’t want to move forward with your application such as but not limited to:
- They’re not that motivated to hire
- They have multiple high-quality candidates and want to interview all of them
- They don’t really know what they want
- The job function requirements changed (and you’re not a fit)
- It’s a group decision and there’s no consensus
- They keep thinking there’s someone “better” out there (i.e. the purple squirrel)
- You aren’t a fit but they’re not telling you
- You fill in the blank……
Don’t take it personally. Recruitment isn’t necessarily a priority (despite what companies might like to think) and the HR department isn’t necessarily a well-oiled machine (despite all of the systems they have in place).
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