This is a question that job seekers have been battling with since job interviews were created. Well maybe not since job interviews were created. But certainly, since the onset of the modern interview process, let's say for argument in the last 40 years. This question has become even more pressing now we have so much greater access to each other through social media. Communication is more free-flowing, and the ability to connect so much easier than in the entire course of human history.

You might consider following up after an interview for several reasons. You might want to send a thank you note, you might be waiting to hear if you've made it to the next round, or you might be waiting on tenterhooks for the final decision. How you follow up in each of these scenarios matters in terms of when you follow up, how you follow up, and what you say in your interview follow-up.

Should you send a thank you note after an interview?

Should you send a thank you note after an interview?

There seems to be a tacit assumption that if you're serious about your job hunt, you should be sending follow up emails at least to the Hiring Manager and maybe to all of the people that interviewed you. If you spend any time on social media, you'll see the rationale behind it seems to be that there is a majority belief that sending a thank you note, can impact the outcome. It is a simple fact that in some companies there will be a policy where this isn't allowed. Some companies have determined for fairness, that only information gathered in stages of the process that are published and all candidates take part in should be used to make the hiring decision.

But does this mean that you shouldn't bother sending any follow-up message after your interview to people from those companies? Well no! Even if your thank you note can't be used to decide to hire you, leaving a good impression on people inside the company is always a good idea. You may not get the role this time and you may find that person may be a useful contact for future opportunities. Or you may get the role and having someone inside the company already may help you settle into a new company culture. At the very least it is always a good thing to be polite and show appreciation.

In other companies, they will make the receipt of a follow-up thank you note part of the hiring process. And hiring managers may find it valuable in particular if the decision comes down to two candidates. Some hiring managers prefer to hire the candidate who seemingly is more hungry for the job, as demonstrated, in their mind, by the sending of a follow-up email.

So in either case sending a post job interview follow up email is always going to be a good idea, with no discernible downside.

Choose the right time to send a thank you email

Don't send a thank you email within a few minutes of the interview being over. You're unlikely to have had sufficient time to reflect on the conversation. Equally, your potential employers will not have had time to process and digest their thoughts on you. You want your thank you interview follow up email to be the cheery on the icing of your candidacy. You don't want it to just get absorbed into the thoughts they've gathered on you in the actual interview. You can be confident that most other candidates will also be sending a follow up, so you're going to want to ensure yours stands out. Many of them may be using follow up email templates, which means, what you say in your own follow up email, is going to be critical, if you want to stand out. Whether it's a phone interview or a face-to-face one, wait 1-2 business days before you send your email. Spend those business days reflecting on what you learned through the interview process and how that relates to your strength as a candidate for their position.

What is the best subject line for a thank you email?

The subject line of your thank you email can be critical as it can determine if the interviewer opens it. Make sure you keep it simple and professional. Include your name and the job title you interviewed for and maybe even the interview date, such as "Thank You - John Smith - Marketing Manager Interview, XX/XX". This makes it easy for the interviewer to recall who you are and what job role they interviewed you for. You can also say "Follow Up from Interview" or "Appreciation for Your Time". Avoid subject lines that are a bit casual, like "Great Chat!" as that may look unprofessional. The key is to make it clear you are following up from a recent interview so the interviewer recognizes you and is prompted to open the email. A clear, concise subject line goes a long way in getting your thank you email read.

What do you write in a thank you email?

First, show your appreciation for being invited to be part of the recruitment process and thank the interviewer for spending the time to meet with you. You understand how many candidates they will have met and how busy their business days must be. Explain you're grateful for the opportunity to interview and discuss the role. Mention the interviewer by name to personalize the email. If you're sending multiple emails, be very careful to make sure you don't send the wrong one to the wrong person, or include the wrong name!

Next, briefly reiterate your interest in the position and company. Say something like "After our conversation, I am even more excited about the possibility of joining [Company]." Restate one or two key reasons why you are interested in this opportunity and how your skills and experience would be a great fit. Make it clear, you know that you covered this when you met the person, so they don't get frustrated by being offered the same information twice, just across different channels. By all means, use language that demonstrates your keenness, but avoid using terminology such as "dream job". It may risk coming across as unprofessional.

