how to check on the status of your job application

by Ask a Manager on March 13, 2013

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featured-on-usnWhen you’re job-searching, waiting to hear back from an employer can be agonizing. Are you still being considered? When should you expect to hear from them, if ever? Is it okay to check in and ask?

While in general, it’s best not to nag employers to respond to you, there are a few times when it’s okay to check in and see where your application stands. The rules are different, though, depending on whether you’ve simply submitted an application or you’ve been interviewed. Over at U.S. News & World Report today, I talk about when you should and shouldn’t follow up, and how. You can read it here.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Another Anonymous Person March 13, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Alison, you’ve missed 1 scenario: after you’ve applied for a job and after an initial phone screen with a HR person or internal recruiter but, before an actual in-person interview.

More an more these days, I’ll apply for a job online and be contacted by a company’s HR person or internal recruiter to set up a time to speak over the phone. I’ll have a positive phone interview with the HR person or internal recruiter and that person will tell me they love my background but just need to double check with the hiring manager before I can come in for an actual interview, usually within the next week. The week goes by and not a word from the person I spoke to or the company itself and I’m left to either follow-up with the person I had the phone interview with or let it go completely, assuming that I’m no longer in the running for the job.


Ask a Manager March 13, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Yeah, I think in that case you can definitely do one (or even two) follow-ups before moving on. I’d wait a week for the first one, and another week for the second.


Tuesday March 13, 2013 at 3:23 pm

What about when you’ve applied through a website and don’t have an email contact for the hiring manager (or anyone at all)? I applied for a job a while ago through CareerBuilder and never heard anything. The job wasn’t listed on the company’s website, so I couldn’t find contact info that way.

In that kind of situation, I genuinely just want to know if my application was received and not lost in cyberspace, but how do I do that? In that case would it be okay to call the company to follow up?


Ask a Manager March 13, 2013 at 7:25 pm

I’d let it go. Calling to follow up is annoying to the employer.


Maria March 13, 2013 at 11:29 pm

How (if at all) would this advice change for an internal candidate?


Ask a Manager March 13, 2013 at 11:33 pm

You’ve got much more room to check in as an internal candidate. You’ve got more “standing” to ask for a timeline, etc.


Greg March 13, 2013 at 11:30 pm

I think the key is to honestly ask yourself why you’re following up, and what good you expect it to do. There are times when an appropriately worded, well-timed follow-up can either emphasize your interest or help kick things into gear (“Oh right, I need to get back to her.”) But if it’s just a case of easing your own anxiety, don’t bother.

For example, let’s say you’ve gone through multiple rounds of interviews at a company. You’ve met all the relevant people, completed any assignments, sent thank-you notes, and the only thing left is for them to give you their decision …

… and then they make you wait. A week. Two weeks. A month. It’s probably, though not necessarily, bad news, but either way, unless you’re following up for a specific reason (“I got another offer but I’d prefer you guys, so can you let me know?”) there’s really very little to be gained. They know your interest level, they’re not going to forget about one of their finalists, and they’ll most likely get back to you eventually (unless they’re one of *those* companies, in which case they won’t, but following up won’t affect your chances). So just let it go.


Sarah G March 14, 2013 at 2:43 am

Interesting point. I think sometimes seeking closure in the form of a definite answer is reasonable if you’ve been a finalist for a position and never heard anything. Maybe the job lost its funding, or for some other random reason they didn’t hire anyone at all. It’d be nice to know if that’s why you never heard back.


Greg March 14, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Yeah, I totally get the need for closure. Just be realistic that it is YOUR need, and has very little to do with your chances of getting the job.


Rob Bird March 15, 2013 at 2:35 pm

AAM-one question on this; what about when you have to fax/mail your application? Would it be a good practice to follow up a few days later (but before the closing date of the position) to be sure they received it?


Ask a Manager March 15, 2013 at 11:13 pm

Not unless you have some reason to worry they didn’t.


Stephanie Borden July 5, 2013 at 2:49 pm

I applied for a job and had an interview the last week of May. A month later and the job has been reposted. Should I make the initial contact with the employer or wait for them to call me back?


Greg July 5, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Sure, follow up. But in that scenario, the news is unlikely to be good, so adjust your expectations accordingly.


Abigail July 19, 2013 at 1:21 am

I iust submitted a application to a restaraunt, in person. I’m wondering if i should call or show up just to ask how the application is going and reiterate that i’m still interested? And if so, when? I havent gotten an interview yet.


Stephanie July 19, 2013 at 7:20 pm

You can still show up but not during lunch rush. Management are usually more receptive during 2 pm and 5 pm Mon-Fri. NO WEEKEND VISITATIONS UNLESS REQUESTED! Good luck.


Tina Hill August 26, 2013 at 12:17 pm

I am very eager to obtain a position at a university. I have applied to several jobs through the website and emailed leadership staff directly (since these positions require sales skills). I have received responses for one of the positions but not the other. Should I send a follow-up email to the leadership staff member I have not heard from? Its been over a week since I emailed the leadership staff member and the position has been vacant for over a month.

Thank you.


Anonymous August 27, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Yes and /or call directly. I waited for a job for two whole month. Found out that they had not even started the interviews. They were still looking for qualified applicants.


Mieko September 3, 2013 at 11:51 am

I applied for a position at the Veteran Hospital back in June. I recently completed all the steps for submitting references on 08/20/13 and fingerprints taken 08/26/13. I called the recruiting office Monday or Tuesday inquiring on the next process. I contacting the representative who handles finger prints was told everything has been submitted to recruiting and would received a call from them. I then called the recruiting dept, hoping the representative would not be in contact with recruiting. Big sure if there in the same building. The representative from the recruiting department advised me to contact her on Tuesday (today) 09/03/13 due to Monday being a holiday. Do you think I should call and if so around what time? The office is 3 hours ahead of me. I know the representative just came back from a holiday and I want to give her some time. I’m eager to really get this job and so nervous on the decision.


neshia April 28, 2014 at 8:22 am

I had an interview for a job and they called back a week later to get permission to contact my current and past employer. I gave them permission and they contacted my current employer about a week after giving them permission. I did not hear anything from them until about 2 weeks later when they requested a copy of my license, SS card, and an official transcript. It has been another two weeks since receipt of my transcript and I have not heard anything from them. Should I follow up with the person I have had contact with throughout this process? Now that they have put my job on “notice” there are duties that my current job wants me to take on but are afraid to give them to me because they don’t know if or when I’m going to put in my notice. Its a “tight” spot to be in…


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