when should I follow up after a job interview?

A reader writes:

I’m in education and transferring to a new state, Pennsylvania to Virginia. I’ve had five interviews that I have not heard any response from. One of the interviews was a dud and I knew I was not their candidate. However, the others were great from my view, and I felt like a legitimate candidate for the job. How long should I wait before reaching out to either HR or the interviewer? Is there a policy expectation I can refer to in future interviews?

It’s been years since I’ve done a post about following up after interviews. I did a zillion of them in the first few years of running the site and then took, like, seven years off from them, but it’s probably time for another.

So here’s the deal about following up:

1. There is a ton of advice out there that tells people to follow up after an interview so that you look interested and enthusiastic. This advice is terrible, and hiring managers will almost uniformly tell you to ignore it because it’s annoying and often pushy. Employers know that you’re interested because you took the time to interview and you sent a thank-you note afterward reiterating your interest. (Right? If you didn’t, start doing that.)

2. At the end of every interview, you should ask your interviewer this: “Can you tell me about your timeline for next steps and when you expect to be back in touch?” That way, you have an initial timeframe to work with.

3. You should take that timeframe with a massive grain of salt. Double it or triple it. If they say “by the end of the week,” assume it means “maybe in two weeks.” If they say “two weeks from now,” assume it means “hopefully three or four weeks.” Hiring nearly always takes longer than anyone expects it will, including employers. Delays inevitably come up — a decision maker is out of town, or higher priorities get in the way, or all sorts of other things. If they do contact you within their stated timeline, let that be a delightful surprise. But don’t count on it happening; you will be far happier if you assume from the start that it won’t.

4. Take the timeline they give you, add a week to it, and mark that date on your calendar. (If you didn’t ask for a timeline during the interview, then just mark two weeks from the date of the interview.) That’s the earliest date that you should follow up. Ideally you’d put the job entirely out of your mind until that point so that you’re not wondering and agonizing about it (if you’re the type to agonize). Try to forget about it, assume you didn’t get the job (which is better for your peace of mind), and don’t think about it again until that date pops up on your calendar.

5. When that date rolls around, you can send a follow-up email if you haven’t heard anything. It should say something like this: “I was hoping to check in with you about the llama wrangling job. I know you were hoping to be moving forward around now, and I wondered if you had an updated timeline you could share. I’m really interested in the role and would love to talk further with you about it at any time.”

6. If they’re courteous, they should get back to you. It might not be immediate, but they should respond at some point — say, within a week or so. But if they’re like a lot of employers, they won’t get back to you. That is rude, and it’s also really, really common. If that happens, don’t keep following up. At that point, their silence is their answer. It’s a rude answer, but it’s the answer nonetheless.

At least for now, anyway. It’s possible that they’ll come back to you in the future, but at this point the ball is in their court, and you should assume that if they want to talk to you, they’ll let you know. If they want to interview you again, they’ll tell you. If they want to offer you a job, they’ll tell you. They’re not going to not contact you just because you didn’t keep following up.

{ 118 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. FDCA In Canada

    I’m glad to see that I’ve adhered correctly to AAM advice so far! Turns out thinking “what would Alison do?” and repeating “Hiring always takes longer than everyone anticipates!” are both accurate. Now to repeat the latter until I can actually believe it.

    Reply
    1. A. Non

      If it helps, I actually forgot I had applied for my current job until I was called for the interview. And then once I had the interview, the only way I knew they were interested was that one of my references called me, surprised that they had been called! And it was still another month and a half before I was actually officially hired.

      Reply
  2. Lily Rowan

    “They’re not going to not contact you just because you didn’t keep following up.”

    And they might decide to pass on you because you DID keep following up! For a job that takes judgement and tact, how a candidate follows up provides important information.

    Reply
    1. Sunshine on a cloudy day

      Oh so much this! My boss was conducting interviews for a role that would need to interact with lots of different people, many higher up than this role would be. I’m just an assistant, but I was the person primarily interacting with the candidates. There was one candidate who seemed like a smart guy and had great experience, but he was young and it definitely seemed like he had received some bad “gumption”/”aggressive followup” advice.

      My boss asked my opinion (after interacting with the candidates on scheduling/coordination) and that was exactly what I told her – he seems capable of doing the job, but I was very concerned about his judgement/tact/ability to form connections particularly when interacting with higher ups (we’re a fairly hierarchial firm) based on his constant following up and aggressiveness in terms of scheduling. I know he was “just” dealing with an admin, and maybe that affected his behavior (which leads to other issues) but if there’s ever a time to follow directions to a tee and remain polite/not pushy – the hiring process is it.

      He was otherwise a great candidate, but he did not get the job.

      Reply
    2. Anonymous Educator

      “You know, I really loved ______. She was my top pick. I would make her a job offer, except she never followed up. I guess we’ll have to hire our second-choice candidate instead.”

      Reply
      1. SheLooksFamiliar

        Corporate staffing here. One of the hardest lessons to teach hiring managers is that not every candidate is dying to work for them. Quite often the top pick candidate doesn’t feel the same way about the employer, so they ghost.

        Reply
        1. Anonymous Educator

          Yeah, but no hiring manager is going to not even try to make a job offer to the top candidate just because that candidate didn’t “follow up.” There’s a huge difference between “don’t follow up” and “ghost.”

          Reply
          1. SheLooksFamiliar

            I never said they wouldn’t, although I have seen it. Remember, I’m on the hiring side of the desk, and I’ve seen it happen. I only said – or hoped to say – if a candidate doesn’t follow up after an interview maybe they’re underwhelmed, and hiring managers who expect candidates to do cartwheels and wave their pom poms need to understand that. And yes, ‘ghost’ is the appropriate word for the scenario in my example.

