How To: Follow Up After a Job Interview

by Sharlyn Lauby on January 3, 2013

Enough can’t be said about the importance of follow-up. Especially in the interview process. We spend so much time making sure our resume is perfect to make sure we get that interview. Today’s reader question is about what to do once the interview is over:

Hello. I worked for a tech company for over 10 years as an executive assistant. Due to a company reorganization, my position was eliminated. This has been a very challenging time, as I’m having difficulty finding a job. I’m currently working as a temp for a large medical company. It’s a great company with many great benefits but I’m not happy in my current role.

I’ve come to realize I don’t interview very well. My true friendly personality doesn’t come out during the interview. I just applied for a terrific job, where I know I can make a difference. I had an interview and I believe it went well but I’m not sure I convinced them that I am the right person for the job.

I did send the interviewers a thank you email and they responded it would be a while due to the holidays. It’s been 2 weeks and I want to follow up with an email to show my continued interest in the position and in their company. What would be some words to add to this follow up email to convince them that I want this job and that I can be successful in this role? Thank you.

To offer some insight, I reached out to two very accomplished talent management professionals. Kevin W. Grossman, is an executive at BraveNewTalent, a leading social learning career platform and author of the book, “Tech Job Hunt Handbook”. Chris Havrilla is a sought-after recruiting consultant and author of the blog, Recruiter Chicks. I’m thrilled they graciously agreed to share their expertise.

So tell me, should candidates send a follow up note after an interview?

recruiter, recruiting, job, interview, job interview, follow up, follow-up, Kevin Grossman[Kevin] Yes, always. Whether or not a candidate is truly in the running, the interviewer can get crazy busy and it’s important to always follow up with a note and even a call in a week if there’s no word back on next steps. Candidates should never be afraid to ask for acknowledgement and closure, even if it’s not the news they want to hear.

[Chris] Definitely yes!  It is a great way to not only let someone know that you appreciated their time and insights – but also to make sure they are aware of your interest and enthusiasm, and reinforce how you “fit”.

The reader mentions “convincing the company that this is the job they want” in the follow-up note. Isn’t that too late? From a recruiting perspective, what’s the purpose of sending a follow-up?

[Kevin] The follow-up is a way to reiterate interest and reaffirm why the candidate is the best fit for the role. It’s never too late, although at that point the hiring manager may have already made her decision. But front-running candidates do decline offers and take other positions, so there’s always a possibility of being considered.

recruiter, recruiting, job, interview, job interview, follow up, follow-up, Chris Havrilla[Chris] A note will probably not be able to turn around an interview that did not go well, but it could be something that could help differentiate you from equally strong candidates.  From a recruiting perspective, I appreciate someone showing their understanding of and connection with the company, the role, and/or the people they met.  That could make a big difference.

Interesting story…I had a friend who had received an email that after interviewing, they had selected a stronger candidate for the role – and like your reader, had really felt it was a great fit.  I advised her to reply with a simple thank you for their time and consideration – and to keep her in mind for any future opportunities as she was still very much interested in them and felt she could make a great impact.  It established a connection and it kept a door open – and in this case, within a month, they did call her and hired her for an additional role that had opened up.  It can make a difference.

Is email an acceptable way of sending a follow-up?

[Chris] It is has become more acceptable, especially in today’s world – and in the interest of time, clearly the most rapid way to respond.  Having said that, a written note, which is becoming more of an exception than the rule, could still help you stand out.  Look at each situation and do what you feel would work best.

Name 1-2 things a follow-up note should include.

[Kevin] Again, the follow-up should always include: 1) your legitimate and enthusiastic interest in the job and 2) why you’re best candidate for the job, including a quick highlight of applicable experience and skills.

Is there anything a follow-up note should absolutely not include?

[Kevin] What your salary and benefits should look like. Seriously, that’s left to when you’re made and actual offer. And unless it was already discussed during the interview process, refrain from editorializing too much about personal or other professional issues that could affect your job performance in any direction.

Lastly, once a candidate follows up, should they ever follow up a second time?

[Chris] I think that really depends on the timing and the situation. You don’t want to ‘stalk’ – or push where there is no real interest.  However, if the company genuinely seems interested and is giving no reason to make you think they are not – keep the conversation open and take cues from them to decide the cadence.  You can even say, “…if I haven’t heard anything in the next week, would it be ok or appropriate to follow up with you directly?”

In this case, the company indicated that a decision would potentially be after the holidays.  I would send a holiday card to their main point of contact wishing them a happy holiday, reiterating her interest in joining their team, and looking forward to hearing from them after the holidays…

Again my thanks to Chris and Kevin for sharing their experience. If you want to get more of their recruiting wisdom, be sure to check out their blogs Reach West and Recruiter Chicks and follow them on Twitter at @RecruiterChicks and @KevinWGrossman.

Oh, and P.S. Check back this weekend when we’ll talk about the second part of this reader note – What to do when the interview doesn’t go well.

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