How To Follow Up After A Job Interview
As tempting as it is to sigh a deep breath of relief and head to a nearby watering hole after an interview, there are still opportunities to set yourself apart and make improvements for next time. In last week’s post, I talked about some ideas to prepare for an interview. That is where a lot of candidates’ energy and preparation goes.
Call me old-fashioned, but I think a follow-up handwritten note a day or two after a good interview is still a classy touch. It can also get you noticed. This was a rare gesture before electronic communication rose to dominance, and it is even less common in today’s age of text messaging and email. To be clear, writing a thank-you note will not take a person from being last on the list to getting a job offer, but it can communicate some important points to hiring managers, and it could put someone over the edge in a close race.
The first thing a well-crafted thank-you note can show is true passion and desire for the work and/or the organization’s mission. Take a moment to explain how learning more about the job resonated with you and is complementary with your skill set, values and future goals. Doing this can show the hiring manager or HR representative that you were listening as much as you were talking. Interviews can be a whirlwind. Before you know it, 45 minutes have gone by and you feel like you have been talking for 44 minutes and 30 seconds. Candidates can learn a lot about the company, its business, culture, and even about the boss by being an active listener and asking relevant, probing questions. The follow-up note is a prime opportunity to convey that information, and depending on how many candidates were in the running, may remind the panelists of their positive experience with you.
The previous reason for following up with a letter or note post-interview was a near-term reason; you want the job for which you just interviewed. That makes sense. You would not have interviewed if you were not interested, and they would not have interviewed you if something in your resume did not stand out. However, it is important to keep in mind that in every selection process there are likely a number of quality applicants. The chances of actually getting that offer can be low in some situations. A lot of times people do not get jobs simply because they are not the right fit at the right time or there is a better fitting candidate in the mix. These are things candidates understand, but can still be frustrating.
What applicants sometimes lose sight of is the long game. It is important to maintain a positive impression with companies, hiring managers and HR professionals. At exactly the same moment that the manager is deciding to go with another candidate, she may be thinking that you would be an ideal candidate for a different position. That other position may not be currently open, but that follow-up communication can let the organization know that you are interested in opportunities that may open up in the future. This shows that you understand the timing might not be right this time around. It can also show that you recognize the importance of getting the right person on the team by wishing them luck finding the best candidate.
The summer Olympics are currently wrapping up their second week in Rio de Janeiro. Much has been made about the undertaking of these games. All the preparations, construction, infrastructure, security and public health issues Brazil and the International Olympic Committee have been dealing. When major events that take a great deal of planning are over, the next thing organizers do is evaluate the experience and prepare an after action report (AAR) while the experience is still raw.
While on a much smaller scale, taking the time to evaluate the interview experience is important and can be beneficial for future opportunities by breaking things down into smaller, more manageable, parts to work on and understand.
Take time to think about what went well during the interview. Specifically, what were the types of questions you were most comfortable answering? What parts of your career came across best? As you prepare for future interviews, these are areas that you can refine and try to make better, but they are probably going to be your go-to themes when interviewing for jobs.
Areas for Improvement
Equally important, what areas gave you trouble? If there were lines of questioning that you struggled with, reflect on those difficulties and work on a strategy to not let them trip you up.
In all of your preparation, there could have been areas that you did not adequately prepare or, when the pressure was on, you stumbled. This means you have to put additional focus on these areas moving forward to ensure your weaknesses do not distract from your strengths. Most candidates are not going to be super-strong in every area. Reflecting back on what employers are asking in interviews may also give insight about skills and projects you should be tackling to take that next step and make yourself more marketable.
For candidates that lack significant experience in certain areas, it may take some creativity to even recognize your relevant experience. For example, if you are interviewing for a supervisory position but have never been a supervisor, it does not mean you are out of the running or have nothing to add to the interview. You just have to dig deeper to recognize your relevant experience outside of having a formal supervisory position. A supervisor should be a leader. In this example, think about other places you have been entrusted or taken on leadership roles to deliver results. It could be a team you worked on, or a sports team, or even responsibility in civic or community group. These are all areas that could be translated to being a supervisor by showing how you dealt with other people, adversity and delivered on your goals. Oftentimes, not having relevant experience means we just are not recognizing how our experience is relevant to the job.
Mentioned earlier in the article was the fact that part of interviewing was making a good impression for future opportunities. Lost in the pressure of being interviewed is that you are also interviewing the organization. Is this a place you would like to work? Is this a boss with whom you want to work? Try to assess any rapport you were able to build with the hiring manager. Think about what you took away from the experience in terms of the culture of the organization. Ideally, you will be more excited about a job following the interview than you were going in. If that is not the case, try to figure out why and if you came across any deal-breakers. Getting inside an employer can be much different than observing from the outside, so an interview is a great opportunity to get a brief glimpse.
Consider these thoughts and tips while you are waiting to hear back from your latest interview. Best case scenario, it will be your last interview for a while because you landed that job!