How long should I wait after an interview?
Typically, it’s best to give interviewers at least five business days to contact you. That means if you interview on a Thursday, you would wait until the following Thursday to reach out. This could mean you are waiting a week or longer before you get a response from the hiring company, provided they do reply. It’s also a good rule to offer a small buffer period for companies to get back to you beyond the designated timeline. For these purposes, it’s best to give an additional one to two business days.
The interview process continues
An obvious reason that a company may not contact you after an interview right away is that they are still interviewing other candidates. It’s common practice for HR departments to interview many people over a number of days or weeks. If your interview occurred at the beginning of the process, they may be reviewing all the candidates before they make calls for a second interview.
Vacation or unexpected illness
Sometimes planned or unplanned events occur that slow down the hiring process. This could be a scheduled vacation of a hiring decision-maker, an unplanned illness or an emergency that keeps the hiring manager out of the office for days or weeks at a time. If the company has provided you a scheduled timeline of when you should expect to hear back from them, plan to give them a buffer of about two business days to account for unexpected occurrences, vacations and other staffing lapses.
The candidate search is paused
Many different events can cause a disruption in the job search. Some examples include extended emergencies, lack of requisition funding from a board of directors or turnover within the company. If a company has paused its search for candidates, it could take weeks or even months to resume. You’ll have to decide if you’re in a position to wait and if the position is worth waiting for.
Departmental confusion or organizational needs
Sometimes candidates in a big candidate pool get less individual attention when HR departments are busy trying to meet all the needs of the organization without the resources they need to perform more effectively. While this can be frustrating, a more organized HR department will offer better communication and follow up. If this is the case, it may be a sign to wait for opportunities that value candidates and communication.
Job offers take time to prepare
reported that new college graduates typically receive job offers more than 24 days after their first interview. While this is a small market segment of workers, these insights may be an indicator of how long it takes companies to prepare offers and the many steps required to get to the offer phase. Sometimes companies just need more time to prepare and ensure you are the best candidate for the position.
Tips for following up after an interview
Respect existing timelines
If the hiring manager has told you it’s going to take two weeks to reach the next steps, make sure to give them the full two weeks. It’s advantageous for you to show you can be patient and adhere to the instructions given. Alternatively, they may reach out a couple of days after the interview and ask for more time and share an updated timeline. As long as a company is communicating with you, that’s a good sign, and you should respect their wishes and wait the full time requested.
Give five business days
If no timeline is provided, give a company five business days (or about a week) to come around and offer next steps. Consider adding two more business days to any timeline you are adhering to. This gives the company a buffer to respond to you when they are ready to talk.
Send a follow-up email
If you’ve waited five to seven business days and haven’t heard anything, a follow-up email may be appropriate. To write a follow-up email, choose a suitable subject line, open by thanking the interviewer again, say something exceptional that sets you apart from the competition and end with your contact info. It’s also important to show enthusiasm for the job and to be positive no matter how long you have been waiting.
Understand you may not get answers from HR
Human resources departments don’t always have all the answers. The person you are corresponding with could be a hiring manager, HR coordinator or another role. Nonetheless, they likely rely on others involved in the hiring process to put together the information needed to address any questions. You should send a follow-up email, but do it with the expectation that the person you are trying to reach may not be readily available with all the answers to your HR questions.
Move on with your job search
If it’s been an appropriate amount of time and you haven’t heard anything from a job in spite of sending a thank you email and subsequent follow up, it could be a sign that you should move on with your search. Even interviews that you think were great don’t always end up leading to employment. However, a company that doesn’t communicate with interviewed candidates may not be the optimal work environment for you anyway. There are many companies that prioritize communication and hiring resources, so moving forward with your search might lead to an even better opportunity.
What Does an Effective Follow-Up Email (After No Response) Look Like?
An effective follow-up email to send when you haven’t heard back from an interviewer will include a fantastic subject line and a crystal clear body. It will be brief but also have substance as well.
Your subject line is one of the most important aspects of your follow-up email. It is essentially a chance at a new first impression your hiring manager will have of you. It also will make it very clear what your intentions are with the email itself.
As a Career Coach, and perhaps more importantly as a former hiring manager, I NEVER hired a person that didn’t send me a note following their interview. This step demonstrates courtesy and respect, and leaves a positive impression of your genuine interest in the job and becoming part of the organization. The advice I give to my clients regarding follow-up emails after an interview is that it’s just simply important that they do it!
Time: Job searching is a job, and you should treat it as such. If you were working, you would have a schedule of activities; create a job search schedule outlining what positions you’ll look for, how much time you’ll spend looking, researching companies, networking on LinkedIn, etc. Make sure to factor in breaks and self-care.
Tech: Artificial Intelligence has changed the way we job search. Recruiters can now use platforms to send you a text message directly. Applicant tracking software scans your resume before a recruiter even sees it. Most interviews are virtual. Consider doing some research on applicant tracking software, job interview platforms, and virtual interview techniques.
Traction: If you’re not getting traction during the search, consider doing some networking on LinkedIn. LinkedIn allows you to network and apply for jobs on one platform. When networking, ask for informational interviews; they’re a great way to get company/job insights. LinkedIn is a great way to connect virtually with professionals in your current or potential future industry, which could ramp up your search.
Touch on a point or narrative that was initiated during the interview; reiterate the point again as to your position on the point (to spark a memory), or offer a new anecdote about an event or outcome that you didn’t offer before, as the intended goal of the letter is to create an image in the interviewer’s head; not only your presence demeanor but how you stand out from your peers professionally; in other words, what gives you an edge over qualified candidates. Mine for these subtle references within yourself and highlight them in the narrative of the letter. Specificity always edges out boiler plate blather.
Having been a human resources professional and Resume Writer for 20+ years, regarding follow-up emails after the interview, is that doing so is extremely important if there is still interest in the job after the interview. If not, I don’t think that a follow-up thank-you is required.
Job seekers should understand that they are not powerless in the interview process. Just as the employer is deciding if the job seeker is the right fit for the role, the job seeker should use the interview to learn more about the company and the role to see if the company is the right fit for them. When job seekers go into the interview feeling powerless, the process becomes unnecessarily stressful. Sending a follow-up thank-you email could potentially mislead the employer into thinking that there is a continued interest in the job.
Should the job seeker determine that they have a continued interest in the job, they should reiterate what competencies they believe make them stand out from other candidates, keeping the thank-you note brief as most employers have made a decision on further consideration of a candidate before receipt of any thank-you note.