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How Long Should I Wait to Follow up After an Interview?

follow up

“How long should I wait to follow up with a potential employer after an interview?”

The timeline for following up after an interview can often be a challenge for job seekers, as anticipation takes hold and they wait eagerly for a response. But sometimes, following up too soon can negatively impact your success, and timing it right is key.

It’s important to note that this has nothing to do with the actual ‘Thank You” note that is to be sent within 24 hours after the interview.  What we’re talking about here is the proper timeline for following up on next steps, assuming you left the interview with a generally positive feeling that they might be interested in either a second interview, or extending an offer.

Best case scenario:  You complete the interview and the hiring manager gives you somewhat of a definitive timeline of when you can expect to hear from them – “by next Monday” or “we’ll be done interviewing by the 15th” – allowing you a metric by which to gauge your follow up response.

In most cases, however, you’ll receive a more vague cliff-hanger of a response along the lines of, “It was great meeting you – we’ll be in touch shortly.”  This type of generalized response doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re out of the running, just that you’ll have to work a little harder to gauge the timeline of the process.

Here are a couple general rules of thumb in regards to following up after the interview:

  • If a timeline is given, be sure to respect that timeline.  If the timeline approaches and you still haven’t heard back, give them a 1-2 day buffer to still reach out to you.  Plenty of hurdles come up, including administrative hold ups, or unexpected absences.
  • If no timeline or sense of next steps is given upon exiting the interview, allow at least 4-5 business days before following up, as it’s likely that they are interviewing additional candidates and haven’t yet made a decision.  Over-eagerness bordering on impatience will not do anything positive for your chances.
  • Normally, if a candidate is being strongly considered, or in the final steps before making an offer, it’s likely that the hiring manager will provide you with some expectation of next steps and when you can expect to hear from them.  However, it doesn’t always work that way.  If no timeline is given, but you’re left with a distinct impression that they want to move forward, or extend an offer, again, allow roughly 4-5 business days before following up.

In each case, the point of a follow up is twofold: it’s an opportunity for you to reaffirm your interest in the role and why you feel you’re a strong fit, and also to maintain presence on their radar as they’re moving through the hiring process.  Try this:

Hi Dana –

Thank you again for your time on Tuesday.  I want to reaffirm my enthusiasm in being considered for the role, and confidence in my ability to bring a lot of value to the team.  I look forward to next steps – is there any additional information I can provide on my end to help move the process forward?

Thank You,

Matt Smith

Ending the outreach on a question gives them an extra push to respond to you, versus a “simply checking in” letter.

The key here is to be slightly aggressive, but in a tactful way that respects the fact that the hiring manager, no matter how swiftly a response they may have promised you, is a busy person likely handling multiple job openings, and many factors outside of their control can arise and inadvertently slow down the process.

About the Author

Dana Leavy-Detrick is a personal brand strategist, resume writer, and career consultant, and the founder of Brooklyn Resume Studio and Los Angeles Resume Studio. She has helped thousands of professionals to build fulfilling careers and stand out in the most competitive job markets. You can find more of her work at her website, http://www.bklynresumestudio.com/.