An honest job if I can find one
August 23, 2011 12:25 PM   Subscribe

That question about following up after an interview.

I am desperately unemployed and had a first interview for a job I'd really like three weeks ago. The interviewer liked me and signed me up for a second interview with his supervisor immediately; that interview took place two weeks ago today. The second interview was brief. I was asked no questions. The supervisor simply told me to send her three references, a copy of my undergraduate degree, and my graduate school transcript, after which she would schedule me for an HR interview and background check. I wasn't given any time frame for when this might happen (English was not the interviewer's first language and she had some trouble communicating with me, which may be why the interview was so very short). I was also not told that I would be informed of any decision, which means that I might not be contacted if I didn't get it.

I know that the supervisor hasn't contacted any of my references, as I've been in touch with all of them. My boyfriend thinks this is a sure sign that I didn't get the job and that two weeks is an incredibly long time, but that since it would help me move on, I should send a follow-up e-mail to ask if I'm still in the running for the position. I think that follow-ups are a bit rude, but I'm dying of anxiety over here and would love to hear anything, even if it's that they noticed I had a C in one class on my grad school transcript and can't accept a subpar employee.

1.) Is two weeks really a long time? Is it acceptable to write a follow-up e-mail at this point since I was given no timeframe for their decision-making process?

2.) What might you say in a follow-up e-mail? I've never had to write one, but the examples I see on the Internet are horrifying and seem designed for corporate go-getters. I'd like something gentle and unobnoxious since I'm sure these people are busy and I just want to confirm that I'm no longer a candidate.
posted by pineappleheart to Work & Money (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
"Hi, Name. How is the interview process going? I'm still interested and am wondering if you've made a decision yet."

posted by michaelh at 12:30 PM on August 23, 2011

1) absolutely not a long time. HR shit is cruelly delayed sometimes. It's the rule, rather than the exception, that HR will screw stuff up. It has pretty much happened at every job I've ever actually gotten.

2) You should not feel weird about writing up a follow up email. In fact, if you are job hunting, you should absolutely be writing them. For the last two jobs I've had (first two in a new career) I wrote emails to both managers post interview, elaborating and clarifying things that I thought I didn't really articulate well. I got both jobs, for whatever that's worth (two jobs/two interviews).

You need to be direct, concise, ABSOLUTELY unapologetic, friendly and sincere. Do not apologize for contacting them.

That's all I got.
posted by sully75 at 12:32 PM on August 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

I would definitely follow up with an email after two weeks of no communication.

I'd keep the content light: "Dear___--I just wanted to follow up on our conversation from the 3rd. It was a pleasure meeting with you and discussing the position. I continue to be excited by the opportunity of working at _____, and I wanted to check in to see if you need any additional materials or information in connection with my application. Please let me know. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Many thanks, Pineappleheart."
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:32 PM on August 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

I interviewed for a job in February last year and was told there would be additional interviews afterwards. I followed up in December and got the job. So no, 2 weeks is not such an incredibly long time that any follow-ups will be futile.
posted by John Cohen at 12:33 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

These days there are so many applicants for jobs that it might take 2 weeks for the HR department to get around to contacting your references. Even back when unemployment was low, HR was still slow.
posted by twblalock at 12:37 PM on August 23, 2011

I'm sorry, John, I'd just like to check: You interviewed for a job in February and got it in December? It wasn't the other way around? Like, it took ten months, not two? That makes me feel much better, but makes me cringe for you and your waiting period.
posted by pineappleheart at 12:37 PM on August 23, 2011

I'm not sure I would send an e-mail. People who make hiring decisions probably pay more attention to a thing they can hold in their hand and which you created using more than just a moment of time.

My usual suggestion is a brief thank you note which contents make it clear that it's not a form note. An appropriate personal reference to something that came up in the interview, such as a common hobby or other common background trait is nice. Followed by a brief mention of your hope that you'll soon talk again. "Mr. Smith, I forwarded my reference list and academic record per your request under separate cover, but I wanted to thank you for taking the time to meet with me last Friday. It's always a pleasure to meet a fellow philatelist. Best of luck in your bid for the '43 German Occupation of Zara!" (Or whatever.)
posted by Hylas at 12:40 PM on August 23, 2011

I had an interview, got the job, turned it down due to incompatibilities between the health care coverage and my needs. Two years later I applied again, and it took about eight months between "yes, we still want you, and we'll take you when a position opens up" to a position opening up.

So, don't do this:

I should send a follow-up e-mail to ask if I'm still in the running for the position.

Do this: send a follow-up e-mail to let them know you are still interested in the position, and that you are available to answer any questions or provide additional materials if they require it.
posted by davejay at 12:40 PM on August 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry, John, I'd just like to check: You interviewed for a job in February and got it in December? It wasn't the other way around? Like, it took ten months, not two? That makes me feel much better, but makes me cringe for you and your waiting period.

Yes, I didn't switch them around. I interviewed for the job on February 1, 2010. Around December 1, 2010 -- which, as you said, was 10 months later -- I followed up. In mid-December (about 2 weeks after my follow-up), I got offered the job, which is my current job. If I hadn't bothered to follow up based on the idea that I had waited too long, I might not have my job.
posted by John Cohen at 12:41 PM on August 23, 2011

Yeah, I interviewed in November for a job I finally got in June, so two weeks is brief. If you felt the most rapport with the first interviewer, you might send them the davejay/admiral haddock - type email to check in. Good luck!
posted by ldthomps at 12:48 PM on August 23, 2011

All the follow-up suggestions are spot on.

Adding to the words of encouragement, I was first directed to a job in December. Interviewed in February. Interviewed in March. Was (politely) postphoned until May. Was hired in June. Don't fret just yet. Good luck!
posted by keasby at 2:09 PM on August 23, 2011

In contrast to Hylas, I vote email over physical thank you note (which, to my mind, come off as either old-fashioned or twee). I've seen a few informal surveys of hiring managers leaning the same way lately, so you might make the call based on the age of the person you interviewed with.

(No offense to anyone who prefers physical cards. For more on who prefers which, there's always this Ask.)
posted by deludingmyself at 2:31 PM on August 23, 2011

For the record, I already sent a thank you note. This would be a follow-up to that.
posted by pineappleheart at 3:49 PM on August 23, 2011

And just keep in mind that August is a month where not a lot gets moved forward in the business world, coinciding with vacations and kids going back to school. It's akin to the last two weeks of December. Many key employees take time off and decisions are deferred.
posted by readery at 4:16 PM on August 23, 2011

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