The interview is over. You sent your thank you note promptly. But you haven’t heard from the company—not a word.
Showing a potential employer you’re excited about working for them is important. But the line between enthusiastic persistence and pestering desperation is a fine one. And many job seekers just can’t see it.
Too much or too little follow-up can be equally damaging. I had one client who was told her job offer was a direct result of her aggressive follow-up–it was a sales role. But another was politely asked to cease-and-desist after repeatedly following up.
The instances where I have seen persistent–even what I’d consider overly persistent–follow-up pay off is when there are two candidates running neck-in-neck. In those cases, you can possibly break the tie by being the more vocal one and keeping yourself top of mind.
But that doesn’t often happen. And more to the point, you won’t likely know you’re in such a race. There are always many factors at play during the hiring process, including the type of position, a company’s process, other candidates, and even personality. Most of those are very difficult to determine from the outside. Your judgment can also be clouded if you really want or need a particular job.
Best Practices After a Job Interview
Knowing how you will behave after every interview before you even go on them takes some of the guesswork out of the process. And your post-interview behavior actually begins at the interview itself. Here are my best practices for following up after a job interview.
During an interview. At the end of the conversation, always ask what the next steps will be. Do your best to nail down a specific timeframe in which you can expect to hear something. Let the interviewer know you’ll follow up as well, and confirm that he or she is the right person to contact for do so.
After an interview. Immediately after your meeting, send a handwritten, personalized thank you note or email.
If you don’t hear anything in the expected amount of time, follow up again with a phone call (just as you informed your interviewer you’d be doing).
If you leave a message and don’t receive a phone call back within a couple of days, another call or email is perfectly appropriate. People are busy. And you do want to make sure you’ve adequately demonstrated your enthusiasm and informed them of your continued interest in the job.
After that, it gets a bit tricky. If you’ve gotten no response, continuing to send messages pushes you toward the desperation end of the spectrum. That can actually destroy your chances of landing a job if the company simply moves slowly or if its first-choice candidate doesn’t work out.
What I’ve found is this: Continuing to call and email without any sign of positive feedback often has a greater risk of harming the situation than helping it. If you’re the right candidate, continuing to follow-up won’t make people move any faster. They’re going to follow their process and make you an offer as quickly as possible, and overzealous follow-up could put you at a disadvantage when that offer finally does come.
And if you’re not the right candidate for the role, continuing to follow-up likely won’t change anyone’s mind. Accept that you’ve done all you can. And put your time and energy into going after the next job.