Help with writing an email for an update on a job, post-interview?
February 9, 2011 2:19 PM   Subscribe

It's been a week since I interviewed for a position, and I've not heard back yet. I need help drafting an email asking for an update, and also help on using one offer against another.

I interviewed for a position a week ago. They said they'd get back to me in a week or two, but I've not heard back yet. My correspondence with them was done via email, so I'd like to email my contact there and ask for an update on the position. What's the best way to go about doing that without also pissing them off or making them feel hurried? Specific examples would be great.

Also, does anyone have advice on what to write when you already have a job offer (which I don't) and you want to get the other company moving to make a decision? I've never dealt with this sort of thing, so I'm in the dark.

If clarification is needed, please ask. Thanks.
posted by gchucky to Work & Money (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
They said they'd get back to you "in a week or two." It has been one week. Asking for an update before two weeks have elapsed will make you look impatient.

If I were on that hiring committee, that alone would be enough to make me choose one of the other candidates. Now, admittedly, I am a very very cranky person, but do you want to take that chance?
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:23 PM on February 9, 2011 [4 favorites]

"in a week or two" can mean two weeks, or even 3. Stuff comes up. You don't say where you are, but there's been a lot of snow a lot of places, and that can slow things down.

Personally, I'd wait another week.

And then you can e-mail something polite---"if there is anything you can tell me about the status of the position" or something.
posted by leahwrenn at 2:25 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Heed Sidhedevil. I am also a very cranky person, and would hold it against you for checking in too soon.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:29 PM on February 9, 2011

I am near concluding a hiring process that was begun 2.5 months ago. Many many applicants wrote in (some of them multiple times) to check in; it was well within their rights, and I did NOT hold it against them, but it was not ideal use of my time.

You may write them after two weeks have passed after they said "a week or two."

You may say something like "I hope your process is going well; if I can offer you any information, I'd love to hear from you."

You may not write emails (particularly emails that are lies) about "other offers." In negotiations for jobs, raises, the sales of companies and transactions of real estate, you may only use leverage when you actually have that leverage. Otherwise, well, it turns out you don't actually have that leverage, and the loser is you.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 2:34 PM on February 9, 2011 [4 favorites]

How big is the outfit you're applying to work for? One of the things I deal with in my job is hearing complaints from people in the hiring process for a Government agency, where the delay between interview and letter of offer can be six to eight months. Especially in big organisations, you have to convene hiring committees, get approval from superior officers, and sign off everything with your financial overseers before you can ring someone up to say Congratulations When Can You Start? A week is nothing.

If it's an organisation with more than about a hundred employees, give it a month and then follow it up.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 2:45 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

The professional way to do this is with a hand-written "Thank You" card sent to your interviewer via snail-mail. Very, very briefly, thank them for their time, and perhaps allow yourself one short off-hand comment to personalize it, e.g., reference a mutual interest or background or something that came up in the meeting. Don't ask for a follow up or for status, or anything.
posted by Hylas at 2:49 PM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I only did this when I actually did have another job lined up and they were giving me pressure to say yes or no; I also said this on the phone versus email because I needed a timely response, and wanted to apologize in person to the person that I was requesting the information from (if it matters, this was academia, and it is unusual to hear from a committee earlier than a few weeks or even months). I’m changing what I said to an email format so that you can use this, if needed.

Dear contact X,

I really apologize for asking you this information before the appointed time, but I recently found out that I have been offered a job at another college/university. They would like a decision by X/X/XXXX and are pressuring me to give a response; I previously asked them to wait, and am reaching their limits as to how long I can delay this decision.

I’m asking you first if you have any information because I really liked the people that I met and think that College X is a better fit for me. Is there any possible way that the decision can be made so that I don’t jeopardize the other opportunity? I know that this breaks protocol and I sincerely apologize.

Best regards,


I’ve had job offers outside academia, and they have pressured me to make decisions within days and implied that I needed to sign or agree to take the job within a few day time span. So depending on your industry, this may be appropriate if you are offered a job soon (assuming that you are actually applying for other jobs ,OP).

I will also say that I only implemented the above tactic when I had a job offer and someone did say “make a decision by date X/X/XXXX, we can’t wait anymore” –because I wanted to be honest. For most other colleges/universities, I waited during (and after) the time line given to me for the times that I did not have a competing job that said "decide now"

I agree with Reynolds, a sane person (or company, or potential boss) will not hold this against you. But I still believe that you should honest in your dealings with a potential empolyer, but YMMV.

posted by Wolfster at 2:53 PM on February 9, 2011

Many many applicants wrote in (some of them multiple times) to check in; it was well within their rights, and I did NOT hold it against them, but it was not ideal use of my time.

Writing to follow up after two or three weeks when the interviewer says "In a week or two" is fine. Writing after one week when the interviewer has said "In a week or two" is not.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:33 PM on February 9, 2011

Agreeing with Hylas, but depending on industry, and because you have conducted all correspondence via email, I think you can email a thank you (actually, I hope you did this the day after the interview). Copy everyone with whom you met, thanking them for their time and consideration. Leave it at that.
posted by heigh-hothederryo at 3:36 PM on February 9, 2011

I always look at it like this: if you're the successful candidate, are they going to forget to offer you the job? No. No, they are not. So I don't ask for updates from them.

As far as using one offer against the other: I tried doing that, and the first job said that it seemed like I wasn't sure if I really wanted to work there. So that backfired. Do you have a while to reply to job offer #1?
posted by sugarbomb at 3:37 PM on February 9, 2011

Sugarbomb isn't wrong, but don't forget that communications can serve a dual purpose; if you have a great rapport with the interviewer, but the fit for the company isn't right there's no shame in that, and a very real possibility that you can boost your reputation or even network with the interviewer.
posted by Hylas at 4:00 PM on February 9, 2011

Response by poster: Some answers:

- It's a IT firm with < 15 people.

- I sent out thank you emails the day after the interview.

@Wolfster: That's awesome. If I do get other offers I'll definitely be using that.

@sugarbomb: I don't have any other offers yet, but I'd like to think I would have some time to respond should I get one.

Either way, it sounds like there's consensus that I need to learn some patience and hold out for another week before sending another email. Alright then. Thanks, everyone.
posted by gchucky at 4:12 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Good luck!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 4:18 PM on February 9, 2011

Sometimes firms are uncertain about how much an applicant wants a job, and they don't want to make an offer if they don't know you would accept. I got a job after sending this type of email, although correlation isn't causation.

"I would just like to reiterate my interest in the position. I was impressed by your and Jimbob's professionalism and hope to have the opportunity to work with you in the future. Please do not hesitate to call me with any additional questions you have."
posted by blargerz at 5:11 PM on February 9, 2011

Yay, gchucky! Waiting for the two weeks will show both enthusiasm and good listening skills. Also kudos for having sent out the thank-yous so promptly.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:29 PM on February 9, 2011

For what it's worth, I sympathise, being in the same position myself right now. I had a final interview for a job last Monday (31st Jan) and they told me I "should hear within 10 days". I took that to mean 10 working days starting from the following day: the 1st of Feb, so it's now the eighth working day and I haven't heard yet. and yes, I am anxious and fretting. But i wouldn't dream of chasing them up before at least next Tuesday, and probably not really for several days after that. i know they're dealing with a lot of applicants and, as someone else said, they're not going to forget me if they want me.

It sucks being kept on tenterhooks, but you really don't want to risk bugging them.
posted by Decani at 1:17 AM on February 10, 2011

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