The situation:

Person X, who already has a full-time job, applies to Company A. Money is good at A, but the real reason X had applied is 'cause the work at A really excites X.

Next someone from the technical dept. from A calls up X, gives some assignment and holds a round of technical interview over phone. X does very well in all of it so far.

Finally, X asks the tech guy from A "What's next?" The guy says we'd get back to you in 3-4 days time and then doesn't call up in the next 3-4 days. X is confused. He's got the mail-id of the tech guy but not sure if he should inquire -- this is no HR after all. In fact HR was never anywhere in this process. What should he do?

My Take: Don't mail. You already have a full-time job and this shows desperation.

The Problem: This isn't me and people tell me that some companies wait for candidate to get back just to double check their interest level.


Mailing the engineering team proved very useful, they apologized for being busy and now I am told the next round is early January.

  • 7
    Your take could be reversed, "Mail, you already have a full time job and you have nothing to lose." – Chris Dec 9 '10 at 14:02
  • It's probably more important to call back if there is no HR. Part of HR's job is to find and hire people, when they're not around those that are doing it are probably pretty busy doing their actual job and wouldn't mind a reminder. – Steven Evers Dec 9 '10 at 14:56

My Take: Don't mail. You already have a full-time job and this shows desperation.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: This is not dating. You apply for a job, you do interviews, you have invested time, so you have all right in the world to know the result. They haven't answered within the promised timeframe, so call them or mail them. Of course, don't stalk, don't call them every 30 minutes or send 200 mails per day.

This is not at all the same situation like dating someone of the opposite sex where you have to obey a ridiculous number of unwritten complex and contradictory rules that might, or might not, lead to procreation. "[Contacting] shows desperation" is a term straight out of the dating dictionary, but it has no place here.

  • 1
    However, X could ask the tech guy out for lunch to chat as another option, no? In other words, there could be a date made out of this that still works for moving things forward. Possible bromance alert after all. – JB King Dec 9 '10 at 15:28
  • JB King: True, but that requires calling as well :D – user281377 Dec 18 '10 at 8:14

If the guy at Company A said he'd get back in touch and doesn't then a short e-mail (if that's the only contact you've got) asking for news is OK.

Just keep it short and to the point. It doesn't show desperation, but a desire to move the process on - one way or the other.

  • 2
    +1: I do this after every interview. It's standard practice for me. I've even had people (HR or not) thank me for calling; "Hi SnOrfus! I was planning on getting back to you but we've been really busy. When can you come in for an interview?" – Steven Evers Dec 9 '10 at 14:54
  • I'm with SnOrfus on this - any company that's doing a lot of good work, is going to have trouble making enough resources available for the hiring process, and will likely appreciate the reminders/help. Also, whatever the situation, the email is very unlikely to make it worse. – blueberryfields Dec 9 '10 at 15:30

Yes, you should mail. Politely and professionally with no pressure just asking if there is an update and if they need any more information from you. If you hear nothing back from that I'd give it another week and phone him (just in case the mail address is wrong). If after that you hear nothing I'd assume it's dead.

No HR involvement isn't necessarily a big deal. Some companies don't involve HR except in the paperwork bit, and sometimes not even then.

A very small aside - companies waiting for you to chase them to show interest are idiots. You showed interest by applying and going for an interview. Judging a candidate on whether they chase would be a very odd measure as it could show anything from enthusiasm to desperation. I honestly don't believe anyone is really doing this, and certainly no-one you want to work for.


I've been in the position of the hiring manager that you describe. I also had to put out fires, write code, deal with people who can't seem to get along, settle disputes on what library to use and manage a budget.

Oddly, I was also able to spend time with my family during most of those days.

Don't be shy to give a 'bump', something like this would be appropriate. Let's assume the manager's name is Gonzo:

Hi Gonzo,

We had an interview two weeks ago and I thought that we connected quite well. I'm really, really eager to tackle [problem here] and I've given it considerable thought. I realize that you might have someone else in mind, I'd like to share my newest ideas with you before you make a decision. Would it be possible to schedule a short phone call or meeting?

I really feel that I can be an asset to YoYoDyne systems, and that YoYoDyne is my best choice for personal and professional growth.

Regards, -- Joe Q. Hacker

You'll get one of three responses:

  • The position has been filled, but thank you for your enthusiasm
  • DOH! Sorry, I meant to call you, thanks for reminding me
  • We're still interviewing, but I'm interested in hearing what you have to say

If you don't ask, you'll never know. Many start up companies launch with a skeleton crew, where everyone wears several hats. Hiring managers are human, things fall through cracks .. the worst that they can say is 'no' if you follow up.

So, follow up.


HR is not required in a hiring process. Since most are unqualified, they're often only an obstacle.

Besides, if the manager and the technical guys didn't like you, the presence of HR would not get you any further.

My take is to wait for their reaction. I'd expect not a play "who wants whom" but a professional attitude.

The only situation I would contact them if I was under time pressure to accept an offer from a different company. Then before deciding to go with the company B I would have naturally wanted to know where the company A stands.


I recommend that you definitely email to follow up. But, follow up a day or two after the person said that they would follow up - if you're contacting before that point (3 or 4 days) then it looks desperate. In my experience a simple email with "Hey, thanks for taking the time to speak with me the other day. I'm definitely interested in learning more about the position. Do you have an update on next steps?"

Unfortunately, like others have said, hiring managers and hr managers are often doing 4 people's jobs at the same time, so these things slip through the cracks all the time. I've found that a simple reminder like the above will work.

Good luck!


Was this an advertised position, or was it simply that the company does exciting work so person X sent them a resume? If there wasn't a position open, the manager could be fighting to get a headcount allocation, so was reluctant to reply until everything had shaken out. Regardless, I'd follow up with a short note.

  • Very well advertised position. – Fanatic23 Dec 9 '10 at 17:12

Send an e-mail asking for an update or discuss it over lunch somewhere. A date may not be a bad idea if one wanted to get to know more about the place and other intelligence information. X shouldn't get too emotionally invested in this though as sometimes things can happen like HR finding out and scolding the manager, the manager was sick, or any of 101 other things that could delay the news.


If this is a consulting job: Mail

Ok, you should mail no matter what kind of job it is, but I was in the same situation when I applied for a consulting company. At contract-based companies, it's generally a good idea (and makes economic sense) to hire someone when they can immediately be put on a project. They could just be waiting on a project to come up to hire you for, rather than say "Absolutely you're hired, except we don't actually have work for you right now....can you wait a few weeks or months until something comes up?". Most people will run if they know it will take months to place you, so there may be many tactics to hold you off. So, if it's a consulting gig, which is always exciting work (IMHO), then send them a follow up. They need to know that you aren't just "testing the waters" and that you mean business (and that you appreciate them enough to care about their decision).

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.