Is it ok to follow up with a recruiter after an interview? How do you do it properly?
We asked experts to give us their insights.
CEO, Forward | Podcast Host, The Emotionally Intelligent Recruiter |
Author, Elephants Before Unicorns: Emotionally Intelligent HR Strategies to Save Your Company
There are many parts of the recruitment process to be aware of. But first, remember the internal or external recruiter are tremendously busy and aren’t always going to be as timely or responsive as you might like whilst you’re on the hunt for your next place of employment.
Scenario 1: You apply for a role you’re not compatible for
When sending your resume to the recruiter, double-check that you are actually qualified for the position. Most women will only apply to roles if they are a 100% fit for the job description, which is taking it too far. A 75% fit will suffice. Men are likely to throw their hat in the ring if they are not compatible.
If you are not compatible with the role, do not expect a meaningful response
A surprisingly high percentage of applicants are not a fit for the role, from being able to legally work in the country, to having experience in the sector the company needs. If you follow-up, I’m afraid you’re likely to be ignored. This is human nature because your application could be a Bot.
Scenario 2: You apply for a role you are qualified for
When sending your resume to the recruiter, make sure you send a cover letter explaining how you are a fit for the role and what you’d bring to the company, culture and organizational goals.
Follow up a few days later via a LinkedIn connection request to the recruiter
This is to explain you have applied online, outline 2-3 reasons you’re a good fit and sign-off warmly. If you do not hear back after a few weeks, the chances are you have not been selected for the interview process.
Scenario 3: You’re interviewed by the recruiter
You’ve applied and you’ve had your first interview with the recruiter. Get back to the recruiter and give them a few reasons why you’re excited about the role and of course thank them directly for their time.
Follow up with a thank you note
Maybe 0.1% of people we interview for roles will take the time to follow-up and whilst thank you notes can feel a little 20th century, you create an emotional connection with the person you follow up with.
Scenario 4: You’ve had a few more interviews
As per scenario 3, follow-up swiftly with top reasons the role is a fit for you and what you will bring to the role since learning about the position and the company, culture, etc.
Scenario 5: You get the offer
No-one likes to feel like they are hanging on the edge. And employers will be rejecting candidates and need to give people fair notice that they have been unsuccessful or may be in the running for the role if you reject it or want to negotiate.
Follow up stating you’re grateful to receive the offer and will review over the next few days to discuss with family
This helps the new prospective employer that you are reviewing the role seriously and managing their expectations on when they will hear back from you.
Scenario 6: You are rejected and don’t get the offer
First, do not share your disappointment at their bad decision-making as you might be in the running for the role next time.
Thank them again for their time
Outline how you might be a good fit for them in the not too distant future when another role comes up. Now’s not the time to burn the bridge. You have an opportunity to grow the relationship with the hiring manager or the recruiter who might be in different roles in the future.
Executive Vice President, KNF&T Staffing Resources
Ask the recruiter for their preferred means of communication
Over communication with your recruiter is as much of an issue as ghosting. Your recruiter wants to hear from you, but not every minute of every day. Good recruiters are busy so, to maximize your relationship with your recruiter, set the expectations up front. Simply ask, “How would you prefer for me to communicate with you?” They will tell you.
I have recruiters on my team who will only communicate with the talent by email or text. I have others who are old school and want that voice-to-voice connection over the phone. Do they want to hear from you daily? Weekly? Only when your status changes? These are the parameters you need to set with each consultant.
My personal preference is a combination of both phone and email
If there is a major change in your status or your search, I want you to call me and explain the situation so I can best adjust my search. If you are simply updating me on a skill set, search status, or letting me know about an upcoming vacation, then email is perfect.
I do not want to hear from you by text unless it is an emergency or if you are unable to attend an interview scheduled to start within the next 12 hours. Respect your recruiter’s time, rules of engagement, and expertise, and you will find you have a resource and a partner for your professional life!
