I wrote this article because I get lots of comments asking whether not following up will lose them the job. So the optimal word here is NEED. Do you actually need to contact an employer after a job interview in order to make it to the next stage? And will not doing something to follow up make the employer think that you aren’t interested?
Follow-Up Calls or Emails from the Employer’s Point of View
There are a lot of articles out there telling you that you absolutely MUST follow up after your job interview – and in some cases even after sending your resume. And for job seekers who aren’t experts in the hiring process, they believe in the magic of follow-up contacts: if I just do this, then my chances will improve over someone who didn’t follow up.
But as someone who helped hire many people, I gotta say that not once did the follow-up note or call get me to hire someone – or move them ahead of someone who never contacted me. In fact, in some cases the way it was worded worked against them. It felt like they didn’t trust that we would remember them or even that they doubted we were handling the process well.
And as the contacts multiplied from the same person, it felt like they might be high maintenance – or at least not have the patience and maturity to understand how business operates and that there is more to the employer’s day than just their application. When you are scouring your applicants for the right one, you remember the ones who seem to be best fits. As for the others, no amount of follow-ups or notes is going to change their chances.
If that sounds harsh, I’m sorry. But you have to think about it from the side of the folks who work for the hiring company. They have overflowing inboxes. If they need to hire, it may mean their workloads are also overflowing. There may be special projects or emergencies. And there is the everyday work that needs to get done. So being bombarded by “reminders” meant to push us along can often be annoying.
What employers do appreciate
OK. I know what I just said makes it sound like you shouldn’t follow up at all for risk of irritating the hiring team. Please don’t think I’m saying that.
A polite thank you and well-timed follow-up note are fine. And in fact, in some cases where the person was a good fit, it did help move the process along. So if you tread lightly and politely, you may get some movement.
Employers appreciate that you understand their side of this. And so notes sounding upset by how long it’s taking or demanding a timeline can be a turn off. But notes expressing your strong interest and asking if there is anything else you can provide them, show you are someone who is not just thinking about yourself – although of course you basically are.
The “need” factor
Since I wrote this as my own follow-up to a reader worrying that he needs to send a follow-up note or the employer will think he isn’t interested, let me say this clearly: most employers know how hard jobs are to come by and assume you are interested. You convey that best in the interview by your attitude, enthusiasm, listening carefully, and answering their questions as best you can.
After the interview, by all means send a thank you note, even though that too is not mandatory. Just keep it short and polite. Maybe even mention something discussed in the interview that stood out for you. And if you haven’t heard anything back in a couple of weeks (although the process can take far longer), by all means send a short follow up note as I’ve explained.
But you don’t NEED to do any of this for them to think you are interested. Now if you aren’t, then definitely let them know that. Otherwise, just do your best to stay sane while waiting to hear back – and keep looking!
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