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When to Follow Up After a Job Interview

It happens sometimes.  You had an interview, thought it went well, and you’ve heard nothing.   You want to follow up but don’t want to come across as desperate or offensive.   Here’s how to do it the right way.

From a timing standpoint, if you haven’t heard anything in two weeks after a first interview, it’s perfectly acceptable to call HR to check on your status.  If fact, they expect it. Typically, HR handles all the administrative work for the hiring manager and they will know the status of the hiring decision.

The reason your first follow up should always be with the HR department, NOT the hiring manager, is that at any given time a manager may be interviewing ten or more applicants and it would be time consuming to personally talk to them all.  That’s what HR is for and the hiring manager expects you to make HR your contact point.

Another reason is that, as a hiring manager, I have to tell you I really don’t like getting phone calls from applicants who were interviewed.  If I don’t intend to hire them, it’s an awkward call, and if I’m still interested I will already be scheduling them for another interview.

At this point in time, your only follow-up with the hiring manger (or anyone else with whom you interviewed) should be your thank-you letter or email following the interview.  Calling HR instead shows you know the proper etiquette and are respectful of the interviewer’s time.

The one exception to this is when the company is very small.  If there is no formal HR department then calling the hiring manager is your only option.

If you feel you just have to follow-up with me, I much prefer an email (although I still won’t appreciate the intrusion!).  An email lets me respond when I’m able to, and I can be much better prepared if it’s going to be a “dear John” type of response.

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Here’s a special tip if you decide to send an inquiry email to the hiring manager after the interview.  Instead of just asking about your status, find a relevant article and send it.  In your email, simply say you’ve been thinking about what you heard in the interview and found this interesting article that you wanted to pass on.  Then, close by saying you hope to hear from them soon.  This reinforces that you do your homework and allows you to make a more subtle inquiry on your status.

If you decide you simply must call the hiring manager on the phone, here’s how to approach it.
First, send an email politely saying that you’re following up.  Then, suggest three different days and times to call them and ask if they can fit one into their schedule, and if not could they suggest a day and time that would work.

You have a much better chance of getting a response to this type of an inquiry, although the hiring manager will probably still be reluctant to accept a phone call.

If you make it to the second or subsequent interview rounds, shorten your follow-up time to one week.  I still recommend you follow-up with HR and use the same procedures.  If you’re considered the best candidate, you WILL hear back, whether or not you follow up.  Trust me on this!

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