The job market is incredibly competitive right now, so if you’re on the hunt for a new gig, you’ll want to take every opportunity to stand out from the crowd. One way to do this is by following up after a job interview. But what’s the best way to do this? Should you call, email, or snail mail a thank you note? Send a telegram via carrier pigeon?
No matter how you feel an interview went, it’s a good practice to follow up and thank those you spoke with at the company. However, there’s a right and wrong way to do this, and the rules have changed a bit in recent years. Here are some tips for following up after a job interview that can improve your chances of getting the job.
Why Following Up Matters
What Not to Do
Don't Show Up in Person
Don't Connect on LinkedIn
Don't Sound Desperate
The Right Way to Follow Up After a Job Interview
Do Ask Questions During the Interview
Do Send a Thank You Email Within 24 Hours
Do Send a Follow-Up Email
Do Keep All Messages Short
Do Include All Relevant Info
Do Add Value
Do Include Your Contact Information
Do Use Snail Mail Sparingly
First, why follow up after a job interview? After all, you showed up for the interview, and your potential employer should have gotten all the information he or she needs from that conversation, right?
Well, following up isn’t just about adding something new to the conversation. Rather, it’s an easy way to remind a potential employer to keep your application at the top of the pile. It can also help set you apart from other applicants who might not follow up at all.
Some companies actually expect you to follow up, and might mark you off their list if you don’t do so. This is why following up never hurts. It also gives you another chance to flex your communication skills and professionalism, so here’s how to do it!
First, we’ll take a look at the wrong ways to follow up. These methods might have been acceptable in the past, but in today’s workplaces, they can end up being a mark against you.
Dropping by a company in person to ask if they’re hiring is no longer the way things are done, nor is it a good way to follow up after an interview. But why?
Even if you’ve already interviewed with a company, showing up in person comes off as presumptuous because your presence demands that someone address you immediately. A busy manager might be in the middle of something when you show up. He or she could also still be interviewing candidates for the position, or not yet have made a decision on who to hire.
As a result, if this person speaks to you at all, they’ll probably be dismissive because they have other things to do or no answer to give you at that time.
Following up in person doesn’t just put the manager on the spot, though; it also puts you on the spot. If you already interviewed in person, showing up again means you’re missing out an opportunity to send a polished written message that demonstrates your communication skills. Why give that up if you don’t have to?
As you can imagine, following up via phone is a bad idea for similar reasons to following up in person. The only exception would be if a company specifically directs you to call and follow up, but this is rare.
Calling once again puts both you and the person you’re speaking with on the spot. With so many text-based forms of communication available to us now, phone calls tend to be viewed by most as annoying disruptions.
Plus, actually being able to reach the person you want to speak with on the phone can be easier said than done. You’ll most likely just end up playing voice mail tag for days. So, do yourself a favor and put down your phone.
People use LinkedIn differently, but most only add people they’ve actually worked with to their network. Plus, as it’s still a social media site, connecting there feels casual, even though the site is work-focused.
Following up on LinkedIn after an interview can also come across as presumptuous, lazy, or unprofessional, depending on how the hiring manager feels about the site. It’s safer to wait until you actually land a job before you start connecting with people on any online platform.
However, LinkedIn can be a valuable research tool when you follow up. For example, if you can’t find the contact information for the person with whom you interviewed, you might be able to find it on LinkedIn.
The wording you use in your follow-up also matters. For example, starting your message with “I really need this job,” sounds incredibly desperate and pushy. Even if it’s true, attempting to guilt someone into hiring you is a bad look. Always phrase things in a way that sounds relaxed and professional.
Try something like, “I’m still interested in offering my skills to (company name) as your new (job title), and just wanted to check in and see if you have any updates.”
Focus on the skills you have to offer the company, rather than what they can do for you.
Now that we’ve covered all the no-nos, let’s look at the right way to follow up after you’ve interviewed for a position. If you follow these best practices, you’ll boost your chances of getting hired.
If you have any questions about the specific job duties, you should ask these during the interview. You might also want to ask the person (or people) interviewing you what he or she likes best about working for that particular company.
Additionally, if the manager doesn’t specify them, it’s a good idea to ask what the next steps will be in the hiring process. This will give you an idea of the timeline, so you’ll know when to follow up.
For example, the manager might tell you she’ll be getting back with candidates within two weeks. If that amount of time passes and you haven’t heard back, you’ll know it’s time to follow up.
Also, if you interview in person, ask the manager for a business card. This demonstrates your professionalism and interest, and also makes it much easier to follow up, as you won’t have to go searching for that person’s email address.
In addition to the formal follow-up email that comes later, you should always send a quick thank you email as soon as possible after an interview. The next morning is usually ideal, but you can even send it the moment you get home from the interview.
In your message, briefly reiterate why you think you’re a good candidate for the position. Send the email to everyone you interviewed with and address them all by name at the beginning of the email. Thank them for their time and mention how interested you are in the role. This shows that not only are you responsible and organized, but you’re also excited about the job.
After you’ve sent your thank you note, wait until the appropriate amount of time has passed before you send your follow-up message.
After the timeframe the manager mentioned during your interview has passed, you can send your follow-up message. If no specific timeframe was mentioned, two weeks is usually a good time to wait before sending your follow-up email.
Email is normally the best way to do this because it’s still professional, but not as annoying as a phone call. Plus, it gives you the chance to spell-check your message, correct any typos, and rewrite it until it’s perfect. Do take the time to do this, as nothing can lose you a job faster than poor grammar or misspellings.
Whether you’re sending a thank you or follow-up email, always keep it informative, but short. Remember, the person on the other end is likely incredibly busy. He or she probably doesn’t have time to read an essay-length email on your skills and abilities—that’s what a cover letter’s for, anyway.
Just be straightforward and avoid large blocks of text. A few short paragraphs are better than one large one, as they’ll make your message easier to read.
While you should keep it short, you also don’t want your emails to sound generic. Add some personality and a few relevant highlights about your qualifications. You can also add any information you forgot to mention during the interview or clarify anything you feel you didn’t express very well.
Also, try to mention a specific detail from your conversation with the interviewer. Not only does this show you were paying close attention, but if she interviewed lots of candidates, this should help her remember you.
If you can add value to the life of the person reading the email, he’ll be more likely to hire you. For example, if a mutual hobby came up during your interview, you might share a link to an interesting article or product related to it.
You might also ask if there’s any way you can do to be helpful while you wait for a decision.
Even if it’s just in your email signature, do include an invitation for the interviewer to contact you, along with your contact info. For example, you might write, “Please contact me at (email address) or (phone number) when you have an update. I look forward to hearing from you.”
This makes it easy for them to get in touch with you, which will always be appreciated.
Email is the preferred form of communication at most workplaces these days. The only exception might be if a company seems particularly old-fashioned. In that case, mailing a thank you card might feel more appropriate to you.
While a mailed, handwritten thank you is more personal and will certainly make you stand out, it’ll also take several days to get there. You’ll need to mail it the same day as the interview.
Even at a more traditional company, email is likely the best way to send your follow-up message. Just use your best judgment when considering which form of communication will most impress your interviewer.
Interviewing for a new job is usually intimidating for even the most seasoned of job seekers. However, the follow-up process gives you another opportunity to demonstrate your skills in a far less stressful situation. If you follow these tips, it’ll make you stand out and, hopefully, land your dream job!