Following Up After the Interview

When you leave an interview, you should leave the building as gracefully as you entered it. Make sure you’re as cordial to people on the way out as you were coming in. Then, as you decompress, take some time to review the interview while it’s still fresh in your mind. Because interviewing is a learnable skill, use the experience to help you in the future.

Ask yourself: how could you have better answered the questions? Where did you succeed? Where did you fail? What will you do differently next time?

In assessing the interview, don’t let the fact that you didn’t feel a connection with the interviewer frighten you away from a great job. And lastly, consider what you’ve learned about the company and whether or not, all things considered, it would be a good place for you to be.

A thank-you note is essential. Get it in the mail the day after the interview. If competition between you and another candidate is intense, the thank-you note just might be the extra burst of effort that propels you to victory. Avoid hyperbole and excessive enthusiasm. Keep your note cordial, brief, and let the tone bespeak its having been written from a cool remove. Thank the interviewer for inviting you to the interview. Say that it was a pleasure to meet him or her. And then mention something you learned during the interview and assure them of your continued interest in the position – provided you are still at all interested.

Follow-up calls can also provide that extra thrust over the job wall in some cases. But it’s a good idea to assess the situation before you call. Calling can make you look overeager and can, if overdone, turn off prospective employers. After interviewing with a large and busy company along with several other candidates, it’s probably better to just send a note and wait for the response. And until prospective employers make their decisions, everything you say to them can be used against you at decision time.

For this reason, both calls and letters should be viewed as extensions of the interview. The last thing you want is for a clumsy follow-up call to dash a favorable impression of you. To wit: ONE call, e-mail or letter to follow up is just fine. If it’s been two weeks, follow up again. That’s it. Pestering your interviewer can earn you a hasty journey into the garbage can or trash file.

On the other hand, a well-placed follow-up call or letter can give you an opportunity to state an idea you failed to mention in the interview, to position your name in their memories, to demonstrate perseverance, and to separate yourself from the majority of candidates who don’t follow up.

Here’s one warning. As tempting as it may be, don’t call to check up on a resume you’ve sent – and then start quizzing the person on the other end of the phone (or e-mail) about the position and necessary qualifications. Eager’s fine, but desperate is a turn-off.

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