How do I check my application status without being a pest?

It’s a common situation: You’ve interviewed, but days have passed since the interview and you haven’t heard anything from the company. How do you check the status of your application without being a pest?

First, let’s note that there could be many reasons why the company has been quiet since your interview. Key people in the interviewing process may be on vacation or attending a conference or out ill; they may have been pulled into a time-critical project at work; or they may be interviewing other candidates for this position or for other positions. (Or are they ghosting you? Hopefully not, though unfortunately, it is another possible explanation for their silence.)

Second, let’s assume that you always send a thank-you email the same day as your interview.

So, how can you confirm where the company is in the interviewing process?

Scenario # 1:
The first and easiest way to ensure professional post-interview follow-up is to train yourself to end every interview with a question like this:

“I’ve really enjoyed our conversations today. Should I plan to reach out to you at the end of the week (or “on Monday” or whatever day is a few days away) to confirm next steps in the process?”

Or:

“I’ve really enjoyed our conversations today. Could you give me a sense of the next steps in the process?”

Both of these questions will prompt the interviewer to reply with some basic information about the interviewing process and timelines. Listen carefully to their response, and reply to confirm next steps by saying something like, “Great – I will plan to email you on Monday to check in”, or “Thank you – I’ll look forward to hearing from you in about 10 days once your team has completed the interviewing process.” This is the easiest way to be confident in your post-interview follow-up.

Scenario # 2:
If you weren’t able to confirm next steps during the interview, include a sentence in your post-interview thank-you email to indicate your plans to follow up – for example:

Dear Emily:

Thank you for our interview this afternoon. I sincerely enjoyed our conversation and learning more about Acme Company.

(Include additional thank-you information here, such as: I was particularly interested in Acme’s initiatives in the clean energy space, or I was particularly interested in hearing your perspective on X, Y, and Z…)

I am best reached at 781.xxx.xxxx and am excited to hear about next steps in the interview process. I will plan to email you on Monday to confirm next steps if we haven’t connected in the meantime.

Again, many thanks for our conversation today.

Best, (your name)

Scenario # 3:
If neither Scenario #1 nor Scenario #2 were your situation, that’s OK! Let’s assume you sent a thank-you email the day of your interview. A few days after your interview (maybe 3), you’ll reach out via email to check in. It’s easiest (and most helpful to the recruiter/hiring manager) to do this by forwarding your post-interview thank-you email so they can easily remember you, and adding a brief sentence or two to check in – for example:

Subject: Thank you & quick note to check in

Dear Alejandro:

Thank you again for our interview on (date). I sincerely enjoyed our conversation and have been following Acme Company in the meantime. I look forward to hearing about next steps in the interview process, and am best reached at 781.xxx.xxxx or via email at youremailaddress@brandeis.edu.

Best, (your name)
(Remember: You’ll forward your post-interview thank-you email)

Scenario # 4:
You’ve done Scenario #1, or Scenario #2, or Scenario #3 above, and you still haven’t received an update from the company. Now what?

The following is a generally acceptable plan:

About 1 week following your last communication to the company, forward your last communication to the company (or reply to your last communication received from the company), along with a brief note such as:

Dear Mei Ling:

Thank you again for our interview on (date). Sending this quick note to check in, as I remain excited to continue the conversation with Acme Company! I’m best reached at 781.xxx.xxxx or via email at youremailaddress@brandeis.edu, and look forward to confirming next steps in the interview process at your convenience. Many thanks.

Best, (your name)

After about 1 more week, you may send another similar email.

Scenario # 5:
If the company replies at any time during the above scenarios, incorporate their reply/feedback/timeline into your subsequent follow-up. If their reply indicates that your candidacy is not advancing in the process, it is best to graciously reply to that communication – something like:

Dear William:

Thank you for your note and update. I sincerely enjoyed the interview process with Acme Company and appreciated our conversations. I will continue to follow the company and hope that our paths may cross in the future. Thank you again, and best wishes to you and your team.

Best, (your name)

Scenario # 6:
If you have not received a reply after reaching out once per week for 2-3 weeks, it may be best to let it sit (in other words, cease your outreach to the company) and assume that your candidacy may not be moving forward or may be delayed. At this point, it’s generally best to focus on other opportunities, with the peace of mind that you have managed your communication with the company in a professional manner. And if the company eventually reaches out to you, your professional courtesy throughout the process will make it easy to continue your conversations with the company!

Pro tip:
Avoid using phrases like “I haven’t heard from you” or “I never heard back from the company” when following up on the status of your application, because it sounds like you’re criticizing the person or the company. Instead, focus on using language like, “I enjoyed interviewing at Acme Company and look forward to hearing about next steps in the process”!

 

By Julie Miller
Julie Miller Director, Career Strategies Center Julie Miller