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You snag an interview for a job you really want and prepare extensively. You dress the part, and you give the interviewer a firm handshake and a warm smile when you arrive to set the tone. You have answers prepared for all the questions you’re asked, and the interviewer is impressed with your resume. You walk out of the interview confident that you’ll get a follow-up call.

Then two weeks pass, and you don’t hear a word. You’re left wondering, “What happened?” Is it rude to call and ask about the status of the job? How long is too long to wait? Is it pushy or demanding to call now?

Sound familiar? It happens to the best of us. Read on for how to follow up after an interview!

Following up immediately after the interview

You may think your work is done when you complete your interview—not so! There are a few crucial things you should do right after your interview before you change out of your power suit and into your comfy sweats.

Send a thank-you note

Any time you have an interview, you should extend some form of contact to your interviewer within a day or two afterwards, says Diana Martinez, a career coach at the NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development. If the interviewer says he or she will be making a decision about the position soon, make sure you go home and send him or her a thank-you email as soon as possible.

“We’re in the age of technology, so an email should suffice and is expected,” Martinez says. “You can either include the body of the letter in the email or attach it with a quick message thanking the employer.”

Consider sending snail mail as well

If it’s been a few weeks and the employer hasn’t made a decision, consider sending a thank-you note on nice stationery (personalized, if you have it!).

“A handwritten letter sent via regular snail mail may be appropriate [if the employer won’t be making a decision right away],” Martinez says. “[It] goes a long way, and it personalizes the follow-up process. It’s also very charming, and the employer will definitely remember you!”

If you choose to send a card in the mail, it’s still a good idea to send a shorter thank-you note via email to your interviewer right after your interview.

What to say

Martinez advises that your thank-you note should include the following things:

  • Your gratitude to the employer for having met you on the specific date and time of the interview. “Remind them of who you are; they sometimes might conduct up to 10 interviews a day!” Martinez says.
  • A summary of the qualifications that make you the perfect fit for the job
  • A comment about something personal that happened during the interview—“perhaps a conversation not related to the job that was very enjoyable,” Martinez says.
  • A reiteration that you are interested in the position and that you look forward to hearing from the employer in the future.

You can also use the thank-you note to expand on an area that you weren’t able to elaborate on in an interview.

Proofread your thank-you note several times, or let someone whose judgment you trust look over your draft. “It’s your opportunity to make a positive impression,” says Heather R. Huhman, an experienced hiring manager and founder of Come Recommended, a public relations agency for job seekers. “Use a friendly yet professional tone, and be sure to offer to provide any follow-up materials, like items from your portfolio.”

Thank every interviewer individually

If several people interviewed you, make sure that each person gets his or her own thank-you note. Martinez stresses that group thank-yous are “impersonal and [make] it seem like you were too lazy to take the time to thank each person individually.”

Following up when you haven’t heard back

If you haven’t heard back about the job for a week or two, don’t get down on yourself and assume that someone else was offered the job while you were sitting around waiting for a call back. If you interviewed at a smaller company, it’s possible your interviewer just has a lot on her plate, so the decision could take longer. If the company is larger, the hiring process probably has several rounds of approval to cross before a new hire can be accepted.

If you haven’t heard back about the job, read our tips below to follow up in an appropriate, professional way.

Consider the timing

According to Huhman, the best time to follow up after an interview is about a week after the interviewer said he or she would be in touch with you. If the interviewer didn’t specify when a decision would be made, “it’d be appropriate to follow up within seven to 10 days after the interview,” Huhman says.

The time of the week when you contact your interviewer can also be important. Just consider the average person’s work schedule: Mondays are usually spent replying to emails that came in over the weekend, and on Fridays, employees are just trying to get out the door as soon as they can to start the weekend.

“It’s a good idea to get in touch on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, when [an employee’s] workload isn’t as stressful,” Huhman says. “Consider emailing the hiring manager early in the morning to show them that you are enthusiastic about the position.”

Choose the right medium

Following up when you haven’t heard about a job is best left to either email or a phone call. Email can be more convenient for your interviewer, since she can reply to your message when she has the time. “Most hiring managers are too busy to answer phone calls,” Huhman says. “You can also get in contact through a professional network such as LinkedIn.”

Be persistent

While you may think that continually following up after your interview would make you seem pushy, it’s actually quite the opposite.

“It’s important to be persistent,” Huhman says. “Continue to follow up every seven to 10 days until you receive a response. However, if you don’t hear back after two or three attempts, it’s safe to assume the interviewer already made his or her decision.”

Ask for feedback

If you follow up after a job interview and learn that you didn’t get the position, it’s okay to ask the interviewer for more information on what influenced his or her decision and what you can do in the future to make yourself a better candidate. This may help you learn if it was a lack of experience on your resume, your behavior during the interview or other factors.

“It’s definitely a good idea to ask for feedback on why you didn’t receive the job,” Huhman says. “Just keep in mind that hiring managers are busy, so they might not have time to give you an in-depth response on your resume, cover letter or interview.”

If the employer has feedback for you, remember to thank her for her time. “Make sure that you thank them after the conversation and always try to stay connected with the employer (via LinkedIn or by inviting them out for coffee as a gratitude gesture) so they might keep you in mind for other opportunities in the future,” Martinez says.

Keep in touch

If you’re not offered the position but still would love to work for that particular company someday, touch base with your interviewer every now and then to check for open positions.

“If you plan to follow up with a company for future job opportunities, it’s important to maintain a relationship with the hiring manager,” Huhman says. “This relationship will keep your name fresh in the hiring manager’s mind and increase your opportunity of learning about new employment opportunities.”

Reach out once a month or every other month with any updates to your resume and to remind the hiring manager of your interest in the company. Make sure the information you provide is valuable—the goal is to keep your interest on her mind, not to flood her inbox.

Following up can be nerve-wracking, but if you want that dream job, it’s something you have to do. Make it easier on yourself at your next interview—before you leave, be sure to ask the interviewer when you can expect to hear back from her so you can time your follow-up with her schedule.

Above all, be polite and enthusiastic when following up without being a nuisance. With the right follow-up tactics, you’ll be making another great impression on your interviewer—and may even secure that job!

 Katie is a recent graduate (and proud alum - UM YA YA!) of St. Olaf College, a small liberal arts college in Minnesota. A true Minnesota girl through and through, Katie was formerly a fashion blogger and Campus Correspondent for Her Campus St. Olaf College before becoming a contributing writer for the national site. She currently works as a marketing assistant and is interested in further pursuing a career in marketing, PR, journalism, editing...(she has no idea, if you can't tell). Katie is passionate about traveling and wants to stamp up her passport as much as possible. Katie enjoys social media, blogs, Speculoos cookie butter, dressing for success, fashion magazines and extensively quoting pop culture in social situations (especially 30 Rock). Her one party trick is knowing all the words to "Freaks and Geeks" by Childish Gambino.