You just finished an interview. What now?
You just finished an interview.
You think you did well and you’re excited. You even nailed the whiteboard coding part of the process.
A week passes and you don’t hear back.
Doubt starts creeping in.
Truth is you’ve progressed in your quest to land a tech role but the hardest part is yet to come: the waiting game.
It seems impolite or pushy to follow-up on a job application but recruiters actually expect this. A 2017 study from recruiting firm Robert Half showed that 43% of hiring managers expect applicants to follow-up in less than two weeks.
So yes, it’s okay to follow-up.
As a candidate your job is to sell yourself, so we can learn from sales best practices on how to do this right the first time. In sales ( and in interviews) , not following-up means lost revenue. A report from a research advisory firm shows that it can take as much as 6 call attempts to reach a lead that converts.
Six attempts! And yet many job applicants are afraid to go beyond the first follow-up.
Various reports also show that it takes 5 follow-ups and phone calls after the initial sales contact before a prospect says yes. Unfortunately, a whopping 92% of sales professionals give up only after 4 “no’s.”
Just as those sales professionals would’ve closed a sale if they persisted, you can land a job if you learn how to follow-up on a job application properly.
You just need the right strategy. This is an essential part to succeeding in the interview process.
The key to following up persistently but politely, is to sync your follow ups with key moments or triggers. Give people a good reason for why you’re following up, and they won’t be annoyed — it can even make you come across as more professional.
There’s a chance the hiring team won’t make up their minds on schedule - delays happen all the time. It’s up to you to give them a gentle nudge, preferably a day after the agreed follow-up time so you don’t look desperate.
Be careful not to sound like you’re blaming them for the delay. Just say that you’re still interested with the role and emphasize why you’re a good fit and excited about the team.
Here’s how to follow-up on a job application by email if you don’t hear back:
Hope you're doing well! I wanted to check in on whether the team's had a chance to chat about my application for ( job title).
You mentioned you were looking to make a decision this week and I wanted to touch base to let you know I'm still very excited about the role.
The company that interviewed you first won’t always be first in line to extend a job offer.
Either you prefer one company over the other or you just want to know all your options. Whatever it is, here’s how to follow-up on a job application if you receive a competing offer.
Touching base RE: competing offer
Last we spoke, you mentioned that a decision for the (job title) will be made this week- I'm excited to hear back from the team!
I don’t mean to rush your hiring process but I’ve just received a competing offer from (Company Name) for a (job title) position.
I’m still interested in working with your team, so I’ve held off on deciding until I hear from you. I told the (Other Company) that I'm still waiting for a decision from you.
Do you think you can get back to me with a final answer this week? ”
You don’t want them to cross you off the selection list just because of a competing offer, so tweak the script above. Career experts also recommend to follow-up with a phone call. This way, you’ll get an answer right away and you minimize chances of misunderstanding.
If you can’t reach the contact person after a few calls, then that’s when you can use email as a last resort.
The technical part of the interview gave you a better understanding of the role, so why not use it?
Follow-up on your job application by sending the hiring manager a technical or UX audit, or a pitch deck for a feature.
This strategy requires upfront work but often yields favorable results. Study their app or software— the bugs, interface, available features, and code. Your suggestions should be based on a thorough review of their technology, otherwise it will make you look sloppy.
This follow-up strategy works best for design, growth and product roles.
Your resume and cover letter might have all the noteworthy details of your career, but what if you discussed an old project that wasn't listed?
Use this opportunity as a tactical way to stay top of mind.
The project we discussed
On my interview last Friday, you asked me about (a specific Github repo, an old app project, app example using Python).
I’ve been digging through my backup files so I can send it to you. Please see attached/link file.”
Notice that this template doesn’t mention anything about the decision timeline. The mention of your interview is already a reminder that you’re a job applicant waiting to hear back. Your effort to send them the information shows you’re eager for the job.
Applicants don’t always have all the skills listed on a job description. Your interviewer might’ve brought it up in the interview. But you’re eager to learn about it through books or small projects.
