“I applied for a position that would require an international move, had a phone interview, and was then flown down for a series of face-to-face meetings. That was about three weeks ago. Now [I’m] waiting, wondering if I should follow up. I’m currently employed, so there are LOTS of implications for me should an offer come forward, and I’m getting rather anxious.”
After finally landing an interview and going through the grilling by one or more interviewers, job seekers usually breathe a heavy sigh of relief. Not so fast. Now you have to play the waiting game, constantly checking your phone and e-mail for any sliver of communication. Unfortunately, not all hiring managers respond to candidates in the same way. If you follow up – both immediately after the interview and even after that – it could keep you on top of mind with the employer and possibly increase your chances of an offer.
“If you haven’t heard from the employer by the time they said they would make a decision, it’s all right to follow up, but do it in the correct way,” says Dave Carhart, a former recruiter who volunteers for the Milwaukee-based JobCamp, which offers free events that teach job-seeking skills. “Inquire politely and understand that often hiring timelines get pushed back due to various factors (budgets, other deadlines etc). Ask if there is an update on the position and restate your interest. If there’s no response at this point, they already may have hired someone.”
“Right now, due to the number of candidates, many companies have stopped notifying people individually that they are out of the running. It’s unfortunate, but that’s a fact of life. Repeated calls or e-mails will not improve your case … The key is to express interest, not desperation. That’s a turnoff and will torpedo you quickly,” Carhart says.
Here are seven tips for mastering the art of the follow-up.
1. After the interview, take some time to reflect as soon as you can do so, says Robin Ryan, in her book “Over 40 & You’re Hired.” Note tough questions and those you think you didn’t answer well; list any questions you want to ask if offered the job; and record your overall impressions of the people you met and the company in general. “Do this immediately – it can be quite valuable later. Maybe you won’t get the offer, but it’s important to learn from each interview,” she writes. You can use this information in your thank-you note and its follow-up.
2. The jury is still out about the method of communication for your initial post-interview thank-you. Many experts say either e-mail or hard copy is acceptable, while others prefer one to the other. Consider the type of organization you interviewed with and its culture, advises Alan De Back in “Get Hired in a Tough Market.” Whichever format you prefer, follow up immediately — on the same day of the interview.
3. Martin Yate, author of “Knock ‘Em Dead,” says the follow-up letter should make four points crystal clear: that you understand the job and can do it; that you paid attention to what was being said; that you are excited about the job and that you want it; and that you have the experience to contribute to the first major projects.
4. De Back says an effective follow-up note can be as brief as three paragraphs. He gives an example of a simple format to use: Paragraph one should thank the interviewer for the opportunity; paragraph two should refer to something you discussed during the interview (Hint: Review the list you put together from item No. 1 above); in paragraph three, thank the interviewer again and give a specific time line for when you will follow up.
5. You should show you were listening, are interested in the position and are confident in your ability to do the job, Yate writes. Illustrate these things by using phrases like, “Upon reflection,” “Having thought about our meeting …” “I recognize the importance of …” and “Listening to the points you made…”
6. “The No. 1 thing that separates a potential job candidate from the rest of the pack is when he/she clearly cares about the company’s bottom line,” says Larry Myler, author of “Indispensible by Monday” (Wiley, February 2010) and CEO of profit-consulting firm More or Less Inc. The candidate should have a documented history of bringing previous employers more money than it costs to employ him (either in a sales capacity or by presenting profit-producing and/or cost-cutting ideas) and should use this information in the follow-up call or note. “It proves that the candidate understands profitability and cares about the overall success of the business, not just his own job.”
7. Follow up early in the week, not right before the weekend. If you reach out to the hiring manager on a Friday, he or she has all weekend to forget. By making contact earlier in the week, the chances are better that you’ll be remembered because the interviewer is still in work mode.
*Kevin G. asked that his name be withheld due to privacy reasons.