Thank you correspondence is MANDATORY, not optional.

You’ve just made it through the interview, and you hope you did really well. Don’t stop now because it’s make-it or break-it time! As the pressures of day-to-day work life creep back in, don’t let “out-of-sight, out- of-mind” apply to you and your chances of being offered the job. Here’s what you should do next. 

During the Interview 

The best time to prepare for post-interview and follow-up activities is in the midst of the interview process. It’s true that people want to help or work with others they know, like, and trust. If in your resume you described yourself as “dedicated and thorough,” make sure to portray those qualities in your interview and give examples of them in your answers. Remember to demonstrate those qualities again in your thank- you letter and follow-up communication. 

Be sure to let your personality shine through everything you do during the final stages of the hiring process. Make a lasting impression by showing recruiters that you are a one-of-a-kind find. Keeping this tip foremost will allow you to relax and complete the final stages of the hiring process with the confidence you need to steal the spotlight. Make sure to show appreciation, let them know you want the job, and thank them for the opportunity to meet. 

Interview Notes — Write brief notes during or immediately after the interview, capturing the following must-have information. It’s OK to take notes in your interview to have specifics to address in your post- interview communications. 

Questions You Should Ask 

If the interviewer did not address the following questions, you should ask: 

  • If hired, what would be the most important thing for me to accomplish? 
  • If hired, what do you see as my most difficult challenge going forward? 
  • Where am I in the scope of the interview process? Typically, how many rounds do you have (1, 2, 3 or more) before making a decision? 

Despite assurances that you will be notified of your status after an interview, some companies fail to follow through. Before concluding the interview, also be sure to ask at least one of the following: 

  • When will a hiring decision be made? 
  • What is the next step in the process? 
  • How do you prefer to be contacted? 

Always Get the Contact Information of Your Interviewer(s) — You will need the name, title, email address, and phone number of each person that contributed to the interview. Ask for a business card from each individual connected to the interview process or check with the reception desk on the way out of the office to get the contact information you need. 

After The Interview 

Debrief after the interview with yourself or your support team. The best way to learn and evaluate one opportunity against another is to spend time reflecting on the interview just finished. Take the time to sit down in a quiet place and ask yourself the following questions, being very honest and specific with your answers: 

  • Did the interview go well? Why or why not? 
  • What excited me about the job? 
  • What concerns do I have about the job? 
  • Do I have the skills they are looking for? If so, which specific ones and why do I think I have what it takes? If not, why not? What skills do they need? 
  • What did I do well in the interview? 
  • What did I NOT do well in the interview? 
  • Were there any awkward moments? If so, what were they about, and why were they awkward? 
  • What could I have done better in the interview? 
  • What do I need to practice answering for the next interview? 
  • Am I a top candidate for this position? If I think so, write down why. If I do not think so, write down why not. 
  • How does this job fit what I want? 

Next, take your answers to these questions and review them against what you want and against your other opportunities. The more realistic you are about your desire and chances of getting a job, the smarter you will be with where you spend your time and how you manage your emotions throughout the process. 

Interview Thank You Correspondence 

Thank you correspondence is MANDATORY, not optional. In fact, some employers WILL drop the top candidate for neglecting this courtesy. According to CDI’s Certified Employment Interview Consultant program, here is why you need to send a follow up letter: 

  • Show courtesy toward the interviewer for their time. 
  • Convey interest in the position. 
  • Remind the employer about you in case you have faded into the memory of an employer who met too many people. 
  • Allow you to introduce information that you neglected in the interview or didn’t do a great job introducing. 

Despite these powerful benefits, less than 10% of applicants write and send thank you letters! You will stand out by taking the time to do this. Experience shows that between two equally qualified candidates, the one that sent thank you correspondence was usually hired. Why? Because they followed traditional business social graces, showed continued interest in the job opening, and demonstrated initiative and follow-through. 

Don’t Send Generic Thank you Notes 

Thank you letters need thought, strategy, and substance. Therefore, don’t drop off a generic thank you note at the front desk as you leave. Instead, use the letter to emphasize why you are the best candidate, to overcome any areas where you faltered or were not clear, and to give tangible examples of why you are a great fit for the open position. 

How to Overcome a Less than Stellar Interview and Make it to the Next Round 

Job interviews can be unnerving and stressful. Occasionally, you may feel like your efforts were less than stellar. Don’t give up! It’s not too late to turn around a bad interview, and you can use a thank you letter to do it. 

Prepare For The Next Phase – What to Do Differently and How to Stand Out 

Stand Out in Subsequent Interviews — If you are invited to the next phase of interviewing, ask as many specific questions as you can regarding the information the company wants at this stage of the evaluation process. Keep in mind that this is a two-way street. You are there not only to be interviewed, but also to interview. 

Follow-up 

Don’t be afraid to follow up! By continuing to communicate on a regular basis, you are demonstrating your continued interest in the position for which you interviewed. Follow-up is an important and strategic tool for moving the selection process forward. 

I have seen clients who have expedited their job search and received a great job offer due to timely follow-up and relationship building skills. The candidate who builds and maintains a valued connection with the employer while articulating how they meet the prospective employer’s strategic goals often stands out, is respected, and is more likely to be offered a position. 

Hopefully, at the end of your interview you asked what happens next, so you have a sense of the company’s timeline. Even if you forgot to ask or the company does not reach out to you within the time frame set, you can still follow up. Remember, it’s the friendly and positive squeaky wheel that gets the grease. 

Careful preparation and timeliness is essential throughout every step of the job search. This is especially the case during the post-interview process. Even if an interview was more challenging than anticipated, you can still make it to the next round. 

Good luck!

Mary Southern, M.Ed | www.resumeassassin.com