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How Often Should You Check Back After an Interview?
Diligent job seekers who put as much effort into their search for employment as they would a full-time job often have reasonable expectations for employers to be responsive. But recruiters and hiring managers don't always update applicants on the details of their selection process. This leaves many job seekers waiting for feedback on their interviews and wondering how often is too often to call back after the meeting.
Many organizations use preliminary telephone interviews to decide which applicants make the first cut in the company's hiring process. A brief phone call from a recruit usually includes a short description of the job and a few questions about your work experience. The primary goal of a preliminary interview via phone is to verify that you're still interested in the job and to confirm that you meet the basic requirements. Recruiters often will explain the next steps in the process, such as when face-to-face interviews are going to be scheduled.
Post-Telephone Interview Contact
If you've applied for a sought-after position with a company that rarely has job openings, you might be competing with hundreds of other applicants for one coveted role. This means the recruiter's review of preliminary interviews could take more time to complete. If she told you it would be approximately one week before she extends the invites to a face-to-face interview, give it six business days. You might be anxious to know where you stand, but calling on precisely the one-week mark might seem a bit pushy. Sending your thank-you note will keep your name fresh in her mind so she won't think that your calling one day after the one-week mark is a sign that you're no longer interested.
Once you progress to the face-to-face interview stage, pay close attention to the interviewer's explanation about the company's hiring process. During the preliminary telephone interview stage, the company's strategy for filling the position may still be tentative. By the time you meet with the recruiter or hiring manager, you should expect more details about when the company will make a decision. If the hiring manager hasn't explained the process by the end of the interview, simply ask, "What are the next steps? I'm interested in this role and want to move forward as a viable candidate for the job." The hiring manager's answer should give you an idea of how soon and how often you should contact her about a decision.
An Extra Day
"Plus one," a phrase usually reserved for RSVPing, also is practical advice for timing your calls to a potential employer. If you interview for a job on Tuesday and the interviewer says she intends to make a decision in a couple of days, the typical translation for a "couple of days" is "two." Send your thank-you letter right away to ensure she receives it by the next business day, which in this case, is Wednesday. Then call her on Thursday afternoon or mid-morning Friday to ask about her decision. If you reach the hiring manager and she hasn't made a decision yet, always ask, "What day would you like me to follow up with you?" If she gives you a precise day, call on that day, not the day after. If she says, "Call me in a week," make a note on your calendar to call her on the fifth business day.
The rule of thumb for following up with potential employers about whether you got the job or if you will be asked to come in for another interview is this: Never call more than once a day and, preferably, don't call every day. Use your judgment to determine how often you should call based on the rapport you developed during your interviews. Instead of showing that you're interested in the job, the only thing you'll show by making too-frequent calls is that you don't know the difference between persistence and being a pest. The latter will almost certainly guarantee that you won't get the job.
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Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.
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