Executive Director, Nigel Wright Group
If it’s the first time you’re following up with a recruiter, it’s recommended that you email them rather than call
This is also in your best interest as well as theirs. It will give the recruiter the time to review who you are, what role you’ve applied for and with which company, as well as the status of that job hunt.
Recruiters deal with many candidates and clients at any given time so it’s unwise to pressure them. If you still haven’t heard back from the recruiter after a couple of weeks, you can follow up one more time via email or over the phone. Following this, if you still haven’t heard back, it’s therefore likely that they’ve deemed you unsuitable for the role. In this instance, it’s probably best to start looking for new opportunities.
It’s important to remain professional at all times when following up with a recruiter. Although you may be getting anxious about a current role you’ve got your sights set on, the recruiter may be able to find you a different, more suitable job if you’re unsuccessful.
Respect the recruiter’s personal space. Don’t start contacting them through numerous different social media platforms or turn up unannounced at their office, it will only appear desperate and aggravate the recruiter. Be specific about who you are in your correspondence, referring to the role you’ve applied or interviewed for and with which company (if you know at this stage) as this will save the recruiter time and give them the opportunity to come back to you sooner.
Director of Executive Recruiting, Concero
Using e-mail is a great way to stay in touch
After your first contact with a recruiter, and throughout the recruiting process, a short thank you note after a conversation or a quick follow-up e-mail on a next step can keep you top of mind.
In your follow-up message, make sure to mention the position you discussed. It lets the recruiter know you are engaged with the opportunity and helps remind them what you are interested in.
Do not hesitate to take initiative if you haven’t heard back from the recruiter in a few days. Circling back with them and asking for an update and/or next steps is a very appropriate thing to do!
Talent Manager, Situation
Following up with a recruiter can mean many things. Is this recruiter working at a recruiting agency where they are the go-between for the company the candidate wants to work, or is this an in-house recruiter or talent manager for the desired organization? I believe what this comes down to is a mixture of common sense, trust in the process, and perseverance.
Establish a hiring timeline with the recruiter
I would establish in the initial phone call with the recruiter a timeline and within that timeline, what can be expected in communications with that recruiter. Of course, nothing is ever clear cut in a hiring timeline, so be specific about when you can expect updates from the recruiter.
A good recruiter will realize you are an asset to their client or company and treat you as such. A poor recruiter will be unsympathetic and dehumanize the situation by only letting you in on information if you are moving forward in the process.
Always be polite in your emails
When you email a recruiter for a follow-up at any stage in the process, open with acknowledging they must be swamped, and that you would love to know a status update on your application or if there is any feedback.
I would first try emailing before calling the recruiter and wait 24-to-48 hours for a response before picking up the phone.
If you come off overly aggressive or rude, this will undoubtedly affect your candidacy for the role if you are dealing with an in-house recruiter, and this might make an agency recruiter think twice about moving you along the process with their client.
If you feel you are dealing with a recruiter who is non-responsive, it might be best to cut your losses and work with a recruiter who puts more value into the relationship. This could save a lot of headaches and frustrations.
Also, keep in mind that some companies have a longer hiring process.
If you have another opportunity you need to act on, kindly let the recruiter know and pursue the opportunity at hand. Ghosting a recruiter will only lead to a blemish on your reputation which you do not want and is highly preventable.
Mutual respect and valuing the relationship between a recruiter and a candidate has a bumpy and difficult history that has led to the trend of ghosting on both sides. I say we get back to the ethics of building relationships by being respectful of one another and making it a win-win for both sides.
Senior Director of Recruiting & Executive Search, JMJ Phillip Group
Stay professional during any type of communication, written or spoken
Recruiters and talent acquisition professionals are busy people. They manage relationships and communicate with candidates, hiring managers, references, and their own supervisors for a never-ending amount of open job orders and requisitions. That web of stakeholders can result in full inboxes very quickly. The key to following up with recruiters is reaching out in a concise manner that provides context. For example, include your full name and the position you spoke with the recruiter about.
