You just left the interview. You think it went great. Now what?
Now is not the time to let up. Everything that you’ve done up to this point is moving you forward in your job search. Keep the momentum going.
You can send a thank you via email (quick, but not as personal as a handwritten card). You can mail it (takes a few days, so it doesn’t have the immediacy of an email, but has a bigger impact due to the perceived time and care it took to handwrite a note). Or, you can drop off a handwritten note the next day (a good strategy for big companies when you can hand the envelope to the receptionist).
What should you say in the thank you note? Thank the interviewer for the opportunity to talk with him or her about the job. (If you interviewed with multiple people, you should send a personalized thank you note to each person.) Reiterate your interest in the position. Mention something specific from the interview, or take this opportunity to share information that you may have forgotten to note in the interview. Promise a follow-up at a specific date.
First, Send a Thank You
Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you today about the Marketing Coordinator role. I am very interested in this position, and would love to be a part of the Acme Company team. I also really enjoyed meeting Amy, Pete, and Bob.
As we talked about, my experience in planning and executing large-scale events would be most relevant to this role. As I mentioned, I’ve planned events from as small as an employee recognition luncheon for 15 people to a 500-person conference that had a budget of $475,000. I am confident this experience will be well utilized in this job.
If you would like me to prepare an event planning timeline for a hypothetical event in advance of the second round of interviews, I would be happy to do that. Just let me know!
I will call you next Monday to follow up. If you need anything in the meantime, you can reach me at 555-555-0000 or email [email protected]
At the end of the job interview, one question you should have asked is, “What is the next step, and when do you expect to make a decision?” If you got a specific timeframe for an answer, that will guide your follow-up. Perhaps the interviewer outlined the next step in the process (for example, a second interview, or a reference check). But if not, there are usually things that take some time before the interview process can continue, or a job offer is extended. Patience — and persistence — are key.
What Else You Should Be Doing
Keep applying for other positions, even while you wait to hear back on this one. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. For one thing, it will give you more leverage in negotiating a job offer if you have more than one position being offered to you. And some jobs never get filled.
For example, the budget for the new position might not be approved. Or the responsibilities of the job opening may be distributed to one or more existing employees. Or an internal candidate may have suddenly become available, and the position is offered to him or her. There are many reasons why the position may never be filled at all. But that’s not comforting if you were the leading candidate for the job.
Sometimes you were the best candidate that they had interviewed so far, but then someone whose skills and experience were an even better fit came through the door. Even though the job interview went well, you might not be offered the job. That’s why it’s important to keep applying for other jobs. If you put your job search on hold while you wait to hear back on a specific offer, you will lose valuable time if that offer doesn’t come through – or if the salary they offer is too low, and even negotiating it won’t bring it into the range of something you’d accept.
Another thing to work on is developing any specific skills that were mentioned in the job interview but that you’re weak in — for example, specific software platforms. Not only will this give you something to do while you wait, but it’s also an opportunity for you to demonstrate your serious interest in the position, because you can mention what you’re doing to strengthen your skills in your follow up with the interviewer.
Reach out to your network. If someone you knew at the company had passed your résumé along to the hiring manager, be sure to check in with him or her after the interview. Your contact may be able to provide you with insight about the number of candidates interviewed, how your candidacy was perceived, and other valuable information about the hiring process and the company culture.
Also reach out to your references at this time. Let them know that you’ve interviewed for the position (give them the job title and company) and that they may be contacted. Make sure they have an updated copy of your résumé. Ask them to let you know if they hear from the company.
Finally, if this was a first interview, start preparing for the second round of interviews! Do more research about the company. If you anticipate you’ll be asked about a specific project you worked on, put together a brag book or portfolio to use in the second interview. Google the company and find out what they working on, and how this job might impact their future plans.
How and When to Follow-Up
If the interviewer didn’t mention a timeframe for making a hiring decision — or you didn’t ask — you have a couple of options. The first is to wait a few days (more than three; usually no more than seven) and then reach out to enquire.
How should you follow-up? Unless the interviewer has stated otherwise, a phone call is usually the best method for follow-up. Try to reach the person directly; only leave a voice mail if you can’t reach them after a couple of tries.
Before making the call, use some of the following strategies to make sure you come across as confident, not desperate. Research shows that in phone conversations, your voice accounts for 84 percent of your effectiveness. Here’s how to warm up for that call:
- Stretch. Stand up, with your legs slightly apart from each other. Reach up towards the sky (or ceiling) with your palms flat. Breathe out slowly. Repeat 2-3 times.
