If you have sent a job application, you will usually have to wait a while to hear back. When is it worth asking about the status of your application? Depending on the employer and the position’s closing date, it will be time sooner or later to send a follow-up e-mail after the application. We explain how this should be done and what needs to be considered.
The interview is over and now comes the wait: Did you make a good impression? Are you better suited than the competition? Especially if employers take a long time with accepting or rejecting candidates, it can strain your nerves. Asking questions can get more and more tempting. However, this should not happen on the spur of the moment – after all, your future is at stake. To avoid faux pas, you’re better off sticking to a template.
Before the follow up e-mail: What should you do after an interview?
Before you even send an enquiry by e-mail – and a so-called follow-up letter – there are other ways you can be remembered.
- Business cards: Ask for business cards directly after the conversation. This has two advantages: On the one hand, you may be able to stand out from the crowd of applicants. On the other hand, it helps you to write e-mails after the interview. Instead of contacting an anonymous HR department, you can easily write to a specific contact person.
- Questions about the procedure: Before the interview ends and you leave the office, take the opportunity to ask what the process will be like. You will probably also be given a time frame to help you decide whether a follow-up letter is appropriate after the interview. It will also help you to show further interest.
- Thank you e-mails: If you want to be remembered, a friendly thank you can help. Without building up too much pressure, you can send a reminder of yourself by e-mail shortly after the interview and leave a positive impression.
Finding the perfect time
It’s not easy to find the right time. You’re usually operating in an unknown window of time. Above all, you don’t want to write too early and run the risk of annoying personnel decision makers. However, you don’t want to wait too long either: After all, demand gives you the chance to make another positive impression. In addition, you may also have to make a decision because you may have another job offer.
Since time is such a sensitive issue, it is worth asking the question on the spot. If you have been given a rough time frame, you can also refer to it. If, for example, you are told that the application process will still take two weeks, you can follow up by e-mail up to three weeks after the interview at the latest. Nevertheless, don’t be carried away by the fact that you will be following up directly after the expiry of the specified time frame. An application process can be stressful, and not everything always goes according to plan. If you stick too pedantically to the details, you won’t make a good impression.
If you have not been given a time frame, you should set a deadline for yourself for sending a follow up e-mail. You should plan between two and six weeks. In order to find the right time, consider both the characteristics of the company and the circumstances of the application: Large companies in particular usually take longer to make decisions. This has to do on the one hand with the large number of applications, and on the other hand, with the internal structures. There are comparatively many people involved in the decision-making process, which costs a corresponding amount of time. Small companies and a manageable number of applicants, on the other hand, can expect a quick response.
Finding the right tone
Think carefully about how you want to express yourself – after all, you are still in the application phase. So, when you send a follow up e-mail after the interview, pay attention to the wording. If you seem too impatient or unfriendly, you can ruin everything you have achieved already. In order not to put your foot in your mouth, make it clear why you are asking and don’t forget your counterpart’s perspective. In any case, it’s important to remain friendly and polite.
Of course, it would be nice to receive an answer directly, but even more important would be for employment to come out of this – and that’s what we’re waiting for. So, don’t push for a decision, but find out what’s going on. Let your interest in the position come through, instead of pressing for an answer or expressing your frustration.
What you should express, however, is understanding: There could be many possible reasons why you have not yet received an answer. Changes in the department or a delayed interview process are more likely than you think. This insight also tells you how to write the follow-up e-mail: keep it short.
Get to the point quickly and formulate what you want to know clearly. This will make it easier for the recipient to respond. A dissipated e-mail, which may contain several paragraphs, will be left to be read later and may be forgotten. However, if they can reply to the request within a few minutes, they tend to do so straightaway.
When formulating the e-mail, the subject is also important: Make it as easy as possible for the recipient and formulate the line in such a way that the e-mail can be clearly assigned to your application. In the body of text, refer directly to the interview. Here it can be useful to address concrete points from the interview again briefly. This shows you’re paying attention and gives the recipient another clue as to whose message they are dealing with.
A call can be even quicker. However, this is not always the right solution. Your call could get off on the wrong foot or arrive at an unfavourable time. When it comes to e-mails, the recipient decides for themselves when to process it. If you still prefer a phone call, think about what you really want to say beforehand and keep it short.
Under no circumstances should you make any accusations, demands, or threats:
- “You were meant to contact me two days ago…”
- “Tell me if I have the job or not!”
- “If I don’t get a response from you soon, I’ll have to choose another job.”
