The interview process is one of the most nerve-wracking experiences a job-seeker has to endure. More often than not, you may come out of an interview initially feeling that you knocked it out of the park, but spend the rest of your week ruminating over all the things you’ve should have said better. In the dreaded interim between the end of the interview and when you finally get the offer (or rejection), it feels like a great idea to shoot off a simple email to the hiring manager. Actually, this could ruin your chances of getting the job.
The panicked feeling you have is ONLY a result of the stressful nature of the interview process. When you feel stressed, your fight-or-flight response kicks in. So when you have to sit around waiting for an answer, you can’t help but try to think of something you can do to take control and improve your chances in the meantime.
There are a million reasons why it might take longer than you wish to get a response. Now, following up is a good instinct! However, never send an email to a hiring manager from an emotional, panicked state. You will come across as immature and desperate. The best approach is to have a concrete plan of how you will follow up, so that you can remain calm and professional. This way, your email will actually HELP your chances!
Here is a definitive guide to the crucial step of following up after an interview.
According to AccountTemp,
This CareerBuilder survey showed that:
What does that mean? If YOU send a simple follow up thank you email, you will set yourself ahead of more than half the pack!
Picture this: You have an interview, it went well, and you feel as though your chances of getting the job are high. The interviewer tells you that they will get back to you within seven days. You allow the seven days to go by and then begin to think about reaching out.
You should never allow that amount of time to pass before your initial reach out. You want to remain as fresh in their minds. You can come across as someone who:
Ideally, you want to follow up with the hiring manager within 24 hours of the interview.
The exact amount of time depends heavily on the overall feeling that you got from the interviewer. If the interviewer seemed especially engaged or intrigued by you, you can follow up somewhere between 24-48 hours. Since they like you and you don’t have to work so hard to achieve a first impression, this will prevent you from coming across as over-eager compared to your competition. It will also allow the hiring manager the time he needs to get a feel for the overall crop of talent that he is interviewing.
If you feel as though the interview didn’t go especially well, then it is best to follow up sooner rather than later. If you felt your initial impression was not your best, this is your chance to make a second, better impression as a courteous human being.
An email or note shows that you are dedicated and perseverant. Promptness is key. It is these traits that will help solidify you as a reliable choice for the job.
Regardless of when you follow up, one thing will be consistent: the format of your carefully worded email.
When you follow up, you refresh the memory of the good feelings they had (hopefully) already begun to associate with you during your interview. Your note should be prompt enough to keep you fresh in their mind as they sort through the pool of applicants. Remember the old Carl W. Buehner quote: “They may forget what you said. They may forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.”
Email is the most prompt way to communicate nowadays. The same AccountTemp study referenced above asked HR managers asked, “Which of the following are appropriate methods for job applicants to thank an employer following an interview?” Their answers were as follows:
They also asked “Which one of the following is the most common way you receive a thank-you from job applicants following an interview?” Their responses:
So unless the hiring manager specifically gave you a different way to communicate in case you have any questions, email is a perfectly accepted and even preferred method.
Try these key, but simple, steps to craft the perfect follow up email.
This is arguably the most important aspect of the entire email. The subject line dictates whether an email even gets read. People with busy schedules can inadvertently skip over items in their inbox that seem vague or not pressing. A good subject line can keep you out of that trap.
In order to craft a subject line that grabs attention, utilize keywords.
One of these keywords is, “Re:”With this abbreviation for “regarding”, you remind your recipient that you have already been in touch with each other about this topic.
It is also helpful to include the date and time that you met. This will jog the other person’s memory and cause them to remember you. If they can associate your name with a face, then that is the best-case scenario. Regardless of how you do it, your subject line should be short, to the point, and communicate enough for that the individual knows they ought to read it. Try “Follow Up Re: Conversation with (your name)” or “Re: Interview with (your name) on Monday morning”.
Email does not follow the same rules as texting, and for good reason: email is much more formal. Furthermore, there is no expectation of a response. If you want one, give them a reason.
As a professional form of communication, an email to a hiring manager ought to maintain a respectful tone. Begin by taking the time to greet them properly. Avoid washed out and typical greetings such as “Dear…” and “To who it may concern…”. These are impersonal and don’t accurately convey any warmth or personality. A better approach is to think back to your conversation: did it stay on topic and business-focused? Try leading with “Good morning/afternoon Mr. (hiring manager’s name). Thank you for your time yesterday discussing the __ position.”
If your interview started with the typical Q&A and ended with your shared passion for your pet dogs, build on that connection. Try “Hi Joe, Is Amy (dog) feeling any better?”
Never, never, never starting your email with “Dear Hiring Manager (or other title). At all costs, avoid ANYTHING that is cold and distant in tone.
