Directly after your interview, it’s good manners to send a thank-you note to the hiring manager and anyone else you may have interviewed with. But what about a week or two weeks after your interview, and you still haven’t heard anything? What’s appropriate then?
It’s perfectly fine, even expected, to follow up with the hiring manager (though not your whole interview team) if you haven’t heard back. The point of your follow-up email is to:
- Remind them who you are
- Remind them which position you interviewed for
- Refresh your story and why you’d love the job
- Find out if the job is still available
So with that in mind, let’s look at a few important aspects of your follow-up email.
Grab Their Attention Quickly
One of the primary reasons hiring managers don’t contact their candidates immediately is a simple lack of time. Folks are busy. So make sure your subject line is relevant, eye-catching, and open-worthy.
Try something like, “Thank you again for your time on [Interview Date]!” The “again” suggests that you have spoken before, so the hiring manager may be more likely to read your note.
Or you can try something like, “Following up on the [role name] position”. This makes it very obvious that the email is from a candidate that has already interviewed. The danger with this approach is that it may make the hiring manager feel pressured to answer your note, which can backfire. But if it’s been two weeks or so and you haven’t heard anything, this kind of straightforward subject line might be a good strategy.
Be Gracious and Complimentary, But Also Authentic
If you had a great interview, now is a perfect time to reignite some of the fireworks from that day. Start off by thanking the hiring manager for their time. Take this opportunity to be specific. You might try something like, “Thank you so much for your time last Wednesday. I know you took time away from your [afternoon/morning/lunch] obligations, and I really appreciate it.” Remember, letting people know you appreciate them is always an excellent career move. Whether you are trying to get hired, build a network, or find advocates, showing gratitude and appreciation is a gold-star move.
However, be authentic. If you had a great interview, it means the interviewer probably liked you as a person. So now is not the time to pretend to be someone you’re not. It’s also not the time to overdo it. Thank them for their time and the opportunity, and then move on.
Jog Their Memory of Who You Are
It’s possible that the hiring manager interviewed a lot of people. If you can refer back to a moment in the interview that stands out in your mind, do it. For example, I was once in a team interview where someone spilled her water all over the table. In a follow-up email, I joked, “Please let Cassandra know Target is having a special on spill-proof cups this week. I may pick up a few myself.” That’s exactly the kind of refreshing humor most hiring managers would appreciate. Plus, they’ll definitely recall the incident and you as well. (And remembering a potential teammate’s name is also a huge bonus.)
No one spilled water in your interview? No problem. You can still reference an answer you gave or a question you asked. Keep it personal, and the hiring manager is likely to remember you.
However, not everyone has a great sense of humor. If you think the hiring manager might not appreciate a joke, definitely leave it out.
Express Your Interest in the Job
Restating your interest in the job might seem like a no-brainer. But it gives you the opportunity to remind the hiring manager of the job you’re after. Sometimes, managers are hiring for several roles. If you can refresh their memory on which one you’re up for, it can be advantageous.
Let’s use the Santa Claus job we referenced in our last blog post. You might try something like, “I’m excited by the opportunity to work alongside the rest of the team as an associate elf. The difficulties you mentioned during the interview, especially the toys per minute difficulty, are challenges I look forward to tackling with the rest of you.” This example reminds the hiring manager that you interviewed for the associate elf position. It reminds her that you discussed the challenge of creating so many toys per minute. And it also reinforces the idea that you are a team player and that you expect to solve problems with other people. Everyone loves a team player.
Inquire About the Job’s Availability
If you interviewed a while ago, you’re probably very curious to know where the team is in the hiring process. And it’s okay to ask. You can be upfront about it as long as you are polite. You might try something like, “If the position is still available, please let me know if I can provide any additional details or information to your team. If you have already made another decision, I wish you all the best of luck, and please keep me in mind for future positions!”
I like this approach because it’s genuine, and it’s unambiguous. The hiring manager knows you want an answer, and if she’s ethical, she will try her best to get an answer to you ASAP. Plus, the line “I wish you the best” implies, “Hey, this is the last time you’re gonna hear from me!” which can instill a gentle sense of urgency.
Don’t bother asking if they have a timeline for when they’ll make a decision unless you already have another offer. If you do, you should say so. You might try something like, “I do want to inform you that I have another offer. They have asked for my answer within 7 days. The associate elf position at Santatown Mall is my first choice, however. Do you think you might make a decision within the next week?” A good hiring manager will try to respect your position and move quickly if she can. Understand, though, that sometimes the timeline is out of her control.
If you don’t have another offer, don’t lie. That rarely works out for anyone.