It’s also possible that you don’t have on-the-job experience with Ruby on Rails, but you’re taking a certification program.
Don’t let this accomplishment go unnoticed by potential employers. If your new skills can help with your job, tell them.
How to follow-up on a job application by mentioning new skills:
Just thought I’d let you know that I got a certification for (Program or Coding Language) from (Awarding Institution).
I got really inspired by our chat and I decided to take this course over the weekend. I think it will really help me better fulfill my role as (desired position) at (Company Name).
I really enjoyed meeting the team and I think I can be even mmore effective in the role with this new skill.
Do you keep up with the news from your prospective employers? You should. Google Alerts is a survival tool in startup interviews. Company announcements are a goldmine of information that you can use throughout your job application.
Here’s how to follow-up on a job application after you see some good news about the company:
I saw on (Venture Beat, LinkedIn, TechCrunch, etc) that your company (got funding, is launching a new product)
I’m sure you’re excited with all the potential growth this brings and I wanted to congratulate you and the team on all your hard work.
I'm even more excited to be interviewing with you now. (Connect it to your job application, role, or the team you will be in).
Make sure you read the article thoroughly, not just the headline. You don’t want to congratulate them on something you misunderstood.
There are many ways to connect a news item to your job application. New funding means the company will have more funds for product development, so mention that. Don’t mention your hiring directly, as that might sound tacky.
A product launch means they’ll need good developers to keep things running smoothly, and to improve the product according to user feedback.
Sometimes one follow-up isn’t enough. Here’s how to follow-up on a job application if you didn’t hear back on your last attempt.
Last time we talked, you mentioned there might be an update by (date). So I was worried that I didn’t hear from you when I followed-up last (date of your last email).
I’m just checking in to see if the position is still open.
If the role is already taken, would you mind updating me too?
Things won’t always work out. Either the hiring team is too busy to update you, they went with another candidate, or they decided to postpone the hiring because of another issue.
Whatever the situation is, it’s good to know how to follow-up on a job application and close this part of your job search without burning bridges. In sales, a last nudge like this often works to remind busy people about you. A good subject line is key to capture their attention.
Is the role filled?
It’s been a while since I heard from you regarding the (job title) role.
You might have gone off with a different candidate or maybe your priorities have changed.
Either way, I just wanted to thank you for your time and let you know I really enjoyed the team. Since I didn't hear back, I'll move on to other opportunities - let's stay in touch if other roles come up that meet my profile/ job description
Thanks for the opportunity.”
If you get the recruiter and hiring manager’s LinkedIn or work phone number, you can also follow-up there. You have to add them first or check if you’re in their 2nd level connection before you can send a message. Do not use any other social media but LinkedIn.
Some people may prefer LinkedIn because text seems more personal and less intrusive, so try LinkedIn first before you escalate to text follow-ups.
If you were referred, you can also follow-up through that person.
How to follow-up on a job application through a referral contact:
Checking in on the referral
I was interviewed for the (job title) position last (Date). Thank you for referring me!
The interview went well and I loved chatting with (Name) who is the (job title and their role in the hiring committee).
Last we spoke, they said a decision will be made by (decision date) but I haven’t heard from them yet. I'm getting a little worried.
Do you know if they’ve picked a candidate yet?
This follow-up email does two things: it updates the person about your job search and thanks them for referring you. They did you a favor, so it’s only polite to thank them first before you ask for yet another favor.
Sales professionals work on multiple leads simultaneously so they have a fall back in case things go south with one deal. Treat your job hunt like this.
Even if you find a job that perfectly matches your skills and desired compensation package, you shouldn’t give up on applying to other companies.
Learn how to follow-up on a job application properly, but don’t obsess over one job opportunity.
Treat your job search like a sales pipeline. Work out how many resumes you have to send to get an interview, and how many interviews lead to jobs.
Find out how much you’re worth and how to ask for more — the right way.