            Reply
  3. Resume Rhonda

    Happy to know I was doing it right, sad that I’m back at square one, haha. But yeah, thinking back to my last full time job, I interviewed at end of August, and didn’t hear from them until end of October that they wanted to bring me on.

    Reply
  4. Chocolate Teapot

    And since it is currently the summer holiday season, the decision makers are likely to be in and out of the office. I always used the note the timescale for a response, then double it.

    Reply
    1. The IT Manager

      Well, for teachers, though, the schools should be making the hire very soon. Kids in my area start back to school earlier then most of the country, but they start back in about 3 weeks.

      Reply
      1. A Teacher

        In the states, at least, most decisions have to go to the school board for final approval. So the principal can recommend you for hire but it will be 2-4 weeks after that depending on how often the board meets for final approval. You can’t start without that.

        Reply
      2. Julianne

        My experience is that, summer vacation (“vacation”) aside, hiring in K-12 education actually usually moves faster (at least, the phase from interview(s) to offers) during the summer than during the school year. Although as A Teacher points out, depending on how centralized hiring is in the district, approval from the school board or superintendent’s office can sometimes take longer.

        Reply
  5. evandsp

    Yep, allow lots of time for employers to make a decision. I hire pretty quickly within my organization, but given all the other players and stakeholders, it still takes a while. First round interviews run over 1-2 weeks depending on scheduling, then I bring back 1-2 finalists to meet with others on the team, which adds another 1-2 weeks. Reference checks take a few days, and then it’s a few more days for offer, response and negotiations. Ultimately that can add up to 4-6 weeks — too long, I know, but relatively quick in my organization.

    I don’t let candidates know they’re not moving forward until I have an accepted offer, because they will stay in the mix if the finalist drops out. I appreciate a thank you email/note within a few days of interview, and I’ll reply generically to a follow-up a couple weeks in, but any more contact beyond that is annoying. Sorry if you don’t like the lack of information, but it’s too much hassle to send “hang tight” updates if they’re not a finalist, and obviously you don’t want to be removed from the pool in case a finalist rejects an offer.

    Reply
    1. evandsp

      I should add — I always tell candidates at the interview that they’re in the mix until they hear otherwise, no matter how long it takes, and that it may be several weeks. I reply personally to each interviewee to inform them that we’ve filled the position.

      Reply
    2. BioPharma

      Yes, but… sometimes you can just rule someone out immediately, and won’t take them even if your top choice falls through. Do you let them know immediately?

      Reply
      1. evandsp

        That’s very rare — maybe once or twice in all my hiring. My resume review + HR phone screen means candidates who get to interview are plausible in the role.

        Reply
    3. hayling

      At my current job, there was a 1 month gap between when I applied and when the hiring manager called me to interview! I’d written them off at that point and was surprised when she called. There had been some changes (someone else in the dept left, they restructured the position a bit) and so they had put hiring for the position on hold.

      Reply
  6. Seen the same

    Hmmm. I’ve typically added a day or two (if they said Friday I give it until Tuesday) and then politely followed up via email reminding them they had said X date and I was just following up. Sometimes I don’t hear back until a few days after, sometimes I get a note immediately apologizing for the delay, etc. I realize things happen but I take them at their word and usually leave it with one follow-up. If they don’t respond within a week’s time I take it as a sign to move on.

    Sometimes it turns out that something did happen that prevented the process from moving forward and sometimes I suspect they had a first choice who passed or a new hire that decided it wasn’t a good fit, etc. Again, I respect that the hiring process is often bumpy but I’ve been burned too many times by too many organizations that never respond, never tell me I didn’t get the job, etc.

    On the flip side your letter reminded me of someone I didn’t know well who said he interviewed and then repeatedly followed up by leaving messages. He’d call, he’d have out of state people call (!), he’d drive by the building, etc. in the hopes of catching the HR person. People told him he should move on because he was coming across as a creepy stalker but it turns out there was turmoil with HR and he was hired. So…your mileage may vary. I don’t think think this route is a good one, though.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      But you’re not changing the outcome by following up so quickly. You might get a response sooner than if you waited but it’s not going to change the substance of that response.

      Reply
      1. Hiring Mgr

        What are you referring to? Seen the Same is saying she waits a day or two after the date she was told…Which is just a few days before you advise.

        Reply
            1. fposte

              I think Alison is saying that a day or two past the stated likely date is still too fast; it may be only a few days earlier than what Alison advises, but there really isn’t anything to be gained and might be something lost by following up earlier.

              Reply
  7. Laura

    “Can you tell me about your timeline for next steps and when you expect to be back in touch?”
    I’ve asked that before, and STILL didn’t hear about from hiring managers after interviews. So do I continue to ask that or just not bother anymore since it still doesn’t get me anywhere?

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      What it does is give you a reason to check back in after that timeline has passed, so I think it’s worth doing (and not every hiring manager will be like those).

      Reply
  8. BeezLouise

    This is a weird question, maybe, but how long after a phone interview should you wait before emailing? Is emailing right away too intense?

    Reply
      1. BeezLouise

        Right, sending a thank you. Okay, thanks!

        I’m always hesitant to send something right away, but never had a good sense of how long to wait, either.

        Reply
      2. turquoisecow

        I interviewed for a job and thought “I should send a thank you note,” but didn’t want to send it immediately, so filed it away for the next day.

        That morning, I got an email asking me if I was still interested, because I hadn’t followed up yet.

        Reply
  9. ZenJen

    I love that Alison doubles the timeline, no matter what the hiring manager says–it’s definitely an unspoken law of hiring! Great article!

