Although the legend has it that the proverbial “no news is good news” originated with England’s King James I some 400 years ago, the monarch was likely not in the throes of post-job interview angst. In fact, today’s candidates might find waiting for word from a prospective employer to be one of the most frustrating parts of their job search. A well-written follow up can be the key that unlocks doors (and job opportunities).
At the very least, sending timely and courteous follow-up letters after your job interview is a proactive display of professional finesse. And ideally, it’s your best shot at taking control of the recruiting process at key decision and communication stages. Job candidates who send interview follow-up letters have plenty to gain and nothing to lose. With minimal time and effort required, there is virtually no downside if some basic guidelines are followed.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this overview of job interview follow-ups:
- Why are interview follow-up letters useful and important?
- What are the considerations for planning and organizing your follow-up messages?
- What should your interview follow-up letters include? We’ll provide templates and examples you can adapt to create your own.
- What should you avoid in your post-interview follow-ups?
The job interview post-mortem — what next?
So how did your job interview go? Or rather, how do you wish it had gone? What’s the point of an interview post-mortem if you did your best and the rest is now out of your hands?
We’ve all been there and have different ways of coping with the aftermath of a job interview. We might mull over each of the stellar moments, dismiss the minor missteps, agonize over the missed opportunities or put the entire episode out of our minds. But what difference will it make? No matter how well we answered the tough questions, how impressed our interrogators seemed to be or how much is at stake career-wise, the hard part is over. We did our best and it’s all up to the career move gods to determine our fate. Thus begins the typical post-interview waiting game.
But wait — not so fast lapsing into passive mode just yet. You are right about the hard part being done! Your success in landing and participating in a job interview is worthy of a double celebration on both of those counts.
But your moves are far from used up. In fact your next move — and it is still your turn — could be the game changer. Perfectly timed and targeted follow-up letters can make all the difference, not only in the outcome of your job interview but how and when you receive the news. We’re not saying it’s a quick and easy next step, but it’s less steep and more straightforward than the pre-interview path that’s brought you this far.
Why thank-you letters are valuable
Now let us count the reasons why you won’t regret the relatively modest, but highly worthwhile investment of time and effort in at least one interview follow-up letter. Decide for yourself if you think it’s merely a good idea or essential, if there’s a chance of tipping the scales in your favor as an A-list contender for this job.
Let’s focus on the most important form of contact that should follow every job interview without delay. Why are thank-you letters such a big deal? And if you follow up more than once, why should gratitude be a recurring theme?
Polite and proper
What your early role models likely taught you will never go out of style: saying thank-you is common courtesy. Presumably, you already expressed appreciation for the time, attention and interest that interviewers extended at the time of your face-to-face meeting or teleconference. It’s something they would take for granted.
But the same can’t be said about their expectation of a post-interview follow-up letter or note of thanks. Why? Because an astonishing number of candidates who do not follow up with such a display of good manners run the risk of being disqualified by hiring managers. What a remarkably simple but important way to set yourself apart from other short-listed applicants.
Thanks, but no thanks
According to survey results released by Talent Inc., 68% of hiring managers and recruiters warn “ungrateful job seekers are jeopardizing their own candidacy” by failing to follow up with a letter of gratitude for being interviewed.
This majority of survey respondents confirmed that a well-written thank-you message within 24 hours of a job interview has a significant bearing on the decision-making process. In fact, 16% reported rejecting interview candidates who did not send a post-interview thank-you.
The same survey revealed:
- Nearly one-third of all professionals surveyed (31%) do not send a thank-you email or note after every interview.
- 7% of job seekers never send thank-you notes after an interview.
Professional and personable
Gratitude in writing puts your best foot forward in front of recruiters once again, this time outside the interview room. It showcases who you are: the kind of professional and personable employee they would feel confident hiring and co-workers would be pleased to welcome on board.
Reinforce your interest, enthusiasm and motivation
Your follow-up initiative reminds hiring managers how serious you are about wanting to work in this position, for this organization. It’s an opportunity to reinforce what you conveyed in your cover letter and during your interview. On a playing field that’s otherwise level in every qualifying respect, your display of enthusiasm and motivation can influence deliberations.
