Following Up on a Job Interview

Learn what to do if you don't hear back immediately

Woman talking into her mobile phone.
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You had an interview, sent a thoughtful thank you letter, and are confident that everything went well. However, the employer said they would get back to you in a week and nearly two weeks have passed. What do you do?

At this point, it's likely time to follow up with every employer from whom you have not heard back. There are many reasons the hiring manager may not have gotten back to you, and it’s perfectly legitimate to reach out and see where they are currently in the hiring process.  

Why Follow Up

When done correctly, following up can not only get you the answers you need but can also remind the employer why you are a strong candidate. It can also serve to reinforce your interest in the position, and your ability to follow through. Below are strategies on when and how to follow up with an employer.

When to Follow Up

During your interviews, try to ask the employer when they think they will be able to get back to you with an answer. If you do not hear back from the employer by that day, wait a couple more days and then reach out. If you do not have any idea when the employer will get back to you, follow up after a week or two.

Yes, there is a chance you might annoy an extremely busy employer who simply has not had the time to finish the hiring process. Depending on the size of the company and the applicant pool, it may take weeks before the hiring manager is able to narrow the field to the point where she is scheduling second interviews.

With a concise, positive follow-up message, you can actually remind the employer of your professionalism and communication skills, as well as your interest in the job. If you interviewed early on in the process, it may have the additional benefit of bringing attention back to your unique qualifications and aptitude for the position. Applicants seen later in the process benefit as well, by keeping their experience and skills fresh in the employer’s mind.

How to Follow Up

There are a number of ways to follow up with the employer. The best ways to reach out are via phone or email. If you call the hiring manager, consider writing out a script ahead of time. This gives you the opportunity to jot down a few notes to keep yourself on point, and make sure you mention any additional information you wanted to share.

Again, your tone should be positive, concise and friendly. Remind the employer of your interest in the position, and simply ask where they stand in the hiring process (“You mentioned you were hoping to make a decision by Monday. I was just checking in to see where you stood in the hiring process.”).

You may also ask if there are any other materials the company needs from you. If you and the employer connected on any level, or had an interesting conversation, you might briefly bring it up (“I read the New York Times article about digital media that you recommended.”). Personalizing the message will help the employer to remember you.

If you decide to call, pick a less busy time of day to increase your chances of actually speaking with the interviewer. Avoid calling right after lunch or towards the end of the day.

You can also follow up via email. Keep the email short and friendly, and as with a phone call, mention any personal connections you made to distinguish yourself from the other candidates.

If you feel the interview did not go very well, you can also mention that you have other materials you would like to send (perhaps another reference, or a sample of your work). You could include additional materials as an attachment as well.

When to Move On

If you leave a message and do not hear back after a couple of days, you can try contacting the employer again in a week or so. Hiring managers are only human, and sometimes work or personal issues can cause a delay in the hiring process.

By following up with a positive upbeat message, you highlight your professionalism- regardless of whether this ends up being the right job for you. 

However, if you don’t hear back after sending a thank you letter and two follow-up messages (over the course of several weeks), it is best to cut your losses and start thinking about the next job opportunity. They know where to find you, and if they are unable or unwilling to follow through, this company may not have the best opportunity out there for you.