Timely Follow Up: How Long Should You Wait After the Interview?

timely followThe first thing you want to do after a job interview? Follow up with a thank you letter reaffirming your interest in and qualifications for the role. After that, though, it can be difficult to play the follow-up game.

Often I get approached with the question of how soon is too soon to follow up on the interview.

Best case scenario:  You complete the interview and the hiring manager gives you somewhat of a definitive timeline. They let you know when you can expect to hear from them. “By next Monday” or “we’ll be done interviewing by the 15th” are common answers. Each allows you to gauge the timing of your follow up response.

In most cases, however, you’ll receive a more vague cliff-hanger of a response. Something along the lines of, “It was great meeting you. We’ll be in touch shortly.” Or “I’ll circle back after I discuss your resume with the team.”  This type of generalized response doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re out of the running. But it does mean you’ll have some work to do to gauge the timeline of the process.

Here are a couple general rules of thumb in regards to following up after the interview:

Respect the Provided Timeline

If a timeline is given, be sure to respect that timeline. If the timeline approaches and you still haven’t heard back? Give them a 1-2 day buffer to still reach out to you.  Plenty of hurdles come up, including administrative hold ups, or unexpected absences.

Give it a Week

If no timeline or sense of next steps is given upon exiting the interview? Allow at least 4-5 business days (a week) before following up. After all, it’s likely that they are interviewing additional candidates and haven’t yet made a decision.

Over-eagerness bordering on impatience will not do anything positive for your chances.

Give it a Another Week

If a candidate is being strongly considered, the hiring manager will provide you with some expectation of next steps. However, it doesn’t always work that way. If no timeline is given, but you’re left with a distinct impression that they want to move forward? Again, allow roughly 4-5 business days before following up.

Keep Your Personal Timeline in Mind

Remember that HR manager and recruiters don’t always have answers, as they’re subject to the approval of upper level decision-makers. Particularly if you are aggressively approaching your job search, or actively interviewing, give yourself a timeline of when you will pull the figurative cord. Know when you’ll pass on the opportunity in the interest of not missing out on other potential interviews or offers. Positive feedback is never definite,  anything can happen between the time you walk out the door and the offer letter.

Communicate with the End Goal in Mind

In each case, the point of a timely follow up is twofold: it’s an opportunity for you to reaffirm your interest in the role and why you feel you’re a strong fit, and also to maintain presence on their radar as they’re moving through the hiring process.  Try this:

Hi Dana –

Thank you again for your time on Tuesday.  I want to reaffirm my enthusiasm in being considered for the role, and confidence in my ability to bring a lot of value to the team.  I look forward to next steps – is there any additional information I can provide on my end to help move the process forward?

Thank You,

Matt Smith

Ending the outreach on a question gives them an extra push to respond to you, versus a “simply checking in” letter.

Be Tactful but Aggressive

The key here is to be slightly aggressive, but in a tactful way that respects the fact that the hiring manager, no matter how swiftly a response they may have promised you, is a busy person likely handling multiple job openings, and many factors outside of their control can arise and inadvertently slow down the process.

Need help crafting an impactful, timely follow up? Check out these 13 Customizable Email Marketing Scripts for reaching out, following up, and submitting your resume. They’re designed to save you time, and help you get the most return from your outreach efforts!


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Brooklyn Resume Studio.




DanaAbout the Author: Dana Leavy founded Aspyre Solutions, focusing on small business development and career consulting. Her mission is to support creative and socially-conscious small businesses. She also offers career transition coaching and business consulting.

Dana has helped hundreds of professionals execute effective career plans to find and DO the work they are passionate about. She has presented seminars on navigating careers, transition and work-life balance to several colleges and universities. Her advice has been featured on MSN Careers, Fox Business News, NewsDay, CareerBuilder.com, GlassDoor and About.com. Follow Dana on Twitter!



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