Follow up after an interview: how -- and how often

The interview went well, and what an exciting opportunity! It ends with a warm handshake and a promise that you'll hear from us by next Tuesday. You float away on Cloud Nine ... and you start counting the hours until Tuesday.

First of all, send thank you notes (handwritten makes the best impression) to each person you met with during the interview.

Then sit tight.

As anxious as you may feel midday Monday, wait. Give them until Tuesday (or whatever day they gave you). If you do not hear from them Tuesday (bummer, I know) call your contact person mid-morning Wednesday. Be positive, upbeat and assumptive when you speak with them (or leave voicemail). If you speak with them they will likely advise you of the status of things and let you know if they are ready to meet with you again. If they tell you they will follow up by x day, make a note of that.

X day now arrives. Should you not hear from them, call mid afternoon and follow up in the same manner. If you do not talk to a 'live' hiring manager, send a brief upbeat email as well.

Contrary to advice you may receive from friends (and your inner voice), don't start calling everyday. Don't email everyday either. If you follow up too often -- or if you don't respect the call-back schedule they give you -- you will appear desperate and too pushy. That will be a sure way NOT to get the job. It will put you in a bad light. Plus it's rude and disruptive.

Instead, keep busy and keep your momentum going with other applications and other interviews. If it's crickets and you do not hear anything, follow up with a call or email in a week, and continue to touch base each week for perhaps another week or two. Then if nothing, file their contact information away and move on.

The key is to be upbeat, confident, positive and assumptive. Let them know of your interest. Good messaging will be well received and will keep you top-of-mind. Keep it at the right intervals and you'll be the professional candidate they will respect.

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