Hopefully, you asked some intelligent and thoughtful questions about the team or company or work. Now briefly recap one or two of the things you learned and offer some of your reflections from the past 24 hours on how you feel about them or the specific valuable contribution you could make if you got the job. Also, consider mentioning something specific about the company or role that resonates with you such as an important initiative they are working on or a priority for the position. This demonstrates your interest in and understanding of the role.

Express enthusiasm about the potential next steps in the hiring process. Say you're looking forward to hearing back on the outcome no matter what the interview result is. Finally, say thank you again for the interviewer's time. Let them know you are happy to provide any additional information needed as they move through the recruitment process. You want to write a relatively brief email, but personalized is key. You don't want it to read like every other follow up email, or that you've copied and pasted from sample follow up emails.

Make sure you check your email for spelling and grammar errors before you hit send. We recommend a fantastic piece of software called Grammarly to speed up your checks.

How do you follow up if you're waiting to hear if you made it to the next round?

How do you follow up if you're waiting to hear if you made it to the next round?

Ideally, your recruiter or Hiring Manager will have advised you when you can expect to hear back after the job interview. What a company considers a reasonable time to follow up varies wildly. It can even change within a company depending on the stage of interview a candidate is at. Across your job search, you can expect anything from 2 days to one to two weeks. If they don't provide this information ahead of the initial interview, it's worth asking them directly. Some organisations will even publish, as part of the job application process, what their policy is for follow up times after a job interview.

If you have this information and you find you don't receive any follow up emails or phone calls from your potential employer, it is worth taking some action yourself. Sometimes the decision making process takes a bit longer than they expect. Rich Jones a writer for The Muse, rightly notes that these delays often speak more about the busy schedule of the recruiter or team, than it does about your candidacy. Nonetheless, it's not unreasonable for you to want to be kept informed as you move through the hiring process. A follow up email is reasonable in this situation and we recommend you send it 2-3 business days after the date they committed to you.

Your subject line is important for this email, as it can determine if the recipient opens it. It needs to be motivating while conveying a positive tone. Something like " POLITE REMINDER" and then include your name and the job title you interviewed for and maybe even the interview date. Such as "POLITE REMINDER - John Smith - Marketing Manager Interview, XX/XX".

In your follow up note, demonstrate your appreciation for how busy the team and the Hiring Manager are. Mention when you had been advised to expect a follow up from them and that you don't think you have received one. Mention your continued interest in the job and ask for information on when you can expect an update. End by saying you look forward to hearing from them soon.

This should prompt them to either send you a follow up email with what they know or to reach out to the interviewer or Hiring Manager for an update. If you don't get a response, send a second follow up email another 3-5 days later.

When is best to send a follow up email if you've not been given a timeline?

There's no exact time which is the correct time to send a follow up email. If it's a first or second interview and you only met one person, it's reasonable to assume without anyone to consult, that they can make their decision quite quickly. In this scenario a follow up email, 3 or 4 business days after the interview date is reasonable. If it is a final round interview and especially if there are multiple interviewers involved in the decision making process, or if you know you are competing against other candidates in a final round it's more appropriate to follow up between 1 to 2 weeks after your interview date.

How do you follow up if you're waiting for the final decision after a job interview?

How do you follow up if you're waiting for the final decision after a job interview?

Similarly to, if you're waiting to hear about the next steps, if you haven't received a follow up from the Hiring Manager or company within your expected time frame, you shouldn't feel embarrassed to send them a follow up yourself. You can follow the same structure as we suggested above but in this follow up note you should inject some more urgency. Mention your enthusiasm for the role and company, your excitement to work with the Hiring Manager and their team and your sincere hope that this will be your new job. But also mention that you are still active in the job market and it would help your job search strategy to know the outcome of this interview as soon as possible.

This should inject a sense of urgency in them, that you have other options and that they may miss out on securing you if they don't move faster. That said, it is a good strategy to continue your job search even if you're in the final round with a company. Continuing your search ensures you aren't putting all of your eggs in one basket and as noted by Dawn Rosenberg McKay at The Balance it is a good way to distract you and manage your anxiety about the outcome.

Lots of people hesitate to follow up after an interview. But it is important for your confidence and the goal of landing a job offer to do so. If your follow up is appropriately timed and politely worded, then the recipient will have no reason to be anything but positive about your communication.

Check out our blog on what to do if your follow ups don't work and your recruiter ghosts you.

If you'd like to learn how to nail your behavioral interview check out our blog on How To Prepare For A Behavioral Interview.

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