    Reply
  10. eager

    so timely! I was just trying to decide if it was too soon to follow up. (I posted on last friday’s open thread but I was asked for references a week and a half ago, know that the hiring mangers talked to my references a week ago, and haven’t heard anything since then.) I’ll sit tight for now but oh boy is this tough.

    Reply
    1. Lily Rowan

      The last place I worked, you had to get approval all the way up the chain of command before making an offer to anyone. That could take weeks — it was incredibly frustrating, because what do they care about my low-level staff person?

      Reply
      1. eager

        good to know, thanks! someone else in the organization told me that, but I’m just so excited/anxious about the possibility.

        Reply
      2. Hiring for Gov

        I work in a government organization, and it gets even worse sometimes because even though we have to contact candidates for interviews after their basic eligibility is verified by HR, we are not allowed to tell them that they were rejected – only HR is allowed to do that. Further, the HR folks are not allowed to send rejection notices until someone is hired or the position is cancelled, which can be weeks or months. I wish we could let people that we are sure we would not hire know rather than making them wait, but there are so many rules that have to be followed. Regarding telling people that they’re always in the running, well, sometimes people just aren’t going to be in the mix. We’ve had a number of cases where I’d rather hire no one than hire a candidate who would not be a good choice.

        Reply
  11. Virginia Teacehr

    In public education in Virginia, it is highly dependent on whether or not your interview was to get you screened and in the pool, whether it was with a specific principal with a specific position that is vacant, and when school starts again. In localities where school starts next week, you should have very quick turnaround. If school doesn’t start until after Labor Day, they may still take some time to make a decision. Everyone squeezes in vacations in the summer, so not everyone is available who needs to sign off on a hire.

    Reply
    1. Virginia Teacher

      What an embarrassing typo in my name. Fat fingers on my iPad hit return instead of backspace!

      Reply
      1. MillersSpring

        I once was trying to choose a public relations firm. I had some qualms about a guy at one of the firms, so I went to their website to read about him. They had a press release written by him where he listed a past job title of public relations manager EXCEPT he had left a letter out of public–a very important letter. That carelessness on top of my other qualms was enough to nix that firm.

        Reply
  12. Virginia Teacher

    In public education in Virginia, it is highly dependent on whether or not your interview was to get you screened and in the pool, whether it was with a specific principal with a specific position that is vacant, and when school starts again. In localities where school starts next week, you should have very quick turnaround. If school doesn’t start until after Labor Day, they may still take some time to make a decision. Everyone squeezes in vacations in the summer, so not everyone is available who needs to sign off on a hire.

    Reply
  13. Emi.

    I have a question about the script in step #5. The phrasing includes a couple “deferential woman” tropes I’ve been told to avoid—is that just because you’re supposed to be deferential in the hiring process, or do you disagree with the advice about not sounding deferential in general, or what? (Men, I’m also curious to know whether this is the kind of phrasing you use, too.)

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I don’t think it’s particularly deferential, just politely acknowledging that you know these timelines aren’t written in stone. Deferential would be (to me) more like”I’m so sorry to bother you…”

      Reply
    2. Observer

      Allison gives this advice to everyone – male or female. When you are a job candidate, you need to be deferential, even though it really should be a mutual screening process.

      Reply
  14. Elizabeth H.

    Thanks for this comprehensive post. I have been telling other people this (I have a bunch of friends who are job searching) and nobody believes me when I say NOT TO FOLLOW UP except for thank you note. People have argued against me, saying it shows networking initiative, they have always got jobs they followed up for, etc. – I wonder if this could get some mileage in startup-y type places, which are mostly what my group of acquaintances tries to apply for, but seems very limited at best.

    Reply
    1. Jane Gloriana Villanueva

      You and I must be friends with the same people, because it feels like everyone I know argues with me on this! I have given up trying to convince them, but Alison’s earlier advice that I used when job hunting was invaluable then and worth remembering earlier this year. I was solo in my office for 2 months and HR foisted most of the hiring on me, I was really frustrated by one person who followed up incessantly. Worse was that the multiple levels of HR who had to approve my choice also chided me that this candidate was taking initiative. I had to tell them umpteen times that he clearly hadn’t listened to me, as I had given him a “no-earlier-than” timeframe that I did plan to abide by!

      I wonder about the startup stuff you mentioned, but I generally take 24-48 hours to send the thank you message, because I want it to be so specific to the job and not perfunctory. I remember an interview several years ago at a nonprofit that also employed a close friend of mine. I happened to have scheduled two interviews that day, 4 hours apart and across town, no big deal, but after interview 1 I needed to eat lunch, decompress, and review my notes for interview 2. Immediately after I got out of interview 2 and turned my phone back on, it blew up with texts and emails from my friend saying that she was SURE I had sent a followup but wanted to remind me, because the other two people her boss had interviewed that morning had already sent the thank you and he seemed to be leaning towards choosing one of them. I was flabbergasted — I had just left that office! I didn’t think that was typical for the industry but I started to draft a thank you for the person’s time, figuring I could follow up with specifics the next day. I was interrupted by a phone call offering me the job of interview 1. (I hadn’t even had time to thank them, and there we were, already discussing salary!)

      TLDR: Nothing ever goes just the way you expect in the process, but always allow more time than you think you and they will need, and let anything earlier be a pleasant surprise.

      Reply
    2. Cordelia Vorkosigan

      I was wondering — do you think there are fields where the constant follow-up is actually good advice? Like sales maybe? (I’m not in sales myself, but it seems like the kind of field where more “gumption-y” hiring advice might be more appropriate.)

      Does anybody work in a field where following up more quickly/frequently is expected? Just curious.

      Reply
        1. Cordelia Vorkosigan

          Ha, I should have known that question was already answered on this site! Thanks, Alison.

