Following up after an interview: how should you do it?
Following up after an interview involves more than just firing off the same disingenuous e-mail template and hoping to hear back from your interviewer or recruiter.
Likewise, though it may be tempting to take your tie off and put your feet up and breathe a massive sigh of relief once you’re home from the interview, things don’t stop there. Rather, there’s work to be done; the post-interview follow-up presents opportunities that are there for the taking.
Once you’re at a senior executive level, the follow-up becomes an entirely different beast. The competition’s tougher for a start, so you need to do as much as you can to set yourself apart from other applicants. Providing you aced the interview, the follow-up is an excellent chance to give you an extra edge, that little head-start to make the interviewer know you’re the right fit for this role.
Here, we’ll run through the things you should do when following up with an interviewer after you’ve sat down to talk with them (as well as the things you should avoid).
Have a plan in place
First things first, it’s definitely worth having a plan or strategy in place before you’ve even had the interview itself. This way, you’ll have a structure in place you can launch into as soon as the interview is over and you’re in a place to continue communicating with the potential employer.
It’s a pro-active approach that can help put you relatively at ease during the interview itself, identifying exactly what you need to get from the interview, and how then to use it.
Don’t connect on LinkedIn
Connecting with people on LinkedIn is definitely a good look if you’re networking or commencing a job search. But if you’re thinking of searching for your interviewer on LinkedIn and connecting with them afterwards, think again. It’s presumptuous and shows over-familiarity on your part. By all means, add them if you’re successful, but it won’t do much to help your chances if you’re hoping to be hired by them.
The same applies to all social media, particularly the less professional channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
When you send an email, or a letter thanking the interviewer/recruiter for their time, it pays to be as genuine as possible. They more than likely will be able to tell if you’ve looked for a template and just filled in the blanks, so take care tailoring your follow-up to relate to the interview.
Thank them for their time, re-iterate your industry experience and willingness to take on additional responsibility, and remind them that you’re the right fit for the culture. If you show your appreciation, then the interviewer will, in return, appreciate the time you’ve taken to pen a letter or email in such a way.
Write down the interviewer’s answers
Interviews are tough at the best of times, no matter how many you’ve had during your career. Once you’re at the point when you can ask some questions, don’t forget to write down the salient points of their responses. Not only does it show you’re an attentive, inquisitive person who’s genuinely interested in the role, but you can then build on these points in your follow-up letter, allowing for a compelling response on your part that sets you apart from other candidates.
Use your follow-up letter to address specific challenges
Once you’ve accumulated further information over the course of your interview, go through these notes and identify the needs, problems and challenges the role and business face that were brought up over the course of your interview. Perhaps you’ve encountered similar issues in the past and dealt with them in a successful manner? If this is the case, use your follow-up to show it. They’ll be impressed that you retained what they said, and it’ll show you’re a natural problem solver. Show them that you have the necessary skills at your disposal once more and reiterate any qualities you feel need highlighting once more.
No matter what, send a follow-up letter
Rejection is tough, but accepting a potential employer’s decision that they’ve decided not to go for you in a mature, understanding way is the mark of a good applicant. Even if you weren’t successful, you should still send them a thank you letter or email. Show them you’re polite and courteous, and that you were appreciative of being considered in the first place.
Additionally, be sure to add that you’re happy to be considered for the position again (providing you actually want the job), if the selected applicant isn’t the right fit for them in the end. You could well be their next choice if they need to find a replacement at a moment’s notice.
Lastly, the professionalism you’ve shown in your thank you letter may well sufficiently impress them that they offer you a different position if there’s an opening. If you like the company, it really does pay to stay in contact with them. You never know how far-reaching your good grace will be; later down the line they’ll know who the right person to hire is.
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