To Email Or Not To Email: Your Ultimate Interview Follow-Up Guide

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
May 18, 2024 at 7:28PM UTC

Common wisdom tells us we should always follow up with a thank-you note after a job interview. But too often, candidates skip this crucial step — and in some cases, that could cost them the role.

Why you should follow up after the interview

When you interview for a position, it usually means that the employer is actively considering you for the role. Following up shows that you appreciate the time the interviewer is taking to get to know you and learn more about your background, qualifications and potential fit with the company.

It also allows you to further emphasize your qualifications and enthusiasm. If you don’t send a follow-up message, the employer may think you’re no longer interested in the role or simply aren’t courteous. Neither is something you want. Even if you are no longer enthusiastic about the job, it’s still important to thank the employer for their time — it’s polite, and you never know when your paths might cross again, so you don’t want to burn any bridges.

Moreover, this is an opportunity for you to add additional information that could be relevant to your candidacy, such as details you weren’t able to cover during the interview or recent accomplishments, like a publication or award.

When to follow up after the interview

Send a note no later than 24 hours after your interview. 

It’s best not to do it immediately — waiting until at least the next day will help ensure that you stay on their mind and remind them of your discussion.

You should also ask the interviewer when you should expect to hear back from them about next steps or their final decision. If that deadline has passed (give them at least a couple of days past the time they said, because things don’t always go as planned), it’s reasonable to follow up with a second note.

How to follow up after the interview

If you don’t already have the interviewer’s contact information, make sure you collect it at the end of the interview. If the meeting takes place in person, you could ask for a business card; otherwise, simply ask for their email.

Make sure you send a note to every person you interviewed with separately, personalizing the message to their position and what you discussed. 

In the note, express your enthusiasm for the role. Reiterate your skills and qualifications to demonstrate how you’ll contribute to the organization. 

Highlight specific details you discussed with the interviewer. Referencing the conversation shows that you were invested in what they had to say. Mention any additional information you weren’t able to cover, too.

There’s a lot of debate about whether or not to send a handwritten message. If you do decide to do this, make sure you also send an email because a note you send through the mail won’t reach the interviewer immediately, and the hiring process often moves quickly.

What to avoid when following up after the interview

There are, of course, some “don’ts” to keep in mind when you’re following up. For example, you should avoid bombarding the hiring manager with messages. They will more than likely find this irritating. After you follow up with your initial email, wait until after the time you should be hearing back from them to follow up again, unless they have explicitly told you to check in.

Don’t ignore anything the interviewer has told you to do (or not do), either. For example, if they have asked you not to email or call them, respect their time and space.

Be careful about sending an overly generic thank-you note, too. You should personalize it as much as possible; otherwise, the interviewer will question your interest and investment in the company. At the same time, don’t get overly personal — keep the tone courteous and professional. 

Of course, the worst thing you can do is not follow up at all! 

Follow up example email

Subject: Communication Manager position at Jones Company

Hi Amy,

Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me about the Communications Manager position yesterday. I so enjoyed chatting with you about Jones’ latest initiative to invest in K-12 education — this aligns perfectly with my personal values and goals. 

I’m so excited about the possibility of working with you. Jones seems like the ideal fit for my experience working on similar communications ventures, particularly in a startup environment. 

As promised, here is the link to the work sample I mentioned yesterday. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

All my best,

Michelle Clarence

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.

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