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How to Follow Up Post-Interview..Without Being Annoying

By Natalie Wilson

So, you are on the hunt for a new job. You have sent out applications, had a few positive calls and then an interesting interview that 'fingers crossed' went well. Now what.. Well, traditionally, once the interview is over and done with you should be looking to send out a follow-up email.

You know the one:

Hello [Insert Hiring Manager's Name Here],

Thanks for the great interview and for taking precious time out of your day, being grilled by you was an honour. When will I hear back about the position? My cats are hungry.

A Typical Jobseeker

Though obviously, your follow-up email will be more serious and polite than the above, they're all largely similar. A few compliments, a good level of recapping the interview and then asking about the next steps to understand what's next in the process. The art of sending this at the right time and to the right people, however, is a little bit harder.

Of course, in the modern working world, there is a school of thought that the follow up is completely unnecessary. But, ignoring that, if you want to do the follow up right, then you need to learn an important skill; how to not be annoying.

Here are a few tips to accomplish this age-old art:

Email the Right Person

Here's an embarrassing scenario: you have an interview with Tom, the interview goes well and you send a follow-up email. But, low and behold; you have sent the email to the wrong Tom. The company has several Tom's, which one did you want? And thus you become embroiled in a long and awkward email chain regarding the real identity of Tom.

Okay, so maybe it won't be as bad as all that. But, in all likelihood it will be embarrassing for you. Especially if it goes unanswered and you never even realise the mistake. In which case, you might as well have never sent a follow-up email in the first place.

This is where a little bit of sleuthing becomes paramount to your success. In the best-case scenario, you will have the email of the person who interviewed you sitting in your inbox. But, of course, in the world of modern job-seeking, there is a host of other people who may have arranged the interview instead.

In which case, you may need to go on the company website, search LinkedIn or even ask your direct contact for the right information. All of which may take you a little longer, but is worthwhile doing if you want to ensure it is sent to the right person.

If all of this fails, then you can send an email to be forwarded on by your contact. But, hopefully, you should be able to investigate your way to the correct email address before having to resort to that.

Inquire About Next Steps (In Person)

One important thing you can do to avoid any follow-up confusion is to ask about next steps. Doing this in person, before you leave the interview, can help you to know exactly what to do next and when. For example, they may tell you that they prefer not to receive a follow-up email. Or if you haven't heard back in x amount of time, then that is the right time to send over an email to enquire.

The trouble is that almost every company or recruitment agency has a different hiring process. So, asking about what it is that they want exactly can help you to cut away this confusion from the offset. Which means you won't make a silly mistake and frustrate anyone unnecessarily, nor will you miss out on the opportunity to follow-up and leave a second impression.

Don't Follow Up Too Much

When a certain amount of time lapses between your interview and hearing back, it's easy to become a little bit disheartened. In which case, you may be tempted to follow-up multiple times with the hiring manager or recruiter looking for information. This is a mistake.

More than one follow-up email, no matter how well-intentioned, can be almost as good as a death sentence. Why? Because it's extremely annoying and the person you are emailing likely won't appreciate the effort in any way shape or form. It can also come across as a little bit desperate, which is never a good signal to be sending out to potential employers.

Phone or Email

In a world of full inboxes and the like, it can be tempting to cut through all of the noise. Reaching out to the hiring manager directly via phone can do one of two things; impress them with your forwardness or frustrate them. Unfortunately, you may find the latter being the more popular reaction.

People are busy in the modern world, so if you're hiring for something like a corporate solicitor or simply looking for a shop job, the likelihood is that whoever is working to hire you will be a very busy individual in their own way. Interrupting that level of business with a phone call, then, can be taken negatively on the whole.

The fact is that the hiring managers will be seeing multiple people for any given role. If you continually phone up and all of the other candidates do the same, it can become even more work for the person hiring the position. Which may mean that they prefer to keep everything to an email format, which they can manage at their leisure or when the time allows for it. As a phone call adds the pressure of dealing with your follow-up then and there.

Final Thoughts

The period following an interview can be excruciating. Especially if you are job hunting from a place of unemployment, each growing day of silence can make you feel worse and worse. But, taking this frustration out on poor follow-up email etiquette is not a good idea.

Instead, keep the above in mind and make sure your follow-ups are tailored to the hiring manager. That way, you can be assured that they will be received relatively positively.

What Color Is Your Parachute?

What Color Is Your Parachute? 2022: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers
by Richard Nelson Bolles and Katherine Brooks
With more than 10 million copies sold in 28 countries, the world's most popular job-search book is updated for 2022. Katherine Brooks tailors the late Richard Bolles's long-trusted guidance with up-to-the-minute information and advice for today's job-hunters and career-changers.
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