how often to ask for updates when you’re in the running for a job

A reader writes:

I recently posted my resume to a job board and got a response soon after. The employer (a news director) emailed and asked me to call him, which I did. On the phone he talked about the position and had me complete a quick script writing test, which I emailed back. After submitting it I didn’t hear anything from him, and a week later I emailed to ask for an update on the hiring process. He wrote back that they were still looking at candidates and he would contact me if he still needed anything else.

Should I still continue to ask for updates? Yesterday would have marked a week since the first request for an update. I’m trying to use restraint and not contact him again about it until next Wednesday or Thursday. Overall I don’t want to appear pushy, but still very much interested.

The thing to do here is not just to contact the employer asking for “an update.” That can feel like nagging if you do it more than once, and it’s also not as likely to give you particularly useful information.

Instead, you want to ask something more specific — their timeline for next steps. Say something like this:

“Would it be possible for you to give me a sense of your timeline for next steps?”

He will either (a) be vague or (b) give you a timeline for next steps.

If he’s vague, it’s either because (a) he really doesn’t know or (b) he doesn’t consider you a top candidate at this point but also not an obvious rejection, so he’s waiting to see how the rest of the candidate pool takes form.

If he does give you a timeline for next steps, then you reiterate your interest and then sit tight and wait. If that timeline passes without word from him, then you follow up and say something like this: “I’m really excited about this position and wanted to check in on your timeline.” If you want, you can add something like, “If you think I’m a promising candidate, I’d be glad to make myself available for an interview at your convenience.”

Also, read this post on employer time versus candidate time and do your best to adjust your time zone.

{ 16 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    This is great advice. Unfortunately these days most employers don't bother to let you know you didn't get the job even if you try to follow up.

  2. Anonymous*

    From my long period of jobsearching, I learned that other than sending in my thank you notes, there is no point in following up further. The few companies who were interested in hiring me, contacted me whether or not I contacted them. And those who were not interested, I wouldn't hear anything from them either way.

  3. Anonymous*

    Hello everyone,

    I asked the question above. Thanks for answering AskAManager.

    In my nearly long job search only a handful have ever followed up with me, so I understand what the commenters are saying as well. It's very frustrating. Those who responded to me said no of course, but I appreciated their answers so much it numbed the frustration of constant rejection.

    Anyway, thanks again!

  4. Kirk Baumann*

    Good post. Following up to just get an "update" is not the best use of that time. You're right – asking for a timeline will help.

    It's tough to be patient as a job seeker, because what has only been a week seems like an eternity. Remember, on the flip-side, the recruiter or hiring manager may view this time period as very short. With hundreds, maybe thousands of applicants for each job these days, it's good to remember to practice patience. Wait 10 days, then follow up. Be tenacious, but kind.

    Keep up the great work and good luck to those in the job search! AskAManager has great advice. :)

    Kirk Baumann
    Director of Career Connections
    SIFE USA –

  5. Natalie Loopbaanadvies*

    I am always hesistant to contact a company for to follow up on my application. It's nice to hear that there are questions that I can ask them directly. From their answers, perhaps, I'd be able to read between the lines. :-)

    Natalie Loopbaanadvies

  6. Anonymous*

    Companies do not respond to your request for a time line.

    They are conducting their own business, which, sadly, does not mean hiring you or anyone else is a priority.

    Even if hiring you would help them save time and make more money.

    They have forgotten about you, so you should forget about them and focus on getting the next interview.

  7. Ask a Manager*

    Anonymous, some companies do respond. (Others don't.) You don't know which you're dealing with so it's worth trying.

    I agree, though, that you shouldn't dwell on them.

  8. JC*

    What happened to professional courtesy? I went on two interviews with an institution (one with a search committee and the other with two department heads), and since the interview, I haven’t heard a thing. I even called the HR rep, two weeks after the second interview, left a message, and no reply. I totally respect an interviewer’s right to not hire me, but what ever happened to thanking an interviewee for his or her time? Why is it okay to invite a person back for a second interview, only to leave the person in limbo for weeks or months. I think most employers know within minutes into an interview whether they intend to hire a person or not. Why not just send a courtesy email or letter letting the person no, “thanks, but no thanks?” My situation makes me believe that people these days have no sense of decency. I work for an institution that collaborates with the no response institution. In the interview, the dept. head and I talked about the various people we both knew. There is a very real possibility that we (dept. head and I) might cross paths in the future, at an event or something. Don’t I warrant a “it was nice meeting you, but…” letter? Is it just me, or is professional courtesy a white unicorn? I want to believe that people, for the most part, are considerate and kind, but I’m starting see clouds where I once saw rainbows. End of rant :-)

    1. CA*

      I would have to totally agree with you on this one JC…Empolyers are very RUDE these days they seem to have all the cards in there favor and they know it! But what happen to Professional common courtesy back when they seem want professional and courtesy from you…I think something has been lost these days from the empolyers

  9. Jillian*

    I understand every hiring manager/committee/HR department is different but I guess I just want another opinion. I interviewed for an Internship Program just over 2 weeks ago. I had a short but great phone interview, the interviewer told me that not only was he interested in me for 2 different internships but also for a potential permanent position. He said if he hadn’t heard from me by early to mid next week to follow up with his assistant. By Wednesday afternoon I sent the assistant an email. That was 12 days ago, I don’t know if I should send another follow up to check their timeline but I get so frustrated when people tell me they really like me for a position and then I never hear from them again. I know if they like me they will contact me but:

    1. Is 12 days enough time in between followup emails?
    2. Is it possible that in that time they have found someone more qualified and I’ve been passed over?
    3. Is it really taking this long to make a decision?

      1. Jillian*

        Well Alison you were right. After 20 days I heard back from them apologizing repeatedly for the delay but that I would hear from someone in the next 24 hours for the next steps. I always knew you were right but the wait can make a person crazy! Thank you for always being so helpful.

  10. Anonymous*

    OK…I have a question.

    I had a phone interview with one lady on Monday and she scheduled a second interview with the boss lady the next day, so a day after that I sent a thank you note and she didn’t tell me anything about my application, she just thanked me for coming… something like this…

    It was a pleasure meeting with you also. Thank you so much for taking the time to come in and visit with us. Have a nice day.

    So, just curious, should I send a follow up letter? They did tell me they need someone ASAP. So, just curious how long is that ASAP?

    Thanks for answering.

  11. Allen*

    So I applied for a job that is in another city (2 hour drive). I used my friend’s address (with permission of course) to help boost my resume a little. So after the phone interview (which went really well), I did tell them I live in a different city. No problem.

    The scheduling was not a problem since I was flexible enough from my current job to be able to meet with them for the two personal interviews. The interviews were great (first one got dragged out since we went off tangent quite a few times) and was told after the second interview (last Wednesday), they would need a few days to decide if they need a third interview or decision would be made.

    It’s been a week and have not gotten a response even after a follow up email on the day of the second interview. Usually they would respond either immediately or within a few days. I know I should not try to dwell on it but I really wanted this job and I thought my chances were good. Would it be alright to ask for update like what you written in the blog, or just wait patiently (and be tormented! jk)

      1. Allen*

        Thank you so much Alison! I was afraid that I would not get an answer this soon (especially not this quick). I may or may not get the job, but after reading your blogs at least now I know what to expect and what to do for future interviews. Thanks again!

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