“Hey Dave, this is Michael Walters from Seattle. You and I had connected last week about that Director of Supply Chain position. I wanted to check in to see if there were any updates about my candidacy for that role. When you have a moment, could you provide any feedback you’ve received?”
Recruiters are constantly assessing the presence, and using that to determine your viability for positions they’ve been hired to fill. Their reputation is staked on the candidates that they deliver, and will only work with those they trust will represent them well.
Director of Executive Search Practice, Peak Sales Recruiting
Depending on how far down the process we are and how much of the relationship we’ve established, I’d recommend different follow-ups based on the context.
Send a LinkedIn message or an email
If we’ve only just started to discuss your work experience and have yet to go to an interview, but after we’ve had a pre-screen call, I would say to sit tight until I have the chance to connect with you. If you’re getting particularly antsy, an email would be alright, or even a LinkedIn message, but depending on the projects I’m currently working on and their priorities, your message may get lost in the shuffle.
If by this point you’ve gone to interview, communication is very important. An email telling me the top-level notes of your interview can help me with context and I can support your next steps accordingly. Alternatively, if I have the time, I may reach out and give you a phone call.
In either case, patience is key, and respect is a two-way street. If someone was to frantically reach out to you on a repeated basis with high expectations too early, how would you react?
A handwritten note is also appreciated
One of the most outstanding ways a candidate has followed-up with me, despite not receiving an offer, was a handwritten note mailed to my office. This showed not only integrity and I would recommend others to think outside the box similar to this as it can definitely leave a lasting impression.
Founder & Managing Director, The Recruitment Lab
If you are going to follow-up with a recruiter; do it once, do it professionally, be timely and be nice! The last thing you want to do is appear desperate or worse start auditioning for the role of their latest stalker.
A simple e-mail just asking if the recruiter has an update following your interview or application is enough
That allows a busy recruiter the chance to reply in kind with a genuine/meaningful response and update. Phoning a recruiter several times a day (as I have experienced) doesn’t actually achieve anything. Likewise, be timely in your follow-up, if you applied for a role or interviewed at 10 am, don’t chase the recruiter before noon on the same day!
The recruiter is typically waiting on other decision makers to give their input. All of that said, any recruiter who is good at their job will naturally be talking and communicating with you. They should be contacting you after your application or interview and they should be putting down markers as to what the next steps are and when they hope to be speaking with you again.
If your recruiter is not responsive and is not communicating with you across various channels, maybe you have the wrong recruiter and need to consider your options.
Senior Recruiter, The James Allen Companies
Don’t call me, I’ll call you
As a recruiter, I am client focused and typically reaching out to candidates to talk about specific positions we are working on.
Since we don’t post jobs, we don’t often have candidates reaching out to us directly. However, sometimes a candidate will reach out to see if we have jobs available for them. Although this could work out, it’s rare. Because we are so specialized (in insurance), most of the time, the timing just isn’t right.
For someone who does reach out to me when I don’t have a position that could fit them, I recommend following up via email or phone once a quarter to keep their name in front of me.
CEO, Lean Case
The best way to follow-up with a recruiter is almost certainly through email
It’s relatively low stress, and it lets them respond to you at their leisure. It’s important not to be pushy. Keep your email as simple as possible. A few sentences reminding the recruiter of who you are and something specific you discussed or asking for information on the next steps in the process is the best way to get a response.
A respectful tone and ability to communicate effectively in writing when it is not a test but real communication is one of the important indicators that I focus on when I recruit a team.
Send a follow-up email
There are several easy steps on how to write a quick follow up e-mail with a recruiter after an interview.
- Thank the recruiter for their time.
- Mention your great interest in the organization.
- Highlight one or two things you discussed in the interview.
- Add in your top skills and relative professional experience that makes you perfect for the position.
- Close your email by re-thanking them for their time and include a link to your online portfolio so they can reference your work.
- Include your contact information in your signature. This makes it easier for the recruiter to contact you instead of them searching for your email/phone number.
