Waiting by the phone isn't time well spent, especially if you're on a diligent job search. You should keep busy looking for other opportunities instead of waiting to hear from one particular employer. However, if your focus is on that one position you believe is ideal, every 24 hours you wait can seem like an eternity. In this case, it's a good idea to show some initiative and call the company to ask whether the hiring manager made a decision.
Employers appreciate motivated job seekers. Therefore, don't be reluctant to show that you're enthusiastic about what lies ahead for your career. Granted, you sent a thank-you letter, but if you're especially interested in the job, there's nothing wrong with picking up the phone to ask if you got it. Think positive and let your confident -- not cocky or arrogant -- attitude show in your phone call to the HR department or the hiring manager's office.
Timing is everything, so they say. Recall whether the hiring manager indicated when she would make a decision and factor that into your decision as to when you should call. Otherwise, go with your intuition as far as how you feel the interview went, when you sent your thank-you letter and any other commitments the hiring manager has. For example, if she said the company was heading toward a busy season or a hectic week, or there's a holiday involved, allow an extra day or so before you make the call. Otherwise, wait at least one full business day after she receives your thank-you letter. If your interview was on Tuesday, and you emailed a thank-you letter Wednesday, wait until Thursday afternoon or Friday to call.
Often, when job candidates call recruiters or hiring managers, they don't anticipate actually reaching the person on the first try. Based on the timing of your call, you might get lucky and actually reach the hiring manager immediately. Before making the call, write a script to help you ease into your question about the hiring decision. It will keep you from getting tongue-tied or nervous. Practice a couple of times before you call so it doesn't sound like you're reading from a prepared statement. For example, you could say, "Good morning, Ms. Doe. This is Jane Smith. Do you have a couple of minutes? Great. I'm calling to follow up on our Tuesday afternoon interview. I enjoyed meeting you. Have you made a decision on the paralegal position?"
The worst scenario is that you didn't get the job, but you can recover from that news quite quickly with a professional, courteous and forward-thinking reply. If the hiring manager says she's made a decision and that you will be receiving correspondence from the recruiter, that's likely an indication that the company isn't going to make you an offer. However, even in this case, say, "Thank you for your time. I hope that you'll keep my qualifications on file for future opportunities because I've long admired ABC Company and would like to someday work for your organization." That's a mature, proactive response that restates your interest in the company.
If the hiring manager says that the recruiter is preparing to make you an offer, express your appreciation for the confidence in your qualifications and ask when to expect the offer. Also, be open to talk about availability and a convenient time to discuss the job offer. For example, you could say, "Thank you for your confidence in my qualifications and abilities. I'm looking forward to working with you. When can I expect to receive the offer, and will you or the recruiter be available to clarify any questions that I have about it before I formally accept the offer?" This assures the hiring manager that you're likely to accept the offer, but that you might want time to digest it -- and perhaps even negotiate the terms before you finalize your starting date.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.