You just rocked the job interview. Confident that you answered all the interviewer’s questions with finesse, it’s tempting to sit back and wait for the phone to ring with a job offer.
Many people are perplexed — and seriously disappointed — when that offer fails to materialize.
The reality is, the job market is fiercely competitive and the numbers are stacked against you. An ERE recruiting survey found that, on average, companies receive 250 resumes for a single job listing. Four to six people will be interviewed for the position — and only one will land a job offer.
As Jody Michael, CEO and founder of Jody Michael Associates emphasizes, if you want to be that one person, you have to stand out among the other candidates — and for all the right reasons.
4 Essential Steps to Land the Job — After the Interview Ends
While the interview itself is your greatest chance to make a good impression, Jody reminds career coaching clients that following up after the interview is an integral part of the journey to a job offer.
These four steps can dramatically improve your chances of landing the job.
1. Take notes — Immediately after the interview, find a quiet place to sit and reflect. Write down everything you can remember about the interview. What topics seemed most important to the interviewer(s)? What did you learn about the company? Think about any questions posed during the interview that you might want to revisit in your thank-you note (discussed in more detail below). Finally, evaluate your performance during the interview. Did you make any interview blunders? Were there certain questions that caught you off guard? If so, formulate and practice your responses to them so that you can answer with confidence if they come up again in future interviews, Jody says.2. Send a handwritten thank-you note ASAP — The most important thing you can do after a job interview — whether it took place by phone or in person — is to thank your interviewer(s). Jody recommends stopping at a local coffee shop to write your thank-you note while the interview is fresh in your mind. Bring a stamped, pre-addressed envelope with you, so you can write — and mail — your note before you head home or back to work. If you need to return to your office immediately, that’s OK — write and send it as soon as possible. Sending your thank-you note right away will not only reiterate your enthusiasm for the position; it will also help you stand out from the crowd.
Address a note to each person who met with you, personalizing the message. Begin your message by expressing your appreciation (e.g., “I’d like to thank you for taking the time to discuss the managing director position at Acme Services with me today”). Next, reiterate your interest (“After learning more about the position, I remain extremely interested in contributing to your team and company”). Finally, remind the interviewer of your skills and abilities. If you have a strong background in a particular area, this is the time to highlight it (“I feel that my four years of experience as Communications Manager at Atlas Publishing, in addition to my strong writing and proofreading skills, make me uniquely qualified for the position”).
While a handwritten note on simple, high-quality stationary lends a personal touch, it might make more sense to send your message via e-mail if you know that a hiring decision is going to be made quickly or that the company culture embraces modern technology over traditional approaches (as would be the case if you were interviewing with a tech startup, for example).
3. Respect follow-up instructions — “Before you leave a job interview, make sure you understand the company’s timeline and protocol,” Jody says. If the hiring manager provides you with any instructions, follow them carefully. If they ask you to provide a list of three references via email, send three references via email — not by phone. While you may have really hit it off with your potential new boss, keep your boundaries professional. Hold off on friending them on Facebook or even connecting with them on LinkedIn until you establish a working relationship.
Lastly, recognize that there’s a very fine line between showing enthusiasm for the opportunity and being a nuisance; use common sense to navigate it. In some cases, it might be appropriate to follow up with a phone call a week or two after the interview to check the status of the position. When placing a phone call to a potential employer, leave a clear, succinct message if the interviewer doesn’t answer — and then leave the ball in their court.
4. Maintain the momentum of your job search — If you leave the interview convinced that you and this job are a perfect match, that’s great! But it’s dangerous to assume that the hiring manager felt the same way. Even if they did, many factors can get in the way of an offer — including budget cuts that put the position on the back burner, candidates whose qualifications are a better match for the job than yours or the CEO’s decision to promote from within the company. Give yourself time to digest the interview, and then continue your job search — the very next day. The offer may come in a few days, a couple of weeks or longer; in the meantime, you owe it to yourself to continue to explore other opportunities.
“I’ve seen many clients who make the mistake of sitting back and doing nothing while waiting to hear back from an interviewer,” Jody says. “When that call never comes, they’re devastated. Some even become depressed, making it harder to resume their job search.” The job search journey doesn’t end after the interview; it continues up until the minute you accept an offer. “Let it go,” Jody says. “Move on. The worst thing can happen is that you have two offers to consider.”
What strategies have you found most effective in following up after a job interview?