Finding the perfect job is easy, but landing the perfect job is an entirely different ballgame. Like an actual baseball game, you have to cover your bases and continuously stand out in a crowded field of candidates. If you've interviewed with a potential employer—and answered routine questions like, "Why do you want to work here?"—then you already have a leg up. The next step is to capitalize on that conversation and follow up after your job interview.
The thought of sending another email to a professional acquaintance after speaking with them about an open role, may seem rather forward (and make you cringe), but following up will ensure you stay on their radar. In addition to nailing the interview questions and writing your eye-catching cover letter, the follow-up step is a simple service to yourself and a positive signal to the company you're pursuing.
Career expert Lindsey Pollak, author of Recalculating: Navigate Your Career Through the Changing World of Work, believes following up after a job interview can even double as a networking opportunity, if you choose to look at it as an impression rather than a transaction.
"[With] each touchpoint you have with another human being, you're building your personal brand and showing who you are," she says. By taking the time to write a professional message, you can set yourself up for success, wherever that success may be.
Unfortunately, there's always a chance you'll get a response from the recruiter, hiring manager, or human resources contact saying they're going in another direction. But you could also get a response with a job offer, fresh lead, or LinkedIn connection request. By learning how to follow up after a job interview and tapping "send," you're showing up for your career win, lose, or draw. Here are the right steps to take when touching base post-interview.
How long should you wait to follow up?
Stick to the interviewer’s timeframe. According to Pollak, a person can be busy conducting other interviews and managing daily tasks, especially if they’re understaffed. You want to respect their schedule, and not jump to conclusions when you don’t immediately hear back.
“Timelines for the job seeker are rarely as fast as they want them to be,” she says. In fact, recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that less than 20 percent of unemployed job seekers found a job in February 2021 in less than five weeks. Patience is key.
If your interviewer has laid out next steps, and said, for example, you’ll hear from them in two or three weeks, follow up then. Otherwise, if they don’t specify a timeframe, plan to send a thank-you email within 12 hours of your interview and follow up in one week. (In fact, send a brief thank-you email immediately after any interview you have—formal, informal, phone, video.)
After following up initially, wait another week before reaching out on LinkedIn, leaving a voicemail, or sending an email “as if you had never sent the first one,” per Pollak’s advice. She believes in the three-strike rule: three follow-ups, and you’re out.
“Do you remember that book He’s Just Not That Into You?” she says. “Maybe they’re just not that into you.” And while it’s tough to get ghosted, it’s also a sign from the universe to move on and apply yourself elsewhere.
What to include when you follow up
When it comes to the content of your follow-up email, think light. Stephanie Heath, founder of SoulWork and Six Figures says to act as if “you’re checking a box on your end,” and to pay attention to the details. “Practice extreme professionalism,” she advises. “Older generations are assuming that you’re going to be lackadaisical.” Prove them wrong.
Pollak agrees, saying this email should be creative, concise, and not another cover letter. You should include a note of gratitude, a reiteration of your interest in the role, and something specific you discussed with the interviewer that resonated with you. (Taking notes during your interview can help with this part, and make you look more engaged.)
If you’re not used to crafting business-casual emails, use this template for following up after a job interview, adding specific notes where you see fit. In addition, Heath suggests resources like The Muse and Career Contessa that can support your job search via scripts, templates, and infographics on Instagram.
Email template for following up after a job interview:
Following Up on [Position Name] Role
Saying a Quick Hello + Thank You!
Hi [interviewer’s name],
I hope you’re doing well! Thank you again for the opportunity to interview for the [position name] role. I truly enjoyed our conversation about [a specific topic] and am excited about the potential to work with you and your team. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time if you have questions or updates, or need any additional materials.
Thank you again, and have an great week!
In your third (and final) follow-up email, Heath says you can switch out a kicker like this.
I have some final rounds happening next week, but if the team has any interest in my candidacy whatsoever, please let me know. This is my availability, and if they need some times outside of that, I’m happy to rearrange my schedule as needed.
You can also share something interesting you’ve done since your interview that adds to your candidacy, like taking a course or enhancing a skill.
Actions speak louder than words.
Showing up is the most important thing you can do in life—including in your career. It shows you’re invested and prioritize the things you care about. Engaging with an employer by thoughtfully commenting on their posts on LinkedIn, attending a virtual job fair they’re at, or checking out their physical store can leave the best mark.
“Don’t miss an opportunity to show up to something that the company you want to work for is visible at,” says Pollak. “Showing up is huge, especially now when it’s easier than ever.” With social media and the rise of virtual events due to the coronavirus pandemic, you can literally “show up” while sitting at home in sweatpants. Most candidates won’t take this extra step after an interview, so your efforts won’t go unnoticed.
“That’s sort of a really obvious thing to do that some people overlook, because they get so caught in the game of getting the job and submitting the resume. They don’t think about the reality of the organization,” Pollak continues, adding that there’s “nothing wrong” with being a fan. You can also find a connection to refer you after your interview: “It’s equally valuable to use your time to find a human being who could potentially endorse your application than it is just simply following up over and over again.”
Prioritize your well-being, too.
It’s not said enough, but when interviewing, prioritize your physical, mental, and emotional health, too. Job searching is a delicate rally of talking and listening, excitement and anxiety, and perseverance and luck. The process requires rest.
When you’re in the thick of job hunting, Heath recommends creating a schedule where you send out five to 15 applications each day for five days per week. “You’re going to get a lot of interviews happening with that level of volume,” she says. Spend the other two days doing activities you enjoy.
“Don’t cancel your brunches, keep your yoga membership active, and have your happy hours with your friends, even if it’s via Zoom where you can let out what’s happening and then move on,” she says. Check in and follow up with yourself, as frequently as you can.