One of my wife’s friends, who had left the workforce for several years to be a stay-at-home mom, had recently posted on Facebook that she just had a job interview and wanted advice on what to do next. A good deal of her friends chimed in to offer advice. Some of the advice she received was excellent. A friend who is an HR professional wrote: “[A thank you email after a job interview is] a chance to reiterate interest in the position and emphasize how skills match position.” Some of the advice was okay and some of it was downright awful (one friend recommended not doing a follow-up letter or follow-up email after an interview as it would seem “desperate,” while another friend recommended only sending a handwritten note, not an email, in order to “stand apart from the crowd” of job candidates. Yes, a handwritten note would make you stand out, but you potentially may be standing out as a Luddite and someone they forgot about because it took several days to hear from you — although, adding a handwritten note sent in the mail IN ADDITION to an email follow up sent within 24 hours of the interview is a good idea. Consequently, her thread inspired me to put together an easy to follow list of best practices for following up after a job interview. Drum roll, please.
Follow-Up After a Job Interview in Three Easy Steps:
(1) The same day you have the interview(s) — or at least no later than the next day — send a follow-up email (AKA thank you email or thank you letter) to everyone with whom you interviewed, and, if applicable, to the recruiter or HR person who helped arrange the interview. Thank each person for his or her time, briefly restate why you’re a great fit (relating your experience to the job requirements/ job description) and noting any important points made during the interviewer that particularly resonated with her/him (if the interviewer said, “Wow. I really think your work doing [fill in the blank] would be valuable in this role” — restate that experience in this note), state your continued interest in the role and include anything you were asked to follow up on during the interview (e.g., a deck from a presentation you made, additional work samples, references, etc.). It’s critical to get this to the interviewer(s) while you are still fresh in his/her mind. Think of it as helping to maintain top of mind awareness. Make sure your follow-up email is succinct and free of grammatical errors. Remember, it’s no good if it doesn’t get read, so keep it brief.
(2) Send a physical note on good quality stationery or a printed thank you card via postal mail to every person with whom you interviewed. Why? It’s rare and it’s a nice touch. It can help you stand out from other candidates. Additionally, as it can take a few days for it to arrive, it comes after your email, so it’s another way of once again keeping your name in front of the interviewers in a positive manner. But this snail mail thank you later should only be sent in addition to an email follow-up, as if you neglect to send the email right after the interview you risk slipping out of the interviewer’s mind and also, a snail mail letter alone, without an email has the potential to make you come across as less than comfortable with technology. I’d also recommend keeping this note very brief. You don’t need to duplicate your follow-up interview, just use it as an opportunity to show your continued interest and gratitude for being considered for the job.
(3) Make a phone call to the hiring manager within a few days of the interview. Yes, it’s very assertive to pick up the phone and call the hiring manager and you need to make sure you’ve thoroughly considered what you’re going to say before you call (consider making notes and rehearsing so that you’ll be smooth when the call occurs). Be focused and professional — never pushy — and this call will convey a high level of interest in the role. It can be one more tactic that positively separates you from the other candidates interviewing for the position and shows that you are someone who takes charge and gets things done.