          Reply
  15. Sophie

    I went for a job about a month ago. They claimed to get back to me after a day or two, but it’s been a month. They sent an email 2.5 weeks ago asking if I was hired, when could I start, but I haven’t heard anything since. Should I give up hope?

    Reply
    1. MillersSpring

      If they emailed you after 2 weeks with some questions, they *have gotten back to you. And that’s a good sign! So, it’s now been another 2.5 weeks, you feasibly could email them to ask about the status.

      Reply
  16. ArchiveGoddess

    To add for academia: give even longer. Academics, for the most part are slower than tar in hiring.

    Reply
    1. Blue

      I was coming here to say this. In higher ed, months can pass before you hear anything negative OR positive.

      Reply
      1. Jessica

        I’m actually excited to see you say this.
        I was interviewed at a college on the 11th of July.
        I was told I’d know July 19, and I still haven’t heard anything.
        I was planning on emailing for an update this week, should I hold off until next week?

        Reply
        1. Jane Gloriana Villanueva

          Hold off until at least August 1, I would suggest. This is just based on one higher ed experience I had where it was 8 months from application to decision, and every “next week” actually equalled two months. They did get back to me, and they did respond during my occasional follow-ups (I tried to hold off for about 6 weeks each time after following up after only 2 weeks the first time.) but they couldn’t follow the time frame they hoped for, themselves. Good luck! It can be frustrating, I know. My Facebook “on this day” from 2014 features my near-daily angst about the wait, but better vented there than to a hiring manager who had his own concerns!

          Reply
        2. Chameleon

          Lol. I had an interview May 15th. On June 27th I got an email apologizing that their process was taking a little longer than usual. I have heard nothing since.

          Reply
          1. ModernHen

            There is definitely still hope for you. I submitted my application to a college in late January. First round interview was mid-April. Second round interview was late May. Negotiations for salary and start date started July 7 and took two weeks. Final offer for me to sign is due to arrive tomorrow in my mail box. Start date is mid-August.

            Reply
    2. Boris

      This really depends on where you are. I once had a massive delay in being informed about a job in academia: they told me they would be in touch by 5pm the day of the interview, and in reality they called at 9.30am the day after!

      Reply
  17. Kate

    I just spent 5 hours interviewing somewhere, they called all my references and put them on a conference call for 30 minutes each. AND still they never got back to me. I know the person who got the spot so I know I didn’t get the job. I know Alison’s advice, but it still makes me mad!

    Reply
    1. SheLooksFamiliar

      Kate, I’m in corporate staffing, and I’m doing a slow boil over this too. When someone interviews – and goes to some trouble to provide references – there is no excuse for the employer’s lack of follow up. It’s not pleasant to tell someone, ‘We hired someone else,’ but that’s what the staffing process is all about.

      Please know that not everyone is like that, and I hope other employers behave better than this.

      Reply
  18. BioPharma

    I wonder what the psychology is behind this. HR can easily grab a few examples and realize they tend to get back in 5 weeks. Do they continue to say “2 weeks” because each time, they really do think it could be that short? Or do they just think saying “5 weeks” would sound bad?

    Reply
    1. Emi.

      You may not be interviewing with HR, though. The head of the Spout Glazing Department may just be looking at his/her own calendar and figuring how long it’ll take to review all the interview notes and call references, and wouldn’t have the same perspective and data as HR.

      Reply
    2. Cordelia Vorkosigan

      I think it’s just the planning fallacy that all humans are subject to. Everybody is always optimistic during the planning stage, imagining how long it will take if things go perfectly. Nothing ever goes perfectly, so it always takes longer than you think it will!

      Reply
      1. JanetM

        I have seen, somewhere, the Rule of Estimating IT Projects: work out how long it will take to complete the project, double, and bump up to the next unit of measurement (Think it’ll take a week? Submit an estimate of two months.).

        Reply
    3. MillersSpring

      It’s different for every manager and every position. I generally may take 2 weeks to get back to spout painting candidates but 8 weeks on average to get back to teapot design director candidates. Finance may take 3 days to get back to clerk candidates and 2 weeks to get back to accounting director candidates. And if it’s the first time in many years that they’ve had to fill a position, they may not really know what their turnaround will be.

      And the turnaround can be slower in the summer months due to vacations by multiple decision makers. And in December, too.

      And I cannot emphasize this enough–Things Come Up: projects, indecision, delayed approvals, travel, informal hiring freezes, personal crises, etc.

      Reply
    4. SheLooksFamiliar

      I tell all my candidates pretty much the same thing because I know my company’s patterns:

      Candidate, you are one of X candidates in review, and there could be more as we get more referrals or applicants. We do our best, but this is not going to be a quick review process. This hiring manager is also dealing with (whatever I know they’re dealing with), and simply can’t focus on staffing as much as s/he would like. For the next 2-3 weeks, I may not have any feedback to share except ‘We’re still interviewing our initial candidate list.’ So if you don’t hear from me by 3 weeks from today, please don’t assume anything – but you’re welcome to email me in case I’m a little behind. And I will contact you as soon as I hear anything, even if it’s to tell you news I don’t like sharing.

      Not one person has gotten angry with me over this kind of preparation. Pretty simple, IMO.

      Reply
    5. Slightly Chilled Librarian

      The first couple of times I was hiring, I told interviewees with confidence that I would make a decision within 2 weeks. And I did. But my boss suddenly decided she wanted to meet my choice. And then HR took three days to make the offer because someone was out sick. And the top candidate wanted to negotiate. So…yeah, it can be optimism. The hiring manager may be telling you the timeline of the part of the process s/he controls.

      I would be honest if I really knew how long it would take, no reason not to.

