Interviewing: Follow Up for Success

Whenever I talk about job search, there are questions about following up after an interview. Why, when, how, how much…

‘Why?’ is easy.
When you write a thank-you note to interviewers, you have another chance to impress each interviewer you talked with. When you check in after the expected decision time frame, you remind them of your interest and potentially, your value.

What, you do not know when they expected to make a decision? Next time ASK!

‘When’ is also easy.
Thank-you notes should be immediate – the same day or within 24 hours. Follow-up calls and emails come several days or more after the date they said they expected to get back to you. So, if the expected date was in three weeks, you would try to re-connect in 24-25 days.

‘How’ is a little harder.
Thank you notes are now most commonly emailed, except in very traditional organizations. But you can also make a great impression on the hiring manager with a well-crafted note on a business note-card or other formal stationery. Thank you notes should be brief : 1-2 short paragraphs. They should include something you learned in your interviews and a skill or achievement relevant to the job which you did not already talk about. And there should be some variety among them when you have interviewed with several people for the job.

Follow-up contacts may be by phone or email. Use the method that works best for you. Be prepared to leave a clear, concise voice message. Or write a well-focused and brief email. Your goal is to remind them that you are interested in the position and organization and learn when you can expect to hear about the next step. Always volunteer to provide any added info they may want. If something has happened in the company that is in the public press and impacts the role, you may want to mention any added skills relevant to that. But keep the message brief!

Never assume the worst, especially if you do not hear back quickly. A negative tone in your message does not improve your chances. And things do happen and hiring is delayed. Stay positive and interested.

“How much” is tough.
How much depends on what has already happened and your reading of the people you talked with. The most important people to follow-up with are the recruiter and the hiring manager. What do you know about each of them that might influence your follow-up process?

One phone interview might make for one thank-you email plus a follow-up call or an email. An in-person interview could be the same or include both a call and a later email. But if you interviewed with multiple people or came back for second or third interviews, you can add an additional call/email or two easily.

Do not try for contact every 2-3 days, you will look needy. This job is really important to you, especially if you are not employed. But it may be one of many the recruiter or hiring manager are trying to fill. And there are many other demands on their time. So give it a week or 10 days before you make that second attempt to connect. And at least that much for a third effort.

Unfortunately, many companies have become very lax about following up with candidates, even after extensive interviewing. Assessing whether they are responsive to your needs or not is a part of your decision process as well. But a well-crafted thank-you note followed, if necessary, by some positive efforts to connect shows that you are a persistent professional and can enhance your opportunities for the job.

Patra Frame is ClearedJobs.Net’s HR Specialist. She is an experienced human resources executive and founder of Strategies for Human Resources. Patra is an Air Force veteran and charter member of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.

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Profile Photo David Kuehn

From the other side of the table, an important lesson is to follow up with candidates as soon as possible. For internal candidates, it is helpful to provide feedback so they are competitive for future vacancies.

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