Restate your qualifications and strengths
Similarly, it gives you a chance to highlight your strongest suits as an ideal fit for the job and hiring organization, reflecting insights gained during the interview.
Fill in blanks and fix faux pas
Forget to mention something during your interview? Did you draw any blanks, fumble for words or flop out completely? Now, the benefit of hindsight lets you say it with confidence and control over the context.
Strengthen the connection
Just the act of following up has a self-serving purpose on its own. Your letters automatically serve as a cue for hiring managers to remember who you are in a top-of-mind (or inbox) manner. It strengthens your connection to the employer by making your name and contact information prominent and familiar once more.
An additional memory trigger could come from something discussed during the interview that sets you apart from the competition.
Keep tabs on what’s happening
Interview follow-up letters give recruiters a respectful nudge in the direction of keeping you posted on where things stand. They send a message that you are worthy of mutual respect.
If you haven’t been notified about any hiring decision, or heard anything at all since the time of your interview, it’s perfectly reasonable to check in with the employer and ask for an update. If the competition is closed, you’ll lose no points for taking the initiative. And if it’s still open, you could actually gain ground by moving back up to the recruiter’s top inbox spot.
Leave the door open
All’s well that ends well – even if you don’t get this job in the end. No matter who gets hired now, everything you’ve experienced as a serious contender can figure into your future career chapters. It may be another job that opens up with the same employer or a completely different kind of opportunity here or somewhere else. It could be the start of a new business relationship with potential networking or mentoring benefits.
When to follow up after a job interview
An effectively thorough follow-up plan does not have to end right after your job interview. In addition to your initial thank-you message at that point, it’s reasonable and potentially beneficial to follow up with recruiters on two subsequent occasions.
Here is a suggested sequence of the three staged follow-up contacts.
1. Thank-you letter
The acceptable window to send a post-interview thank-you note is narrow: HR professionals concur it should be within 24 hours for optimal impact. The goal is for interviewers to receive your letter as soon as possible after the meeting or teleconference and before any hiring decision is made.
2. Checking in
Your second follow-up message can be sent the day after a hiring decision was expected to be reached, as indicated when you asked during the interview. If the decision deadline date is unknown or was never certain, then it’s OK to check in a week or so after sending your thank-you letter.
3. Asking to stay in touch
If the position is ultimately filled by another contender, feel free to follow up with one more note of thanks that leaves a good impression for further contact if other opportunities arise.
If the employer notifies you to advise that someone else was selected, follow up the next day with your request to stay in touch. Otherwise — when it appears “no news is bad news” — wait two or three weeks after your check-in to send your final follow-up message.
When else can you follow up?
Curiosity compels some job seekers to follow up on the status of their application early on in the recruiting process. For those too eager to wait for an interview invitation — or for any word at all on where things stand — there’s no harm in trying to find out. Nor is there any guarantee of a response, right away or ever.
Before following up on the heels of your resume submission, wait a week or so after the application deadline. And first double-check the job posting for pertinent information or instructions. Look for any indications of whether applicants can or should not expect to hear back from the employer by a certain date — or at all. Be clear about any stipulations not to contact the employer. “Don’t call us, we’ll call you” should not be interpreted as a suggestion, but rather the flip side of the “no news is good news” coin.
One of the best ways to set your own stage for a job application follow-up is with a call to action in the cover letter accompanying your resume. It’s a way to end your cover letter on an upbeat, confident note that implies further contact will ensue. From sounding hopeful about an interview to merely stating you look forward to hearing back soon, a call to action puts some onus on the recruiter to connect with you. The goal is to ensure your application won’t be ignored or set aside dismissively.
How to send interview follow-up letters
Email has become increasingly common for all three forms of interview follow-up communications.
Starting with the initial thank-you letter to interviewers, there’s the obvious assurance of timeliness — especially if hiring deliberations are starting right away. And there are other practical advantages. Email lends itself to reflecting on interview highlights with a sense of immediacy, and providing supplementary information while it’s still fresh on the interviewer’s mind. Of course, it’s also ideal for sharing links to your professional social media profiles as well as online work samples.
The alternative — a printed thank-you letter delivered by hand or postal mail — remains acceptable and is not unusual, as long as the hiring verdict is a few weeks or more down the road. What matters is that thank-you letters are still written and leave your hands within 24 hours of the interview. In some instances, a handwritten thank-you note on a card or stationery may be appropriate for a personal touch — either on its own or in addition to an email.
