You just had a great job interview. You’re convinced it’s the right job for you. Now what? There are different ways to follow up on a job interview. Much depends on who you talked to and the priorities of the hiring organization.
At a minimum, you should send a thank you note to everyone you spoke with. Make sure you have the right titles and name spellings and send the notes within 48 hours of your interview. If your interview was on a Friday, follow up first thing Monday morning to stay top-of-mind.
But if you truly want the job, you need to do more.
Assume that the employer is interviewing other candidates. To stand out from everyone else, you must continue to sell yourself and express your enthusiasm for the position.
Ultimately, you want to convince the employer that you’re the best person for the job, the solution to their problems, and that you will fit in very nicely with the company culture.
For a moment, put yourself in the shoes of the employer.
Let’s say the leading candidate follows up with a polite, but generic, thank you note. The second-best candidate writes a much more thoughtful note that demonstrates close attention to what the interviewer said and provides ideas on how to tackle the biggest challenges associated with the position.
In all likelihood, the number two candidate will jump to number one. Here’s a game plan on how to win the post-interview follow-up.
How to Follow Up After a Job Interview: The First Round
Write personalized notes: Get the business card of everyone you spoke with individually and follow up with emails that reflect an important point from each conversation. Don’t send the same note to everyone.
You’ll probably interview with the hiring manager and the hiring manager’s boss. In many cases, you’ll also interview with a HR person, colleagues who you’ll be working with closely, and perhaps a manager from another department that will be impacted by your performance.
Try to understand and address the concerns of each individual.
For example, let’s say you’re interviewing for a product development position reporting into the director of new business. You spoke briefly with the director of marketing who talked about the importance of collaboration and trust between the two departments.
Your follow up might say something like this:
“I appreciate the importance of soliciting input from marketing at every stage of product development, from the initial concept to the building of prototypes to the final design. By working together throughout the process, I know we can maximize our chances for building products that meet customer needs and that we can market successfully.”
Focus on the hiring manager: In most situations, the hiring manager will be the person you’ll be reporting to and will have the biggest say in who gets hired. Provide that person with the most detailed and persuasive follow-up note.
Again, avoid any language that sounds generic. You want to demonstrate that you listened very closely in the interview, you understand the hiring manager’s needs, and your qualifications and experiences are a perfect match for the position.
Following Up Again: The Second and Third Rounds:
In the second round, it is a good idea to send a work product from a previous job that closely relates to the position you’re seeking. For example, if the hiring manager said that part of the job will involve evaluating acquisition candidates – and this is something you did at your previous job – then send your best research reports to the hiring manager.
If you don’t have a relevant work product, you should create one to demonstrate that you have the job skills needed for the position. You can also present your thoughts on how you will proceed with a new initiative that will be an important part of the job. While you don’t want to come off as presumptuous, you do want to give the hiring manager a tangible sense of how you’ll perform in the role.
For C-Suite positions, I’ve found that some candidates send an example 30/60/90-day plan in their first follow-up email. In my opinion, this is not a good idea as hiring managers may interpret this as over-stepping. Wait until you’ve completed the second or third rounds of interviews to demonstrate that you understand the growing pains of the company and show how you can problem-solve with your expertise.
In either scenario, be mindful and respectful of not disclosing any trade secrets or confidential work product from a current employer. Redact names and hide proprietary information.
Emphasize culture fit: Through your research and interviews, you’ve probably gotten a good sense of the company culture. Is it entrepreneurial and collaborative with open work spaces and a loose hierarchy? Or, is it more traditional and bureaucratic? What are the qualities that are most valued in employees? What is the company’s overarching mission?
In your follow-up notes – particularly to the hiring manager and the hiring manager’s boss – express your understanding of the organization’s values and mission and your conviction that you’ll thrive in their organizational culture.
Waiting for the Decision: The Final Countdown
After you’ve sent all of the appropriate follow-up notes, give the organization time to make their decision. If they didn’t give you a specific date for a decision, it’s fine to follow up a week later. If they did give you a specific date, follow up within 48 hours. You want to appear interested – but avoid coming across as desperate.
Sometimes things happen like hiring freezes or other events and the organization has to postpone the hiring decision. If they still appear to be interested in you, stay in touch with the hiring manager by occasionally sending emails about industry events or topics of mutual interest.
If you don’t get the job, try not to be too disappointed. Even in today’s tight labor market, there’s multiple candidates for most positions.
Send a polite note thanking everyone for their time and your admiration for the company. Ask them to keep you in mind for other positions in the future.
Authored by: Carolina King
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