Roundtable: What You Need to Know About Contacting Hiring Managers After an Interview

Is it ever appropriate to reach out to a hiring manager? Well yes, of course, you should always send the requisite thank you email after your interview. But what about contacting the hiring manager to see where you stand or find out what went wrong?

To try and answer this question we brought together Gretchen Stanford and Marty Hendershot, the leaders of our Recruiting and Client Services teams. In case you’re unfamiliar with us, McKinley Marketing Partners is a 22-year old staffing firm specializing in marketing and creative talent. We interview a lot of people, and we have some pretty strong feelings about the follow-up debate.

Let’s dive in.

Marty: Staffing firms are a bit different. We act as the go-between for job seekers and clients, and we know how it feels to wonder and not know where you stand, so we make a concerted effort to keep our candidates in the loop. If for some reason a candidate doesn’t hear from us we encourage them to reach out and inquire about their status.

Gretchen: Recruiters have a responsibility to let candidates know where they stand. We have to be respectful of our candidates, without them we don’t have a business.

Marty: Exactly. But staffing agencies are unique in the respect that we rely on candidates to operate. It’s in our best interest and theirs to keep the channels of communication open and transparent with them. Unfortunately for candidates, hiring managers outside of our industry don’t share this same responsibility to keep them in the loop. I know that’s frustrating to hear…

Gretchen: That’s true but regardless of who they’re interviewing with, a staffing firm like us or an HR representative, candidates should, in my opinion, feel comfortable asking where they stand in the interview process.

Marty: You bring up a great point. The way I see it there are two types of follow-up, one when you haven’t heard anything for a while, and you want to know am I still in the running, and two when you find out you aren’t a fit and you’d like some constructive feedback. And I agree with you Gretchen, a candidate should be able to ask if they’re still being considered for a role, they might not hear back, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with asking.

Gretchen: Right, and in an ideal world hiring managers would always find time to send thoughtful and constructive feedback to the candidates they interview. I’ve even spoken to those who admit they’d like to give feedback but don’t want to offend anyone. So instead they say nothing at all which isn’t very helpful.

Marty: Remember though, the hiring managers have full-time jobs too. Interviewing is time-consuming and takes time away from the work they already have, so it isn’t always realistic to expect them to follow up even in the instances when they want to. But back to the question at hand, how long should you wait to reach out when you haven’t heard from the hiring manager or HR?

Gretchen: Each situation is different, so it depends. For one, I don’t think it’s appropriate for a job seeker to reach out to a hiring manager unless they facilitated the interview. And then, reach out only once via email. Never call. Also, if the hiring manager specifically asked you not to contact them, you shouldn’t do it. There’s a difference between being a proactive job seeker and not respecting the process.

Marty: I would also add that if they shared with you any dates relating to next steps, it’s a good idea to wait until about a week after that before reaching out. If they didn’t share their timeline and you haven’t heard from them in two weeks, it’s okay to send an email and ask about next steps and when they anticipate making a hiring decision. Always be polite and gracious. Reiterate your interest in the opportunity and thank them again for their time. If you don’t hear anything after that, cut your losses and move on.

Gretchen: My advice if you’re waiting to hear back from an interview, keep searching and applying for other opportunities. This keeps the positive momentum going and helps keep your mind occupied.

Marty: What about those who do hear back via the standard thanks but no thanks email? They know where they stand but no idea how they got there. Is it ever appropriate to ask for feedback?

Gretchen: I think so, and it serves hiring managers well to offer this feedback. Though, I will say candidates need to be realistic with their expectations here. The farther you make it through the interview process, the more appropriate it is to ask things like, why you weren’t a fit, what you could improve on or how you could make yourself a more desirable candidate, and consequently the more likely that you’ll hear something back. If all you did was apply online and receive an automated rejection email, well that’s frustrating but probably not worth your time to try and get any insight into the rejection.

There seems to be no right or wrong answer when it comes to following up with a hiring manager. Some people need closure and others are fine without it. If you do want to follow up, make sure you had their permission to do so. Send only one email and keep it relevant to what was discussed during your interview. By providing added value to the hiring manager, you may stand out from the competition.

If you’re considering using a staffing firm to search for your next opportunity, learn how to make the most of your relationship with recruiters. Also, browse our current job postings and don’t hesitate to contact us to learn how we can help you.

by McKinley Marketing Partners