The final business cards have been collected and pleasantries exchanged. You’re calmly walking out of the building, but your hands are rapid-fire texting your family and friends about the big job interview. You receive messages asking about next steps, but you’re not sure. It’s all in the employer’s hands now, right? Not quite. There are still some steps you can take after an interview to improve your chances of landing the job.

What to Do Immediately After the Interview

Take a Breath


Getting to the interview is a big accomplishment and you should be proud, regardless of how you think the interview went. Just don’t celebrate too hard. There is still some work to be done.

Debrief


After riding the post-interview high, it’s important to revisit the experience while it’s still fresh in your mind. Walk through each step of the job interview either on your own or with a friend. Use the Five W’s as a guideline:

  • Who was There? If you didn’t take notes during the interview, make sure to immediately write down the names and job titles of each interviewer, including any facts or topics of conversation that stood out. Perhaps you connected with someone over a particular management style or shared alma mater. Save these potential talking points for later.

  • What were Your Key Takeaways About the Role and Company After the Interview? Perhaps you have concerns about turnover. On the other hand, maybe you’re excited about the projects. Take note of all this. You’re interviewing the company as much as they’re interviewing you. Could you see yourself working alongside the interviewers? What lingering questions do you still have?

  • Where Could You Have Done Something Differently? Regardless of where this job interview leads, this is an opportunity to strengthen your interviewing skills. Did a question stump you? Think about how you would answer it now.

  • When Did the Interviewers Say They Would Contact You About Next Steps? Did they indicate when they hoped to fill the position? Knowing this will help determine your follow-up plan.

  • Why Should They Hire You? Now that you’ve met with the team, you have a better understanding of their needs and goals. How does your experience make you the best candidate?

        Related: Job Hunting? Here are the 5 Interview Questions You Should Ask

Send Thank You Notes


This should be done within 24 hours of the interview. Although the general purpose is to thank the interviewers for their time, you can use this point of contact for a variety of purposes, such as:

  • To Reiterate Interest: Use your newfound knowledge of the company and job responsibilities to send a truly customized pitch as to why you’re a good fit for the position.

  • To Provide Supplemental Information: Whether you forgot to mention something or didn’t know the answer to a question, this is where you can make up for it. Demonstrate that you like to think things through and, now that you had some time, have additional points to share. With that said, keep the messages as brief as possible.

  • To Make a Connection: When writing multiple thank you messages, stay away from generic pleasantries. Remember those notes about each interviewer? Use them to customize your outreach. Tell them how much you enjoyed your conversation about business trends or reiterate how excited you are about the team’s current projects.

  • To Ask about Next Steps: Did you forget to ask when they would contact you? Do you know if there will be another round of interviews? Ask that now. Keep more in-depth questions about the company or the position to yourself until another round of interviews, or upon receiving an offer.

Thank you notes are often sent via email, although handwritten messages can apply in certain situations, typically if you can guarantee immediate and direct delivery. If you can’t find someone’s contact information, send a note to your main contact—typically an HR representative—and ask to forward your gratitude to the team.

      Related: Three Great Questions to Ask In an Interview

Steps to Take Shortly After the Interview

Initial Follow Up


Twenty-four hours can feel like a week to a job seeker. But for a hiring manager, a week isn’t enough time to finish interviews and gather feedback. You also might not hear back from your thank you notes, so the silence can feel like a sign.

Don’t panic. If you were given a time frame to hear back, it’s important to let that time pass before checking in. If you were asked not to contact the company during this time, follow their wishes.

Follow-up messages should be sent via email to ensure the most direct communication. A general rule is to wait five to 10 business days before sending a gentle follow-up note to your main contact. Use this initial follow-up to:

  • Reintroduce Yourself: Remind your contact that you’re still interested and note the reasons you would be a good fit. Don’t send the same message that was written in your thank you note. This is also a good opportunity to re-attach an updated resume, based on what the company is looking for, so the hiring manager has a reminder of your experience.

  • Check In: Ask about the company’s timeline and if there is anything they may need from you in the interim.

  • Set an Action: Let the hiring manager know that you understand his or her time is valuable and that you’ll follow up again. Knowing another message is coming, your contact may send you a time that works better for his or her schedule.

After the initial follow-up is sent, stay busy, and continue to build your professional network.

      Related: To Have a Friend is to be a Friend: 3 Steps for Networking

Additional Follow Up


If you receive a generic response without a specific time frame or no response at all, allow another five to 10 business days to pass before sending a second message. Depending on the level of responsiveness, a third and final email is reasonable. In your final note, thank the employer for their consideration and note your willingness to speak with them in the future.

To avoid generic messages, consider showing your continued interest in different ways:

  • Share Articles of Interest: Did you see a positive article or LinkedIn post about the company? Is there something that references a topic discussed during the interview? Mention it.

  • Show a Connection to the Company: Perhaps you attended a public event hosted by the company or had coffee with a current employee in a different department. Let them know how these interactions have strengthened your interest in the company. Make sure to get permission from your contact within the company before mentioning his or her name.

  • Highlight a New Accomplishment: Did you just receive an award in your current role? Maybe you just finished a project that relates to the position. Make note of how these new accomplishments connect to the job.

  • Demonstrate Your Growth Mindset: If there are skills related to the position that you lack or could improve, let them know how you’re working to change that. Are you taking an online course or listening to a new podcast on the topic?

Regardless of the response, always keep the tone light and professional, as this employer may re-appear in the future.

During, After, and Beyond the Interview

Throughout the process, remember that the job hunt involves a lot of preparation and drive, with a light dusting of luck. There are many reasons, often outside of your control, that impact an employer’s decision. Keep your options open and continue to look for opportunities until the right job offer comes along.

Are you interested in learning more about how to advance your career? Explore our other articles on career development to start preparing for your next step. 

Karol V. Gaitán

About the Author

Karol V. Gaitán is a nationally certified Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor with training and experience in career coaching and academic support. She has worked with more than 500 job seekers and learners at various stages of their journey over the span of her career. She has worked for the State of Rhode Island, Brown University, General Assembly Boston, and now at Harvard Business School Online as an Accommodations Manager. When she’s not at HBS Online, you might find her digging through a thrift store for a new upcycling project, sharing memes, or eating Buffalo wings.