Congrats, you aced the job interview! You were attentive, engaged, and asked all the right questions. You hit all your talking points, shared your career story, and gave your insights on how you could help solve the employer’s challenges. You’re off to a great start, but the work’s not done!
The way you follow up after a job interview can make or break your chances of moving forward in the hiring process. You want to use your follow-up to leave a lasting impression on the employer, to ensure you leave with clear expectations, and to get vital feedback that can help you get hired. Here are five next level strategies to perfect interview follow-up, starting while you’re still in the interview itself.
Before You Leave the Interview, Know Next Steps
Before you finish a job interview, gather vital information about the process so you can customize your follow-up. Ask the hiring manager about the process and timeline so you know the best way to follow up. There’s nothing wrong with a direct approach. Ask when you should expect to hear from them. A few days? Next week?
It’s imperative to establish clear expectations so you know the next steps in the process, and if you’ll need to prepare for another round of interviews with a new set of decision-makers. Get clear on the hiring manager’s expectations and if they anticipate more rounds of interviews with senior management, or if this interview is the final step in the recruitment process. If this interview is the last in-person conversation, then you’ll know when to check in via email and how often to follow up.
Always Send a Thank You Note
If you want to create a strong professional brand and leave a lasting impression with employers, you need to master the art of the thank you note. This can be in the form of an email, a handwritten card, or, as I usually recommend, you can do both!
As soon as you leave a job interview, it’s best to follow up with a sincere, professional, and engaged thank you email. Ideally it should be in the manager’s email inbox within a few hours of your interview. Make sure they know you appreciate their time and attention in meeting with you!
When writing your post-interview thank you email, keep these three things in mind:
Keep it short: You don’t need to compose a long letter. Busy professionals already have too much email to read, so keep it short and sweet.
Recap the interview: Focus on the topics you discussed with the interviewer, and reiterate your interest and excitement about the role.
Customize it: It’s okay to follow a general template with thank you emails, but make sure to add enough customization that your message doesn’t look like a bad “cut-and-paste” job. In every email, reference something specific to your conversation. And please, make sure you include the right company name and job title!
I also advise that you purchase a simple thank you card before the interview so you can write in it and drop it in the mail as you leave the meeting. It will take a day or two for your thoughtful card to arrive in your interviewer’s mailbox. While email has the advantage of delivering an instant dose of gratitude, the handwritten card is a great way to keep your candidacy top-of-mind with the hiring manager, and reiterate your professionalism and preparedness.
Connect on LinkedIn
Use LinkedIn to deepen professional relationships with your interviewer. This move indicates you’re up to speed on industry trends, and amplifies your social connections. Plus, you can easily maintain professional contact with someone who could prove to be a great resource down the road.
To avoid the appearance of “ambushing” the interviewer on social media, you should always add a note to your LinkedIn request. A quick “Thanks again for a great interview” works, and you can level up by noting a shared interest or connection. For example, you could ask how this person knows a LinkedIn connection that you share, or send them a link that you discussed in the interview. A prompt like this increases your chances of getting a response and continuing the conversation!
Sometimes hiring processes drag on. If it’s been awhile since you got an update, it’s OK to check in with the decision-maker by email. Doing so is not just good interview etiquette, it also confirms your ongoing engagement and interest in the job opportunity.
Just remember to be short, polite, and diplomatic with your inquiry. “Can I provide any additional information to facilitate the decision?” is appropriate. “Did I get the job?” is not.
If you don’t end up getting the job, you should still maintain contact with the hiring manager. The key, as with all your professional contacts, is to offer something of value in the relationship. Don’t harass the hiring manager with repeated requests! Send timely outreach grounded in topics that are relevant to the hiring manager’s interests or needs.
Ask For Feedback When You Don’t Get the Job
When you don’t get selected for a role, you should try to get feedback from the hiring manager. This is not always easy to do, but it is possible!
In some cases, the hiring manager will call and let you know the employer has decided to hire another candidate. If you were expecting the call, now’s the time to ask for specifics. If you’ve received an email with the bad news, take a moment to review the email, then craft a respectful response with a request for feedback on your qualifications and why you were not selected for the position.
If the hiring manager does not respond to your inquiries, go back to your original contact within the company or ask the job recruiter that got you in the door about the possible reasons you were passed over. If you seem genuine in your desire to improve your chances, you shouldn’t have trouble getting someone to fill you in. And if you don’t get feedback after a few attempts, it’s best to move on.
Interview follow-up is essential to letting the hiring manager know you’re highly invested in meeting their hiring needs. Get info on the next steps, send a thank-you note, connect on LinkedIn, and stay engaged throughout the hiring process to set yourself apart from other candidates and get the job offer you’re seeking.
Contributed by: Mac Prichard — Publisher, Mac’s List
Mac is the founder and publisher of Mac’s List, where he writes regularly about job hunting, leads classes on job search skills, and hosts the “Find Your Dream Job” podcast.