How to Effectively Follow Up After Interviewing Candidates

Esteban Gomez | November 2, 2013

Whether through a quick email or a handwritten note, candidates are always advised to follow up after a job interview. But this follow up after an interview is just as important for employers. Sure, you’re busy. You have what may seem like too many candidates to interview on top of too many other tasks. But neglecting the follow up can be detrimental to your employer brand. So, let’s cover how to follow up after an interview with candidates.

How to Follow Up With An Interviewee

Why Should I Follow Up?

How you present yourself before, during and after an interview is a reflection of your company and how they treat employees and business associates. Plus, candidates often take your response, or lack thereof, personally. While it can feel awkward to turn someone down, a few brief sentences will let candidates know where they stand and allow them to move on with their search.

On the other hand, if a candidate is successful and is moving on in your interview or hiring process, let them know what the next steps will be as well as an estimated timeline. This keeps an open line of communication and shows the candidate that you care about their time.

When Should I Follow Up?

Always follow up with candidates as soon as possible. They are in the middle of the job search, and delaying that news, whether positive or negative, only wastes the candidate’s time when they could be actively applying elsewhere. Besides, putting it off will only add to your own to-do list.

Should I Call or Email?

As the interviewer, you have three basic options for follow up. If it’s immediately clear during the interview, you can let the interviewee know right then and there that they are or aren’t the right fit. If you need to evaluate additional candidates or mull over your decision, you can follow up later. Email is faster and circumvents the possibly awkward conversation, but a phone call is always the more personal option.

What Should I Say to An Unsuccessful Candidate?

If you’re struggling to come up with something to say in your phone call or email, focus on respectfully delivering these four points:

  1. You were not selected: This is the point of the call, so get out with it and tell them that they were not chosen for the job.
  2. Why you were not selected: Understandably, many candidates will want to know why they didn’t make the cut. Be respectful but truthful and specific here. For example, “we were looking for a candidate who can perform these tasks within Adobe Creative Suite,” or “another candidate had more concrete examples of her experience.”
  3. Future recommendations: Again, be careful not to offend, but consider adding a bit of helpful advice such as “try to collect success metrics that you can share in your next interview,” or “this networking event is a great place to meet people in the industry.”
  4. Good luck in your search, stay in touch: Let the candidate know that you appreciate their time and that you will continue to update your company’s employment opportunities on your website or social media outlets.

Have additional tips on how to follow up after an interview? Let us know.

About The Author

Esteban Gomez is a marketing consultant with interviewstream. He loves learning and has a passion for traveling, having visited many countries including China, Colombia, Italy, and Peru.


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