The Rules of Following Up

Interview follow-up

The Rules of Following Up

You nailed the last interview. You gave concrete examples of your accomplishments; you articulated how you can help solve the pressing need that the business has, you were polished and well presented, and the hiring manager loved you! But it’s been two weeks, and you haven’t heard anything back. You feel like you should follow-up, but what exactly should you do? Most people opt to do nothing, and that’s a bad strategy. The truth is that interview follow-up is a continuous process, and executing on it is critical to staying top-of-mind. Here are some guidelines for how to follow-up while maintaining a professional, and not pesky, demeanor.

Generating goodwill is never a bad thing

Ask about the next steps before you leave the interview. Follow-up begins while you are still at your interview! When you ask about next steps and timing, the interviewer essentially tells you when is an appropriate time to follow-up. If she tells you that she is finalizing her first round interviews the week that you’re there and that you should hear something by next Monday, that means that next Wednesday is a good time to send her an email to inquire about where she stands in her process.

Send a thank you note after the interview. I know that there are many other experts out there who claim that thank you notes are irrelevant. Maybe they are if all you are doing is thanking the interviewer for her time. But sending the thank you note provides you with the perfect opportunity to reiterate how you can bring value to the business. Why would you opt not to do that?

Follow-up periodically and purposefully. By periodically, I mean every couple of weeks. By purposefully, I mean don’t just check in and inquire about your status. You are communicating with the hiring manager occasionally, so use the occasion wisely. You could send an article that is of mutual interest or write to her about current events that affect her company or industry.

Accept rejection gracefully. When you are informed that you are not being selected for the position, take the time to write a note to the hiring manager to express to her how much you enjoyed meeting with her and the team, and that although you are disappointed that you weren’t selected, you wish her the best in the future. You may not be in a particularly cheery mood, but it’s important to close the loop on your end on a positive note. Industries and professions are small circles, and you could encounter one another again. This also provides you an opportunity to ask for feedback on your background, experiences, and interviewing skills. Although you will likely not receive any feedback, the act of asking for it demonstrates that you are a person who accepts criticism and seeks out opportunities for personal growth. Besides, generating goodwill is never a bad thing.

Know when to move on. If you’ve sent a thank you note, a follow-up note, and several weeks have passed in radio silence, you should assume that you are no longer being considered for the position. Although the employer should inform you of that, many do not. Keep in mind that even the most perfect job with the best possible fit can fall through. No matter how qualified and wonderful you are, there might be someone who is more qualified and more wonderful! No matter how great your interviews go, don’t assume anything is a done deal until you have an offer in hand.

Debra Wheatman

Debra Wheatman, CPRW, CPCC is a marketing and branding expert for job seekers. She collaborates with her clients to ensure they are developing and executing strategies that lead to successful career outcomes. Debra has a global client base and is known for building collaborative partnerships with her clients. During her free time she volunteers for The Community Food Bank of New Jersey and Dress for Success.

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