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  1. Blog
  2. Interviewing
  3. February 28, 2023

Why Sending a Follow-up Email After Your Job Interview Is So Important

We’re building a career network, people

Woman types a follow-up email after her job interview
Photo courtesy of LinkedIn Sales Solutions

“Thank you for meeting with me today”... “I appreciate your time”... “I look forward to hearing from you”... we know the go-to lines to use in the post-job-interview follow-up email. But relying on these cliches so you can cross off “send thank you email” from your to-do list is a major missed opportunity. 

Definitely include a “thank you,” but also use it to stand out, connect, and further show off your expertise.    

“You can do so much with this one little email. It’s a little like keys to the kingdom,” says career and executive coach Heather Yurovsky.

Here’s how you can turn a few paragraphs into a powerful career move. 

How to use a follow-up email to highlight your strength as a candidate

Sending a follow-up email helps you in many ways when you really want a job, beyond the polite nature of it.  

“Not only is it common courtesy, I think it can set you apart,” says career coach Jennifer Smith. “It lets the recruiter or hiring manager know that you’re interested and excited about the job, provides an opportunity to stay top of mind, and, if necessary, allows you to build on (or clarify) points from the interview conversation.”

As long as you keep it brief, you can use the follow-up email to highlight something important you discussed regarding your fit for the role. 

“You can definitely use [the follow-up email] to kind of supplement anything you feel like maybe you didn’t get a chance to say in the interview, for whatever reason, like if you got nervous,” Yurovsky says. “It could still be a wonderful conversation, but maybe you feel like you left out that one point that you feel would push you into the “we must hire this person” pile. So usually you can refer back to something you talked about and expand on it a little. We don’t want these emails to get long, but it is an opportunity to give a little more information if you feel like that would be helpful.” 

Adding a little to the conversation can also show off your relevant knowledge, your listening skills, and what you can add to the team. 

“Depending on the role and company, a candidate could also expand on the conversation and include info (or a link) to an industry trend or a tool/resource related to the role, industry, company, or conversation,” Smith says. “This will showcase a job seeker as a proactive and helpful and resourceful team player even before starting in a role.” 

Yurovsky says to think of it as a chance to give your interviewer a feel for how you would communicate as a coworker.

“You just spent however long verbally explaining how you work, hopefully backing that up with examples, but a follow-up email can actually show someone what it’s like to work with you. So let’s say you were asked a question about an approach you would take or a framework or a model, you can actually attach a resource on that. Or give a quick little snippet like, 'if I were to apply this framework to this type of problem, this is what it would look like.' It’s the same way if you were already working inside the company and you were like. 'I want to continue to wow my manager because I know we have performance reviews coming up.' You’re going to take your time and be really thoughtful with every word that’s in every communication—same thing applies to the follow-up email.” 

Another important reason to send a follow-up email: connection!

Read more: How to Ask About Growth Opportunities During an Interview

How a job interview follow-up email can build your network

Each person you meet when interviewing is someone you now have a professional connection with, and someone you have a chance to work with in the future, whether it’s in the current opportunity or not. This is one reason why you don’t “autopilot” your emails and just say the usual “thank you for your time.” You have an easy chance to expand your professional network, and you have no idea how you both can help each other down the road. 

“Going the extra mile to send individual and personalized emails will go a long way,” Smith says. “It can also open the door for further discussion. For example, maybe you have a personal connection with one of the interviewers (i.e., went to the same college or grew up in the same town); it’s an opportunity to take that relationship further and build your professional network—which is invaluable throughout your career.” 

When you interview with more than one person, be sure to reach out to each one, either by email or LinkedIn. 

“It’s a missed opportunity if you don’t follow-up with each individual person you interviewed with,” Yurovsky says. “If you don’t have someone’s email or it wasn’t a full formal conversation, or let’s say you were interviewing in person, someone popped in [the room], your interviewer introduced you and you had a very quick back-and-forth, that’s an opportunity to find them on LinkedIn, connect with them there, send a short message. You can say something like “It’s great meeting you, fingers crossed I’m through to the next round,” something short. 

“That also helps build advocates for you throughout the whole process. If it’s between you and another candidate, the more people that have interactions with you can weigh in on if they think you’re the right cultural fit, as they probably haven’t had enough conversations with you about technical experience. And you can use them in your job search later. So if this job doesn’t pan out, you have now made a new connection that could probably introduce you to at least one other person.” 

Read more: All Your Career Networking Questions Answered

How to follow-up when you don’t want the job but want connection

So, what do you say if you’ve lost interest in getting the job, but you do want to stay connected to the people you met? Yurovsky says to focus on the reason for sending the email to guide what you actually say. 

“Your emotions and thoughts dictate the strategy; it’s more of what is the purpose of the follow-up email. If you’re kind of on the fence, you can thank someone for their time, but maybe not push, or be a little bit softer. You don’t need to include all the excitement around the role, it’s more of a 'I genuinely enjoyed the conversation with you, thank you so much again for the time.'  I’m not sure that person will read into it that you’re not interested in the role, but it will at least keep that relationship in a good place. Their time is still valuable, whether it’s for this role or something else, and they’ll probably be an asset to you in the future. And then decide at that point if you want to actually put in writing if you want to pull yourself out or if you kind of want to let the cards fall and see what happens.”

Read more: How To Answer “Do You Want To Tell Us Anything Else About You?”

Tips on sending a successful post-interview follow-up email

Now that you know why you are writing it, here are some final things to keep in mind when you go to write your next killer post-interview email:

Make it clear you’re enthusiastic about the role (if you are)

“Showcase interest and excitement,” Smith says. “Let them know you’d be honored to move on to the next step and/or join the team.”

This is definitely not time to hide your hand–save that for the negotiation stage.  

“If you’re buying a house, you’re not going to say, 'I love this house so much I can’t live without it' in front of a realtor. That actually doesn’t really apply in this process,” Yurovsky says. “If you are enthusiastic and excited about a job, a role, a company, a team, whatever it might be, you should express that. Because other people might be holding that back and that makes them seem disinterested, and who wants to work with someone who is disinterested?” 

Proofread everything you send

“The simple things can work against you the most, like grammar, and spelling errors, and just being kind of sloppy in formatting,” Yurovsky says. “You just want it to overall look professional, like you respect their time, that it is worth reading. So those simple mistakes can definitely be a real turn off.” 

Use your email signature strategically

“It’s another opportunity, if you have a link to your portfolio or website or just to your LinkedIn profile,” Yurovsky says. “Having that easy reference information right there can help, especially if your interviewer is interviewing a lot of people.” 

Consider the timing

Yes, sending your follow-up email within 24 hours is the default timing, but Yurovsky says make sure to consider a few other factors so your email isn’t late or lost in an inbox. 

“You want to take into consideration time zones, if your interviewer mentioned being out of office, or anything that would keep them from essentially regularly checking their emails around that time. You also want to take into consideration any timeline that was provided to you. For instance, they said they were going to follow-up with you in 24 hours, get your email in sooner. And then last, what day of the week is it? So if you were interviewing on a Friday, early in the day, get your email in early, before we reach probably 2 p.m. Otherwise it would probably be better to send it first thing Monday morning so it’s on the top of someone’s inbox as they’re coming back to work. And same with holiday weekends.” 

Check out our examples of job interview follow-up emails you can use to write your next one.

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