You’ve had the Interview – Now What?

“Fortune favors the brave,” as the old saying goes.  When it comes to job applicants in the post-interview process, it could be said that fortune also favors the diligent and attentive.

As with every phase of the job search process discussed in this series of essays, while other people become involved and may play key roles in your journey to employment, the most important player in the whole scenario is you.  It should never be forgotten that dozens, scores, maybe even hundreds of other searchers may be targeting the same openings as you, so you need to stand out somehow.

Even once the interview has been conducted – perhaps especially once the interview has been conducted – your attitude, assertiveness, and action can spell the difference and help you emerge as the person who gets the offer of employment.

At the same time, you need to understand that “assertive” and “aggressive” are not the same thing.  You must be professional without becoming a pest.  When you handle the post-interview period with the right approach, though, it can serve you well in the long run.

To correctly follow-up after an interview, you would be well advised to make sure you ask about next steps while the interview is happening – and ask for business cards of the people with whom you have spoken.  This gives you a sense of how to time your follow-up communications (you don’t want to seem too eager, but you also don’t want to miss the opportunity by waiting too long), and that you can be sure about reaching the key people directly.

Say a few weeks have gone by since your interview, but there’s been no communication from your potential employer.  You may have failed to execute proper interview follow-up etiquette.

According to an article from “Business Insider” magazine, a survey of more than 500 Human Resources managers at companies with 20 or more employees revealed that 91 percent found it helpful for a promising job candidate to send a thank-you card or e-mail following an interview.  Cards will take longer to arrive via the postal system, so an email is entirely acceptable.

While the communication vehicles for sending the note may differ, following-up remains an essential step in the hiring process.  It demonstrates that you’re interested in the position and the company and that you truly appreciate your interviewers taking time to meet with you.  It also helps to keep you at the top of the hiring manager’s mind when it comes time to make a decision.

If you interviewed with more than one person, each of those individuals should receive a thank-you message from you.  Each note should be personalized to the subject matter or specific point made in conversation with that person.  Keep your copy concise and specific, integrating key messages from your personal brand and reminding your interviewers why you’re the ideal choice for the position. If you discussed a certain project you completed at a previous position (and you’re sending a thank-you e-mail), attach the project specifics.

Keep your thank-you pleasant and brief, providing the interviewer just enough to recall your meeting, and be sure to send this note immediately following the interview.  It cannot be seen as an afterthought on your part, so speed is of the essence.

Should the hiring process take a long time, it’s good to check in periodically after you’ve sent your thank-you notes. When you reach out to the hiring manager, perhaps provide something of value, such as a recent article that may be interesting and helpful to that person.  Following-up in this way demonstrates that you’re a solid network connection instead of a bothersome applicant.

When the interview is over, breathe a sigh of relief, but keep thinking about how to do better next time.  Write down notes about how you thought your interview went, ideas and lessons and things to avoid in the future.  Mostly, keep the job search going, even as you await word on the job you’ve just interviewed for.  Remain optimistic and hopeful, always – but try not to pin all your hopes on that one job.

Remember, the assertive, active, attentive, confident, and knowledgeable job seeker is the successful job seeker.  And that level of success begins and ends with you.