If you drive the decision makers into the corner or attack them, you can be sure not to get the job.
Even if you follow all the tips, you should not rely too much on a satisfactory answer. A total of four scenarios are possible:
- You receive a decision: You’ve made it into the next round or you receive a rejection.
- You receive a binding time: Now you know how long you still have to wait and can decide whether to accept this waiting time or decide on another offer.
- Your contact person will continue the dialogue: You will just have to continue waiting.
- You don’t get an answer at all: The recipient of the e-mail ignores your question completely and only responds with a decision or not at all.
If you do not receive an answer even after a reasonable waiting period, it’s worth changing the medium. You now have to chance to persuade your contact to make a statement by telephone. If, on the other hand, you are promised a waiting period or are not given a precise answer, you will have to wait further. Should the company let too much time pass by, you can ask again – but be sure to remain friendly and polite.
E-mail follow-up after the interview: Templates + examples
To make it easier for you to follow up after an interview, we have prepared various samples. Of course, you will have to adapt them to your own situation. Try to design the follow-up e-mail as individually as possible after the interview in order to be more memorable.
Subject: Re: Invitation to interview on 15.01.
Dear [Name of recipient],
I would like to thank you again for inviting me to the interesting interview about the position as [insert job title]. I truly believe that I would be a perfect fit for the team. I was also fascinated by your comments regarding the job – especially the aspects relating to the [special discussion point] area. Even more than before, I can see my future at [insert company name].
Therefore, I would be grateful for an update on my current application status. Can you estimate when a decision on the position will be made?
If you need further information about my application, please contact me at any time. Either by e-mail or under [your telephone number].
I wish you all the best in the meantime,
The above example assumes that you haven’t already sent a thank you e-mail after the interview. You are just replying to the interview that you took part in by e-mail. This makes it easier for the recipient to assign you correctly. In order to avoid the contact person having to scroll through the entire conversation, you should briefly state in the first sentence which position is actually involved. If possible, address your e-mail to the specific interviewer. It is therefore an advantage if you ask for a business card after the interview.
Be sure to pay attention to the address bar – especially if you are replying to a previous e-mail. Often, you receive invitations from the HR department address, but would now like to write to a specific person. Swap the e-mail addresses, and move the department e-mail address into the CC field.
In the following, thank them for the interview, individualise the message with concrete conversation content, and confirm your interest in the advertised position once again. After this brief introduction, you will come to your main concern and offer to support the decision-making process through your willingness to communicate.
Subject: Request for job interview [job title]
Dear [Name of contact person],
I would like to contact you again regarding my application as [job title] and would like to express my great interest in this position once again. [Company name] seems to be my perfect future employer. I would be keen to know if there is any news regarding the application process. Can you estimate when I can expect a decision?
Please feel free to contact me – also with any further information or questions – by telephone at [your telephone number].
In this second example, we assume that you have already contacted them with a thank you message immediately after the interview. That is why the second sample is shorter than the first. In this case, a new subject will be formulated, but will still make the facts clear. Also, in the follow up e-mail itself, you can briefly clarify the context. Despite the brevity, it does not hurt if you affirm your interest in the job. Then the actual reason for the message follows. All this fits into one paragraph and costs the recipient hardly any reading time.
The tone of your e-mail should be based on that of the interview. If, for example, you have spoken formally at the interview, this tone can also be retained when writing the follow-up e-mail.
Dos & don’ts: What to keep in mind
With an interview follow-up e-mail, you can make a positive impression, but you can also put your foot in it.
After enough waiting time has passed, you can confirm your interest by requesting information
Write your contact person too early, appear impatient and aggressive
A short and concise message invites you to respond quickly
If you beat around the bush, the recipient may postpone processing the application
Honest interest and listening well means you’ll come across as likeable.
With threats and demands, you scare off your contact and perhaps even lose your chance at the job
When addressing the interviewer, be guided by the formalities of the interview
Ignoring the tone of the conversation may push your contact’s buttons
After sufficient waiting time, you can try again with a phone call
If you become impatient and send a new e-mail, you will annoy the decision makers
Check your e-mail for spelling, grammar, and formatting errors to make a good impression
If you write your message too hastily and make too many mistakes, this can jeopardise your application
You have not yet been invited to an interview and are waiting for feedback on your application? Read our article on following up on an interview.
One thing to remember is that even if you think you may have found your dream job, don’t stop looking for alternatives and keep applying for other positions until you’ve got a definite yes!