Abbey Slattery is a writer, editor, and pop culture aficionado. She has worked for newspapers, magazines and websites, but is most prolific on Twitter at @abslatt.
We’ve all been there. You dress your best, ask all the right questions, and even fit in a few charming jokes. You nailed that interview, right? A few days pass and you haven’t heard back. Is it safe to follow up?
While some interview follow-ups can help solidify your good impression and put you one step ahead, you have to be careful not to overdo it.
Here’s a quick guide to how to follow up after an interview if you haven’t heard back.
Do: Find out the next steps right away (before the interview is over)
Your initial follow-up can happen before your interview has even ended. After questions are over and you’re about to head out the door, be sure to ask your interviewer if there are any next steps in the meantime.
Not only will this convey that you’re prepared to go the extra mile, but it’s also a great chance to learn their timeline for hiring. When you start to worry about not hearing back, you’ll at least have a frame of reference for when the next round of decisions are being made.
Read more: The Complete Guide to Getting a Job
Do: Send a short follow-up thank-you note a few days later
How long should you wait before sending a follow-up after an interview?
Three to five business days is a good amount of time to wait before sending a follow-up thank-you note.
Email, snail mail, carrier pigeons (okay, maybe not the last one, but what an impression that would make)—sending a note a few days after your interview is a great follow up method. Not only does circling back leave you fresh in the mind of the interviewers, but it can also set you apart from other applicants. Plus, an email or note keeps things casual and doesn’t demand a response like a phone call.
Be sure to keep the email brief and show you’re still interested in the job, but don’t hound them for a reply. Reaffirm your excitement, ask for a quick update, and finish it off with a thank you.
Example of an interview follow-up note
Thanks for taking the time to talk with me on Tuesday. I felt challenged and stimulated by the conversation—it gave me a lot to think about and chew on. I like what you're doing with the company, and I'm absolutely game to keep the conversation going.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Bonus tip: Emails are all about the subject line. Try something like Re: Interview on Monday at 2PM or Quick question about Thursday’s conversation. Both subjects are eye-catching enough to give you a shot at a quick reply.
Read more: 12 Questions You Should Be Asking Recruiters
Don’t: Send a full Edible Arrangement the day after
Sending a thank you is a great idea...but don’t go overboard.
Maybe sending a full Edible Arrangement is a bit of a stretch, but think of it as a metaphor. Don’t make your interviewers feel pressured to make you an offer or give you a firm final date through what you say in your note. Ask for a little bit of information, but keep it light and casual.
Do: Check back in for a final word
Getting impatient or frustrated is an easy state of mind to fall into—be careful not let that come across is your correspondence. After all, the hiring process takes time, and it may take a week or two to get through interviews and make decisions.
For your last follow-up, include a note saying that you’ve been eager to hear back, and ask if the decision has been finalized yet. If they gave you a timeline for their final decision, feel free to mention it here. But, again, keep things light and positive—you never know when you might need to network with people in the company in the future.
Example of a final follow-up note
I’m following up to get a pulse on your search for a [job title].
I’m still interested in the position. I see so much potential in what I can bring to this role. [Add some specific examples here.]
I hope we can continue the conversation together.
Don’t: Check back in...every single day
Waiting a week or two to hear back can be interminable, and it wears on even the most patient people. It’s tempting to send an email every few days or twice a week while you’re in interview limbo—but don’t.
Every follow up email you send decreases the chances of it actually being opened, and you won’t look good after the third or fourth. You want them to be filled with pleasant sentiments for you, not overbearing emails. In the end, the rest of the process is out of your control, so have a little peace of mind in that.
Bonus: How often should you be following up—and how do you know when to stop?
A good rule of thumb when following up after an interview is the 3x3 rule. You can follow up every three days a maximum of three times. If you still haven't heard anything, it may be time to move on.
Of course, if the recruiter or hiring manager at the company tells you that it will be a week before you hear back—don't follow up three times in that week. If they haven't reached out by the end of that week, then you can begin the 3x3 rule.