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When and How to Follow Up After a Job Interview

You leave a job interview feeling great. You nailed it! But days or maybe weeks pass with no word. What do you do? Following up after a job interview can seem tricky, and job candidates are often filled with questions about how to do it the right way. Does following up immediately seem desperate? Will waiting too long to follow up take you off their radar or seem too aloof? Below are some helpful answers.

HOW SOON IS TOO SOON?

Write a thank you note and send it ASAP. Your only delay should be in making sure your message is thoughtfully prepared—maybe even proofread by your job recruiter or a friend—and that you’ve included everyone who should be included. We give more advice on this in our recent post The After-Interview Thank You: 8 FAQs Answered.

WHAT IF THEY GO DARK?

Ideally the employer will have given you some sort of timeframe in which to expect a response (it’s OK to ask at the end of the interview when you might expect to hear from them if they don’t bring it up themselves). If they indicated that they’ll be interviewing for the next couple weeks, for instance, have patience. Once that deadline arrives—or a week or more has passed, if you didn’t receive a timeframe— check back in with them. Keep your message or call simple and to-the-point. ZipRecruiter offers examples here.

WHAT IF I GET ANOTHER OFFER?

Congratulations! Find out from the employer offering you the job (let’s call it Job A) what your deadline is for a decision so that you can thoughtfully consider it. Inform the other hiring manager at Job B about the offer if you 1) are significantly far along in the interview process for Job B (one or two steps away from a final decision) and 2) have serious hang ups about taking Job A and/or believe you might genuinely prefer Job B. If that’s the case, be honest with the folks at Job B. Let them know that you have an offer on the table, but that you feel good about their opportunity and would like to join their team. This advice from TopResume can help you craft your message.

WHAT IF I’M ON THE FENCE?

Don’t burn your bridges. Even if you’re unenthusiastic about the opportunity thus far, respond to their requests for more information and interviews as long as there’s a chance you could change your mind. If questions arise about the company culture, the job description, or any other factors that could affect your job satisfaction, don’t be afraid to ask them tactfully. They want you to be a great fit as much as you do. If it’s concerns about compensation or benefits, wait until the appropriate time toward the end of the process to discuss. Passive-aggressively putting yourself out of the running for a job by being unresponsive is unprofessional and could affect your reputation beyond that one job opportunity.

WHAT IF THEY’VE SHOWN CONCERNS ABOUT ME?

If it seems the hiring manager is the one who is on the fence, use your thank-you and check-in messages as opportunities to help convince them. You should always highlight your relevant qualifications and reiterate your enthusiasm but, in this case, you might also want to mention important details that didn’t come up in the interview or address and correct any mistakes you’re confident they noticed. Then, ask if there’s any more information you can provide to help make their decision easier. Believe it or not, some employers aren’t as direct as they should be and others may not even know what to ask when they can’t decide between two strong candidates. A gentle nudge may be just what they need.

WHAT IF IT’S JUST NOT THE RIGHT FIT?

If you’ve taken another job or are convinced the opportunity simply isn’t a good fit, let the hiring manager know immediately. Respect the time and energy they’ve put into considering you by not wasting another minute. You don’t need to give them a lengthy explanation. Simply thank them for their time, tell them you have taken another job (or are withdrawing from consideration to explore other opportunities), and wish them well with their search. If the hiring manager asks to talk to you about your withdrawal, consider it. It’s a tight job market for employers right now and it’s likely they’re just looking for honest feedback from ideal candidates like you.

If you’re working with a recruiter at a staffing agency or executive search firm, they can help you navigate these waters on a case-by-case basis. They can even help you get answers for when you’re on the fence, mediate when the hiring manger is undecided, and advise you if you get a job offer but aren’t ready to give up on the other opportunity. Find out more here.