how to check on the status of your job application

When 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 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.

After you submit your application. It can be tempting to contact the employer after you’ve submitted your application and ask where things stand. But while it’s an understandable question, it’s best to resist the temptation to ask, at least for a while. Once you’ve submitted an application, the ball is in the employer’s court. It might take them a while to sort through applications (and they may not even start that process until weeks after you sent yours in), but they’ll get in touch if they want to talk with you.

If you absolutely must follow up at this stage, wait at least two weeks after applying, and then send a short email saying something like this: “I recently applied for your __ position, and I just wanted to reiterate my strong interest. I think it might be a great match, and I’d love to talk with you about it when you’re ready to begin scheduling interviews.” Note that you’re not asking for a response – you’re simply highlighting your interest. That’s because most employers don’t like to field follow-up questions before they’ve even decided if you’re a strong candidate, and it’s not good to annoy employers at this stage.  Note, too, that you should use email for this rather than calling, for the same reason.

If a month has passed and you haven’t heard anything, assume that you’re not being considered and mentally move on. It’s still possible that the employer might contact you, but you’re better off not agonizing about it and instead putting it out of your mind.

After a job interview. The first thing to do is to realize that it may take a while to hear something after your interview, even if you felt like you had momentum. Hiring often takes much longer than applicants expect to it – and even longer than the employers themselves expect, and employers are notorious for leaving applicants hanging after interviews.

The best thing you can do is to end your interview by asking what the employer’s timeline is for next steps. If you do that and that time passes, then you have a perfect opening to follow up with a  quick email, explaining that you remain very interested in the job and asking if they have an updated timeline.

But if you didn’t remember to ask that at the end of your interview, then within a week or two of your last contact, it’s fine to send a short email asking when they’re likely to move forward with next steps.

Keep in mind here that you’re not so much asking for the status of your application as you simply asking about the timeline for next steps. The reason for that is that they might not be able to give you an answer about your “status” – they might be waiting for feedback from other interviewers, or waiting to meet with other candidates, or a decision-maker might be out of town, or the person you’re asking might simply not know. Or, the company might have a policy of not notifying candidates about their status until final decisions have been made. As a result, this type of query can lead to you getting no response, or a response that isn’t useful. So instead, ask about the timeline; that’s a query that’s easier to respond to with information that you’ll find useful.

I originally published this at U.S. News & World Report.

{ 25 comments… read them below }

  1. Another Anonymous Person*

    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.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      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.

  2. Tuesday*

    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?

  3. Greg*

    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.

    1. Sarah G*

      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.

      1. Greg*

        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.

  4. Rob Bird*

    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?

  5. Stephanie Borden*

    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?

    1. Greg*

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

  6. Abigail*

    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.

    1. Stephanie*

      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.

  7. Tina Hill*

    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.

  8. Anonymous*

    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.

  9. Mieko*

    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.

  10. neshia*

    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…

  11. Utkarsh*

    I had forwarded my resume to the manager but he didnt reply and when I followed up he replied – “I have put your profile across HR and business teams. Will keep you posted.”. I just thanked him after that, but its been quite a long time. Should I ping him again or leave it?

  12. nancy*

    What about employment test? What if I went in for a test.. and have been in touch with the recruiter couple of times in regards to this position.. how do I follow up if they have finalized the candidates for the interview? .. I am nervous, partly because I will be going to vacation soon.. and don’t want to seem like I am pushing them to give me the result.

  13. Shevante W.*

    Hello There!

    I called a company to inquire about a job posting they had listed on their career board. I wasn’t sure how long the job listing had been up there, so wanted to see if it was still any good. I lucked up and spoke with HR directly! She informed me that the position is still open and that they are currently hiring and looked forward to viewing my resume! My question is, should I call her back to let her know that I submitted the application? I gave her my name in the beginning of the call but not sure if she’ll remember me amongst all the other applications she may receive. Also don’t want to be a bother or come off as too “pushy”. Any advise?

  14. JOANN*

    I interviewed for the job last thursday and was verbally offered the job the following monday. She emailed me two days ago with” your tentative start date Feb 17th but still waiting on HR”… should i call for a follow up on my status on my offer letter or wait?.. since i have not recieved an email or anything in the mail.

  15. Sunaina*

    This is what happened with me. A friend of mine forwarded my resume to his recruiter. She immediately contacted me and we talked about general HR stuff etc etc. Then she set up a technical interview with a senior manager and things went well. During this time, the job was not totally where my skill set was but nevertheless i was interviewed. The senior manager gave a go ahead and I was flown on site for a face to face. I had three face to face interviews with three different people. The same evening the recruiter called me and told me that the team thought I was a better fit with another practice. She mentioned a recruiter from another practice will contact me within a week. One week went to two and no one contacted me. I followed up with her and she emailed saying a recruiter will contact me. A week after that the other recruiter called me. She then set up an interview with a manager. The call went well and I was forwarded to the senior manager. They did not get me onsite as I already had an onsite interview. This was via skype. This call went well too and after 2 days the recruiter called me and made me a verbal offer over the phone. I accepted the offer and she said she will send the written offer by mail after doing some due diligence. A week went by and there was nothing in the email. I emailed her and she did not reply. Its been 10 days now. I called her and there is no response. At this stage what should I assume. They are a big prestigious consulting firm. Any thoughts

  16. Jakovia*

    I work for McKesson and we work the back end physician billing accounts for UTHealth. I applied for a position to work for UT. I deal directly with some people there and shot one of the ladies an e-mail inquiring about the position. Fortunately, the position is within the dept of the lady I emailed. She told me if I was interested to submit my app and keep her updated. I applied on via the website on Sunday 3/08/15 and the status of my app went from ‘applied’ to ‘prospect’ within two days. When I got back to work that Monday 3/10/15 I sent the same lady I emailed letting her know I applied. My question is, what exactly does prospect mean in this situation and should I be expecting a call? When to follow up? And how to bring up a pre-planned vacation if I indeed get an interview??

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