The recruitment process can be a frustratingly long experience even for the most patient of people. There are gaps between each stage that feel like they are taking a lifetime; for example, when you submit your resume to a company it can be up to a month before you hear back as to whether you have secured yourself an interview or not. Then after the interview there can be a painful wait while decisions are made. You can feel as though your life is hanging in the balance as the hiring decision is out of your hands. You would be very wrong to think that – you still have one ace left to play…

This delay is almost always caused by a high number of applicants. This is a symptom of the economic times that we live in. Times are hard for individuals and companies alike. Unemployment is at a record high in many parts of the world, which means that there are literally hundreds of people applying for every position that is advertised. This has repercussions for you, as an applicant, which stretches beyond what many consider to be the end of the recruitment process.

Many people think that as they walk out of the interview room that their role in the recruitment process is done and that they can sit back and wait for an answer. This is not the case! Follow up after the actual job interview is essential.

What does 'follow up' mean? Follow up is how you interact with the company you have applied to work for after the interview.

It is important to keep the channels of communication open with the HR department and/or Hiring Manager after the interview. This, however, can be something of a balancing act.

The last thing that you want to do is to appear pushy, but it is important that you do not seam uninterested in the result. Phone calls are better than email when it comes to follow up, so try whenever possible to speak to the person who interviewed you.

Obviously your agenda is to ensure that you are not forgotten about and that you keep your name at the top of the hiring managers list. But if you keep calling the HR department or hiring manager and asking them if you have the job, or not, then you will seem pushy and desperate.

A great way to approach this situation is to ask for feedback or constructive criticism of how your interview went. Asking for this has many advantages. The main thing that it does is that it ensures that the channels of communication are wide open. This is important.

The second thing that this request does is that you will get feedback on how well your interview went. Should you get the job or not, it is important to find out how you performed at the interview. It is, after all, unlikely to be the last interview in your life, so take note with humility and accept what you are told. The interviewers have no reason to lie to you at this stage – they will tell it to you how it is. For example, if they tell you that you seemed uninterested in the questions, do not dispute this, but rather take it as constructive criticism and learn to change your interview technique for the next career interview opportunity.

The final thing that asking for feedback does is that it displays your commitment and enthusiasm. It proves the point that you are passionately keen to secure the position, and that you are driven to improve. Do you know how many people ask for feedback after a job interview? Only a precious few. This will make you stand out from the crowd in a substantial way.

The key to success during the follow up period is to time your call well. You want to aim to speak to the Hiring Manager about the time when they will be reaching a decision. A forward thinking applicant will have asked at the interview how long they will be interviewing for and when a decision is likely to be made. Time your phone call based on this information. This is your final opportunity to "wow" your interview panel – so use it well.