Picture this: You just walked out of an interview for a job you’d kill for. Your outfit is on point and you’re feeling confident that you totally rocked it. As soon as you get back home, you check your inbox to see if, just maybe, they’ve already emailed you to say that you were by far the most fabulous candidate and the job is yours. (Note: If this has ever actually happened to you, please call us and tell us what you did. Seriously.)
Since the company probably has yet to contact you, the ball is still in your court. For the next couple of weeks, it’s your job to make sure they know how badly you want the job and that you’re the right gal for it. Lucky for any collegiette looking to make a great impression after the interview, Her Campus has rounded up some dos and don’ts of how to follow up.
DO make sure you know the hiring timeline
Despite our wishes, it’s rare that a company hires someone on the spot at the interview itself. Most hiring takes weeks or months of searching and interviewing to find the right person for the job. In order to start off on the right foot with following up after an interview, it’s crucial that you know the employers’ timeline.
Amy Smith, assistant director at the Hofstra University career center, says that the post-interview waiting game is much easier if you have a timeframe to work with. “To make sure you don’t cross over the ‘pushiness’ line in your follow-up, definitely ask questions during the interview about the next steps in the hiring process so that you already have answers to your follow-up timeline,” she says.
There will be plenty of time after your interview to check your email obsessively and watch your phone like a hawk for word from the employer. Knowing approximately when you should hear back not only eases your mind, but also makes it less likely that you’ll seem too aggressive.
DON’T trip up your timing
After you leave an interview, there a few things you need to do. The first is to call your mom back and relieve her of her anxiety to hear how it went. The second is to send a thank you note. While it may seem tempting to rush home and send one right away, it actually pays off to be more patient.
“Immediately following an interview, you should do nothing,” says Paul Bailo, author of The Essential Digital Interview Handbook. “It doesn’t help the candidate at all to rush home and send a thank you letter right away. It actually makes you look overeager.”
To avoid seeming desperate, Bailo says you should actually wait one or two days to reach out—
and not any longer than that. Smith advises collegiettes to stay within that timeframe to ensure you’re still on the company’s radar. “For you, the interview is fresh in your mind, which will make it easier for you to remember details that can make your notes more personal to the interviewer,” she explains. “For the interviewers, you are fresh in their mind, and you can build on that great impression they already have of you from your interview!”
Our experts say the golden rule is to make contact between one to two days after your interview, and we’ll talk more about how to do it in our next step. If you stay within this window, you’ll be able to avoid seeming too pushy and still maintain a polite degree of professionalism.
DO send a thank you note
After an interview—especially one you think you nailed—it’s normal to obsess over every single one of your next moves. Of course, the dilemma that might pop up first is how to write and send your thank you letter. Should it be over email or via snail mail? What should you say? Should it be pink and scented in a nod to Elle Woods? (Hey, SHE got the job.)
According to Bailo, you want to send a thank you via email 24 to 48 hours after the interview. “The premise of that email should imply that you are a valuable employee,” he says. “You want to show that you understood what their problem is—of course, they have a problem because they’re hiring—and then identify yourself as the solution to that problem.”
In Smith’s opinion, collegiettes should spice up their thank-you notes to make them more memorable. “Personalize the notes to reference something that stood out to you in your conversation, or that you’ve thought about since the interview,” she says. When it comes to choosing the medium through which you send your note, Smith says you should be flexible; use your judgment to pick the method that best corresponds with the job you’re applying for.
Grace Diana, a junior at Texas Tech University, knew a handwritten thank you card was exactly what she needed to score the job. “After walking away from the interview, I wrote a note thanking [the hiring manager] for taking the time to interview me,” she says. Within an hour of dropping off the card with the employer’s receptionist, Grace got the job. “She explained that a handwritten note was the sincerest form of flattery and knew that if I had taken the time to write a letter, she was confident I would take the time to successfully complete a task.”
In short, never underestimate the power of a simple thank you. Plus, you know what to do after licking that stamp: Call your mom again and brag about how you just wrote the nicest handwritten letter, the old-fashioned way. Trust us, she’ll eat it up and then tell her friends how proud of you she is.
DON’T connect on LinkedIn until you’re hired
Let’s be real: As soon as you have a name of the person who will be interviewing you, you conduct a LinkedIn stalking session that rivals the Facebook one you did on your ex-boyfriend’s new fling. In a world where making LinkedIn connections is one of the most valuable forms of networking, it’s easy to want to jump the gun and add the person (or people) you met in your interview. After all, it can’t hurt, can it? According to Bailo, it can.
“If you don’t already know the hiring manager or employer (the usual situation), don’t connect with them on LinkedIn,” he says. If they reach out to you, wait to accept the connection until you’ve got the job. “All you’re doing is opening yourself up to scrutiny, which isn’t necessary,” Bailo points out. “If you did a good job [in the interview], why would you want to put yourself at risk?”
The thing about LinkedIn is most of the time, your connections are only meaningful if you actually put in the effort to turn them into stronger relationships. Connecting with your potential boss or coworker before you really know them is rather pointless. In other words, wait until you can send a cute and personal connect request. It’ll be more worth it in the end.
DO continue your job search while you wait
As exciting as getting an interview is, remember that you’re still not guaranteed anything. Carol Spector, director of career services at Emerson College, says that an important step in the interview follow-up process is to be proactive in looking for other positions. “An interview does not mean an offer,” she says. “Don’t wait for the response [from the employer] without continuing your search.”
This does get tricky when you’re juggling trying to follow up with multiple employers. While you want to be honest with them throughout the hiring process, you also want each individual to think you’re totally gung-ho for that specific position. According to Spector, if you do get an offer, you don’t have to accept it right away. “Once you have an offer, you should check with the employer about [your other options],” she says. “At the time of the offer, it can be a juggling game [to make a decision], but just make sure it’s the right fit for you as a candidate.”
Following up after an interview definitely requires time and patience—but you don’t have to be bored and waiting for a call the entire time. Actively search for other potential opportunities. If you find out your dream job is hiring three days after sending a thank you card for a recent interview, there’s no rule that says you can’t go for it.
DON’T be discouraged if you don’t hear back
If you still haven’t heard back two weeks after the interview, it’s okay to reach out again. “If [two weeks]—or the timeframe you were given at your interview—has passed, you’re completely within your means to follow up,” Smith says. Hiring managers need time and often other people to help them make the final decision, so you may be waiting a while. Again, this is why it comes in handy to follow our first tip so you can have some idea of when you can reasonably expect to hear from the company.
If you don’t hear back from that message after another couple of weeks (about a month after the interview), Smith says you should probably go ahead and look at other options. “You can follow up once more to check on the process, but it might be time to move on and turn your focus to other opportunities,” she says.
Since you’re not going to get every single job you apply for, this will inevitably happen to every collegiette at one point or another. The important thing isn’t to dwell on the past, though; it’s to look toward the future. “Stay confident and patient,” Smith says. “You’ve already put your best foot forward in the interview process, and even if this particular opportunity doesn’t work out, you’ve gained valuable interview experience and maybe even made connections that can be helpful further along in your career!”
Best-case scenario: You get the job. Worst-case scenario: You don’t get the job and you treat yourself to a cheer-me-up cocktail. You can’t exactly lose.
Following up after an interview requires walking a line between being overly pushy and seeming interested and persistent. The interview process is a long one, and it can take weeks of making various moves to show how badly you want the job.
If you work within the company’s hiring timeline and show them you know how to reach out with class and diligence, you’ve got a much better shot at getting that congratulatory call.