what to say when following up on a job interview

I probably get more questions about how to follow up on a job application or job interview than any other other topic.

If you’re like most job seekers, the post-interview stage of the job hunting process can cause a lot of stress: If you follow up, what should you say? How can you be sure that you’re striking the right balance between interested but not desperate? And what exactly should you be asking for, since presumably you’d know if they’d already decided to hire you?

Ideally, you planned ahead for this moment by asking in the interview itself what the employer’s timeline was for next steps. If you did that and the timeline you were given passes, then you have a ready-made reason for politely following up. In this case, you can write a quick email saying something like this:

“Hi Jane, you’d mentioned that you were hoping to be ready to move forward on the Communications Manager position by the end of the month, so I wanted to check in with you. I’m very interested in the role, even more so after our last conversation, and would love to know what your timeline looks like moving forward.”

Now, if you didn’t think to ask for a timeline in your interview, you can still send a similar email. Wait about two weeks from your interview before checking in, and say something like this:

“Hi Jane, I wanted to touch base with you about the Communications Manager position. I’m still very interested in the role. Do you have a timeline you can share for the next steps in the hiring process?”

 Note in both these examples that you’re not simply asking for an update on how the search is going. That because that isn’t as likely to produce the information that you’re really interested in, and it’s also easier to ignore, especially if the hiring manager doesn’t have anything definite to share yet. You’re also not just asking, “Did I get the job?” (After all, if they’ve decided to offer you the job, you’ll know – because you’ll be contacted with a  job offer.) Instead, you’re asking for something quick and easy to provide, and something that will give you a better sense of what to expect next: an updated timeline.

Other things to remember when writing your follow-up note:

  • Keep it short. Hiring managers are generally busy, so don’t send three paragraphs when a few short sentences will do. Be friendly and polite, but get straight to the point – and remember that you’re demonstrating your communication skills here just as much as you were in your cover letter and your interview. Be direct and concise. (Plus, you’re more likely to get a response is the recipient doesn’t have to wade through long paragraphs of text to find out what you want.)
  • Be conversational. You want the hiring manager to be able to picture working with you, so write the way you’d write to a colleague. Your tone should be warm and not overly formal or stiff. (Don’t go overboard in that direction, of course; you still need to be professional. But there’s no need to take on the overly formal tone of an old-fashioned business letter.)
  • Don’t be demanding. You might be frustrated that you haven’t heard anything back, especially if the employer’s own self-imposed timeline for getting back to you has passed. But don’t let it show. Hiring takes time, and other work often gets in the way. Sounding annoyed or pressuring the hiring manager to make a decision before she’s ready to is a good way to have that decision be “no!”

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{ 31 comments… read them below }

  1. Rich*

    Solid advice. I’ve been working on a post about the same. It’s the most common question I get too. Will definitely include a link to this piece.

    I find myself telling a lot of people to relax.lol. They get so worked up about the thought of losing the opportunity by following up. My thing is, not following up doesn’t increase the likelihood of getting the job. But if you’re not gonna get it, not following up is just delaying the inevitable. You’ll either get an update on where things are or you’ll get closure. Both of which will give you peace of mind.

    1. Jenna*

      So should I reach out again????? haha
      I emailed a day after my interview (last week), thanking the company, etc.
      I never got a reply back, or a call back. Is it safe to say I didn’t get the job?
      Or should I call for closure?
      This job search thing is not easy!!! =P

      1. The IT Manager*

        Did you get a timeline on when they would make a decision? A week is very short time. Perhaps they are still interviewing others candidates. If you do not know their hiring timeline, you should wait for two weeks from your last message to them and ask them if they have a timeline for the decision.

        Then put it out of your mind and keep job hunting

        1. Sienna*

          I am in a situation where I had 3 great interviews with a company and things seemed very promising. Then the hiring manager called me last Monday and said she was now getting pushback from the new HR lady that I was going to be remote (when they originally sought me out and told me working remote was fine). The manager was going to be having a meeting with HR the next day and said she would call me that evening. I never heard from her. I followed up the next day with a quick email and still have not heard anything. It has been another week now. Should I follow up again? I know it doesn’t sound promising and I would rather get the firm no rather then the dragged out maybe there is still chance.

  2. Gilby*

    What a perfect post for me! I am in this same exact situation now. I had a job interview about 3 weeks ago from tomorrow. I sent the thank you’s to both people and got a nice email back from the manager.

    I emailed him 2 weeks later with a simple “I am still very interested in working for XXX, I feel I would do well with my skills and do you have a timeframe for making a decision”. Not exact words but simple and short without being a pest.

    I got an email a day later saying they are “finalizing the process” and HR will be back to me shortly. That was last Wed.

