After your resume makes it past the applicant tracking system, you are one step closer to landing a coveted job interview. There is endless advice available about exactly how you should prepare, but there is less space devoted to what you should do once an interview ends. These five guidelines will tell you exactly how to follow up after an interview.

Be prompt

Follow up within 24 hours. If your interview took place early in the day, try to follow up within the same business day. Handwritten notes are classic, but it’s perfectly acceptable—maybe even preferable—to send an email message thanking the people you interviewed with (either ask for their business cards at the interview, or look them up on LinkedIn. It’s crucial to have the names, titles, and contact information all correct). An email will arrive faster, while the conversation with you is still fresh in their minds. Keep your message concise, thank them for their time, and reiterate your interest in the position. As always, proofread it before you send it. Reading it out loud to yourself is one way to help find errors.

Be attentive

When a job posting says “no phone calls, please,” listen. The average job listing posted online receives upwards of 200 applications; hiring managers are busy people. Follow instructions to the letter, show that you respect their time, and don’t prove that you believe you are a special case. If you don’t follow instructions, don’t respect people’s schedules and priorities, or do expect special treatment, you will appear difficult to work with and land yourself directly in the “no” pile.

Be gracious

Most interviews close with a variation on “we’ll get in touch with you by the end of the week.” If you don’t hear anything by the date they specified, give them an additional day or two. Then you can touch base to express your continued interest and ask about how the decision-making process is going. Be brief and polite, and don’t badger anybody.

Be persistent

If you still haven’t heard a word after you sent both your initial follow up immediately after the interview and a second note if you were not contacted within the time period specified at the interview itself, then try one more time. But wait one week after your sending your second note to send a third. Again, restate your interest in the position.

Be smart

If you have followed up three times after the interview without receiving a single response, it is time to move on. Continue networking and applying elsewhere. Each interview gives you the chance to improve, so take some to think about what you learned and how you can apply it in your next interview.

If you do hear back, only to receive a rejection, respond wisely. No matter how disappointed you are, or how certain you are that you were perfect for the job, remain professional and polite. Being negative or rude will only burn bridges and spoil your reputation. Thank them for their time and for considering you for the opportunity, and wish them well. You could even add that you would like to be considered for future opportunities; after all, not every hiring decision works out, and there could always be the chance of a similar role becoming available.

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Trista Winnie

Trista Winnie has been writing and editing professionally for nearly a decade, primarily covering the job search, investing, engineering, and health.

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