To call or not to call?

Thursday, April 19th, 2012 - Job Application

To call or not to call?

Or, when should you follow up?

(NB: The answer is to act professionally, and leave the door open!)

Often over a chat with a job seeker, or in a job seeking forum, I am often faced with the question: “Should I call, or not?” The other form of this question is “And when should I follow up?”

As a recruiter, the assumption seems to be that I or the employer don’t want to be disturbed. But that means that the job seeker doesn’t get the feedback that they require to improve their job search technique. So they end up in a state between worry and anic, after an (assumed) rejection.

How should you handle this situation?

It’s about communication and professionalism

The most common strategic problem in a failed Job Interview, is not that the interviewee couldn’t do the job, it is that they lose the interviewer, and broke the communication channel. In other words, they got rejected because they couldn’t confirm their suitability to do the job.

This problem is easily solved by giving the interviewee a few simple Job Interview Tactics:

  • Use STAR stories to note your relevant skills
  • Align the job advert/job description with your STAR stories
  • Make sure your are answering the question by repeating the question, and confirming the required Result
  • Offer more than 1 option (don’t look like a thin candidate)
  • Talk through the Result using STAR format
  • Make a maximum of 5points per piece, to make sure that you stay in communications contact with the Interviewer
  • Close the interview with 3/5 questions
  • Confirm that if you get the job or not, you can contact them for feedback

If you want to learn more, read the article Job Interviews in a Minute

The simple strategy to this technique is:

  1. Keep the communication channel open
  2. Confirm that you/the answer are going in the right direction (refer point1)
  3. Keep the door open for feedback, both during the interview and afterwards

Communication and feedback is key to employment

The key to successful job search is about communication and feedback:

  • Focusing on communicating your suitability (similar Results) for that job
  • Getting and listening to feedback to improve your Job Application technique

So when a job seeker asks “To call, or not to call?” my first thought is that they have already dropped the communications channel baton, and have hence reduced their chances of employment in that position. They have also probably shut the door to valuable feedback, meaning a double-loss on this job application.

Leave the door open

One of the first things I noticed when I tried to answer the question Why Do Good Job Seekers Get Rejected, was that some unsuccessful job seekers still got employed after being rejected after a job interview. So after tracking and plotting the main success criteria of Successful Job Search, I paid some attention to his apparent anomaly.

The simple answer was that these unsuccessful job seekers were seeking feedback. Further, the majority of rejected/successful job seekers had been professional, and at the job interview left the door open to go back and gain feedback.

We know from national statistics that between 10% and 15% of successful job seekers are not in the position that they were employed for, after a period of between 30days and three months. This means that the HR Professionals have a choice to refill the position:

  • Re-run the expensive recruitment exercise a second time
  • Go back along the unsuccessful job seekers, and find a second choice

Hence, if you were the HR Professional, and had a second-choice candidate who was rejected, but had handled it in a professional manner and was still looking for work, what would you do?

Hence, these professionally-acting job seekers who had kept the door open and were seeking feedback were the most likely to get employed if the primary candidate failed to hold down the job. What most surprised me, was that these job seekers were still gaining job offers regularly up to 30days after the rejected job interview, and in some cases upto six months later. Clearly, leaving the door open and asking for feedback was a powerful technique.

What to do after not leaving the door open

What do you do if you have not left the door open? The simple rules are summarised in three questions:

  1. Does this conform with the agreed/stated job application procedure and time scale?
  2. Does this support the involved relationships, and hence increase your chances of employment?
  3. Does this help you improve as a job seeker on future job applications?

If you get to question3, then what you are accepting is that the likely hood of you getting this job is less than 20%, and hence in harming the relationships above you are at least gaining valuable feedback in your job application technique.

If you do decide to pick up the telephone, then act professionally and accepting of the rejection decision. State that position up front, to all that you speak to from that organisation, from the receptionist answering your call to the HR Professional who you are asking for feedback from.

OK, here is the technique is operation….

Job Search Dilema: To call or not to call?

Edward asks: To call or not to call, this is the question. Some experts recommend making a follow-up call, but any recruiter I’ve spoken with recommends against this practice. What do you recommend?

In Answer: It depends on where you found the job, who introduced you, and at what stage of Job Application you are at. So my simple guide is to act professionally and always at each stage leave the door open to gain feedback:

  • Through a Recruiter: all recruiters want to own the process, so that they show value to their employer/client. Other wise, whats the point in engaging them? But once you are in the Job Interview and in direct contact with the employer, you have two channels of communication. Always agree a path with the employer, but communicate this back to the recruiter and let them drive the process/time scale. If they fail, then remind them, and then go direct on the employer
  • Through an Introducer: on many occasions now, job seekers are introduced direct to the employer via an introducer, who can be a network contact or an existing employee of the organisation. Again, once you are in front of the employer, agree process and timescale with them, but feedback via your introducer. They should be able to give you appropriate feedback, and support your job application with that Hiring Manager


    If we hence walk through the job application process, there are a number of points where you can act professionally and leave the door open for feedback:
  • When initially applying: put a close in your Cover Letter that indicates that if you have not heard within X days, then you will contact tehm to ask for feedback
  • After the Job Interview: while in the job interview, close with the “What are the next steps” question, which should state a process and a timescale. Then agree that if you have ot heard from them, that you will make contact just after that time scales, ie: they say a week, you make contact on day 10

If you haven’t left the door open purposefully, then there is always the option of doing so, as long as you state that’s why you are contacting them. The problem at the moment is too many job seekers, and often getting angry, or possibly even suing an employer for rejecting them. Make sure that they are clear of your fully accepting of their rejection decision, and you are just requiring feedback.

Good Luck!


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One Response to “To call or not to call?”

  1. K Miskin Says:

    Simply want to say your article is astounding. Your knowledge is excellent, very clear and precise! Please keep up the gratifying work

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