Vice President & General Manager, Lucas Group
Ask how they want you to communicate with them
It sounds simple, but different recruiters in different industry and functional niches work differently. Ask the recruiter what to expect in terms of communication and they will tell you.
Additionally, candidates need to remember if a recruiter is on the phone with you (or typing you a lengthy email), they can’t be on the phone looking for jobs for you!
Corporate HR Manager, eBacon
There are several ways to follow up with a recruiter, use technology and consideration to your advantage.
Recruiters are people too, who are under pressure to manage many different candidates while attempting to assess the best fit for their managers, departments and overall company.
Candidates can ask the recruiter what their anticipated timeline is
This refers to when decision makers will decide on the ideal job hire. Within 24-48 hours post-interview, job applicants should graciously be thoughtful to put together a detailed, personal email addressed to the recruiter. As a follow up to the email, a handwritten note is an old school approach, yet a unique way to respond, to stand out from other candidates. Thank the recruiter and hiring managers for their time, express your enthusiasm to be considered for the job role; as a follow up to their application status.
The last thing you want to do is to continually pester, or harass the recruiter for an answer.
To call and ask the recruiter on the spot is not recommended unless the recruiter had initiated the phone call. Recruiters observe how candidates handle the applicant process, how candidates can show up professionally, how they best manage stress and let-downs.
If a company turns a candidate down, it does not mean all is lost; the company might reconsider the same declined candidate in the future for another role or as a job applicant backup.
Regardless of the status of the job market, best, appreciative behavior in all interactions is suggested; it is a privilege to be considered out of many candidates who also wish to be selected for employment as well.
Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, Combined Insurance
Request business cards for follow up
Before you leave your interview, make sure to request business cards from the interviewers and recruiter so you have their contact information. This is incredibly important (and if not requested, could be your biggest mistake).
Sending a thoughtful thank you note still makes a difference
As of late, this seems to have lost its luster from the candidate standpoint, but it does not go unnoticed from the employer. Send a thoughtful note expressing your desire and interest in the job no later than two days after the interview.
Send an email or a note on LinkedIn
If you haven’t heard back from the employer in the time frame they specified, follow up! Give a quick call or leave a message. Choose a method you are comfortable with but don’t allow yourself to get lost in the clutter – persistence and demonstrated interest does pay off.
Once you connect with the company, ask what their timeline is for reaching a decision
Understand that the interview process can take some time for a multitude of reasons and be sensitive to this, but continue to research other opportunities.
Former Senior Talent Acquisition Consultant | Media Correspondent
Follow up via email after each step in the hiring process
Since Recruiters are typically on the phone prescreening and interviewing candidates throughout the day, I’ve always recommended following up via email within 24 hours with no more than 48 hours after each step in the hiring process.
After phone screening, send a thank you email and inquiry for the next steps. Recruiters are bogged down with open requisitions attached to pressing fill-times and an influx of applications. Ensure that your candidacy remains at the top of the virtual stack of resumes by consistent and timed emails.
After an In-person interview, send a thank you email in which you highlight your relevant skills again. If needed, clarify anything you thought did not come across well during the interview. The recruiter is sure to pass this along and will definitely help in selling your candidacy to the Hiring manager(s).
If you still haven’t heard back about a decision, send a thank you email or a handwritten note. If the hiring team is teetering between you and another candidate, it may just be the winning step in securing your new role. Even if you are not hired, that added touch makes you more memorable than others when matching opportunities become available.
Follow up with the recruiter via email or text
Recruiters love follow up. We have to do it so often that it’s so nice when someone does it back. Whichever way you’ve been communicating is perfect. Just like in dating, you still want to make sure you’re not overly aggressive.
The recruiter is following up for you too. It helps to let us know you’re interested and updated on your search at least every two days. Unless of course, you get an offer. We need to know that. Lots of times recruiters do have the power to move companies faster. Be a team with your recruiter!