      But I still remember the guy who emailed me on the day I’d said I hoped to have a decision, along the lines of “You said you’d get back to me today but I haven’t heard from you. Let me know the status…” as if he were my boss. Not a great approach for someone interviewing for a customer service role.

      Reply
  19. pinkyout

    Do you think there is a difference in following up with HR/Talent Acquisition vs the actual hiring manager? I would think that HR is more used to frequent follow-ups.

    I actually did end up getting a job recently, but I will admit I followed up maybe once or twice more than I should have. HR contacted me for a phone screen on May 2, and I followed up May 11 and May 23. They finally got back to me May 24!! After sending my thank you notes for my interview with a hiring manager on May 30, I followed up with HR after a week, and didn’t hear back until June 13.

    The whole process was excruciating, and in hindsight, I did not do myself any favors by sending an extra email. It just put me on edge that I looked desperate. However, since I actually was the best candidate, I somehow got away with it!!!

    Reply
    1. Allison

      They may be more used to it, and dealing with candidates is their job, but chances are they either don’t know where the hiring manager is on their decision, or there hasn’t been any change yet, or they do have a sense that you’re either a top candidate or you’re not, but don’t really want to reveal that information because things are still being decided, and they don’t want you getting your hopes up or getting upset.

      Reply
    2. MillersSpring

      HR likely is taking its direction from the hiring manager, who could have misc delays. Three weeks and two weeks are not bad at all.

      Reply
  20. Principal Pattie

    Specifically for teachers, since the OP mentioned it: keep an eye on the district’s board meeting schedule before freaking out. Practices vary, but some schools require a certain tier of applicants to be approved (for example, second round and above), and meetings may only occur monthly or bi-weekly.

    Reply
  21. Dee

    My favorite was when I interviewed in December, followed in January after the holidays, didn’t get a response, wrote them off.

    I got a response six months later telling me they’d gone with another candidate. Which I had kind of figured out for myself.

    Reply
    1. ThursdaysGeek

      I applied for a job in a January once and didn’t hear from them until June. They called for an interview, and the next day after the interview they called and offered me the job.

      It’s good to assume that after months of silence that the job went to someone else. Occasionally a pleasant surprise happens.

      Reply
  22. saffytaffy

    It’s funny that this letter got published, because we’re preparing to offer an education position to someone who would be moving to another state- and she interviewed in early May. At the time she asked me, “do you think I should cancel my road trip next week?”

    Reply
  23. Anonfornow

    No matter how many times I read in AAM that following up is mostly pointless, other than to “know” if I did or didn’t get a position, I sometimes still wonder if I’m doing something “wrong” by not doing it. I had a phone interview a week and a half ago, and she (hiring manager) told me that by the end of the day, she’d give the name of someone in the department to talk to about the position if I had questions (someone who would be my coworker, rather than manager). She said that if things went well there, she’d bring me in for an interview. It was her idea to connect me with someone, and she told me this at the end of the call, so I assumed the phone interview wasn’t a total dud. I didn’t really even think about sending a “thank you note,” because it was just a quick phone screen. And now, a week and a half later, it seems silly to ask for the contact info of someone in the department, because if she really saw me in the position, wouldn’t she have sent it to me already? And since it hasn’t even been two weeks since the phone screen, it seems pushy to ask as well. My “problem” lately has been that hiring managers have been giving me incredibly short time lines — the last one was “Someone will get back to you tomorrow, Monday at the latest, before the holiday on Tuesday.” I *know* that’s not enough time, but it’s hard to know when to follow up, or to know if I should even bother (or just assume I didn’t get the job).

    Reply
  24. JanetM

    My first job out of college was at the janitorial agency that cleaned the building where my Dad worked — he came home on a Friday and said, “They’re hiring janitors; go apply.”

    I went on Monday. While I was waiting I heard that they were also hiring a receptionist, so I asked to apply for that as well. I was interviewed on the spot and was told they’d get back to me by the end of the week.

    Not knowing any better, I called back on Friday morning to ask if they’d reached a decision. I was told no, and that was fine. Two hours later, I got a call back, asking if I could start that afternoon. Since I wasn’t working and didn’t have to give notice, I said yes.

    A year or so later, I happened across my resume and application in a file I’d pulled, and read the notes: “Do not hire. Too quiet.” Out of curiosity, I asked my manager why I’d been hired despite that evaluation. His answer? “You were the only one who called back.”

    To be fair, I should note that this was about 35 years ago, and customs have changed considerably since then! If I were applying now, I would certainly follow Alison’s advice.

    Reply
    1. MissDisplaced

      It’s funny. And yes, I’ve heard stories this from certain groups (like my parents) but even also back when I first entered the professional working world it was still somewhat like this (1990s). And worse, even showing up IN PERSON to “check back” about jobs. But it just doesn’t work that way anymore. I think they’d just be annoyed if you keep calling, provided you even get anyone.

      Reply
    2. Cafe au Lait

      My Mom’s advice was “always call to follow-up,” as she was in a similar situation to yours. She applied for a secretarial job, and when the date of notification passed, she called and inquired if someone had been hired. Apparently they offered the job to her over the phone.

      Reply
  25. School Psych

    I’m an educator and I personally found working with an educational recruiter to be really helpful to my out of state job search. They follow up with districts after your interview and help with the reference check/on-boarding process when you’re hired. The district pays the agency a finders fee, if you’re hired. Many agencies recruit for direct placements, so you would be a district employee. I know this is not the question the OP asked, but I had multiple district offers within a few weeks when working through an agency. When I applied through districts directly, I was waiting months to hear back and sometimes never did. This can be really frustrating, if you already have a set move date and need to have a job lined up.

