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Communication: When Should an Applicant Follow-up With a Potential Employer

Integrity Staffing & Solutions

This question comes up frequently when we work with job seekers.  The truth is, individual recruiters and hiring managers have their own preferences.  Here are some guidelines to follow based on which stage of the selection process you are in.

Job Posting

Eager applicants may be tempted  to contact the employer right away to check the status of their applications; however, oftentimes the recruiter/hiring manager will not begin the screening process until there are several resumes/applications to review or they may review application materials only every few days.  Give the recruiter/hiring manager at least five days before you contact them to check on the status of your resume.  If the employer has an automated applicant tracking system, candidates may be able to log into the system and view the status of their application (or at least see if their application has been forwarded to the hiring manager).  Many employers won’t update the applicants’ statuses after they have been forwarded to the hiring manager until the position has been offered to a candidate.  If you call at this early stage of the process, it may be best just to ask when applicants can anticipate the first round of screening will be completed.  You will then know the next time you should reach out to the employer regarding the status of your application.

At this early stage of the selection process, your best means of communication with the employer  is your resume and a cover letter.  Invest time and thought into crafting great documents to represent you; these will say more to the recruiter/hiring manager than your early check in.

Interview Request

You’ve made it to the next round of the organization’s recruitment process.  A company representative has called to schedule the interview.  This is an excellent opportunity to gather some important information and make a good impression.  Some good questions to ask are:

  • Where is the best place to park?
  • To which room number should I report?
  • How many people will I be interviewing with?  What are the names and titles of those I will be interviewing with?
  • In addition to a copy of my resume and references, is there anything else I should bring?
  • What is the estimated duration of the appointment?

Asking questions like those above will ultimately save you time and stress.  It also shows the employer you like to be prepared.  Be sure to thank the person who answered your questions.  How you treat each person you interact with can affect how you are viewed as a candidate.

DO NOT ask questions about salary and benefits – while these things are important, it sends the wrong message at this point in the process.

Post-Interview

At the end of the interview, ask when you should expect to hear if you have made it to the next step of the process; ask the interviewer if it would be appropriate for you to follow up with a phone call or email after the specified time frame has elapsed.  Once the specified time period has passed, it is appropriate to contact the interviewer by their preferred method to ask the status of your application.

After your interview (and outside of the process of checking in on the status of your application), it is still best practice to send a short note thanking the interviewer for his/her time and reiterating your interest in the position. While a handwritten note is impressive, you should, at the very least, send an email within 24 hours of the interview.  Be sure to collect the card(s) of those with whom you interviewed in order to obtain their email address(es).

If the interviewer was unable to provide a specific time frame for the decision to be made about which candidates will be proceeding to the next step of the process, it is appropriate to wait five days and then call or email the interviewer to check on the status of your application. An even better approach would be to call and ask if you can provide any additional information about your skills and experience that would assist the employer in the decision-making process.  Maintain an attitude of interest and not desperation.

These recommendations  hold true for each interview in the selection process.

Post-Rejection

Perhaps you interviewed for a position for which you felt you were well-suited. Although hiring managers may not respond to your questions, it is acceptable to contact the hiring manager to respectfully ask what skills or experience you need to acquire in order to enhance your candidacy for this type of position. Approach this conversation with an open mind and do not argue with the hiring manager about the feedback he/she provides. Listen attentively, ask for examples of what the hiring manager means, and thank the individual for taking the time to provide you with feedback.  If you are puzzled by some of the feedback provided, discuss it with a friend or mentor who knows you well and whom you trust to see if he/she can shed some additional light for you.

During the Process

When reaching out to potential employers, it is important to be considerate of their time and not become a nuisance.  Demonstrate good judgment in the frequency and nature of your communications with those involved in screening your application materials.  Always be respectful of everyone you encounter in the course of the screening process.  They will share with others in the organization their experiences with you, both positive and negative.

Just Another Reminder

The best way to start off the application process is  to submit a carefully prepared and tailored resume and cover letter at the start of the application process.  These documents speak volumes about you as a candidate.