So you've landed a job interview. Congratulations! You're well on your way to having an offer in hand. You've got a few hurdles to clear, though, and each step is a potential minefield of follow-up opportunities with the hiring manager. Here, we walk you through the process, from application to offer, with a clear guide to when and how to get back in touch with an employer. Best of luck in your job search.
Do: Follow up via email once on a submitted application, about a week after you submit the application.
It’s okay to follow up once (and only once) on a submitted application. A short note atop your re-forwarded application suffices.
Sample follow-up: Dear [Hiring Manager], Following up to ensure you received my application for [this position]. Please let me know if we can arrange some time to speak.
Do: Write thank you emails after every step of the interview process, to each person who spent time with you.
This is an essential step of the job interview process -- and we’d just about guarantee your interviewer is noting whether or not you tick this particular box. Send this email the same day you interview, and keep it simple. If you’ve thought of an additional pertinent question, this is a good time to ask it.
Sample follow-up: Dear [Interviewer], I’m deeply grateful for your time today. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. Please let me know if I can provide more information that would aid your decision, and I look forward to discussing next steps.
Do: Follow up with the hiring manager or your HR contact via email for next steps after a phone interview if you don’t hear back.
Persistence, particularly for roles that require a sense of urgency, is a prized asset, and one way you can demonstrate this is with a well-timed follow-up note after a first conversation. (And by the way, we’ve heard some employers say that receiving this follow-up email is required if candidates want to make it to the next round of interviews.) Use your best judgement on timing -- if an employer gives a firm timeline like five days, follow up right after that time period passes. If it’s left open-ended, 72 hours is a good rule of thumb.
Sample follow-up: Dear [Hiring Manager], Thanks again for your time thus far. I’m following up to reiterate my interest in this position, to determine the timeline for next steps, and to ask whether I can provide additional information that might aid your decision. I look forward to speaking with you more.
Do: Write handwritten thank you notes for in-person interviews.
So you ticked the box on your thank you email -- if you really want to make an impression, send a handwritten thank you note after an in-person interview. Use plain stationery, write legibly, and drop the note in the mail the day of your interview to ensure it makes it back to the manager’s desk before they make a decision.
Sample follow-up: Dear [Hiring Manager], Thank you so much for your time. I enjoyed speaking with you and learning more about [the company] and [the opportunity]. I hope we can connect again soon.
Do: Contact the hiring manager if you’re withdrawing your application or not planning to take the job.
Maybe you got another offer. Maybe you just don’t feel like this job is a good fit. Hiring managers respect people who don’t waste their time -- so if you’re not planning to take a job if offered, for whatever reason, send an email and respectfully withdraw from the process.
Sample follow-up: Dear [Hiring Manager], I’m deeply grateful for your time in this process. I’m writing to let you know that I’ve accepted another offer, and therefore am withdrawing my application from consideration. I enjoyed learning about your company -- thanks again for your time.
Do Not: Harass people.
The line between persistence and harassment is thin. In general, one follow-up per interview stage is plenty.
Do Not: Contact anyone by phone, especially if the job post specifically says “no phone calls.”
Even if you’re working with someone in the HR department, your contact likely has a whole list of other duties beyond the hiring process. Stick to scheduled meetings and email -- don’t surprise them with a phone call.
Do Not: Send writing samples, references, portfolios, or a long explainer of why you’d be good for the job unless specifically requested.
If you’re really excited about a job prospect, it might be tempting to bombard the employer with more support for why you’d be a great hire. Resist. If they need more, they’ll ask for it.
Do Not: Continue to follow up if you’ve been eliminated from consideration.
Unless a hiring manager specifically encouraged you to apply for another position, let their rejection email be their last. Focus your energy instead on your next job prospect.