21 Jul A Thank You Note Is Just the First Step of Your Post-Interview Follow-Up
You just wrapped up the big job interview you have been hoping for. Maybe you think your work is done and it’s time to sit back and wait for the results. Wrong! Your work is just beginning.
I can’t stress enough how important following up is in your job search process. As a private job search coach, it’s something I insist on.
Right after the interview (no more than 12-24 hours) is when you should send a thank you note to your interviewer. However, there are three common mistakes to avoid:
- Do not group all interviewers on one thank you note. Send each individual a separate note.
- It’s OK if your thank you note is sent via email, but do not forget to secure the email address of every interviewer before you leave, hang up the phone, or disconnect the video call.
- Do not make your thank you note boring and predictable. Take notes during each interview and capture unique things each interviewer said or asked you about. Then incorporate those into your thank you notes. Refer to something you discussed or learned from them.
New Rule for Interview Follow-Up
Now, if you think your thank you note is the follow-up, you are wrong. That was just a thank you note! Your follow-up actually begins after you press “send” on the thank you note.
Your new rule should be to follow up three additional times after the thank you note, spaced seven days apart. The rationale is simple: What if the other candidates are following up and you are not? What if the interview committee doesn’t meet for a few weeks — will they forget who is who? What if you are the only one who is expressing high interest in the position? Remember, hiring managers want to hire people who really want the position and who show energy in more than just the interview.
I know. You’re already thinking:
- “That’s way too often.”
- “They told me that they will call me, which implies ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you.'”
- “This is awkward; I feel uncomfortable.”
- “Oh, I did so well in the interview that I don’t need to do this. I’ll get the offer.”
- “What would I say in three follow-up notes?”
This is a new concept for most job seekers at all levels. However, like any new skill, put it into action and you will not only get the hang of it, you will see results!
True story: A client of mine interviewed for his “dream job” in finance with a hot tech company. He passed two phone interviews and was flown to the company’s headquarters for a full day of face-to-face interviews. He met with several different interviewers and was asked to model out different financial scenarios and much more. He aced each interview and was invited to meet with the CFO at the end of the day. The hiring manager closed the day out with “Thank you. We’ll call you once we review all candidates.”
My client sent an email thank you note to each individual interviewer, citing something unique from their interview. He closed each thank you note with “[Name], I am more interested in this position after the day of interviews, and I hope I proceed to the next level of the interview process.”
He proceeded to follow up with the hiring manager three more times, spaced out one week apart. Typically, the hiring manager would reply “Thank you” or didn’t reply at all.
Fast-forward six weeks when he finally received a phone call from the hiring manager explaining that while many people had passed the finance tests and met with the CFO, they were hiring my client because of his follow-up. In this case, his follow-up differentiated him from the pack.
Secrets of Great Follow-Up Notes
Select from the following two choices and craft a short note, using bullet points when possible.
- Reinforce one of the reasons why the company should hire you for this position.“I know you are looking for someone with [skill from the job description or that came out of your interview]. I have five years of [elaborate on your capabilities within this skill]. I look forward to exceeding your expectations in this area as your [title of the position].”
- Find a recent press release or article about the company, especially if it relates to the position you are interviewing for. You can comment on it or share how it inspired you.
Close each follow-up note with the same message that ended your thank you note: “I am very interested in this position and hope to proceed to the next stage of the interview process.”
What to Avoid
- Abrupt emails: Never send one-line emails like, “Can you call me back? Is there an answer? Am I the candidate?”
- Bad grammar: Avoid misspellings and punctuation errors. Remember, this is another writing sample for your potential employer, so be formal.
Even though today’s job market is strong, the competition is still fierce. These follow-up tips may put you out of your comfort zone but think of how uncomfortable you will feel being declined for the position you were so excited about.
This article originally appeared here in Forbes.com.