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Asking about application status - What is the best way to follow up?

09/02/2022 2022/02

Almost everyone who has just started their career or is already working knows the situation: you have applied for a dream job and have been waiting impatiently for an answer from the personnel officer and the mental cinema begins. Have the application documents been lost? Does the non-answer mean a rejection? Should I ask? How? And when?

What is the right time to Ask about the application status?

There are a few things to consider. Not only the time should be well chosen, but also the medium and the manner. Give the recruiters 1-3 weeks and wait for the application deadline, if known. After a certain period of time, it is even advisable to ask about the status of the application, because asking suggests that the applicant is very interested in the job. The feeling that you are bothering the recruiter with questions or stealing their valuable time is in most cases unfounded. In fact, the opposite is often true, because a professional and confident follow-up gives you the first opportunity to present yourself personally and may even increase your chances of being accepted or invited to an interview. 

But could you scare off your potential employer by persistently asking? Yes, this is quite possible, especially if you miss the right tone. Your voice and choice of words should be professional, polite and friendly. It is better not to formulate accusations or expectations, but to show complete understanding for bosses and recruiters with overflowing schedules.

Follow-up by phone call or email?

For the reasons listed above, it is advisable to use the phone as a medium for follow-up if the telephone number is known, as it is immediately personal and more direct. This action requires an immediate response. Maybe you are lucky and the recruiter can answer your questions right away, you have a short exchange and get an unfiltered impression of your voice and mood. Your chance to shine! Be prepared for spontaneous questions/comments from the interviewer and plan a certain amount of time for the phone call. Ideally, prepare a few notes for the call: e.g. contact person:in the job, date of receipt of application, job ID and your intention for the call. The perfect way to start the interview is to be confident and introduce yourself briefly before asking the interviewer if it is a good time for you or if it would be better to call back later. Only then can you ask for honest feedback on the status of your application.

If you don't have a telephone number or can't reach anyone informative, you can also write to the company in a friendly and concise way by e-mail. In any case, you should send your enquiries by e-mail to the personal work address of the personnel officer instead of to the general address à la kontakt@ or info@. When writing, the same rules of politeness apply as in a personal conversation by telephone.

Make sure that you spell correctly or make careless mistakes!

If you have already had an interview and are now waiting for feedback, similar recommendations apply. However, it is even better to ask specifically at the end of the interview what the next steps will be or whether the employer can already formulate a deadline. Particularly in large companies or groups, the internal decision-making channels can often be longer and higher-level specialist departments are involved in the decision. In addition, several candidates are often invited to the interview, so the selection process always takes some time.  Make sure you use clear, positive wording and address the interviewers directly. Take your cue from how the interview went, what the atmosphere was like and show tact in making it clear what you want without seeming too demanding.

What should I do if I get a rejection? 

If you receive a rejection after the personal interview, you should first reflect on the decision. After all, in addition to professional experience, perfect preparation and personal appearance, every interview also requires a bit of luck - especially when it comes to competing applicants. Instead, you should keep an eye out for other job offers, be open to alternatives and never lose confidence.

It is also important to value interviews without a successful acceptance as an important experience and enrichment from which you can learn. It may help to ask the company again about the reasons for the rejection, because if a rejection flutters through your door despite all your efforts, you can also learn something from it for future applications. It is still unusual to ask for reasons for rejection, but it is by no means taboo. After all, it is important to find out why the dream job did not work out. A politely formulated and appropriately reasoned enquiry is the best way to clarify which professional or personal qualifications you can improve. By the way, it can sometimes happen that the company's preferred candidates drop out for some reason or turn out to be unsuitable. Then you might get a second chance and can move up. This way, decisions in your favour are still within the realm of possibility.


There can be various reasons why the decision from the company side sometimes takes longer: in larger companies the works council is involved and the internal process can be lengthy, the specialist or HR department is overloaded (e.g. due to sick leave, holidays during the holidays, etc.) and those responsible are absent. ) and the responsible persons are absent, holidays (especially the Christmas season) can lead to delays, as can sudden challenges such as the Corona pandemic or structural changes, or the company has also invited other applicants:inside for an interview and would like to get a picture of them as well and is therefore still waiting. 
So be patient, keep your nerve and reflect on yourself and your professional qualifications. Know your value and strengths and don't be afraid to pick up the phone and ask. Take your chance and convince with authenticity.

About the Author
Annika Handrack
Teamlead Recruitment

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