Email Response Time Rule of Thumb
Email is such a common means of communication these days. Much of your interaction with the firms is done via email. Do not discount the importance of your email and avoid1) Poor Grammar/Spelling, and 2) Lack of Timely Responses. Since there is spell/grammar check integrated into Microsoft Office applications, this post is going to focus on TIMELINESS!
Think about it: Firm professionals are at a computer for most of the day, so they quickly forget that students are not similarly glued to email. You are subjected to the same expectations that the professionals have for their clients and teammates...that you'll respond within a reasonable amount of time!
What is reasonable? Generally, you should aim to respond to all emails within a 24-hour timeframe (not to exceed 48 hours).
What if I don't have an answer within 24 hours? Sometimes we'll get questions that take time to answer, and that is ok. In that situation, you'll want to respond within the appropriate window indicating that you're looking into it and will get back to them. That way, the person emailing you isn't scratching their head three days later wondering what in the heck you're doing.
Consider the time of day that you're emailing: You may be a night owl, but the receiver may not be. If possible, send your responses during business hours. This gives the appearance that you're good at managing your daily calendar and not scrambling to cross things off your list in the wee hours of the night.
What if I find that I've exceeded the response timeframe (24-48 hours or RSVP deadline)? Respond when you realize the faux pas. A response is better than no response, so just apologize for the delay in getting back to that person. As with RSVPs, if you do not respond to an email that requires a response, it is deemed to be extremely unprofessional. Do not risk a successful recruitment process - manage your email effectively!