How to Survive the Waiting Game After an Interview

It’s amazing how many parallels can be drawn between a job and a relationship; there are the faux pas on when and when not to follow up, the need to contain your enthusiasm and the importance of playing it ‘cool’.

Post-interview stress can, at times, be maddening – just like the waiting game after a first date. The trick to success isn’t easy, but using the tips below should stop you from losing your mind and showing up at the hiring manager’s house with flowers and chocolates (but seriously, don’t do this).

1. DO send a thank you note:

Even if you don’t think the interview went well, a well-written and brief thank you note is still a brilliant way to follow up after an interview. And while you’re at it, why not include a topical article, or a little bit of self-promotion that you didn’t show them during the interview. Do be prompt and send it within two days of the interview. But don’t cut corners – it needs to be personal and adapted to the specific interview so that the company knows that you’re actually interested (and not just sending a generic message).

2. DON’T come across too strong:

Just like the start of a relationship, you don’t want to appear needy and desperate. Yes, you may be aching to leave your current job, or dying to move away from your soul-destroying hometown – but don’t let this come across. If you have any pressing questions post-interview, then maybe send a follow-up email. But only do this if you deem it completely essential and beneficial. If not, limit yourself to a simple thank you note; the next move is theirs to make.

3. DO reply in good time:

If a thank you note is already on its way, you can now relax. However, if you hear back from an employer (woo!) you need to be like white on rice with your reply. A timely reply from an employer’s perspective is up to 24 hours after the initial email – but within a few hours (or minutes) is preferable. Sadly the employer may not stick to their own timely response standards, but it’s the least you can do while you wait to hear back.

4. DON’T spend too long obsessing:

As perfect as this job may seem in your head, you need to be careful about building up your expectations too much. Granted, a dose of obsession shows that this is a role you feel particularly passionate about. Yet you need to be prepared in case you aren’t successful. So with this in mind, try to allot a few hours of the day in which you will check your personal email for a response (otherwise any noise from your phone will see you jump out of your skin). To keep up your moral, try to carry on applying for other jobs while you wait. Many people will want to spend some time obsessing and dreaming about the prospect of being hired, just don’t spend longer than a week waiting.

5. DO accept rejections positively:

In a perfect world, you’ll hear straight away from the employer with a big thumbs up. Yet, this isn’t always the case. When it comes to rejection, the best and most gracious approach is to thank the employer for the opportunity, and ask to be kept on file for any future roles. If they haven’t already provided it, do ask for interview feedback so you can take note for the future. Now that the hiring process is done, feel free to add your interviewers on LinkedIn in an effort to keep in touch. Depending on the company, you may or may not receive a formal rejection – you may just be left hanging. In this situation, allow a week or so before you send a follow up email. If you receive a response, consider the tone and speed of reply before acting. If you hear nothing, your precious time is clearly meant for other – and better – things.


By Lizzi Hart

Lizzi Hart is a Linguistics graduate from the University of Sussex and a Marketing Executive at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau. She has had work published through the Guardian, the Independent, Metro, The Huffington Post and Elite Daily.