Should an executive place a follow-up call after an interview?

What can an executive do when the interview seemed to go well, a quality thank you letter was submitted, yet they don’t hear back from the employer? There are some appropriate actions one might take in order to re-engage the employer without appearing needy.

Executive hires are very complex. Even in the best circumstances, decisions are rarely made quickly or predictably. It’s not uncommon for candidates (who are considered excellent choices) to be put on hold for weeks or months waiting for feedback. Even though it’s impolite and reflects poorly on the employer, in today’s marketplace it’s a common occurrence. Executive level positions are rarely decided upon with one, two or even three meetings.

With employers, what goes on in the background is usually a host of issues that have nothing to do with their interest (or lack of interest) in a candidate. Executive positions often require timing and commitment from multiple leaders, directors, and owners. The position may take on several major changes (from the job specification throughout the interview process) before a final decision is made as to what type of executive is needed. Typically, employers learn a great deal by interviewing executives from competitive firms. This instigates new ideas on corporate policy, market pursuits, organizational structure and pay.

Theoretically employers have a schedule in mind when they begin interviewing for an executive position. Given the significance and potential consequence of most executive hires, inevitably schedules and decisions are delayed. Unfortunately, it is common for employers not to follow up with executive candidates simply because they don’t have an answer or can’t offer an adequate explanation regarding the next step.

If the executive has not had response from the employer within a week from the last meeting, it is considered good practice for the candidate to place a follow-up call to the employer. The call should be rehearsed and scripted so that the executive knows what to say in a positive, confident and courteous manner. Executives should explain that they are enquiring about the status of the position. Since they have not heard back from the employer, they would like to know whether or not they are still being considered. They should communicate that they enjoyed their previous meeting, see a potentially good fit, and would like to continue pursuing the opportunity. Executives should always try to establish a specific time and date for a follow-up meeting.

If several weeks or months go by and there is still no further contact by the employer, it is appropriate to follow up with direct contact (via phone or mail) in order to push for closure. The candidate should let the employer know that they believe the employer is a good match. At the same time, they would like to know where they stand before pursuing other offers.

With today’s voice mail, it is common for executive candidates to be forced to leave a voice message rather than to directly reach the employer. Candidates who leave a message should be upbeat and friendly – and encourage the employer to return their phone call. Candidates should never leave more than two voice messages (taking into consideration that the lack of response might mean they did not get the position).

The article above was written by construction recruiter Frederick Hornberger, CPC, president of Hornberger Management Company in Wilmington, Delaware (, a construction recruiter specializing in senior level, executive search.