    It’s driving me batty waiting! I have interviewed with them before and they are great to talk to and have always followed up so I have no reason to believe they are going to blow me off. I know many times it just takes a while with so many things going on at their own jobs let alone making a decision.

    Hopefully I will hear from them this week. Although I want the job, I really just want an answer!

    1. Tocallornottocall*


      I’m in similar situation but the HR lady who interviewed me specifically said not to call or email to follow up because they have a high volume of people doing it. She said she will forward my paperwork to the manager as soon as things are not as busy since they hired a lot of new grads recently. It’s been almost 4 weeks and I haven’t heard anything! She said I was professional and she seemed to like me but I’m losing hope at this point.

  3. The Other Dawn*

    I’m glad to see this post. I’m looking for a job for the first time in 17 years and this blog has a wealth of information. I just applied for a federal job and their time frame is 60 days. Glad I asked the hiring manager, otherwise I’d be thinking about it nonstop.

    1. thenoiseinspace*

      State positions have a similarly long timeline – from the time I applied for my current position to the time I was hired was 5 months. We’ve also had one position open for at least 6 weeks now (maybe 8) and a second open for about 2, and our manager is doubtful we’ll have either of them filled by Christmas. It definitely slows down the office. Rest assured: if they could speed up the process, they would!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Actually, a longer time frame is perfect for me. The company went out of business in September and my last day is at the end of November. So then I’ll get a nice break and be able to get my surgery taken care of, clear my head and enjoy time off around the holidays for once. :) I’ve been working straight through for 22 years now. A break is much overdue.

  4. Waiting*

    I am also in a similar situation. Have not heard in last 3 weeks after the 3rd interview, which also went very well. Based on my interviews I am definitely a top 3 candidate for the job.

    Here is my situation:
    Applied Online: Aug 4th
    HR Called: 20th Aug
    1st In person interview: Aug 28th
    2nd Phone interview: Sep 16th
    3rd in person interview: Oct 8th

    Sent a follow up email on Oct 21st. No response received

    It has been a week and I am contemplating on sending a single line follow up email perhaps later today. I think they may be interviewing some other candidate along with me or there could be so many other things. the hiring manager could be on a vacation. But I did not receive a response. A response would be really nice. I would like to get this job, but if I don’t get it I would want to know sooner rather than later.

    Looking for advise from folks. Perhaps that will help me reduce my anxiety :)

    1. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

      Is there someone else you can follow up with? It is possible that your e-mail ended up in someone’s junk or got overlooked. Or like you mentioned they could be on vacation or many other things. Maybe e-mail the last person you interviewed with and just reiterate your interest. Or give the recruiter or HR Person a call. If they are on vacation then they might have an out of office message. Then just leave a polite message letting them know that you are still very excited about the position and look forward to hearing about next steps. I agree, someone should be getting back with you, even if it is just to say that the process is taking longer than anticipated and someone will be back in touch when a decision is made. Sadly, some companies are really bad about this. Good luck!

      1. Waiting*

        Thanks, My contact has been the HR person throughout. There was a point when HR even apologized to me for a drawn out process as the hiring manager has been busy. That was between the 2nd and the 3rd interview. Well she has called me earlier to set up the 2nd and 3rd interview. I am hoping that they are either interviewing more people and/or the hiring manager is busy. From what I understand that although this position is open but it may not be like a top priority fort hem to fill (at least in a hurry). This position has been open since 4 months.

        Actually the last time I followed up I got an OOO as the HR person was out for one day. I have sent a follow up, let us see what happens :)

  5. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

    At my company the hiring managers are notorious for taking a long time to make hiring decisions. We have a long interviewing process with many steps and it can be frustrating for candidates because they don’t really know right away where they stand in the process (I am personally not a big fan of our long interviewing process, but that’s for another blog!). I make sure that I explain everything to candidates in the beginning so that they know what to expect. Most people act really understanding and remain professional, but every so often I will get someone who lets their frustrations show through. A couple of months ago I had to tell a candidate that a hiring manager decided to put the position he was interviewing for on hold, he wasn’t too happy but said that he understood. I told him that I would be back in touch if anything were to change and wished him luck etc… since then, this guy has contacted me at least twice per week asking me if I can give him an update… which I don’t have as nothing has changed. The position is still on hold and the manager has told me that should be decide to open it back up again, he will let me know. Anyway, so I have responded to this candidate’s messages politely each time, but the last few e-mails he has sent me have been really passive aggressive and then the last one was really rude. I should anonymously send him this blog posting :)

  6. Jillyan*

    Um not exactly on topic but can we all agree that Alison’s avatar has adorably added a hat and scarf? Winter is coming.

  7. Wren*

    I’ll live if you can’t fix it, but I can’t ever get the older blogspot posts to load. There’s a lot of browser activity, but nothing manages to load at all.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Which post are you having trouble with?

