You’ve successfully initiated your career search, crafting a strong resume and cover letter and sending them out to targeted employers. When should you expect to be notified whether you were one of the lucky applicants who has been selected for an interview? It could be shortly after you apply—or it could be never.
When Employers Notify Candidates
In many cases, you may never know definitively whether your application was received and then rejected by a company. Some employers do notify applicants that they were not selected, others do not. In some cases, it's because they receive hundreds of applications for every available job opening and they may not have an automated system or the resources to notify applicants.
Some job postings state that only candidates who are selected for interviews will be contacted. In other cases, you simply don't know if you'll hear back or not.
In addition, the hiring process can be lengthy with multiple interviews, and the employer may not notify applicants until they have filled the job. That could take weeks or months, depending on the position within the company.
For candidates who are invited to interview, you may be notified by phone, email, or by an automated messaging system if you applied via an applicant management system.
Check Your Messages
Since you don't know how the company will contact you, check both email and voicemail at least daily, if not more often. You don't want to lose out on an interview because the company couldn't reach you in a timely manner. Also check your email spam box daily, since important emails do sometimes go astray and end up there.
How Employers Contact Applicants
Employers most frequently notify applicants by phone or email, but you may even receive a written letter inviting you to interview.
The email message, letter, or phone call you receive will include details on who you will be meeting with. You may be assigned a pre-scheduled time or you may be offered a choice of interview times.
If the company requires that you prepare materials (like a lesson plan for a teaching job, for example) you will be informed as to what you should bring and how you should prepare.
You should also be notified about the format of the interview. For example, the company should let you know if you are meeting with a group of individuals rather than a single interviewer.
Here's a list of the main ways employers invite job applicants to interview:
- General interview invitation
- Interview invitation offering reimbursement
- Panel interview invitation
- Second interview invitation
- Interview invitation asking a candidate to select an interview date
- Phone call invitation with a specific interview date
- Phone call invitation with options for interview dates
- Phone call invitation asking a candidate to select an interview date
Contacting the Employer
As a general rule, hiring departments tasked with reviewing hundreds of job applications do not appreciate being approached by nervous candidates who want confirmation that their application has been received and reviewed. Should you contact them, you run the risk of being perceived as needy and annoying – which is not the initial impression you want to present.
If after a few weeks you absolutely have to have peace of mind, you might send an email (not a phone call) that very simply reiterates your interest in the position and your hope that, if the job is still being searched, that they will give your resume consideration. Do not ask about the status of your application. At this point, you’ve done the most you can do. If the employer wants to contact you, they will.
Accepting or Declining a Job Interview
Once offered an interview, you need to be able to provide a courteous and articulate response – first impressions are important. Take a look at a sample interview acceptance letter you can use to confirm your interview and an example of a letter declining an interview when you are no longer interested in the job.
Although you may find them stressful, job interviews are actually an exciting chance for you to display your talents and enthusiasm while “shopping” for a wonderful new employer. A little preparation before the interview will go a long way in building your confidence and ensuring that you shine.