For effective interview follow up, savvy interviewers know the interview process continues well after the actual interview, whether you’re applying to a corporation or with a search firm. There are certain interview follow up steps you must take to uphold the good first impression you made in the interview. These interview follow up steps actually do not start at the end of the interview, but they start while you are still on the interview.
I’m a big believer that how you conduct your search communicates to the employer how you will conduct yourself on the job, so you need to continue your follow-up appropriately and professionally to seal the deal. Keep these things in mind when following up after an interview:
1. Inquire About Next Steps in the Process—Before the Meeting Ends
When the hiring manager or recruiter ends the interview with, “Do you have any questions?” you can ask about the next steps in the process (after you have asked your other questions about the business, the position, etc). By asking about next steps, you’ll get the road map for when to follow up and in what timeframe. It’s a no-brainer that eliminates a lot of the guess work on your part. As a recruiter, it stuns me that so few people end the conversation with this question.
2. Ask If You Can Send a LinkedIn Invitation to Connect
Yes, you’re interviewing in the hopes of getting the position—but you’ve also just formed a new professional relationship and added another name to your list of business contacts. Asking the interviewer if you can connect on LinkedIn is perfectly acceptable.
During the interview, look for natural segues into a connection request. If the interviewer mentions they love to golf, for instance, you can mention a great article on golfing you just read and offer to forward it to them. If they attended your alma mater, you can mention how great its LinkedIn group is and offer to introduce them to some former classmates who are active in that group. Make sure, when you send the actual request to connect, that you include a personalized note along the lines of, “I enjoyed speaking with you today. I’d like to introduce you to some fellow classmates as we discussed.”
Even if you don’t get the job, you’ve still made a great new professional connection who could wind up assisting your job hunt or career in the future. Don’t neglect to capitalize on that.
3. Ask for Their Business Card
At the end of each interview, ask the interviewer if you may have one of their business cards. This will help you when writing the thank you note we’ll cover in the next section. Business cards are an easy way to make sure you get key information correct when following up, such as the correct spelling of the interviewer’s title, their exact position, and their email address. If the interviewer doesn’t have his business card on him, jot down this information on the notepad you should be brining along to every interview.
4. Send Thank You Notes Immediately (Via Email and/or Express Mail)
Do not underestimate the importance of this step. Interviewers see multiple candidates each day, and thank you notes are a quick and easy way to distinguish yourself from the competition, emphasize your interest in the position, and leave the interviewer with a positive lasting impression.
How you send this thank you note depends on the interviewer; it’s best to ask them how they prefer to be contacted. Email is usually best method due to its immediacy; you can send it from anywhere and the interviewer will receive it instantly, keeping you top of mind (and impressing them with your timeliness). However, if the interviewer prefers traditional mail or you want the extra personalization that comes from a handwritten note, a physical note is also acceptable—just make sure you send it via express mail so you don’t lose the immediacy factor.
The note itself should be brief, to the point, and professional yet pleasant. Thank the interviewer for their time and restate your interest in the position, reminding them of a few key reasons why you’d be a great fit for it. If you’re sending your note via email, this is also an appropriate time to attach any information you discussed, such as an article you recommended or an example of work you’ve done previously. And don’t forget to send personal notes to each interviewer if you met with more than person.
5. Touch Base Meaningfully—and More Than Once
It’s okay to check in occasionally after the interview, so long as you do it the right way. Sending multiple emails and leaving multiple voice mail messages asking if a decision has been made will not do you any favors in the interviewer’s eyes. Rather, touch base periodically in a way that demonstrates your value and your interest in the position, without coming across as pushy or desperate.
At the end of the interview, you should be asking about the next steps in the process (as we covered in the first section). Once you know it will take about a week for the company to make a decision, you can gently follow up after 10 days to check in and see if there is any other information you can provide. If you can demonstrate extra value by attaching an article you’ve come across that you think the interviewer will find interesting, you get extra points for being a useful professional contact. Remember that you’re likely not the only person following up on this position, so if you can do something to differentiate your message from the other candidates’, do so.
6. In Absence of Information, Don’t Fill in the Blanks with Negative Information
Everyone in the hiring process has good intentions to move the process along. But so much of it is out of their control, despite those good intentions. So always keep in mind that no news does not necessarily mean bad news. Maintain a positive attitude, and try not to dwell on it if you’ve yet to hear back from someone.
7. Move On to Find the Next Opportunity
Don’t just wait on this one position; keep your job search moving along. This tactic will preserve your sanity and give you a greater chance of ultimate success. Even if the opportunity you’re waiting to hear about is your dream job, if you sit around and wait for the company to get back to you, it’s like watching a pot of water come to a boil.
Resume your search immediately. Go for a run. Head out to meet a friend. Do all of these things, in fact. Distract yourself from the opportunity as soon as the interview is over to give yourself a fresh perspective when they do call back (remember, think positive!), and maintain your leverage by exploring other options.
Lisa Rangel and the Chameleon Resume team have helped hundreds of people just like you get the 6-figure position they deserve.
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