Waiting to hear back after a job interview can be nerve-wracking. No two companies are the same in terms of their hiring processes, and you could be waiting days or even weeks to hear back from a potential employer.
Unfortunately, if you didn't get the job, you won't always receive a rejection letter. "There are some candidates who kind of fall through the cracks, and they don't hear back from the company or actually get a formal rejection," says Chelsea Goodman, president and career elevation officer at Got The Job.
"If you keep those lines of communication open throughout the post-interview process, it's less likely that the recruiter will ghost you," she says.
Candidates need to find a balance between keeping in touch and being too pushy. Here's how to navigate the wait:
Shortly after the interview, the polite and professional thing to do is to send each person who interviewed you a personalized "thank-you" note via email and in the mail.
"Wait no longer than 24 hours to get that note out," career strategist Jena Viviano recently told Grow. "I would actually send a digital thank-you note as well within that 24-hour block. Because of the lag time with snail mail, sending something digital is a good safety measure."
Make sure you personalize each note and reference something from your conversation to remind the interviewer who you are and what you discussed. This way, your interviewer is more likely to remember you because of that unique exchange.
Remind them that you're very interested in the position, and you feel confident that your experience in XYZ could make an immediate contribution to their company.
A well-written thank-you note is "not only to demonstrate that you have what we call 'professional manners,' but also to remind them, post-interview, of the key points that you presented during the interview," says Goodman. "Especially if multiple candidates are being interviewed, it's hard for the interviewer to remember everything about every candidate."
If your interviewer gave you a timeline for when you should expect to hear back, don't follow up until then. If they didn't give you an idea of when you should anticipate an answer, wait 1-2 weeks before reaching out.
When you do, Goodman suggests reaching out to the recruiter or hiring manager, rather than one of the people you interviewed with. Keep your communication simple, but direct. "Say, 'I'm really eager for this opportunity, but I am also exploring my options elsewhere. I'd like to understand what the timing is for filling this role, or when I should expect to hear back,'" she suggests.
Communicating with your point of contact throughout the interview process is a smart way to ensure that you won't be ignored. And it may keep you fresh in their minds.
Video by Courtney Stith
If you've sent both a thank-you note and a follow-up email but have yet to hear back about the role, this could mean one of two things: Either your interviewer still hasn't chosen a candidate to fill the position you applied, or the position has been filled.
After another 1-2 weeks of radio silence, Viviano suggests that it's perfectly OK to reach out one last time asking for confirmation of whether or not the position has been filled. If it's a job you really wanted, you could also ask for constructive feedback from your interviewer.
If you don't hear back once you've sent that final email, it's important that you move on gracefully and stop communication.
Even if you weren't successful with this job, how you communicate with the company after an interview can keep the door open for future opportunities.
"It's best to be prepared and be in control of your own professional development," says Goodman.
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