When to Follow Up After a Job Interview (Complete Guide)

By Mike Simpson

When to follow up after a job interview; it’s something most candidates wonder about. After all, if you reach out too soon or too often, you might seem desperate or bothersome. Wait too long, and you might miss out on the opportunity.

Luckily, it is possible to get it right. Here’s a look at when to follow up after a job interview.

Following Up a Job Interview

Before we look at when to follow-up after an interview, let’s talk about what following up involves. Usually, there are two kinds of follow-up: the “thank you” and the “update request.”

You’ll send “thank you” follow-ups immediately after any interview with hiring managers. With these, the main goal is showcasing appreciation, though you’ll also share some tidbits to showcase yourself as an exceptional candidate.

With “update requests,” you’re following up to learn more about where the hiring manager is in the recruitment process. You’ll ask about timelines, as well as reassert your interest in the job and highlight why you feel you’re a strong candidate.

In all cases, follow-ups aim to keep the lines of communication open. Additionally, they help candidates show they’re excited about the opportunity.

Plus, they can help you stand out from other candidates. Overall, 80 percent of hiring managers think thank you emails are helpful (either somewhat or very), but only 24 percent of candidates actually send one. By being part of that minority, you might increase your odds of landing the job.

Whether you’re trying to craft a thank you email after a phone or in-person interview or write a follow-up email after an interview (including if you’ve had no response since), the timing matters. But when do you send those messages? Keep reading to find out.

Timing a Job Interview Follow-Up

On average, it takes 24 business days to hear back after an interview; that’s a little more than a month. Does that mean you need to wait that long to follow up? No, it doesn’t. But it is part of the broader equation.

So, how do you figure out when to follow up after an interview? Well, it depends on the kind of follow-up you’re sending and a few other factors.

Thank You Emails

When it comes to sending a thank you email after an interview, that should be on its way within 24 hours, though sooner is usually better. Now, that doesn’t mean you should write one while sitting in your car in the parking lot right after the meeting ends, as that might be a bit too soon. Instead, aim for one to two hours after the interview or first thing in the morning following the meeting.

MIKE'S TIP: Sending a thank you email after a job interview is a must in nearly all situations. The only exception is if you’re explicitly told not to contact the hiring manager (or anyone) regarding the position. While “radio silence” requests are rare, they do happen. If the hiring manager asks for no contact, don’t reach out at all. If you do, you’re not following instructions, and that could cost you the job, even if you only write to say “thanks.”

Post-Interview Follow-Up

Aside from the initial thank you email, when to follow up after a job interview next depends on several factors.

First, did the hiring manager give you a date for when to expect a decision? If the answer is “yes,” then you don’t want to send any messages beyond a thank you email until the day after the one that was provided. Similarly, if they gave a vague timeline – saying something along the lines of, “I’ll be making a decision within the next two weeks” – wait until that timeframe passes before reaching out.

If you ask for information before that window closes, your message could seem rude. In the worst-case scenario, you might seem forgetful, pushy, or aggressive, none of which works in your favor.

If the hiring manager didn’t give a decision date, wait one to two weeks before following up. That usually gives them enough time to handle any related tasks – like contacting references or running background checks – or create a timeline for any next steps.

Whether you want to wait one or two weeks could depend on specific factors. For example, if a major holiday falls in that window, err on the side of two weeks. Additionally, if the hiring manager stated that a lot of tasks have to get handled, you may want to go with the longer timeline.

Another point to consider is whether the job listing is still active. Usually, this only matters if there was a closing date included on the posting. If there is, it’s typically safe to assume that the hiring manager isn’t going to choose a candidate until that date passes, even if they found an excellent one.

Why would they wait? Because some organizations have rules about timeframes for accepting applications. If that’s the case, the hiring manager might not be allowed to fill the role or discuss their decision until the closing date passes.

Finally, if you’re wondering if the rules about when to follow up after a final interview are different, they aren’t. Just because you’ve participated in several rounds doesn’t mean it’s okay to rush, so give it at least five business days before you check in.

Following Up After a Follow-Up

If you waited an appropriate amount of time and sent a follow-up, but it’s been several days, and you still haven’t heard anything, you might be wondering, “How do you figure out when to follow-up after an interview again?” Well, generally, the same sort of timeline applies.

In most cases, you want to wait another one to two weeks before reaching out a second time. Again, where you fall in that window could depend on whether there’s a holiday or any other potentially disruptive event occurring. If so, longer may be better. If not, five business days could be enough.