      (If it helps, you can just change askamanger.blogspot.com to askamanager.org in the URL, but I know that’s a pain.)

      1. Wren*

        I think it’s probably all of them on blogspot or all of them older than a couple of years. I’m fine withchanging the URL; hadn’t really thought that would work.

        You’ve been doing this for so long, with such a high per day post count, I don’t really mind that much as a new reader hat I can’t ream the odd post, since ther is so much I can, it might as well be unlimited. Thanks for doing what you do :)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’ve gone through and fixed them all! Or at least I think I have. Please let me know if you find any more! (You can just comment on any post you find with a bad link and I’ll fix it.)

  8. Becca*

    I’ve had 2 interviews in the last month. Both went extremely well. The first one went an hour and a half and it was not all related to the position. I felt I was going to get a call. When I didn’t I sent a follow up email. Kept it short. The response was they lost an account and could not bring me on board. I thought that was weird because they told me in the interview they were “turning down” work and that one of their employees was overloaded so my job would be to take some of the load off him. They indicated they had many clients.

    The second one was a week ago. I have not sent a follow up but that one also went over time and we had a nice chat about other people we know in the industry, etc. They said they were making a decision “very soon” and needed to get someone on board for a new client they were bringing on. The person I interviewed with said ” You will be getting a call very soon” not maybe, not probably but very soon.

    I am wondering if someone is bad mouthing me. Not someone I would use as a reference but someone who I might know mutually with the interviewer…how can I find out discreetly if there is someone saying negative things?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You could certainly have a professional-sounding friend check your references … but those two incidents sound pretty par for the course and not indicative of a glaring problem with you.

  9. Waiting*

    After 3 great interviews and 2 simple follow up emails later if you don’t receive any response, is it safe to assume that you have not got the job.

    I wonder if they have decided someone else why wont they jut let me know. Or if the hiring is getting delayed or something they can tell me to wait. Or should I think they just dont want to respond to me untill they have a solid answer. my be they have already given an offer to someone and waiting for them to join and then tell me that I am not selected. Is it a common practice in HR?

  10. Erin*

    I applied for a job 2 weeks ago and sent a follow up e-mail this morning. I debated whether or not to do it, but I’ve heard this is a very tough place to get into and figured I didn’t have anything to lose. I got an e-mail back from HR about an hour later which said they have a long hiring process, and that my application and resume are “still being processed and under review”. I’m glad I did it-it did give me some peace of mind as I was kind of expecting to get something along the lines of “you weren’t chosen” or “the position has already been filled”.

  11. So Anxious!*

    I had a great interview on Monday, the woman told me she really liked me, that she wanted me to meet the team, and that she’d follow up with me in a day or so to schedule a time to meet the team. I sent a thank you email the following morning, asked a few questions and said I’d look forward to hearing from her. Now it’s Thursday and I still haven’t heard from her and I’m freaking out! I shouldn’t follow up again, right?

  12. Naomi Johnson*

    I had a great interview a couple of weeks ago and was told I would hear something the following week. I did not hear anything and so followed up with hr by the phone and was told she had not received feedback but would chase and come back to me that day. I did not hear anything. Does this mean I’ve not been successful, or should I follow up again and if so, when?

  13. interviewee*

    I had an interview for a different position within the same company. The interview went pretty well. The interview lasted 2 hours with three different individuals. I have gotten three follow up calls for clarification. The last call was to confirm if I have informed my current manager of my interest in another department, which I have. I still haven’t heard back. Does anyone have any advice for me?

  14. StillWaiting*

    I interviewed a week ago and have followed up with 2 emails, 3 phone calls. This is a sales related position, so I figured following up this many times is not overdoing it. The interview went great, and now its driving me crazy that they are not responding back. Need a no or yes….that’s it. It drives me crazy. The position is not a position which would take weeks to decide. Each time I called, I left a message to get back to me. Are they blowing me off?

  15. Patiently waiting NOT!*

    I just found this post and I hope to get some advice. I interviewed for a receptionist position at this big company. The interview went well and was told I would hear from them when a decision was made. Its been a week the position doesn’t start until a month from now. But I’m going crazy I haven’t heard anything don’t know if I should follow up maybe when its been 2 weeks??

  16. Getting Nervous*

    I interviewed 4 weeks ago. The day of the interview, 2 of the employees there told me unofficially that I had already been hired. So I went home and waited patiently. Last week, I heard again from another source that I have been hired. Still nothing official from the company though. I’m starting to get worried. I feel like it is too late to send the “Thank you for the interview” email, and I don’t really want to call and ask if I have the job or not (that might sound rude/impatient).

    1. Getting Nervous*

      Follow up to my own question… I also worry that maybe they sent something and it got lost in the mail… and the more time that goes by, the company might think I’ve changed my mind and hire someone else.

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