Interview Follow Up Protocol: Don’t Become a Pest Even if the Process Drags On and On


Q.  I had an interview 10 days ago and haven’t heard anything since. I’m anxious to know where things stand, but I get mixed advice on how and when to follow up. How long should I wait before calling? And who should I call—HR or the hiring manager? Is email a better way to check my status?

A. Be careful. Interview follow up protocol can be complex and sometimes dangerous. By coincidence, I talked last week with someone who had been a candidate for a job that never materialized. A few days later I ran into the agency head who had interviewed her. When I inquired about the status of the position, the agency head said everyone felt the candidate was quite capable. However, the firm opted to pursue others based on the candidate’s incessant calls and emails following the interview. The candidate was described as “overly aggressive” and someone who “wouldn’t fit in with the existing team culture.”   

To avoid confusion regarding whether or when to follow up after a job interview, inquire about the process at the time of the interview. Ask when it might be appropriate to follow up. Let them set the timeframe. They’ll more likely take the call or respond to your email inquiry when you say you’re following up as they suggested. If you didn’t determine a follow-up timeframe, send the normal “thank you” note after the interview and then follow up 10 days afterwards by email. Unless you were told to call, don’t. Make only one email follow-up. If you get a reply that the process remains under way, a second follow up email in another 10 days is appropriate.

Keep in mind that you’re dealing with busy people. As important as the hiring decision might seem at the time of the interview, other priorities often crop up that delay the process. The average time lapse from initial job posting to hiring decision has moved from days to weeks—even when hiring managers initially appear to be in hurry.

Finally, keep all follow up quick and simple. Remind the reader who you are–help him/her remember you from the others encountered since your interview. No long stories or pleas for feedback. “Just checking in regarding the search and wanting to let you know that I’m still very much interested. Let me know if I can provide any additional information in support of my candidacy.” Importantly, don’t stop searching for a job based on expectations you’re going to land this one. Stop looking for a job after you have the offer in your hands.

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