    Reply
    1. Julianne

      Were you looking for jobs in public schools or independent schools? Would you mind sharing the geographic area? I only ask because I’ve never heard about this before! I teach in the U.S. Northeast and have only ever worked or seriously pursued jobs in traditional public schools (although I’ve had a couple of interviews with charter schools and private/independent schools).

      Reply
      1. School Psych

        I’ve worked for both charter and public schools in the US. I’m currently in the mid-west. I’m a related service professional and was a special-ed teacher before that. Districts typically work with search firms in my area when a position is hard to staff(speech, psych, special-education teachers, math/science, ESL) or in a geographic location that is less desirable. If the OP is in a major city and looking for positions that typically get a lot of applicants, it probably wouldn’t be that useful to work with a recruiter. They’re willing to contact districts on your behalf, but usually the districts that need this service are high-needs districts that have trouble attracting and retaining certified staff.

        Reply
    2. Josh

      This is helpful. My issue is we already moved for family and the district is just very high performing and difficult to get into. I previously moved from Florida to Pennsylvania and considered hiring a search firm. I’ll keep it in mind if I don’t find a job this school year.

      Reply
      1. School Psych

        I feel your pain. I applied to several districts that would be a closer commute this year(all high performing districts) and the process was insanely competitive. I am not sure if this is the case in your area, but in mine the better districts hire people they either already know or that have a sought after skill like ability to coach a sport. It might help to bring up extra-curricular activities you could lead, if you’d actually be interested in coaching. You could also try to get on the sub/volunteer list, if it’s important to you to work in a particular district, so they know you. I personally found the higher-needs districts to be a lot nicer to applicants during the application process and better about getting back to them.

        Reply
  26. MLee

    I have been through a lot of weird follow-up situations with my current job search (getting an offer and waiting an a written one then the employer disappearing, companies contacting me months after the fact), and your previous posts on this have been helpful.

    However, I think I finally stumbled upon a follow-up related to an interview that I’m not sure how to navigate. I had an interview where I met with multiple levels of people (main boss, direct manager, people who would be my peers) and one person missed by interview due to personal commitments. So, without any notice, she called and left me a message in the days following my interview during work hours to reach out to talk. So, I returned her call that afternoon after work but she was tied up but was able to answer the phone and state she would call me back later that day, and then…nothing. So, I’m not sure if the follow-up is on me on this point or if I should just wait to hear back from her?

    Reply
  27. Elizabeth the Ginger

    It’s still okay to follow up sooner if you get another offer but prefer the company you’re waiting to hear from, right? I’ve previously done that and found it useful in making a decision.

    Reply
    1. Undine

      I was going to say that it’s okay to follow up if you have information that substantially affects your status or timeline. Like, “I’ve just been offered a public relations position from a prominent Teapot Dome specialist, but the boss seems very demanding and I’m wondering what your timeline is,” or, “Remember that ABD on my resume? The professor in charge of my thesis committee found my dissertation in his filing cabinet under a saber-tooth tiger skull, and it’s a PhD now.”

      Just don’t convince yourself that you have something substantial to say when you really don’t.

      Reply
      1. MillersSpring

        Good advice, but I wouldn’t slam the other organization in your follow-up (such as “the boss seems very demanding”).

        Reply
    2. Julianne

      Yes, I think so. During my last job search I got two verbal offers on the same day – one from a school in a district where hiring was decentralized (approval from the superintendent/board was just to rubber stamp the school-based hiring committee’s decision), and one from a school in a district where hiring is very centralized and bureaucratic. I knew the written offer from the first school would follow quickly, but I wanted the other job more, so I called the principal of the second school and explained my situation. She was able to use that to get HR to expedite the paperwork and approvals needed to get me a written offer by the next day.

      In that case, it probably helped that I had already been offered the job; I think there’s a difference between “Could you hurry that written offer along so I can decline this other job offer confidently?” and “Could you hurry up and offer me a job so I can decline this other job offer?”

      Reply
    3. saminrva

      I did this during my last search. I got an offer from Org A but was also very interested in Org B where I’d interviewed around the same time. I called my contact at Org B, explained the situation, and asked if they had any update on their timeline. They called me back with an offer that day and I ended up taking it. I knew it was a gamble – they could’ve just as easily said they weren’t ready to make any offers and that would’ve been the end of it – but I figured I didn’t have much to lose since I would’ve been happy at Org A also. (This is in higher ed)

      Reply
  28. MissDisplaced

    Normally I follow a 2-week rule post interviews if I’m following up.
    But last week I broke a rule. I actually followed up after a phone interview with the recruiter. This was only because we had discussed timing and the “scheduling and arranging of interviews” next week and she had asked me about availability. So I did follow up very briefly via email to let her know I was interested in coming in and that, X, Y, Z days were good times for scheduling.
    I hope I didn’t blow it by doing that. Normally I’d wait, but it seemed like they were asking to make the scheduling easier. But of course, now I haven’t heard anything.

    Reply
  29. Yet Another Alison

    I have had situations where the employer would not respond to my follow-up messages so I marked them off my list and continued searching. Several times I have received a message after three months stating, from the non-responsive employer, that they are very interested and want to bring me in for a final interview. Keep in mind, after my interview I received NO response to my follow-up so I had not idea they were still interviewing or where I stood in the interview process. Each time, I respond to the company that I have gone with another employer as they never responded to ANY of my communications. They seem a bit indignant that someone is not going to wait around, even while employed, for three months, if they receive NO communication from an employer – especially after interviewing with 4 or 5 individuals. Companies – this is not 2008 – 2010 anymore. If you find someone you like, you may want to tell them that. Tell them where they stand.

