Many job seekers make the mistake of over-preparing for the big interview, just to drop the ball by not following up. When unemployment rates are high, competition for even the most entry level job is fierce. One simple way to stand out while also showing your interest in the role is to send a thank you note to the interviewer along with a brief outline of why you’d be a valuable asset in the role and to the company. Read on for more tips on following up to land a job.
This may seem like one of the more obvious points when it comes to following up, but that is not always true. If you had a single interview with one individual, then you likely have your answer. However, this is not always the case. With more and more applications for every opening, employers and staffing agencies are often implementing team interviewing strategies that involve individual and group interviews with several key members of the team, including coworkers, supervisors and internal clients. When following up, you’ll have to make a judgment call based on the number of individuals you’ve met with and their roles in the company. Following up with potential coworkers may not be necessary, but always follow up with those in charge of the hiring decision and those that would be supervising or managing you. One best practice for this is to request business cards from your interviewers. This will give you names, titles, e-mail and physical addresses and phone numbers, which will all be beneficial for the next steps.
When it comes to following up, there are no hard and fast rules for what must be said. However, the ‘what’ is arguably the most important piece of the puzzle. Much like a cover letter that you create to land an interview, you’ll want to customize your follow-up letter to get the job. The key is determining what should be included. Of course the first thing you’ll want to do is thank the interviewer for his/her time and consideration. However, that is not all you should include. While a ‘thank you’ will be appreciated, your interviewer is most concerned with whether or not you are interested in the position and how you will be able to help the bottom line. If you were interviewed by more than one person, customize your follow-ups to include how your skills are useful and relevant to each person individually. This is your chance to show that you were paying attention during the interview, that you’re genuinely interested in the opportunity and that your skills are a match for specific requirements and duties discussed.
As a rule of thumb, you should follow up immediately or within 24 hours of your interview for a few reasons. First, your follow-up message acts as a reinforcement of the interview itself. The longer you wait to get back in touch, the less of a connection there will be between your interview and the note. Additionally, a follow-up letter will help you stand out amongst the crowd of interviewees – unless others follow up first. While you still need to take time to craft a grammatically correct, meaningful letter, just remember that time is of the essence. If you’ve gone ahead and followed up but still haven’t heard anything after a week, it may be a good time to call the primary interviewer to see if there’s an expected timeframe for a decision so you can put yourself at ease or at least be prepared for additional follow up when appropriate.
There is much debate on the subject of where a follow-up letter should be sent. In the digital age, it is cleaner and more formal to send messages via e-mail. However, because this is typically the preferred method, many industry professionals have recommended opting for snail mail because it stands out. On the contrary, some would say this also is an indicator that you’re not up on technology, so it’s a decision that needs to be made based on your best judgment. Just remember that e-mail is immediate and will get your response to the decision-maker in a timelier manner. You may want to go with a tiered strategy like e-mail immediately, handwritten letter after a week, phone call in 10 business days. The selected method is completely up to you, but make sure to consider the pros and cons of each.
Why is it important to follow up after an interview? There are several reasons that this step of the interviewing process is critical. Aside from the fact that thanking someone for their time shows that you have manners, a follow-up letter can do a number of things for your job search. This letter gives you the opportunity to focus on specific information gathered during the interview and how you would fit into the current operations. Additionally, you can mention any initial ideas you have regarding process improvement, indicating that you have a fresh take on things that others may not have. A follow-up letter also gives you an excuse to request a timeline for hire and also confirm that your interviewer doesn’t need anything else from you to move forward. Finally, your ability to follow through is likely a desired skill for any role, and the strategy that you choose can really show off your persistence and professionalism. One important point to remember is not to sound desperate, as if you’re begging for the job. Simply express interest and show your enthusiasm for the company and the role.
Although the aspects of ‘how’ have been touched upon in previous sections, let’s recap. In order to make best use of your interview follow-up, you will need to follow a few steps. First, decide who you need to follow up with and request their information. Next, create an outline of what you want to say in order to get your point across in the most concise manner. Finally, decide when and where you will send the message – through e-mail, snail mail, phone or a combination of the three at separate times. The ‘how’ is really the strategy you create to blend all other aspects of the process.
Much of the follow-up process is based on judgment, as there are no “set” standards for who, what, when, where, why and how. However, following up after an interview is still a crucial step for landing a job. By following up with your interviewers, you’re showing them that you care enough to take the extra time and effort to reach out, but you also have the opportunity to show that you were actively listening during the interview and that you have legitimate reasons for wanting the position. Even if it doesn’t land you the job in question, you may stand out enough to be referred for another opening down the road.
Still have follow up interview questions? Please feel free to contact one of our staffing professionals for more assistance.