Professional Development

How long should I wait before following up from a job interview?

The interview is over. It's been a week. Now what? Take these steps.

The waiting is the hardest part.

(Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels)

The interview couldn’t have gone better. You left confident, hopeful and excited to hear from the company again. You send a thank you email the next morning.

And then you wait. Twenty-four hours becomes 48 hours. Friday hits, and nothing. Your excitement is turning into dread as you resign yourself to still being a jobseeker, not an employee.

Should you follow up again? Are your prospects doomed if you don’t hear back from them days after an interview?

Stay calm

First: Don’t panic. If this job isn’t a fit, even though it feels right, you’ll find something else. There is still huge demand for tech talent, especially — even amid “quiet layoffs” and slowing job posts.

Hold back

Second: Yes, you can follow up if you felt good about the interview — but hold back. Don’t sent an email every day, or every other day. Wait five business days (which is just a business-y way to say a week) after the interview, then follow up with a brief email thanking them again for the interview and reiterating that you think you are a good fit for the position and adding anything relevant you didn’t mention in the interview.

Don’t write a long email saying how much you want the job. No asking for an ETA on when they’ll make their decision. No complaining. Like every step of the process, be patient and professional.

The potential employer should respond, but they may not, especially if they don’t have anything definitive to tell you. And if the job went to someone else, they should reply quickly telling you the position has been filled — but that may not happen, whether because they want to avoid delivering bad news or because they’re dealing with a high number of emails.

After that follow up, avoid emailing them again about the job. If they liked you, but another candidate edged you out, you don’t want to be remembered as the annoying candidate who couldn’t move on the next time they have a job opening.

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Don’t lose hope

Third: There may be circumstances that have slowed down the hiring process, so if a couple of days turns into a week or more, it doesn’t have to mean that you’re out of the running.

Holdups can include illness, family emergency, vacation or just a slow hiring process, especially if it’s a large corporation.

Don’t forget to ask

How can you avoid the frustration of not knowing whether or not you’re getting the job for weeks? There’s no guarantee that unexpected holdups won’t happen, but you can have a better understanding of what to expect after the interview if you simply ask.

At the end of every job interview, it’s standard for the interviewer to ask if you have any questions — and  they expect you to respond with at least one question. Your mind may be on the job, but asking about the interview process is a good way to finish the meeting. They may give you a timeline that can make the next week less stressful, and it will give you an idea of when it’s definitely too soon to follow up. They may even tell you whether they inform all applicants if they’ve been hired or not, or timing details like a hiring manager’s vacation.

Don’t stop

How do you pass the time after what feels like a home run job interview? You keep applying for more jobs, of course. Keeping the job search moving will mean that if you don’t wind up getting the job, more opportunities are in front of you.

Remember, though, if you do wind up getting it after you’ve interviewed with a subsequent company, don’t ghost them. It’s not a good way to treat anyone, whether it’s a prospective employee or a prospective employer.

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