Who do you follow up with?
There’s one simple answer if you met with a solo interviewer: that’s who your thank-you letter is addressed to, and possibly later follow-up contacts. But if two or more hiring staff or other company officers participated in the job interview, everyone needs to receive an individual thank-you letter. Try to make each version slightly different so it doesn’t come across as a cloned message that you made no effort to personalize.
Pay careful attention when you are introduced and make note of names and position titles if possible. Even better, obtain business cards from everyone present at the meeting. If this isn’t feasible, or it’s a virtual video or audio interview, make every effort afterward to match up the participants with those on the e-vite / notification messages issued in advance.
Cross-check names, positions and contact information by any means available: LinkedIn, the company’s website or phone directory, or asking an office receptionist.
Go to extra lengths to ensure names are spelled correctly and no “mistaken identity” goofs occur. A thank-you letter is the last place where you want to get these details wrong, considering what’s at stake.
What you said about …
Your best-case scenario for team interview logistics is this: You have the luxury of being able to take notes discreetly without breaking eye contact. Jot down conversation snippets or some other detail about each participant to twig your memory later (even a little sketch).
If that’s not possible in real time, try to grab a “note to myself” moment right after the interview.
Then, when it’s time to customize each of your thank-you letters, find a way to reflect on an impactful remark or observation from your notes.
What should your follow-up letters include?
Like any other type of business or job search correspondence — including a cover letter — interview follow-up letters should be structured to include these basic components:
Header: your name and contact information
(Not applicable to email message where this information is formatted differently and the “Subject” line is a key element)
- Greeting: a salutation such as “Dear” followed by the recipient’s name
- Introduction: Start off by expressing appreciation
- Body: Relevant supporting information
- Conclusion (closing): Emphasize a key action or desired outcome
- Sign-off (signature): A “complimentary close” above your name — “Sincerely,” Yours truly” or “Best” are common examples that work well
Out of respect for the recipient’s busy schedule and job demands — while demonstrating self-respect with a sense of purpose — interview follow-up letters should be short, simple and straightforward, using clear and concise language. Make sure this applies whether it’s your initial interviewer thank-you letter, subsequent check-in or final request to stay in touch.
Otherwise, your intent and focus each time will be slightly different, and your follow-ups will become progressively briefer.
Let’s take a closer look now at what interview follow-up letters should include, along with some examples you can customize.
These are the essential elements that belong in every thank-you letter to your interviewers.
Always launch straight into warm words of gratitude for the opportunity to meet with interviewers on the employer’s behalf and learn more about the job. Convey that you appreciate their time and attention on this occasion and the overall consideration your application has received.
Be sure to mention something up front that reminds the recipient who you are, where/when you met and the hiring circumstance. Instant recall on the interviewer’s part should not be assumed, given the likelihood of many other job candidate interactions occurring simultaneously.
- Interest and enthusiasm
Reaffirm your interest in the job and desire to work for this employer, perhaps citing something you learned or observed during the interview that was especially appealing or motivating.
- Elevator pitch
Reiterate your value proposition by highlighting the qualifications and qualities that will benefit this hiring organization with you on board. Again, take the perspective of a new insight gained during the interview if possible.
One more thing
Did you forget to mention anything during the interview? Do you wish you had answered that one question differently or come up with a better example? This is your chance to add, answer, elaborate, clarify or correct.
Revisit your “why”
Your interview thank-you letter is the perfect place to circle back to your “why.” Restate to your interviewers why you want this job and why you would be a lucky find for this employer. Perhaps your “why” came across when you answered one of their interview questions, or it might have been pivotal to your cover letter introduction when you applied for the job.
Below are templates you can adapt for your initial follow-up thanking the interviewers you meet with.
[LinkedIn URL] (optional)
[Work-related social media profile URL] (optional)
Thank you for taking the time to talk to me about the [job title] position with [employer name]. The insights you provided gave me a much better understanding of the [organization’s applicable role/functions/activities] overall. It was especially useful for me to learn more about the [specific department] and have a chance to look around. I was impressed with the [activity or environment] and felt inspired by the possibility of collaborating with like-minded [occupational description] professionals.
