Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Question ALL Job Seekers Should ALWAYS Ask After an Interview Yet Many Don’t

There is a question all job seekers should ask at the completion of the interview and they either don’t ask at all or settle for half of an answer.

The Question

The last question you should always ask when you are completing an interview regardless if it is a phone interview or in-person interview is “what are the next steps?”

WAIT ! Don’t stop reading. Even if you ask that question you may be one of the job seekers who stops after they receive a first, yet incomplete, answer. When the interviewer says “well we have a few more people to meet with” that is not the complete answer.

In order to know how and when to follow up after the interview, job seekers need to understand the whole process and approximate timeline. If the interviewer answers “well we have a few more people to meet with” then you have to ask again in another way to get the complete answer.

Knowing the entire process and approximate timeline is not a state secret. There is no reason the interviewer would not share that with you as long as you indicate you understand that timelines are approximates.

Getting the Whole Answer

To get the rest of the story, you need to use active listening skills by acknowledging what they said and then asking for further details. You could say “I see. So you have a few others to meet with. Approximately when do you expect to have that round completed and what are the steps after that? When do you hope to have someone on board?” Using the phrase “approximately” or “about when” indicates that you acknowledge that life happens and that you cannot hold them to an exact date.

Knowing the complete answer also helps set your expectations. If the hiring manager is going to be on a vacation for the following two weeks for instance, then you know why the phone is not ringing instead of assuming the worst.


The timing of the follow-up is more art than science. I wish I could offer a formula (ex: interview date +3 days; if result equals weekend add additional 3 days) but it really depends on so many factors. I do have a few guidelines.

• Never follow up late on a Friday or last day before a holiday. They are probably trying to wrap things up before they leave the office and your follow-up could be unwelcomed.
• Never follow up on a Monday. Mondays are when people are ramping back up into the work week and are catching up on e-mails and other events that occurred over the weekend.

Knowing the process and approximate timelines really helps figure out when and how to follow up. Plus it shows interest and confidence.

Two Different Results

Here is an actual recent example of a client who did not ask the question.

Although I shared with the client the last question to ask, upon returning from the interview she admitted she did not ask them the question. The funny part was she then turned to me and asked if I knew about when they might get back to her. When I paused following her question she admitted this was not a fair question to ask of me since I had no information.

Here is an excerpt from an e-mail I received from another client in the same week who DID ask the question:

Thanks again for letting me know about the important question to ask at the end of an interview. I had my second interview with [an organization] this past Monday, and I followed your guide. It was great because now I know clearly the hiring manager's timeline of when they are expecting to wrap up the interview process and actually have someone on board. Of course, the timeline is not set in stone. Still, it was a good ending discussion.

Ask yourself then what would keep you from asking the question?

The next article series will be revisit Personal Branding. You will understand how to identify and leverage your personal brand to communicate why the company should hire you. To receive articles published by Judi Adams the moment they are published, go to and click Join This Site.

Judi Adams is the Affordable and Successful Job Search Coach, author of an Amazon hottest new release “Found a Job Yet? And Other Questions NOT to Ask!”, and keynote speaker. Judi is also the creator of the YouTube video series “The Five Deadly Sins of the Job Search” that can be found on using FoundaJobYet in the search field. Her blog has been read world-wide since 2009. Judi’s clients have had phenomenal success finding jobs they want by following the steps she outlines for them. For more information on RightChanges’ 2013 special for the initial hour of coaching, the new “advantage program for students”, and RightChanges other services, go to


  1. I also close by saying I am very interested in this position and I feel very confident that I have the skills to be successful in this position, and I am hopeful I will be part of the next steps. "Asking for the job".

  2. Thank u so much 4 this entry. As a junior recruiter I respect candidates who ask such a question, I also urge my students to (nag) on this one and get an answer or something near it :)

    If the interviewer does not have an answer the only message that I can hear is: (we don`t have a robust recruitment process and we don`t care much about time-to-fill ratios)!

  3. In addition, I believe a critical question is "How and when should I follow-up with you?" This gets to the timeline issue, establishes the next "meeting" and avoids all the guess work about timing the follow-up.The most important part of this question is establishing the next point of contact.Any good salesperson leaves a sales call with the next meeting established.