You did it! You landed the interview for the job of your dreams! Okay, maybe it “just a job”, but it was important enough for you to suit up and show up, right? So you clearly have some interest in getting it. Now that the interview is over, what’s next? Do you follow up? How soon? And how?
In order to get the job offer, there are some important steps to take after the interview. They may not all be necessarily what you expect, however. The days of continual follow-up by telephone are over, especially since your call will more often than not go straight to voicemail. And then there’s that whole “thank you note” thing, once asserted to be an essential of component of any professional job search strategy. Is that still the case? Are handwritten notes or letters still recommended? And, if not telephone calls, then what?
Before we get into the do’s and don’ts of interview follow-up, let’s take a brief look at the reality of today’s labor market and how it might impact your job search. First, there’s no question that the unemployment rate is far from optimal. Job creation continues to be sluggish as employers remain leery of the rate of economic recovery and are, as a result, reticent to hire to full capacity.
In addition to less than robust hiring by most employers, those employers that are hiring are constantly reminded of how deep the available labor pool is. There is, in other words, usually no shortage of talented applicants for most openings. Including the one you’re pursuing.
Against this backdrop it is tempting to conclude that the most effective way to follow up on an interview is to be the most noticeable candidate, one who the interviewer would be foolish to ignore. Maybe. Then again, maybe not.
Why are we on the fence? Because there are certain factors job applicants often forget, such as:
- There are probably many candidates for the position. Many qualified candidates. Interviewing them all takes time. Speaking of which…
- The employer is likely operating on a different time table than you are (important, but usually not urgent). Most employers know that the hiring process usually takes weeks, if not months, whereas job seekers often feel that the process should take only a few days after the interview.
- Situations change. An urgent need to fill a position may become less so as the employer adjusts to the departure of an employee, for example.
In light of these factors (among others), you should exercise some caution when demonstrating the level of interest you have in the position. The line between being persistent and being a pest is a fine one. Here, then, are some important action items for you to consider when following up on a job interview:
- Know your audience and then play to it. This step actually begins during the interview. Pay attention. Is the primary interviewer calm and focused? Does he or she seem focused on the task at hand or does the individual seem preoccupied and stressed? If the latter, then tread very carefully when you follow up. This is not likely to be a person who thinks you’re being persistent and may ultimately consider you to be a pest, not something you want to be remembered for come decision time.
- If, however, you established good rapport during the interview, then you’ll probably be able to check in using the same tone and manner of the conversation you had (Remember: interviewing is conversing!).
- Ask it it’s okay. Surprisingly, many people don’t end the interview with some simple questions such as “when do you expect to make a decision” or “may I call you in a week to check on how the process is going”. Plan your actions based on the answers.
- Double-check names and titles before you contact the interviewer(s). You did ask for their business cards, right? Nothing spells doom for your prospects more than misspelling the H.R. manager’s name, for example. So much for convincing this employer that you’re “a detail-oriented professional”.
- Do send thank-you notes. Yes, it may be quaint and a bit old school, but a neatly hand-written “thank you” is still likely to make a good impression. Alternatively, a typed thank-you letter in which you briefly reiterate your interest in the position and provide additional relevant detail regarding your value offering for the position will likely also be well received. Knowing your audience will also help you avoid sending paper to someone who does nothing but process paperwork. Email is probably preferable for him/her.
- Clear up any miscommunication/address specific questions or concerns that you’re not sure you handled adequately. Don’t leave the interviewer with any misperception.
- Spel chcek. We really don’t have to mention this, right?
- Calling all references! Let them know to expect a call. Debrief them on the interview so they’ll have some idea as to the questions that may be asked. Don’t let them be caught off-guard.