After the Academic Interview

After you get home after the interview, you’ll be beat. You’ll be tired and worn out - emotionally, mentally and physically. And now you get to write thank you notes. It’s okay to give yourself a day off, but thank you notes should be completed the following day. In the case of a phone or Skype interview, which is not as rigorous as an on-campus interview, thank you notes should be completed the same or very next day, and you may want to email them as opposed to mailing them for a quicker turnaround.

Thank You Notes

How, when, what type of thank you notes will be different for everyone. It will ultimately be up to you to decide what makes the most sense in your given situation. Here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Send a thank you note to everyone you met with. This should include the department’s administrative assistant, and the person from HR that you meet with to discuss benefits.
  2. You have to decide if notes should be handwritten or emailed. Talk to your department head about what types of thank you notes s/he has received, and what they would like to see.
  3. You may want to email thank you notes when you want them to get there in a timely manner. One student said that her policy is to email thank you notes for phone/Skype interviews, and handwritten notes for campus interviews.
  4. You may want to email thank you notes to some of the people you visit with and hand write thank you notes to the search committee and/or members of the department where you’re interviewing.
  5. If you know that you’re the last person in the interview process, you may want to email thank you notes to get them there ASAP and send a general handwritten note to the department/search committee.

Following Up

It’s been over a week since your interview and you haven’t heard anything yet. So how long until you hear back from the search committee? This depends on a number of factors including:

  • How many people did they interview (or still need to interview)?
  • When are all the committee members available to meet?
  • What is the process that the department has to go through to get approval at the university?

At the end of your interview process you should have some idea as to when you should hear back from the Search Committee Chair or Department Head. It’s generally one of the last questions you ask before parting ways. The answer may be one week, two weeks or maybe longer. Based on the timeline that the chair gave you, you can send them a quick email to follow up if that date passes. If you don’t hear anything back, you can call and leave a message a few days later. If you don’t hear anything at this point, try to be patient. Something may have come up that was out of their control, and you don’t want to come across as too persistent. Following up shows that you really are interested in the job and care about what happens. Being too persistent can turn them off.

Unfortunately the reality is that you may never hear back at all…see The Art of Rejection ( Sometimes you will receive a form letter, sometimes (pretty rarely) a phone call, and sometimes nothing at all. If this happens to you…in any of these forms, rest assured that you are not the first and will not be the last candidate to be rejected. Either way, you’re coming away with more experience than you had before the interview, and this position might not have been right for you. After you talk to your friends and vent about not being hired, and how you were officially rejected - how could they not want you? really, a form letter? - it’s time to move on. Learn from your experience to improve upon your interviewing skills, update your presentations, and get a job that is a good fit for you.