    Reply
  30. Thinking Outside the Boss

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post! I’m a managing attorney for a state agency and everything Alison has posted is spot on.

    Here how interviews usually go at my agency. We strive for 2-3 weeks, but it rarely happens.

    Week one — interview week. We will do most of our interviews on Monday, but there will be always a couple of candidates who can’t do Monday, so they come in Tuesday. After the last interview Tuesday, the head of our agency will give us until Friday close of business to think about who we want to make an offer to. That means our next follow up will be the beginning of next week.

    Week two – reference vetting. We meet maybe late Monday or Tuesday to discuss the offer list. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we don’t. This alone could take to the end of the week. Even assuming we all agree, we then start checking references. Not all references are available immediately. It could take the rest of the week until we’ve cleared the reference for our first candidate. Sometimes we might check a reference on our second or third pick, if we’re not sure about the first pick committing.

    Week three and four – the offer. Our agency head likes to be the one to make the offers personally. Not a civil service requirement. She just likes to be the one to do it, even if the person will be working for me. However, she gets stuck in a lot of meetings. Tons of meetings. She also has to travel on state business. Even if she does call the candidate and the candidate immediately accepts, we still need the candidate to sign a written offer from us. HR will send it out once the okay comes from the agency head.

    Week five or six – wrapping things up. Rejection letters will go out once we have a written acceptance of our offer.

    If you call me before we wrap things up, I can’t comment on your candidacy, even if you’re the first pick. If I tell you an offer will be coming before my agency head makes the offer, I’ve now undermined my agency head and I’m not going to take a hit on my career so you can find out early. It won’t happen.

    Reply
  31. NikiBlue

    (apologies if this is a repeat; I didn’t see it scanning the other comments but I didn’t read them all!)

    The only other time I’ve followed up with a potential employer and that might be worth adding in to Alison’s great overview is when as the candidate, I have a competing offer. Usually at that point I’m far into the process (one of the final rounds of interviews) and I receive another offer for a less desirable position elsewhere. Then I think it is fair then to follow up with the my first choice place to let them know my own timelines have changed. I let them know they are my preferred choice but I would have to have an offer by a certain date to remain in consideration. Which is true – I would otherwise need to walk away. The one time I didn’t do this, the person seemed quite upset I didn’t let them know I had another offer as they were taking a long time following up with me because they were trying to get permission to change it from a short contract to a permanent position for me! They actually weren’t my first choice, so I was okay with it in the end. (It’s always taken me a long time to find a job or even get interviews, but does seem that I’m always in the position to pick between offers once I start landing things!)

    Reply
    1. ThatGirl

      Yes, I just started a new job today and I did press them a little for an offer I was pretty sure was coming, because I’d gotten a competing offer. It worked, but I’d never do it otherwise.

      Reply
  32. Chaordic One

    I’ve always wondered what HR departments think if they are told, “Thank you so much for your job offer. The interview was so long ago that I had almost forgotten about it. In the mean time I applied for and accepted an offer with one of your competitors, so I’m going to have to decline your offer. Thank you again, though.”

    I guess this is just what I’d like to imagine happens and that it probably doesn’t happen very often in real life. And even if it does, there’s probably another candidate to hire. There are almost always more job-seekers than jobs.

    Reply
  33. Josh

    Thank you so much for this response. I’ve been waiting for a response and my sister-in-law referred me to your site. Great reference and a great piece of information. This site is great!!!

    Reply
  34. char

    I once had a job coach who told me following up was vital… because she had gotten her job, as a job coach, by following up. According to her, the agency had forgotten about the hiring process somehow (???) and just gave her the job immediately when she called to follow up because they needed someone and she happened to have reminded them of her existence. Didn’t give me much confidence in the agency she worked for…

    Reply
  35. Annie

    I’m actually in this situation myself. I applied for a job with the federal government in December (I have a job currently but am looking for a new role). In February, I had a phone interview. In April, I had an on-site interview that well (I thought), but they mentioned that they may not be able to hire me right away due to some bureaucracy and said it could take weeks (or months) to get an answer. I thanked the people who interviewed me the next day. I didn’t hear anything back (either a yes or no) so I reached out a month later to see if they had any hiring updates (I didn’t hear back). Now it is July – do I reach out again or just take no answer as an answer?

    Reply
    1. Annie

      Edited to clarify: The day after the interview, I sent a thank you email and my potential boss said they enjoyed my visit as well, but they had to wait for the permissions to hire. When I sent a follow-up email a month later, I did not get a response.

      Reply
  36. Landshark

    Some advice to OP from a Virginia teacher (formerly public schools, now community college)… Some counties are amazing about following up. When I got the job offer to the job I got (which I ultimately shouldn’t have taken, but I won’t badmouth the district), I got the offer before they even read my follow-ups. For other counties, I only ever found anything out by noting that the position I applied for was no longer on their site. (Schools in bigger districts, such as those in Northern VA, seemed more likely to do this, perhaps because they get a massive applicant pool). If you haven’t heard anything after an interview and you’ve sent a thank you, I’d say keep an eye on their hiring page. You’ll see jobs appear and disappear in real time, and if you still see a job on the site, haven’t heard anything, and it’s past the time frame, then absolutely follow up.

    Best of luck, and keep on trying right up until August! The school where I worked hired someone (from PA, for that matter) on Friday for a Tuesday school start date one year.

    Reply
    1. Tuesday

      Haha, right?

      But also, is the llama wrangling job still available, does it offer dental, and where do I apply.

      Reply
  37. Molly

    It’s at least slightly comforting to know that I followed the above advice exactly after my last interview – though I haven’t heard back from my check-in email yet. I’m used to it, though it’s particularly frustrating when the hiring manager specifically says during the interview that he’s the type to call everyone back regardless of the outcome and then drops off the face of the earth.

