Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.
Advice / Job Search / Interviewing

The Mistake We Didn’t Know Candidates Were Making

You spend hours perfecting your resume and cover letter. You edit, proof, and send off your application, crossing your fingers and toes that you’ll catch the hiring manager’s eye. And the next day, the best possible scenario happens: You get an email, asking you to come in for an interview.

You respond ASAP, right?

That’s what we thought. But when sitting down with some hiring managers recently, we were shocked to learn that not all candidates are so quick to do so. In fact, after sending in the initial application, many of them simply go radio silent.

“Often, someone has applied, I’ve responded looking to set up an interview, and I get zero follow through,” shares Mary Murphy, managing partner at luxury menswear company J. Hilburn. “Occasionally, I resort to text, which tends to get a better response from the under-40 crowd, but even that isn’t foolproof. It makes me wonder how you'd perform on the job!”

Giving the hiring manager a reason to doubt your capabilities before you even walk in the door to interview? Probably not going to win you the job.

So, here’s our advice: If you’ve sent in an application, be checking your inbox (and your spam folder) like a hawk over the next couple of weeks. Even if you’re busy, you should always, always respond to an interview request within one business day. Any longer, and the hiring manager is likely going to question both your interest in the position and your general email manners. And if you’re away on vacation? If you’ve been applying to jobs, you should absolutely have your auto-responder on explaining when you’ll be back to reply.

What if the company contacts you after you’ve already been hired or when you aren’t interested in the job anymore? It still pays to respond with a kind, “I’m so sorry—I’m no longer on the job market.” “If you’ve changed your mind or found something else, we would love to know,” Murphy explains. “If you decide in the future the company or position might be a good fit—if you communicated well, you have a point person to contact. If you disappeared, I may remember that, and you’ve burned a bridge.”

The job search is tough, so why not make sure you’ve got the easy stuff down?

(Oh, and J. Hilburn is hiring. To impress Murphy, have a typo-free resume and make sure your enthusiasm for the job jumps off the page. And, yes, email her back ASAP.)

Photo of email courtesy of Shutterstock.