The job application and follow-up process have changed so drastically over the past few years that it’s nearly impossible to advise using a standard approach for any of it. So, using a universal the template that takes you through the template of a thank you followed by an appreciation for the meeting and conversation and ending with your interest in the position might feel a bit stale or expected to the recruiter or interviewer.
Try to spend a bit more time on your follow-up email, even if all it serves to do is distract you for a while and remind you of just how good you are at what you do.
Personalize the process: “When using email throughout and after the interview process, it’s important to remember that hiring managers are people too—they all have different personalities, and they all work for companies with different cultures and expectations around professional comportment,” said William Ratliff, Senior Career Services Manager at Employment BOOST, a professional career services, and outplacement firm.
Pay attention to tone: If the interviewer is a stickler for proper grammar and prefers to be addressed as Mr. Hiring-Manager rather than Joe, you probably don’t want to start your email without even an initial greeting and salutation. Conversely, if you showed up to the interview in a three-piece-suit and the hiring manager was wearing faded jeans, you need to use your follow-up note to show them that not only are you brilliant and capable, you can easily adapt to the corporate environment. For that reason, Ratliff explains that “There’s no one-size-fits-all approach,” to write a follow-up email. “Instead, adapt your tone to that of the interviewer. While you’ll want to be a little more formal than they are, you’re fine to drop the Dear Ms. Smith and replace it with a Hi, Samantha. Meet them on their level while maintaining your professionalism.”
It’s fine to follow-up on the follow-up: Instead of fretting and obsessing, feel free to check in again and see if there’s something else you could or should be doing while you wait to hear if you have another interview or got the gig. “If more than a week and a half has passed, it doesn’t hurt to send a brief check-in email,” Ratliff said. And don’t feel uncomfortable about it at all. “There’s no reason to be coy or to dance around the purpose of your email. Ask them if they have a rough timeline in mind for advancing candidates and offer to send additional information if they need it.” And then leave it at that. “Don’t send multiple follow-up emails for the check-in, and make sure a decent amount of time has passed.”
Don’t take any of it personally: Unless you messed up spectacularly, don’t take the silence personally and allow yourself to be proactive about the communication. The person who interviewed you is probably juggling a million commitments. “They’re likely busy, but they’ll understand if you’re checking in after a whole week or so.”
Keep it simple: This isn’t the time to expand on your ability to speak 17 languages by listing each and every one of them including pig Latin, instead, brevity is the order of the day. “Keep the email brief—while you can mention your interest in the role or that you enjoyed the interview, keep things concise,” Ratliff advised. Besides, “The longer your email, the less likely the hiring manager will want to deal with it.”
Don’t be too cocky: We all know that you’re the best candidate for the job, but you don’t want to sound like you’re too in love with yourself. “Don’t use the email for things you forgot in the interview, and don’t come off as presumptuous,” Ratliff warns. And in case you didn’t realize it by now, “It’s not very likely that the content of the email will make the difference,” for that reason “being too verbose can be seen as insecure or overly aggressive.”
Know when to move on: I recently received an email from someone distressed to have been ghosted right in the middle of the selection process. Ratliff explains that “If the company has gradually lost contact with you or ghosted you completely, it’s best to move on.” Sadly, the interview process is “not that different from dating—you can’t force a connection if it isn’t there and dwelling on the past won’t help you move into your future. Companies will not generally provide you with details regarding why they’re not proceeding with your candidacy; instead, it’s better to take the hint and keep on looking.”
Sample follow-up email for after an interview
If you are having trouble getting started, use this sample of a thank you and follow-up email after your interview.
Hi (Hiring manager’s first name),
Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me today. I genuinely enjoyed learning more about the (title of the role you’re applying for) position and getting to know you and (company name) a bit better. I was thinking about what you said regarding the company outlook and I wholeheartedly agree that “positive optimism” is a great way to approach each business day and venture.
I really appreciate (company name)’s emphasis on work-life balance, but more importantly, I love how the (name of your potential team) is structured. The hands-off approach is exactly the environment in which I flourish.
Learning more about the role today really excited me because it convinced me even further that this is a perfect match. The skills I have learned at (past or current company) will really allow me to aid in the growth of the (name of your potential team) and I’d love the opportunity to learn even more at (company name).
I am looking forward to the potential next steps in this process and I thank you again for your time today.
(Your First and Last name)