In addition to my extensive background in [industry/role] — including [number] years as [directly relevant experience] — I have [specific] expertise and a passion for [something downplayed during interview] that might have seemed understated during our conversation. Let me also point out [something overlooked during interview] and clarify [vague response to interview question].
This career opportunity has become more exciting than ever since our discussion about my potential contributions. I look forward to hearing from you once the hiring decision is made. Please let me know if references or any other information are needed in the meantime. Contact me at [best way to reach by phone or email]. Thank you again for your consideration.
Subject: Thank You — [My Name), [Position Title]
It was a pleasure speaking with you this morning about the [job title] position with [employer name]. Our meeting left me with a much better understanding of [something especially impressive about the organization] overall. In particular, I appreciate how the [applicable department or team] contributes and supports [relevant function] by [relevant activity].
Having the chance to visit the [specific site/facility] and watch members of the [type of workers] team made me realize how much I’ve missed [favorite part of the job] during my time at college and how eager I am now to take on more diverse responsibilities. Today’s discussion and tour reinforced my confidence in being up for the challenge, and it’s one I would embrace enthusiastically. The innovative approach to [specific problem or challenge] that you described made me especially excited at the prospect of joining your team.
Specifically, I bring to the position an extensive background in [industry/role], along with [years] working as [directly relevant role]. My [specialized] knowledge, skills and experience are an excellent match. I’d also like to point out [something only touched on during interview].
Again, I really appreciate the time and attention that’s been devoted to my application for this position, including your involvement on the interview panel. Please know how interested I am in working for you, and how hopeful about hearing back from you soon.
[LinkedIn URL] (optional)
[Work-related social media profile URL] (optional)
Below are two examples of interview thank-you letters.
100 99th Street
Big City, Somewhere D4E 5F6
January 22, 2022
Big City, Somewhere A1B 2C3
Dear Mr. Brown:
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me regarding the Legal Assistant position at Brown Attorneys. I appreciate your interest in my qualifications, which appear to be an exceptional match to the job requirements.
The specialized knowledge and expertise I will bring to your team of administrative professionals has been acquired through a series of promotions at the law firm where I worked for seven years. In addition, your partners and clients will benefit from my organizational strengths, efficiency and attention to detail, along with excellent communication skills.
My fluency in Italian would be a useful asset, considering the Italian community’s local prevalence.
I look forward to hearing from you once the final decision is made. Until then, please let me know if you have any questions or need further information.
Subject: Thank You — Jane Jones, Member Relations Coordinator
Dear Dr. Johnson,
It was a pleasure to meet with you this afternoon regarding the Member Relations Coordinator position. I appreciate the time taken from your busy schedule to discuss this opportunity with me.
What you told me about the board’s strategy for enhanced marketing communications was especially intriguing and exciting. I would relish the chance to reprise my former role with a medical professional association. As pointed out during our conversation, I’ve demonstrated a versatile mix of imagination, technical integrity and project management skills in all manner of writing and editing functions. Work samples may be viewed in this online portfolio.
Your comments about the impact of regulatory changes on healthcare providers in overlapping disciplines really resonated. In that regard, my background knowledge would be a valuable asset. Be assured that I’m up to speed on the legal implications for doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants, midwives and others.
Please know how excited I am by the prospect of joining such a talented and dedicated team of professionals. Thank you again for taking the time to speak with me. I’d be happy to answer any further questions you might have.
There might still be a chance that no news is good news, however unlikely it’s starting to seem. It would be great to think someone would let you know one way or another, but unfortunately that does not always happen.
So what can you do to break the silence? This is where a second post-interview follow-up letter comes into play.
Your check-in message should be tersely courteous and focused as follows:
Affirm your understanding of when a hiring decision was expected to be made and note that the date has passed. (If the time frame was unknown or unclear, ask for an update or clarification.)
- Interest in the outcome
Indicate that you hope to be notified when a decision is reached.
- Need anything else?
Offer to provide more information if needed.
If your initial interview thank-you follow-up was an email, you could reply to that email in creating your check-in message — in other words, making it a conversation thread. Or you can simply compose a new email.
