Steve left the interview smiling and totally convinced that he had “connected with the hiring manager.” As he stated, “The job is mine to lose.” Now that the interview was over, he just had to sit back and wait for the magical phone call. Right? Definitely not.
While Steve went about his usual activities, the interviewers compared notes and the search to fill the position continued.
“He seems to have the skills we need,” said the hiring manager. “But, I don’t think this applicant is really interested. He never gave any indication he even wants the job.”
Lack of interest or enthusiasm during the interview process is on the top 10 lists of reasons for candidate rejection. Apparently, Steve did not realize it. Nor did he understand just how important it is to follow up after an interview, beginning with a thank you letter to each interviewer.
In addition to competence, employers want someone they would like to work with and who wants to work with them. During the interview always show your excitement and enthusiasm about the position (assuming you are being genuine). Besides stating your interest in the particular position, remember the following points during the final moments of your interview:
- Express your gratitude to the interviewer for the opportunity you have been given-no matter how the interview went.
- Find out if there is anything else you can do (for example, sending samples of your work) that might give the interviewer a better sense of what you can contribute to the organization.
- Tell the interviewer that you are confident in your ability to perform the responsibilities and make a contribution.
- Ask what the next steps are in the selection process and when they expect to make a decision.
Follow up can help you turn an interview into an offer by knocking out your competition, reassuring the hiring manager of your capabilities, or turning a losing situation into a winning one. Consider the following pointers.
First of all, assess each interview. Effective follow up depends on knowing what happened in the interview. Ask yourself several questions.
- How did it go?
- What did they say? What did you say?
- How many people did you see and how much time did you spend with each one?
- What role does each one play and who is important?
- Who is the decision-maker?
- Which one is likely to most influence the decision?
- How quickly do they plan to decide?
- What do you believe you have to offer that your competition doesn’t?
- What problems does the interviewer have and what solutions do you recommend?
Then, follow up with each person with whom you interviewed with a computer-generated letter of thanks-regardless of how the interview went. Your goal is to influence the interviewers. Address the following areas in your thank you letters.
- Apply the same tone reflected in the conversation during the interview (friendly, formal, etc.).
- Reaffirm your interest in the position and thank the interviewer for the time given to you.
- Recap your key qualifications that apply to the position, your understanding of the employer’s immediate needs and what can you do to make his or her job easier.
- Any objections to your candidacy. For example, you may know they typically hire someone with a different background from yours.
- Reiterate the commitment you made at the end of the interview and state the next steps. For example, “I’d like to get together with you to discuss my ideas on…” or “If I don’t hear from George within the next week or so, I’ll follow up with a call.”
Move the process along to the next step at the employer’s pace-not yours. The next steps could include another meeting with the hiring manager or other people, discussion of your ideas for a new project, or a proposal on how you would handle a certain area. The timing of your letter depends on the hiring manager’s sense of urgency and personality. If the situation is urgent, mail or deliver your letter(s) immediately.
In addition, it is possible to influence the hiring decision by contacting anyone else who can help you. Think of the people (your references or mutual contacts) the hiring manager will most likely call for information. Call them, tell them about the position, and ask for their support by putting in a good word for you.
This may seem like hard work. However, how badly do you want the job? Every step of the interview process is an opportunity to make an impression. Create the best possible impression right from the beginning. It will be well worth your effort.
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