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6 key ways to follow up after an interview

Interview follow-up

Many job seekers typically place the most emphasis on writing a killer resumé and cover letter, and then figuring out how to nail the interview. “But it’s also crucial to give careful consideration to how you follow up once your interview is over,” explains Steven Starks, MS, a national certified counselor and a career coach for Phoenix Career Services™.

“Some people think follow-up communication is merely protocol, and they question whether anyone even reads it,” he notes. “But it’s another opportunity to sell yourself to the employer.”

Here are six things you can do to help ensure that hiring managers keep you in mind after an interview:


Establish a time frame.

“Toward the end of the interview, take the time to ask, ‘When would it be appropriate for me to follow up?’” Starks recommends, so you can plan your strategy and make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to follow up.

“If they say, ‘Well, the hiring process usually takes three months,’ you don’t want to be that person that’s following up one week later, one week later, one week later again,” and risk alienating the interviewers or having them think you didn’t listen when the process was explained.

Send thank-you notes immediately.

Regardless of the follow-up time frame, it’s critical that you send a brief thank-you note to each person you spoke to within 48 hours of your interview, Starks emphasizes. The notes should be short and to the point, he adds, expressing appreciation for the time everyone took to meet with you and reiterating your interest in the job.

Use email, not snail mail.

Tom Woodruff, who holds a Doctor of Management and is an instructor in the University of Phoenix® MBA program, recommends sticking to email messages instead of using the U.S. Postal Service.

“A mailed letter is going to take much longer. Today we are such a technology-driven world, so quite often, a very polite professional email can be of more value than snail mail,” notes Woodruff, an independent business consultant.

Act strategically.

After your first thank you, Starks recommends waiting one to three weeks, depending on what the interviewers told you, and then sending another email message. This time, take the opportunity to emphasize your skills, but also highlight how well you think you would fit in with the organization.

“Once a company has narrowed down their search to a few candidates,” he explains, “their decision is often going to be more about your fit and if they see you as being a good member of the team.”

So “in every piece of post-interview correspondence,” he emphasizes, “you should mention something that genuinely indicates that you feel like you’d be a good match, whether it’s because of the [company’s] mission or the rapport you had with the interviewer.”

Provide additional information.

In your second note, make sure you include a detail that you didn’t have a chance to discuss during the interview.

“You can say something like, ‘You know, I was reflecting on [our conversation], and I don’t know if I mentioned the following,’ and just make a new point that’s pertinent to the position,” Woodruff suggests.

“It might just fire that manager up even more to say, ‘Hey, you know what, I really think we should make a move on this person. They’re going to fit in nicely.’”

Employ the “rule of three."

“Three times is a good rule when it comes to follow-up,” Stark advises, “because you don’t want to become annoying.” If you haven’t heard back after your second note, it’s OK to send another email message or to make a phone call to inquire about the status of the job and to offer to answer any more questions, if needed.

But if after that third note you get no response, figure it’s time to move on, knowing that you handled yourself professionally.