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Interviewing - How do I Follow Up?

Posted by Elaine Varelas  April 10, 2012 10:00 AM

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Q. I recently interviewed with a company for a job I really want. The interview was strong, all went well, and kind words were said by the potential employer. They seemed to be very positive about my test scores, and interested in my overall presentation. The close was, "We'll let you know by the end of the week". I sent a 'thank you for meeting with me' note, and a separate 'just checking in regarding the position note'. I'm very worried as they did not hold true to the 'end of the week' promise for me to hear something. What can I do?

A. What you can do is try to avoid being in this position by impacting your interview prep skills. Two questions job seekers pose on a regular basis are "how and when can I follow up?” and "why don't companies follow through on their communication commitments?". While each interview is unique, the common challenges job seekers and employers face can be anticipated, and dealt with to minimize confusion and second guessing series of questions which often accompanies job searches. For instance, "If they liked me wouldn’t they have called by now? Is it too soon for me to call them? Which person should I call? Is an email better? Am I being too aggressive?".

Interviews are exciting, and most job seekers are looking for a positive response as soon as possible after every interview. People hope to hear they will be invited back to interview again, or that a phone conversation will follow, or an offer will be the next step. Recognize what you are looking for before you go in to these meetings. When you are asked if you have any questions, you should start with questions dedicated to the role, and questions that can help you highlight your skills. After that, you will want to be able to get information about what the interview process will be like and you might include questions on who else will be part of the process. End with a question that reminds them of what they need - "When would you ideally like someone to start?". These types of questions will help you gain insight into the process, who else you might be meeting with, and their target start date.

Even with this information, most hiring processes takes longer than anticipated, and certainly longer than job seekers expect. Projects get in the way, deadlines change, priorities change. People are on vacation or out sick, and if they are part of the interview process, there are delays. Effective job seekers show professional follow up and patience. Hiring managers will feel more committed to respond to your call and email - not every single one - but at least a few to try and keep you generally informed as to the process.

If you anticipate this will happen, (and it will more often than not) then you will make sure to ask additional questions to help you in the process. You can ask "will you be my point of contact? Would it be ok for me to follow up with you about where we are in the interview process? Do you prefer email or a phone call? If I don’t hear from you by the end of the week would it be ok to call early the following week?". You won’t ask all these questions, but enough to get permission to follow up. You might also ask if it would be easier to follow up with their assistant or support person if they have one.

Your connection to a potential employer can be strengthened by asking permission to follow up and staying connected throughout the process.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.

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Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.

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Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.

Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.