Man waiting to hear back from job interview

Preparing for a job interview can be stressful, but the part that comes after the interview is arguably just as nerve-racking. At that point, it's out of your hands - all you can do is cross your fingers and wait to hear back from your prospective employer.

Of course, if the tension becomes too much for you, you can always pick up the phone or fire off a quick follow-up email. But is that really a good idea? Will you look pushy and desperate if you make contact now? Or could it actually improve your chances of getting the job?

Today, we're going to share our tips for following up after a job interview. It's not quite as simple as 'yes, always follow up' or 'no, never follow up under any circumstances' - what's important is getting the tone and the timing right to make sure you come off well.

NOTE: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis, many companies are currently using video interviews to screen potential employees. The advice below is equally applicable whether you were interviewed in person or via video call.

 

Tips for following up after an interview

  • Send a thank-you email right away. As soon as you get home from your job interview, send a brief thank-you note to the person you spoke to. Don't press them for feedback - just thank them for their time and reaffirm your interest in the role. This helps to show the interviewer that this isn't just the latest in a long string of job applications and that you are genuinely keen to work with them.

  • Wait a week or two before requesting an update. Don't worry if you don't hear back from your potential employer immediately. They may still be interviewing people, or taking a few days to consider their final decision. If you're kept waiting for well over a week, it's OK to send a polite follow-up email (e.g. 'I interviewed for [job] on [date] and I was wondering whether you've made a final decision regarding this role?') but don't do this too soon after the interview or you risk making a pest of yourself.

  • If they gave you a timescale, stick to it. During an interview, it's perfectly acceptable to ask when you can expect a final decision - but don't then start nagging before that deadline has passed. If you were told 'we'll get in touch before the end of the month', wait until the end of the month before you start sending follow-up emails and asking for updates.

  • Emails appear less pushy than phone calls. A follow-up email allows the recipient to consider their answer and get back to you in their own time. If you phone the company to request an update, they may feel like you're demanding an answer right away, and that can be off-putting. Stick to emails if possible.

  • Bear in mind they may not remember you. Remember, some jobs receive hundreds of applications, and the person who interviewed you may have interviewed several other people on that day alone. When sending a follow-up email after a job interview, include some details to help them identify you - example: 'Hello, it's Alex Smith here, I interviewed for the trainee lab assistant position at 11am on Monday 1st June. I just wanted to thank you again for the opportunity and ask whether the role has been filled?'

  • Know when to stop. Weeks have passed since your interview. You've sent a couple of follow-up emails and received no reply. Maybe they're too busy to contact every single unsuccessful applicant, or maybe they're just rude - either way, there's no point flogging a dead horse. Instead of sending more and more follow-up emails in a desperate bid for some sort of closure, focus your efforts on applying for other jobs and working out how you're going to do even better this time around.

Browse the Latest Science Jobs

Photo from Pexels