    Also frustrating when you follow up with a job you flew out and took two days off to interview for and they reply to say the position had been filled that week – guess they weren’t going to tell me if I hadn’t asked? During this long-lasting job search I’ve learned to keep my expectations pretty low, but even then I often end up disappointed. Sorry for the negativity…it just gets disheartening after awhile.

    Reply
  38. Josh

    Thanks so much for answering my question Alison Green! Good news is that I was able to get a teaching job just 3 days after you answered my question. Turns out you were totally right. I did not follow up but this principal wanted this position filled before August and I was offered the position from HR this morning. Your advice to follow up with a “thankful” email I believe was a positive move on my part and will be a future practice of mine. I had to be patient even though it was only 2 days after the interview; however, I assumed I was not the candidate until getting the call from HR which alleviated much of the stress. This site has now become a bookmark for me to refer to for all types of professional advice. Keep up the good work and thanks so much for the expertise that was provided.

    Reply
  39. Philosophidian

    Sometimes, following up can lead to a surprise.

    After my very first job interview straight out of grad school, I was told that they’d be making the decision in about a week, and to check back if I hadn’t heard anything. But I was 25 years old and had less than no clue, so I agonized over it. They didn’t call me, so they obviously didn’t want to hire me, in spite of the fact that the hiring manager seemed to really like me. But they told me to call. But if they really wanted me, they would have called me.

    Back and forth with myself, in agony, for another two weeks. Finally, my mother convinced me that I should just call them. So I finally did.

    “Wait, did no one call you? [muttered epithets] We’ve been moving offices and I asked HR to call and let you know that. I’m glad you called!” etc.

    He asked me to come for a second interview right then, and I ended up getting the job. Turns out, he’d already decided to hire me and one other candidate. The second interview was for his boss to get to know me. But because everything was up in the air with the office move, HR c/wouldn’t proceed. It took almost three months between first interview and starting date, but at least it had a happy ending.

    Reply
  40. Anxious & Eager

    Hello,

    I had a call with HR last Tuesday about an open position at an in-house creative agency. I then had a call with the Hiring Manager on Thursday, which I think went well. At the end of the call, the HM said that they were exploring other candidates, but that the HR person would be in touch with me about next steps (which would be bringing me in for an in-person interview with the team). When I reached out to the HR person to get the HM’s email address, she responded with “I’ll be in touch with you very soon about next steps!” – this was last Thursday. It’ll be one week tomorrow and reading this article, I know this is still too early to follow up. But, given that I haven’t gotten an in-person interview yet, I am really anxious to schedule one. Given that she didn’t confirm an actual timing, is it too early to follow up at the end of the week on next steps?

    Thank you!

    Reply
  41. Chris

    I’ve been reading this post repeatedly for about two weeks now. Had a great interview on 8/31 with a tiny nonprofit; they said they’d get back to me by 9/11. Sent them a thank you immediately after the interview. Today is 9/21. Haven’t heard a peep. To make matters worse, I’d say it’s pretty common for me to never hear back from a place after an interview. I’ve had 18 interviews this year, 2 never got back to me and a 3rd only after I sent them a “Hi, did you make a decision?” email 6 weeks later. I felt better after this interview than I have in a long, long time. Do I still hold on to hope or just move on?

    Reply
  42. Laurie

    A potential employer flew me from Ohio to Denver, Colorado for a second interview along with other candidates (not sure how many). The entire department sat in on the interview. The hiring manager said he would call me with his decision the following Monday which he did, however he said they had not made a decision yet and would get back to me in a day or two. It has been almost 2 weeks and I haven’t heard anything else yet. Should I just wait for him to contact me or should I reach out to him to ask if he needs anything else
    from me? I really want this job, but I don’t want to screw it up by pestering him.

    Reply
  43. makeyourownlifenotsomeoneelse's

    This whole game is ridiculous and very pompous. Guess what hiring managers…..you’re not that important. There has been and will always be thousands of jobs just like the one your ego is power tripping on. How about this for a change….be a normal person and realize that a job is a job and not life. Treat people with respect as if they are your equal, because regardless of a piece of printed paper that you don’t get to bring with you when you die, they are. It’s laughable that you would pass on a good candidate just because they called too soon. The day will come when the economy shifts back to an employees economy. Hiring managers have clearly been getting their asses kissed for way to long.

    Reply
  44. Ann

    Had a great phone interview today, and was told the next steps would be an assignment that would be due in a few days, the details for the challenge would be forwarded to me after the call. At the end of the interview (much to my surprise) I was told they had not received my resume via the online platform they were using, so as soon as I got off the phone I forwarded my original cover/resume, and thanked the interviewer for the opportunity to discuss the position. I haven’t received anything back from them, including the details for the project! My heart says if I haven’t heard from them by midday tomorrow, I could reach out with a gentle nudge knowing they’ve discussed their timeline (due by Friday) or should I just wait? I’m very keen on the position, and don’t want to blow it!

    Reply
  45. Candice

    When I went for my interview myself and the HR administrator got along very well we chatted prior to the actual interview and he came across as being a very nice chap. I went for the interview the Wednesday they told me they get back to me before end of the week…I let it go the entire week and sent a short email on Monday following up on the status the HR guy told me things are looking good from his point of view but he does not want to create an expectation they just waiting on the COO but they know they need to finalize things… At my current work place we book flights and things in advance for the following year…so we are now planning all those things and the “other job” has still not come back to me and I am worried as I do not want to schedule flights and things for next year only to find out I get the job and I then leave my current employer in a predicament…So when do I follow up?

    Reply

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