You just walked out of what you thought was a great interview with a hiring manager, and now it’s time to think about the next steps moving forward. In thinking back about the discussions between you and the hiring manager you believe that you answered all of the questions well, there seemed to be some good chemistry, and everyone you talked to was giving you verbal signals that they wanted to bring you on board.

Now what? You’ve just sent a well-thought-out thank you email to everyone that you interviewed with, personalized each message and expressed your sincere interest in joining their team.

A week has now gone by and you haven’t heard anything – no email replies or phone calls.

What should a job candidate do in a situation like this?

How soon should you reach back out to the hiring manager for an update on your status in the process?

Is there an appropriate number of follow-up messages that can be sent?

What details should you include in your messages?

This situation is very common for people in the job search.

The important thing to first consider is that a lack of response from the hiring manager is not a sign that you are not going to get an offer. While landing this job is the number one priority on your list, there may be a number of important business objectives that the hiring manager is addressing before she can get to yours.

Other candidates may be going through the interviewing process, and perhaps all interviews have to be completed before you get a response.

Unexpected circumstances may have arisen – a child’s illness or a last minute business trip to name just two.

So back to the questions regarding what is the best advice on when to follow up after an interview.

There is no hard and fast rule. However, here is some advice on what to do based on different scenarios.

A Timeline Was Provided – If an interview concludes with the interviewer saying, “We will be ready to make a decision in one week” or better yet, “We will be back in touch with you next Friday,” and you don’t not hear back from the company based on their deadline, follow up with an email immediately the next day after the deadline date. Write a simple note saying:

“I wanted to check back to once again to let you know how much I hope that I can be a member of your team and also ask how the interview process is moving forward. During our interview, you mentioned that the decision would be made by (fill in date). I am hoping that you are close to making your decision and that we will be able to work together in the near future. Thanks again for your consideration. I hope that we can talk soon.  Looking forward to hearing from you.”

No Timeline Was Provided – In this case, you want to use some diplomacy but also be a little aggressive in your follow-up.  A good rule of thumb is to wait four to five business days after your interview and then follow up with a message that reaffirms your interest in the position and also sells your value.

“Thank you again for the opportunity to interview for the Product Manager opportunity on your team.  I really hope that I can be considered for the role, and that I can bring my product and brand management experience to the team.  I hope you are close to making a decision. Is there any additional information I can provide to help move the process forward?”

Some more advice:

  • If you do not hear back after your follow-up email, wait another four to five days for a second email. This will show the right level of persistence but will not cross over into being overly aggressive.
  • Do not try to leverage an answer by providing an ultimatum. (I have interest in several other organizations and wanted to check in to see if you are still interested.). No one likes to be given an ultimatum and this approach can result in an unfavorable result can backfire.
  • If you do not hear back after two email follow-ups, it may be in your best interest to seriously consider closing the book on this opportunity. A simple message such as the following can work:

“I wanted to check back with you about the open Product Manager opportunity that I interviewed for two weeks ago. I still very much hope that we can work together. I hope to hear from you soon regarding next steps.”.

Follow-up after an interview is a smart practice to follow. It will show the hiring manager that you are interested, motivated, and organized. While persistence is important, you always want to keep your follow-up messages respectful and avoid being overly aggressive.

Pat Lynch is the President of Career Management Partners (CMP) in the Southeast Region. He is responsible for strategy, marketing, and leadership. He also provides executive coaching to a wide range of senior leaders in helping them develop their strategic leadership skills, servant leadership, organizational engagement, emotional intelligence and their ability to change themselves and others.

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