While email has made life both easier and busier, it seems it has also left us adrift when it comes to communicating, especially when there’s a job interview.

Most email communications about a potential job tend to have a pattern.

1. Applicant applies for a position

2. The Human Resources representative (or hiring manager) contacts the applicant either via email or phone.

3. Interview or documents sent in

4. Thanks sent in by applicant and response sent by HR representative.

However, sometimes a step gets missed. A friend of mine was recently contacted for a potential position. She sent in a copy of her work with her thanks and then heard nothing until she emailed the HR representative asking if he had received her documentation. It was only then did he respond.

This can leave a bad impression on applicants. Human Resources expert Sarah Paul follows a set process when contacting applicants via email. She says, “Every interested candidate who applies for a job should have a good experience with your company. Any time you can touch a candidate you have an opportunity to enhance your company’s employment brand.

“Particularly for very senior or technical positions I believe it is good business practice to acknowledge receipt of their resumé with a quick ‘Dear Mr. Smith, thank you for your interest and you will hear back should we proceed with your candidacy.’ At least they can rest easy that it was received, will be looked at and attachments opened okay. This email response may take time, but it is worth the effort in building your brand.”

Paul also thinks that no matter whether you get the position or not, courtesy must be extended to everyone who applied. “I have even heard of candidates physically coming to the organization, interviewing with the hiring manager or HR and never ever hearing back.” She says, “If a face to face interview has been conducted, and the candidate is not successful, he or she should receive a personal phone call to thank them for their time and deliver the news. A phone call takes no time at all and will leave the candidate with a positive impression of the company, even if she wasn’t chosen for the job.

“Any time a candidate is engaged either for a telephone interview or a face to face interview, s/he must receive a customized email indicating that they will not be moving further in the process.  It is just the professional thing to do. Never leave a candidate who you have had contact with hanging. They would much prefer to hear a ‘no’ than no response at all.”

If you find yourself in a similar situation, it’s not considered impolite to follow up after 24 hours. A simple email asking if the required information was received is not rude, it’s simply good business sense.

A second follow-up

While candidates should send a thank you note after every job interview, if you haven’t heard a response from the employer in the time frame allotted (or in what time seems reasonable), it is okay to write in a second time. Use this subsequent communication to reiterate your enthusiasm for the position and to highlight your key qualifications. Refer to the interview specifically, making it clear that you were paying attention to the employer’s needs and are ready to meet them.

Thank the employer again for taking the time to meet with and express your eagerness to discuss the next steps. If the interview didn’t land you the job, then it’s unlikely that this second follow-up will sway the employer’s decision. It will probably earn you response however, so you’ll find out if there is a delay on their end, or if you simply weren’t chosen. Either way, it’s better to know.

Have you been left hanging buy a potential employer? Would you boycott their products or services if you felt that you had been treated shabbily as a candidate? Let us know.