When is it okay to follow-up with an employer after an interview?

To chase or not to chase, that is the question.

A common dilemma for students going through a recruitment process is the issue of when and how to follow up with an employer if they’ve said they’d do something but haven’t quite delivered on that. But what kind of promises are you hearing?

  • “You’ve passed the video interview, we’ll let you know within a week when the face to face interview will be.”
  • “I’ll let you know by the end of next week if you were successful.”
  • “You were unsuccessful this time but we’ll let you have some feedback on your interview.”

Do some of these sound familiar?

Students are often reluctant to chase up when employers don’t fulfil what they said they’d do and I’m going to tell you why that’s not always the best idea. For example, at this time of year, lots of offers for placements, internships and graduate roles are being made. Some in-demand candidates are getting multiple offers. So why should you care about that?

Let’s look at an example of how this plays out.

Big Beanz is recruiting for 8 Business Development roles students. They’ve been through assessment centre and have made offers to their preferred candidates. Candidates 1, 2 and 6, however have a couple more interviews and assessment centres to attend and are holding off accepting until they’ve finished these. So Big Beanz can’t be sure that these candidates will accept the offer. They carry out more video interviews but don’t necessarily bring in those they like for assessment centre until they know what their preferred candidates’ decisions are.

You are someone they liked, hurrah! You get an email saying,

“You’ve passed the video interview, we’ll let you know within a week when the face to face interview will be.”

A week goes by, ten days, it’s coming up to two weeks. You could choose not chase Big Beanz but it might be a better strategy to keep yourself in their mind and to show them that you’re still very interested in the role by giving them a quick follow up phone call or email enquiring as to when your interview will be. You don’t know on any given day that one of the candidates they’ve offered to hasn’t just turned down the role so it’s no bad thing to put yourself in the firing line if and when that happens. If you don’t chase, it might be that the candidates that do chase are given the opportunity just at the right time. And even if they’re not waiting on the decisions of other candidates, you’d be wise to chase, just in case you’ve slipped through a crack somewhere, as can happen between video/telephone interview stage and the next stages.

When else to chase?

Whenever you’re promised something that doesn’t materialise but in particular if you were promised feedback from an unsuccessful process then this is worth chasing. Let’s say you were unsuccessful at assessment centre because you failed at a written test but you’re assuming that it must’ve been that pesky group exercise. How will you know what you can work on if you don’t find out the reality? I admit that sometimes feedback can be vague and not always very in-depth – if that’s the case, it’s worth booking an appointment with your Careers Consultant to work on reflection around what went well and not so well to see how you can improve the next time.

Sarah Rourke, Careers Consultant, Henley Business School