Appropriate Interview Follow-Up

I teach Career Information in Arts & Communication (ACINDP 399) at UW-Whitewater. Last semester, I hosted an Employer Panel during the final week of class. During this Q&A session, one student asked the employers how many thank you notes they receive after interviews. Without hesitation, one employer said, “Not enough.”

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Good career advice always includes the importance of following up after interviews. Unfortunately, people either don’t follow up at all or follow up inappropriately. As you move through the internship interview process, keep the following post-interview tips in mind:

  • Send a thank you note immediately after every interview. There is no better way to follow up after an interview than the thank you note. While email is becoming more acceptable, nothing beats a nice hand-written note. However you choose to send your thank you, make sure you do so within 24 hours. During one of my hiring committee experiences, the last thank you card the committee received after the interviews was from the first person to interview. Not good. Here are five more post-interview thank you note mistakes to avoid.
  • Keep the timeline in mind when planning any direct follow up. If you are contemplating a phone call to follow up, make sure it isn’t too soon. How do you know when it is acceptable to call? From the interview itself. Ideally, your interviewer will let you know when to expect to hear back. If they don’t tell you, make this one of your questions at the end of the interview. If they tell you to expect to hear something NEXT Friday, don’t call them anytime before that date. If you haven’t heard anything by that time, then you can contact them. I recently heard that a good expectation is to hear back from an employer within a week to 10 days. So if you didn’t get timeline information during your interview, use this as a guideline.
  • Don’t be a pest. There is a fine line between appropriate interview follow-up and being an annoyance. Send your thank you note. Contact them if you don’t hear back within the stated timeline. Then just chill out. While it can be frustrating to not hear back or to wait, it’s just a reality of the hiring process. If you keep calling and emailing and LinkedIn messaging and… You will drive the employer nuts and drive yourself right out of contention.

Anxiety during the post-interview waiting process is to be expected. Follow up appropriately and keep your peace of mind knowing you did the “right” thing. Relax and hope for good news!