How Soon Should I Send a Second Follow-Up Email After an Interview?
I recently got a comment from a job seeker who had a job interview two LONG weeks ago and hadn't yet heard anything back from the employer. She was wondering if she should send another follow-up email asking again for their interview process timeline.
She had already sent a follow-up note after the interview that contained questions for her main contact at the company. She wanted to know what the next steps are and when they expect to make a decision. A normal thing to wonder. But, they didn't answer and so she wanted to ask again.
What questions can you expect an employer to answer?
I decided to write this because her question raised some red flags for me that I worry other job seekers don't know about. A lot of job search experts tell the job seeker to ask about next steps and / or the hiring timeline at the end of the interview. I think those are great questions during the interview itself. And often they will respond in the moment as best they know.
But that does NOT mean that the focus of your thank you note or follow up email should be about what YOU need from them. A good follow-up note should remind them of your strong interest in THEM, perhaps a point or two about why you especially feel you match, and then ask if there is anything else they need from you. You can also ask politely if they have a tentative timeline for making their decision.
Some companies have policies that allow them to share that kind of information, while others don't. So be prepared either way. A non-response can simply be the company policy (mandated by legal in some cases) and not a reflection on you – nor on the people you would actually be working with.
About the time it takes to get an answer from the company
First thing I need to explain is that, in the majority of cases, two weeks is not long! What feels like a long time from the job seeker side, flies by on the employer side, as many of the key people still have their own jobs to handle. And if they are short a person, that may mean even more work than usual slowing down the very process that could bring them much-needed help.
Now you may still be thinking that's all very nice and you get that they may not have a lot of extra time, but how long does it take to let job candidates know what's happening?
Good point. But again, some simply may not be permitted to respond. And others are waiting to finish interviews and / or get responses from all the key participants – and after that, they may need to contact them all over again to discuss next steps and folks to call back. All that often takes waaay longer than you or even they can imagine!
I know that it isn't satisfying to tell someone waiting with bated breath about a job they really want and need that it will take as long as it will take. But that's the truth. If you want to follow up, give it time between each one – maybe two weeks. Just know that too many too often can actually hurt you!
So by all means send a thank you note right away. And you can politely follow up once or twice. You can even try to find someone in the company to help champion your cause (although do that carefully – it can also turn people off if done too aggressively.) But in the end, the process still has to meet the company's timing needs – not yours.
So set your mind to making peace with what you can't control, and giving it your all where you actually can make a real difference. And in the meantime, keep looking for another job. It helps keep you sane and leaves you less dependent on whatever they decide. And you just may surprise yourself and find something you like even more. I've seen it happen!