If you reach out the second time and still don’t get an answer, it’s best to let things lie. Yes, being ghosted is frustrating, but continuing to email probably won’t help. Instead, refocus on your job search. That way, you can set your sights on a new opportunity.

Timing Etiquette

At this point, you should have a solid idea of when to send a follow-up email after an interview. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few other timing etiquette things to consider.

For your thank you email, wait at least one hour, but no more than 24. That way, you’re timely without being too over the top. Anything later than that might make you seem disinterested, so keep that in mind if you’re thinking about waiting.

Aside from the thank you message, limit yourself to two well-spaced follow-ups. Either wait for the decision dates you were given to pass or give it one to two weeks for the first one. Then, either wait for the second date to pass (if you got a reply) or wait one to two weeks more before reaching out once more.

After those three messages, consider moving on, particularly if you don’t get a reply. If the hiring manager does eventually reach out, then you can reassess from there. If not, assume that focusing your energies elsewhere is your best bet.

Common Mistakes of Follow-Up Timing

Sending Too Many Emails or Reaching Out Too Soon

Usually, the biggest mistakes you can make with follow-up timing are sending too many messages or reaching out too soon. In either of those cases, you can seem pushy, demanding, disrespectful, entitled, desperate, or aggressive, and none of that is good.

With follow-up, you need to be polite, professional, and a bit restrained. Yes, waiting is difficult, but it’s a part of the process. So, use the guidance above to make sure you’re on target.

Not Sending a Thank You Email Soon After the Interview

While you don’t want to follow up too soon or too often, it’s important for that initial thank you email to go out pretty quickly. If you wait several days after the interview, the hiring manager may assume that you weren’t overly interested in the role, causing them to pass you over.

Generally, within 24 hours is best. However, you can reasonably send one about two hours after your meeting.

Emailing Far Outside of Normal Business Hours

Alright, here’s a follow-up timing mistake that many candidates overlook. If you send out your emails far outside of regular business hours, it might not make the best impression.

Remember, hiring managers can see the time that the message arrived in their inbox. Having a message show a time like 3:00 am might not seem like a big deal universally, but it could also raise some eyebrows. As a result, it’s best to aim close to normal business hours, such as between the hours of 6:00 am and 8:00 pm.

Tips for Deciding on When to Follow-Up

Think About the Timeline

If you were given a timeline, then you need to factor that into the equation. Generally, if you were provided a date that you could expect an answer – aside from the thank you email – you don’t want to reach out until the decision day passes. Instead, wait until at least the business day after. That way, you aren’t being too aggressive.

Consider the Closing Date

When a job posting has a closing date, it’s typically safe to assume that you won’t get a formal answer until it passes. Usually, hiring managers won’t be allowed to officially fill the role until that timeframe is over, even if they feel strongly about a candidate they’ve already met. Plus, they won’t be able to tell the candidates about it either.

In this case, you can send a thank you email within 24 hours. Otherwise, wait until the posting closes. That way, the hiring manager can give you the full scoop.

Factor in Holidays or Other Events

When you don’t have a timeline to work with, waiting one to two weeks is a reasonable target. However, to figure out if you should be on the earlier or later side of that window, consider what is occurring during that time.

For example, major holidays that usually result in a day off need to be part of that equation. Similarly, if you know that the company has a significant event to deal with, such as a new product launch, anniversary celebration, or anything that can take a lot of attention from employees, factor that in, too.

The Timeline for Additional Follow-Up

If you’ve sent one properly timed follow-up email and still don’t know if you’re moving forward in the hiring process, when to follow-up again may depend on whether you received a response.

For unanswered follow-up emails, wait one to two weeks before attempting to connect again. That way, you’re giving them a bit of time to handle related tasks or make a decision before requesting an update again.

If you did get a reply, you’ll need to adjust the timing depending on what it says. If you received a vague answer like, “I’ll let you know once I’ve made a decision,” wait seven to ten business days before reaching back out. For replies that had a specific date, wait one to two business days after that before requesting an update.

Putting It All Together

At this point, you should have a solid idea of when to follow up after a job interview. While the exact timing may vary depending on the situation, make sure that politeness and professionalism are your priorities.

Remember, being overzealous or demanding works against you. Additionally, know that not getting a reply isn’t necessarily a comment on you or your capabilities. Keep looking forward, giving your job search the time and attention it needs. That way, even if this job doesn’t work out, your next one might, ensuring you can keep your career on track in the end.

Good luck!

About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.