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When should you follow up after a job interview?

How often can you contact an employer if you haven’t heard back after an interview, when should you reach out, and how do you get in touch? I was asked these questions over the weekend by a neighbour whose son was still awaiting word after ten days or so.

The answer is twice. You can follow up with the employer two times. The first one is essential and the second is optional.

The initial follow up

The first follow up should be the thank you note that you send – probably by email – immediately after your job interview. You should thank the employer for taking the time to meet with you, reiterate your enthusiasm for the role, and restate your key selling point for landing the job.

Here are some examples of quick, concise thank you notes.

A second follow up

The second follow up is trickier. This one will depend on the hiring process. At the end of your job interview, you should enquire about the next steps, which should give you some idea of the timeline.

If the company indicates they are interviewing many more people or are still reviewing applications, then it will likely take longer for you to get a response. Many jobs come with an expiration date for applications, so following up before that period would not be productive.

If you still haven’t heard from the employer in the time they indicated they would make a decision – or in what seems like a reasonable amount of time after the interview, it is okay to follow up a second time. This is usually between a week to ten days following the job closing date.

Then you can email them. Do not call. Nobody enjoys being put on the spot by an unsolicited phone call from an eager candidate. Pressuring employers or making them uncomfortable can actually hurt your chances. Send a polite email.

Inquire about how the hiring process is going. Mention any qualifications or accomplishments you have that you might have forgotten to bring up at the interview. You’ve had some time to think about it now. Refer to the job interview specifically, demonstrating that you pay attention in conversations and have a great memory for details.

Employers prefer to hire candidates who are enthusiastic about the job. Your follow-up communications are a great opportunity for you to showcase that you are excited to work for them. However, it is a fine line. You don’t want to come across as desperate or a nuisance.

Too many emails – or worse, phone calls – or far worse, actually showing up at the office – could have the employer thinking they dodged a bullet by not hiring you. Don’t be a stalker.

Keep it professional. Employers are often slow to respond, and too often they don’t get back to candidates at all. It seems rude, but don’t take it personally.

A second follow up only has a small chance of boosting your chances of being hired. However, if you keep it short and friendly, it shouldn’t hurt them either. It can get you information about your candidacy sooner and prevent you from being ghosted.

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