Job interview processes vary based on organizational structure, the decision maker's authority, and, often, whether it's a highly coveted job with dozens, maybe hundreds, of applicants. Therefore, if you think that all employers have the same selection process and that every time you interview, you should get an immediate response, think again. What's true in almost all cases is that employers appreciate candidates who show initiative, so don't be shy about asking when you can expect a decision about your interview. You have at least three to four opportunities to ask the company where you stand -- take advantage of them.
Recruiters who conduct telephone interviews usually use this step as the first qualifier to determine who to invite for a face-to-face interview. Telephone interviews are brief, but there's some decision making involved, even in this early stage of the hiring process. The recruiter might spend just fifteen minutes talking to you about whether you're interested in the job and verifying your work history to ensure you meet the job's basic requirements. If she doesn't explain the next steps in the interview process, it's perfectly acceptable to say, "Thank you for your time in our telephone interview. When can I expect to hear whether I've been selected for a face-to-face interview?"
Asking about an interview decision after your face-to-face meeting gives you the benefit of observing nonverbal cues that will help you determine whether you did well enough to proceed to the next step. Again, the recruiter or hiring manager should tell you what steps the organization uses to select new employees. But, if you don't get around to that subject, ask whom you will meet with next and when to expect feedback on your face-to-face interview. For example, you could say, "I'm very interested in this job and I see now that my qualifications can add value to your organization. Will my next interview be with the company director or are you basing your final decision on this meeting?" Inquiring about the next step in the hiring process is one of the pearls of wisdom that career columnist and professional resume writer Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter provides in her August, 2012, U.S. News & World Report website post titled, "How to Effectively Follow Up After a Job Interview." (See, Reference 1, item no. 2)
Assuming you don't get a chance to ask questions about the selection process immediately following a telephone interview or your in-person interview, you have two more opportunities to follow up. Send a thank-you note within twenty-four hours after your interview. Write a short note that expresses appreciation for the interviewer's time and restates your interest in the job. Barrett-Poindexter also suggests including one or two points you discussed during the interview. This indicates that you were actively listening and that you applied the information you learned to your skills and capabilities. Close your thank-you with an approximate date on which you'll call to ask about the company's decision. (See, Reference 1, item no. 4)
Follow Up Call
Follow up on your thank-you note with a telephone call to ask about the interview decision. This puts your name in front of the recruiter or hiring manager one more time, and, if they're interested enough, they'll either respond, suggesting that a job offer is forthcoming, or they'll give you an idea of when the final selection is being made. Also, offer to provide a list of references -- if you haven't done so already -- and if the recruiter says, "Yes, send them over," that could be a positive sign that you're in the group of short-listed candidates.
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.