Either way, the message itself should be distinct and original. The “Subject” line can be similar, perhaps replacing “Thank You” with “Update Requested” or “Checking in.”
Below is a template for following up a second time after your interview, to check on the hiring decision status. As pointed out previously, email is always recommended for this follow-up purpose.
Subject: Checking in — [My Name], [Job Title]
Hello [Interviewer Name],
I am checking in regarding the [Job Title] position, again with appreciation for the opportunity to meet [when] for an interview. You indicated then that a hiring decision was expected to be made [when].
Naturally, I hope to be notified of the outcome when an update is available. Please advise if there are any new developments or you need any additional information from me.
Asking to stay in touch
When one door closes in another job candidate’s favor, consider leaving windows open to stay connected with this hiring organization. That’s the reason for a third and last post-interview follow-up. Seeking to stay in touch after being passed over is one more assertive move that puts you in a lasting favorable light.
Keep your final follow-up message short, simple and focused on the goal of staying connected. It should center around:
- Thanks again
Convey once more your appreciation for being interviewed and considered.
- What impressed or inspired you
Mention something about the interviewer, employer or workplace that resonated — perhaps an impressive accomplishment, philosophy or best practice you are interested in exploring further.
- To be continued
Come right out and specify how and why you’d like to keep in touch.
Below are templates for following up a third time after your interview, when you wish to stay in contact with the employer even if you are not hired for this position.
Version 1 follows up immediately after the interviewer lets you know that you were not selected for the position.
Version 1— the employer has told you another candidate was hired
Subject: Consideration for Future Opportunities — [My Name], [Job Title]
Hello [Interviewer Name],
Thanks again for the time you spent meeting with me as an interview candidate, and for following up later to advise of the hiring decision. It was a privilege to be considered for this opportunity at [employer name].
Although the outcome is disappointing, my interest in working for your organization has not diminished. I hope to be considered once again for the next job opening that matches my qualifications.
Please keep me in mind and let me know if any further information would be helpful. I look forward to touching base with you periodically. Your consideration is greatly appreciated.
The second version of a “let’s keep in touch” message below is quite different and requires a bit of imagination to conceive. It proposes a follow-up conversation with the interviewer about a career-related topic that has no direct bearing on the job you applied for. Despite hearing nothing from the employer, you are presuming the position has been filled by someone else.
Version 2— you were not notified about the hiring decision
Subject: Request to Follow Up— [My Name], [Job Title]
Hello [Interviewer Name],
Just another note of thanks for taking the time to discuss this opportunity with me during the interview process. It was my pleasure to meet you and the other hiring team members that day, and to learn so much from the information and insights you provided.
I was also fascinated by what you told me about your own background as [occupation / area of expertise] and some of the common ground we share. In particular, I’m interested in [professional / career interest], with plans to pursue [goal or next step].
Would you be willing and available for a chat sometime, to tell me a bit more about [specify]? Perhaps we could schedule a phone call or I could email a short list of questions.
Please let me know if you are receptive to following up in this way. I really appreciate your consideration.
Mistakes to avoid when following up
Sending the right kind of follow-up message at the right time after a job interview can showcase your communication strengths while also showing professionalism and good manners. But doing it the wrong way can backfire. Here are some precautions when it comes to not:
There’s a line between proactive and pushy that interview candidates should be careful not to cross. On one hand, you want to reinforce the qualifications and personal qualities that make you a perfect job fit. On the other hand, you want to come across as somebody who would be a pleasure to work with.
This is no time to be long-winded or redundant, especially when it comes to rehashing your answers to interview questions, or your resume and cover letter content. Keep your follow-up messages short, concise and focused.
Typos, grammatical errors and misspellings have no place in any job search document — least of all in a post-interview follow-up letter. Pay extra attention to ensure everything in your interviewer thank-you notes — especially names and position titles — is accurate and letter perfect.
Key takeaways for interview follow-up letters
- Follow-up letters are always a good idea for job interview candidates to make a positive impression that could give them a winning edge.
- Saying thank you is job one after a job interview, in every form of follow-up contact.
- Interview follow-up letters provide a further opportunity to promote your strengths as an ideal job candidate.
- It’s critical to get the timing right at every stage of post-interview follow-up, starting with a thank-you letter to everyone you met within 24 hours.