- Smile. When you smile when you’re on the phone, the listener can “hear” that. If you can, place a mirror where you can see yourself talking. This will remind you to smile.
- Stand up. Stand when you call the interviewer. When you stand up, it increases your blood flow, which gives you more energy. That energy comes through in your voice.
If you’re following up directly with the interviewer, don’t say, “I’m calling to see if you made a hiring decision.” Instead, remind him or her of who you are (including a five-second blurb that can act as an audio clue to help the interviewer remember who you are — “I’m the candidate who helped plan the President’s visit to Acme Company”), and say, “I just wanted to reach out to you and make sure you had everything you needed from me in order to consider me for the (job title) job. Do you need anything else from me at this time?”
That makes it easy for the interviewer to say, “No, we have everything we need” (which will be the usual response), but it can lead you into your follow-up questions. These can include:
- Am I still a candidate for this job?
- Have you decided on candidates for the second interview yet?
- Has the timeframe changed for making a hiring decision?
- Is the next step still (whatever the interviewer had outlined as the next step in the process)
- Would it be okay if I checked back in with you (and be sure to ask when you should do that)
If the interviewer did mention a time frame — and that time and date has passed — don’t panic. It is extremely common for the hiring process to take much longer than the interviewer anticipated. People get busy with other work, get sick, go on vacation, and have family emergencies. Sometimes the company’s priorities change, and an urgent hiring situation may become less urgent. All of these can lengthen the hiring timeframe — and may not necessarily be communicated to you.
Even if you’re waiting to hear back after a second or third interview, the opportunity may not be lost. The company may be checking your references, and it’s not uncommon for it to take several days — or even weeks — to reach references. Or the job may have even been offered to another candidate, but the job offer was rejected. Second choice doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve finished last!
This is where persistence comes into play. Follow up with every job application — and interview — until you are told the position has been filled. Then you can mark it as “closed” on your job tracking worksheet or database. But until you hear that it’s been filled, keep following up.
“But I Don’t Want To Be A Pest!”
During the interview, if you established permission from the interviewer on how and when to follow up — by asking if it’s okay to check in (and if he or she would prefer you to do so by phone or email) — they’ll expect you to follow-up. They may even note it if you don’t follow-up, since they gave you permission to do so.
In that situation, he or she will be expecting your call. When you call to check in, you can say, “You said to call today.”
However, sometimes, the hiring process will go on longer than the hiring manager or recruiter initially told you. After calling to follow up two or three times, you may wonder if your follow-up is being seen as “too much” or “too aggressive.”
The longer the process goes on, the less frequently you should reach out. In some cases, the hiring process may take months; in that situation, calling weekly would make you a pest, unless the hiring manager has actually encouraged you to reach out each week.
The key is asking the interviewer when he or she would like you to make contact again. It’s perfectly fine to ask that question — but then make sure you don’t follow-up more frequently than you were told. Sometimes the hiring manager will tell you they don’t know a timeframe. In that case, it’s fine to ask if you can check back at a specific time — for example, in a week. And remember to ask about how they’d prefer for you to contact them — by phone, or email? Some hiring managers don’t want phone calls, but will respond to emails.
If the process is taking a long time — and you’re not getting any information from the person you interviewed with — reach out to your network and see if they can help you determine the reason for the delay. This is when having a contact at the company can be extremely valuable. If you don’t already have a contact at the time you conduct the interview, use your existing network of contacts to see if you can identify a friend-of-a-friend who works there.
LinkedIn can be a good way to determine this, because it allows you to see these types of second-degree connections. Search for the company in LinkedIn, and then look who comes up as employees who you have “Shared Connections” with. Click on the “Shared Connections” link and it will show you existing LinkedIn contacts you have in common with those employees.
If you haven’t heard back after you’ve reached out a few times (left voice mail messages or sent email messages that weren’t answered), it’s probably time to move on to other opportunities. You may still hear back from the company, but your time is better spent on following up on other jobs you’ve been applying for in the meantime.
Remember, even if you aren’t selected for the position you were interviewing for, many companies do keep your application and résumé on file, and you might be contacted later about another opening.
The Process Doesn’t Stop With the Job Offer
Even once you have a job offer in hand — even a written job offer — things could still change up until when you actually start the job. So until you start your new job, act like you’re still between interviews. Keep interviewing, keep following up on your applications, and keep working on developing your skills.
At Total Resumes we offer individualised Interview Coaching. Contact us today:https://www.totalresumes.com.au/services/