Respond skillfully after an interview

  • Write a Thank You Note

    🧠 Know

    Sending a thank you note after an interview is expected. Not only is it traditional protocol, it gives you a valuable chance to summarize some highlights from the discussion to help them remember you well.

    📈 Prepare

    If you haven’t asked for contact information during the interview, you can always ask for it from the person who arranged the interview for you. This can be a short message, and look something like the example below.

    Subject: today’s interview: thank you and request for contact information

    Hi xxxx,

    Thank you very much for coordinating today’s interview. A highlight for me was xxxx. I overlooked asking for contact information and would like to send a follow-up note. What is the best way to be in touch with xxxx and xxxx to express my thanks?



    🖐 Practice

    ✅ Write and send thank you notes to those you interviewed with, ideally the same day. This worksheet can help.

  • Follow Up to Stay Connected

    🧠 Know

    There are natural reasons to communicate with your interview contact throughout the process. Use this information to navigate:

    • checking in on their search progress and timeline
    • updating about your search progress and timeline

    You can also apply these tips about following up after networking if you’d like to keep in touch with the people you meet beyond the search.

    📈 Prepare

    A natural reason for communication after an interview is to check in on the status of the search. It’s best if you know the search timeline. Be sure to write this down when mentioned during the interview, and if it is not, be sure to ask! Once you know the timeline you can mark your calendar with those important dates and send a check-in message as those dates pass.

    People want updates on your search status once you’ve begun to interview with potential colleagues and bosses, or even after having more than one chat with a recruiter! Knowing who the serious candidates are or if someone has accepted an offer is essential information. This is important: they also want to know about candidates who are about to accept an offer! That gives them the opportunity to adjust schedules and priorities to hurry up their process if they’re interested. It also gives you some concrete information useful for negotiating an acceptance timeline with the other organization.

    🖐 Practice

    You can adapt these samples to send correspondence after the interview:

    subject: continued interest in xxxx position, checking in on timeline

    Hi xxxx,

    I continue to be interested in xxxx position after interviewing on (date). One thing that stands out is (example from interview or your follow-up research/learning). During our discussion I learned that you (detail about their timeline) last week. Would you be willing to share an update on your timeline and whether I’m still being considered?



    subject: timeline check-in: currently considering an offer

    Hi xxxx,

    I am writing to inquire about the timeline for the xxxx position. I interviewed on (date) and continue to be very interested in the position. For example, (write something that was particularly positive and memorable) continues to stand out because (why it connects to your interests, strengths, or future contributions). I have been actively searching for opportunities as my time at Duke completes (alternative: to fulfill the internship requirement for my xxxx degree) and received an offer today!

    Can you share an update on your search timeline? If I’m still in consideration as a candidate, it will be helpful to understand whether to ask for some time to decide while I interview with you. I would hate to miss this opportunity with you because another offer came first! If you’re interested, I hope to coordinate our schedules and I can request more time to decide.



  • Receive a Rejection Graciously

    🧠 Know

    After receiving a rejection message:

    • Take a breath, and give yourself time to be disappointed. I like to give myself a window in which I can feel all the feelings, maybe 4 hours, after that I’ve made an agreement with myself to move on.
    • Don’t take the rejection personally. This one is hard, but important. There are a variety of factors in a hiring decision and you shouldn’t take it as evidence that your’re not good enough. There are often factors beyond your control that influence hiring decisions.
    • Reflect on what you can control (while letting go of what you can’t control) and improve for next time. What questions did you feel confident in answering? Which ones were more difficult? How would you prepare differently in the future?
    • Build in a practice that helps you move forward. An alum mentioned she would apply for 5 new roles after every rejection to remind herself there are more opportunities.


    📈 Prepare

    It is normal to want to delete the email never see it again, but don’t. Take the time to write a response to turn a rejection into a connection for the future. By responding to a rejection you are doing the tough thing that many searchers skip. You never know when a future opportunity to could open up, that would align with you!

    Here are 3 points to include:

    • Start with Gratitude – I know, it is hard! Thank the hiring manager for getting back to you on the decision and/or the opportunity to interview and learn about the organization, role, and/or individual people.
    • Express your disappointment– Be authentic to how you feel and express it, within reason of course! Of course your disappointed, let them know but keep it positive. Use the disappointment as a proxy for your interest in the role.
    • Restate your interest in the role & organization– It didn’t work out this time, but maybe in the future! Showing your interest is a way to start a connection. You never know, another role might open up in the coming weeks.


    🖐 Practice

    Use the article “How to Respond to a Job Rejection Email” from Indeed for advice and examples. Here is another template to adapt.

    Hello Hiring Manager Name,

    Thank you for note about your hiring decision. While I’m disappointed, I appreciate the opportunity to interview and learn about xxxx organization. Specifically, I enjoyed learning about x and y and meeting the team. While, this opportunity did not work out, I’m still interested in your organization/role and I would like to be considered for future openings that may become available.

    Best of luck to your team moving forward,


  • Request Feedback
    Requesting feedback is an important part of the learning process, especially when you want to adjust and improve quickly. The article linked in the Practice section just above has advice.


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