This is the real bulk of your email. Your goal is to remind them of who you are, and communicate that you are interested in the position and their team specifically. Make it personal by referring back to specific talking points from the interview. Perhaps reference a story that he told you, or the names of someone that he brought up. If there was a question that was asked during the interview, you can refer to it or answer it here. Let him know that you have been thinking in depth about the question that was asked. If you are adding to an answer you gave in the course of the interview, it is fine to include additional information. Just be sure to avoid completely scrapping your original answer. This shows a lack of confidence and inability to stick by your initial convictions. Instead, feel free to tweak or expand your answer to make it the best possible version of itself.
Finally, ask an intelligent question. By asking questions, you show that you are deeply invested in becoming a member of the company. You can kill two birds with one stone by using this as an opportunity to ask about anything about the company that worries you. You never want to work for a company that is in disarray, for example, so use this follow up email to interview the company back a little bit. These questions will prevent you from wasting your time down the road in case there are some problems with the company, but they also show that you care.
If you don’t have any questions, then this would be the time to inquire about a timeframe within which you can expect a hiring decision.
The conclusion is often the most neglected portion of an email. After giving the reader important text to read, you want to leave them with a clear understanding of your point of view, and what you expect them to respond to. For example, you could wrap up with “Once again, thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you regarding the above questions.” If you didn’t have any questions, then you could leave that last phrase out.
Use the close of your email to say goodbye purposefully. There are several phrases to choose from. Formal options include “Sincerely”, “Best”, or “Regards”. If you are on more informal terms with your interviewer, you could try “Yours truly”, “Thanks”, or “Best regards”
Only the first word should be capitalized, and the sign-off should be followed by a comma (or an exclamation mark in some informal settings), but never a period.
Take this time to create an official email signature that includes your name, phone number(s), and email address. Some people also provide a link to their social media profiles, provided they are maintained with your professional life in mind.
Subject: Re: Interview at 12 PM on Thursday
“Good Afternoon __________ ,”
I thoroughly enjoyed our interview last Thursday. What a beautiful koi pond you have!
I keep thinking back to our discussion on urban growth potential. It occurs to me that if we utilize radio ads during rush hour, we might be able to reach more people. Something to think about! Also, I did have one question specific to this role: can you expand a little about how this team slots into the company’s overarching goals? Do you see this team expanding in the near future at all?
Finally, you mentioned that you are anxious to make a hiring decision soon; do you happen to have a specific timetable in mind?
Thank you again for your time. Please tell Sharron it was a pleasure to meet her.
I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Some things to remember:
This is supposed to be a gentle probe. You don’t want to come off as rude or in a hurry because that would lower your chances of getting the job. You want to convey calm, thoughtful, and appreciative energy.
You also do not want to come off as too eager. This can make it appear that you lack poise and polish. You want to come across as responsible and interested, not childish and desperate.
Furthermore, you want to emphasize your interest in the position. It should appear that joining this company is your only concern. Companies want people that want to be a part of their mission, people that share their ideals. This email can convey that for you.
At that point, it would be appropriate to reach out once more. It is important to remember that the people doing the hiring are employees themselves, with real responsibilities. Often, it will take a team a few weeks to sift through a large number of applicants. Be patient and stay vigilant. As long as there is an open line of communication you should remain optimistic. If you begin to feel as though there is a lack of urgency you may want to contact the HR department for some further clarification. They usually have a concrete timeline as to when hiring decisions need to be made. In the meantime, keep circulating your resume.
Receiving a second interview is a good sign. It means that you showed enough promise for them to want to take another long look at you as a candidate. However, after a second email, it isn’t necessary to follow up. While this may seem contradictory, it is in fact not. By asking for a second interview, the company is already expressing interest you. You don’t want to bombard them and risk coming across as annoying. As impassioned as you may be, hiring managers need to ensure that a new team member will mesh well with the existing team. You don’t want to give the hiring manager any reason to think ill of you.
In a way, you should. That email would be a different beast, however. You would mostly be aiming to make sure that your resume was received, and communicate that you look forward to an opportunity to discuss the position further. It should remain light and not contain too much substance. You want to inspire them to the point where they determine that the only prudent course of action is to bring you in for an interview. A follow up email after you have sent a company your resume will look something like this:
“Subject: Re: Follow Up to Resume Submission, (your name)
Good afternoon _____,
About a week ago, I sent my resume to (name of person you sent it to). Since I did not hear anything back as of yet, I just wanted to make sure it came through.
I am very interested in your _______ position. As a seasoned combat veteran with a Ph.D. from Harvard and an associate degree from Yale in the field of education, I am confident I could bring a lot to your team. I would love to be able to sit down with the hiring committee and discuss the position further.
(Your name) (Your contact info)“
Your aim is to briefly market yourself and entice the recipient to get in touch with you.
The importance of a follow-up email cannot be overstated. It is a simple way you can ensure that you will be remembered, and you can reduce the risk of being strung along for a long time without an answer. Set yourself apart from your competition. YOU have the power to turn the tide in your job search.