Question: What is the protocol for following up after interviews? What does it mean to be too pushy or too lax? –A. Brookover, Arlington, VA

Answer: Consider the time after your interview as an unofficial extension of the conversation you had with the hiring manager. You’ll want to reach out promptly—time is of the essence here and can make or break your candidacy for the position. That being said, following up is simpler than you would think! There really is only one “golden rule” to connecting after an interview, which is:

  1. Send a thank you note.

This is a simple yet impactful gesture. Sending one is not only courteous, but advantageous. Approximately 15% of hiring managers wouldn’t hire someone if they didn’t receive a note. Email or snail mail (or both) is fine, as long as it goes beyond a simple “thank you,” is sent quickly, and encapsulates what the organization needs and how you can address them.

The important thing to remember isn’t whether or not to send a hand-written card or email. Rather, it’s to send it swiftly—no more than a day or two after your interview. Bonus points for doing your homework here to identify strategies you would utilize in your role. That shows your passion for the position and the organization’s wellbeing.

As far as whether or not you fear that you’ll be too pushy or lax, know that—as long as you’re respectful and tactful—following up is generally appreciated. Of course, this differs based on the organization. For example, you would be in the “too pushy” category if you repeatedly called the organization when it states in the job description that no calls are accepted. On the other hand, being too lax would be not following up at all with a card or email thanking your interviewer for his or her time.

No matter if you choose to send an email or card, a thank you note is a much-appreciated gesture that can only improve your chances. Indicate that you’re aware of what the organization is working towards and is passionate about, and you’ll continue to make a very good impression!

Nurys Harrigan-Pedersen is president of Careers In Nonprofits, the experts in nonprofit staffing and recruiting with offices in Chicago and Washington, D.C.