Waiting to hear back from a hiring manager or human resources department after an interview is stressful and nerve-wracking. It can sometimes be more taxing than the interview itself. Following up can ease your worries and keep you fresh in the interviewer's mind.
However, following up can be tricky business – you don't want to seem too pushy or overbearing. If you are, this could ruin the good impression you left during the interview.
Business News Daily spoke with career coaches and HR experts about the right way to follow up after a job interview.
Start with a thank-you
A good first step post-interview is to send a thank-you note to each interviewer.
"Typical protocol entails sending a thank-you email or snail mail note – better yet, both! – within 24 hours of the job interview," said Vicki Salemi, a career expert at Monster.
Sending an email is a nice thing to do, Salemi said, but it also gives you the chance to share any information you may have forgotten to mention during the interview, and further cement your interest in the position. Salemi noted that when a candidate fails to send a thank-you, it gives her the impression that they aren't truly interested or couldn't be bothered to spend the time writing one. [Write a great thank-you letter after your interview with these examples.]
A thank-you note can help you make a connection with your interviewer too, said Rebecca Cenni, founder and CEO of Atrium Staffing.
"That's very important because the interview process isn't just about a skills fit, but also a culture fit for the workplace environment," she said. "The more connections you're able to make, the more you'll be seen as someone who fits into their culture."
Reconnect if you don't hear back – but be patient
During the interview, candidates should ask about the next steps and timeline for the hiring process to understand when they should reconnect with the hiring manager. If a timeline is discussed during the initial interview process, candidates should respect what the interviewer told them.
"An applicant should not follow up within five days if they're told that a hiring decision is going to be made within two weeks," said Kristen Kenny, vice president of people and talent at car search website CarGurus. "Instead, they should show patience and an understanding of deadlines by waiting closer to the two-week mark before reconnecting."
If no time frame is specified, J.D. Conway, head of talent acquisition at BambooHR, suggested waiting four to seven days after the initial thank-you note before contacting the company again.
"Every company's hiring process is completely different," Conway said. "Most [recruiters] are trying to keep in contact with anywhere from around 50 to hundreds of candidates at that same time. Just because it's been a few days doesn't mean they aren't planning on considering you [for the job]."
Don't be shy
Following up can be uncomfortable. It can be hard to gauge where you stand. If you're getting radio silence from the hiring manager, you might second-guess yourself.
Conway said candidates often have trepidation about reaching out and "bothering" someone. And sometimes, recruiters don't have updates of their own to give, which causes a natural delay that can feel awkward, he said.
At the same time, "there are also recruiters that are too passive in telling candidates 'no,'" Conway added. However, the best recruiters won't let having to tell a candidate "no" hold them back from swift, transparent communication.
It's also good to keep in mind that it's not always you – sometimes, it's them.
"When you're not hearing something [from a hiring manager], often it has more to do with internal decisions and processes than it does you," said Maxie McCoy, a career expert. "Remember, this is professional, and … checking in is a good thing. Just make sure to do it in a way that is respectful of someone's time."
"It's all about being sweetly persistent," Conway added. "And if the HR team seems annoyed that you're kindly holding them accountable, you might want to rethink whether that's a company you want to work for."
If you aren't hired for the position you originally applied for, many companies could reach out later with other job opportunities, Salemi told Business News Daily. If job candidates conduct themselves professionally down to the appropriate follow-up, it puts them in a positive light with the company, and chances are the hiring manager will remember you when another job opens up.
Additional reporting by Shannon Gausepohl. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.