How to Follow Up Dead Air After an Interview

Computer FlowersThe interviewer is going to call; you know they are going to call. You rocked that interview and at the end they told you they would call. Any time now, they are going to call.

But they haven’t called.

Now what?

First – do not panic. Take a breath and look at the calendar. How long has it been since your interview? If it has only been a couple of days, relax. If it is before the time they said they would call, give them a chance.

If it is past the time they said they would call – or if they did not say they would call and it is the next week – then set a strategy to follow up.

The feeling of wanting to get back in touch just to find out something can be overwhelming, but before you do, you need a plan.

The essence of the message

The point of following up is to get an answer, but just calling and blurting out, “What is going on?” is not recommended. Preparation and professionalism is the key. We need to set a strategy on how to craft a message. There are several things to keep in mind when crafting your message:

1. Recognize their time is valuable, they are busy and you are not their first priority.
2. Be helpful rather than needy and never be demanding.
3. Keep it short – remembering number 1 above.
4. Keep it professional – you are still being evaluated.
5. Be courteous – thank them for their time.
6. Remind them of an alignment from the interview without rehashing the whole thing – reiterate a point that you two really connected on. (Live phone conversation or email)
7. Let go of the negative – if you feel you did not do well on a question or portion of the interview, do not use this opportunity to try again.
8. Keep it positive – state that you are very interested in the position.

The call

If you were given a phone number, it is acceptable to call. Before you do, have three scripts written:

1. If they answer the phone.
2. If you get a gatekeeper.
3. If you get voicemail.

All too often I had answered the phone only to be told by a prospective employee that they did not anticipate that I would answer. Well, then why did you call? They were all prepared to leave a voicemail but got completely thrown off when I actually answered. This is why you need the three scenario plan, to be prepared for whatever happens on the other end of the line.

Let’s say I interviewed with Todd about a recruiting position, here are some sample scripts:

If Todd answers: “Hi Todd, this is Lisa McDonald. I had interviewed with you last week regarding the recruiting position and I just wanted to touch base to see if there was anything else that you needed from me in order to move forward.”

If I get Todd’s voicemail: “Hi Todd, this is Lisa McDonald. I had interviewed with you last week regarding the recruiting position and I just wanted to touch base to see if there was anything else that you needed from me in order to move forward. I very much enjoyed our meeting and am excited about the opportunity. I can be reached at PHONE or EMAIL at your convenience and I look forward to speaking with you soon”

If I get a gatekeeper: “Hi, my name is Lisa McDonald and I interviewed with Todd last week regarding the recruiting position. I was just checking in to see if there was anything else that he needed from me in order to move forward. I can be reached at PHONE or EMAIL”

When giving your phone and email, speak slowly. Pretend write it as you speak it to make sure you are giving it at a pace that someone can transcribe it. It is very frustrating to get a voicemail and you have to replay it several times to get the number or spelling or have to ask someone to keep repeating themselves.

The email

During the live phone conversation and in an email is when you can reiterate a positive from the interview, it flows more naturally in a conversation and easier to insert in an email.

Emails are intended to be short, not letters or biographies. That is why the same rules apply for a phone call as for an email. This email is not the same as the thank you email you wrote immediately after the interview, you did do that, right? This is a light, just touching base, what can I do, I’m still here and interested communication.

A sample email could be:

“Todd,
Thank you for your time last week regarding the recruiting position. I really enjoyed our conversation about Company’s philosophy and practice during the entire process as it is my exact approach. I very excited about the opportunity and I wanted to touch base to see if there was anything else that you needed from me in order to move forward.

I can be reached at PHONE or this email at your convenience. Thank you again for your time last week, I look forward to speaking with you soon
Lisa”

The what-ifs

Now you have the perfect message and ready for any scenario. You are not ready to call just yet – you need one more plan. The plan for the what-ifs.

What if they filled the position?
What if they blow you off?
What if they give you another time period?
What if they have no answer but still seem receptive?

If they filled the position: Thank them for their time and consideration and request, politely and positively, that they keep you in mind for future opportunities. Ask if you may connect with them on LinkedIn or contact them again in the future if another opportunity arises.

If they blow you off: Do not take it personally, whether they seem gruff on the phone or do not respond at all. Set a time period as to when you will contact again if you do not get a response. Reaching out a few times is fine, but every week for two months is a bit much. Set a limit and stick to it. If they blow you off on the phone, remain calm, polite and professional. If they say something like, “I just don’t have time right now” keep cool and calmly reply, “I understand you are really busy, I will check in with you next week.”

They give you another time period: It may feel like a blow off, but hey, you are still in the game. Thank them again for taking the time to talk to you and let you know and that you look forward to talking to them by the time period they gave you. If it passes without a call, repeat your follow up.

They have no answer but still seem receptive: Still in the game. This is when you can tell them that you know they are very busy and would it be alright for you to follow up with them next week. You can let them know you know they are busy and you do not want to bother them. They may have no issue with you following up, the worse they can say is no.

Final thoughts

Following up is a good thing, but too much of a good thing and you look like a stalker, once a week is fine. As a general rule Mondays are always busy and people are strategizing their week, Fridays they are checking out. Lunch time may be their only downtime or the time they set for meetings.

Whatever the situation or result, remain professional. I know it is frustrating not to get a call or to be put in an endless follow up loop, but keep that frustration to yourself. Do not vent to them, even if they open the door by saying something about how long and frustrating this process is, do not vent to your friends or social media. Keep it cool, cucumber, you are still being auditioned.

If the position is filled, try circling back about a month or so later. Many companies give a probationary period for new employees and by that time they may realize the one they hired is not the one for them. Your timing might just get you back in the door.

Lastly, keep all your doors open. Even if it sounds like a shoe-in, keep open, keep networking and that way if the unexpected happens (they hire someone else, the job falls through) you still keep moving forward.

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