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Now What? A Simple Guide for Following Up After an Interview
Eli Martinez April 1, 2021
Interviewing is like dating, and just like dating, getting ghosted is the thing every job seeker dreads the most. Especially if you walk out of your interview feeling like you crushed it, or had a super interested recruiter promise she’ll “be in touch”.
So, what do you do if a few weeks go by and you don’t hear back? Do you make the first move? If so, when and how often do you follow-up with that person without being overbearing or seeming too desperate?
First things first. Take a breath. While you can’t control what a recruiter or hiring manager does, you can take steps that demonstrate your value to the organization, even if you end up not being the right person for the job, right now.
Truth is, in a world where people receive an average of 92 business emails per-day, staying top-of-mind is crucial. This is especially so when you’re working with recruiters who are sometimes managing dozens of job openings at a time, with an average of 50+ applicants in each.
That being said, having a plan will make the difference between getting that second date, or striking out. Here’s my simple guide for following-up after an interview:
1. Just Ask!
Before your interview wraps, whether by phone or in-person, be sure to ask about next steps. Assuming the interviewer hasn’t already told you, ask them how and when is it acceptable to follow-up. “How” is important because everyone has a preference. Some like email, others may be okay with a text, or connecting on LinkedIn (more on that below).
“When” eliminates the guesswork and gives you a hard timeline to follow. A great way to frame that question is by asking, “When are you aiming to have this position filled by?” Considering it takes a few weeks to onboard a candidate, knowing when the position needs to be filled will give you a better idea of when the hiring manager needs to make a decision.
Now comes the hard part. The interview doesn’t end when you walk out of that room, or hang up the phone. Every piece of correspondence you send is information the recruiter or hiring manager has to evaluate you on. Starting with the thank you note.
Yes, thank you notes matter and the quicker you send it the better. I recommend email, but if for some strange reason you didn’t follow my earlier advice and get your interviewer’s email address, a handwritten note or card is just as effective. Write it in advance so you can leave it with reception, or at the nurse’s station as you walk out. Just keep it short and sweet; thanking them for their time, and reminding them how you would bring a ton of value to the organization.
Beyond the thank you note however, every email you send should follow the A.I.D.A. framework: Attention – Interest – Desire – Action. Salespeople, and marketers, have been using this process since the beginning of time, and it’s your email’s best chance of actually getting read.
Get Their Attention – This starts with the subject line. There’s no more important piece of real estate in an email. Two things to keep mind when crafting yours: a) recruiters and hiring managers are very busy people, and b) like everyone else, they care most about WIIFM (What’s In It For Me).
I recommend personalizing the subject line, and either getting straight to the point, or making the reader curious. If you were referred by someone, lead with that.
Subject: Hi, [name]! Would you like to know how I helped my employer (reduce/increase) “xyz” by 20%?
Subject: Hi, [name]! We interviewed on [date], and I was referred by [name]. When can we speak next?
Create Interest – The way to do this is by providing the right amount of detail to keep them reading. Make a claim or promise that expands on what was introduced in your subject.
In our interview on [date] you mentioned a goal you have for your department is increasing its HCAHPS scores.
I’ve been able to leverage my training in “xyz” to help both my current and previous employers develop solutions to steadily increase their HCAHPS scores year-over-year.
Create Desire – No that you’ve made a claim or promise, you’ve got to back it up with specifics. Numbers don’t lie so use them. Just be sure they can be verified in case you’re asked to provide proof.
For example, at “xyz company” I helped increase our HCAHPS scores from [#] to [#] in just 13 months!
Inspire Action – All that’s left at this point is to close your email with a call-to-action that’s clear and doesn’t require the reader to jump through hoops. I recommend using a self-scheduling service like Calendly. It’s free, and integrates with Gmail, iCloud, Outlook and Office 365. Simply send someone your Calendly link and they’ll be able to schedule an appointment with you with a few mouse clicks.
Let’s schedule a 10-15 minute call this week to chat more about how I can help your department. Here’s a link to my calendar: [insert Calendly link]. If none of these dates/times work for you, let me know when you’re free.”
3. Go Beyond the Inbox.
It’s perfectly acceptable to connect on LinkedIn with a recruiter or hiring manager after an interview. Particularly if they’re active on the platform. Just don’t be creepy about it, because done right there’s the potential for building a long-lasting professional relationship.
Some basic rules to follow:
Ask if you can connect with that person during the interview.
Write a personalized note with your connection request, reminding them how you’re connected and what your intentions are.
Leverage any connections you may have in common, and refer to them in your note.
4. Stay “Top of Mind”.
This tends to be where most people drop the ball. Periodic follow-up is more than just sending the occasional “Hey, did I get the job?”, or “Have you filled the position yet?” email.
Staying top of mind could look like forwarding an article you think they may find interesting, or a funny (but tasteful) meme every one to two weeks. If you managed to connect on LinkedIn, consider tagging them on a post, or sharing a piece of content they’ve written.
The key here is consistency AND value. Use an app like Evernote to schedule reminders for yourself, and since this kind of outreach is less formal than those initial follow-up emails, there’s no need to completely follow A.I.D.A. Keep your message short and sweet, and don’t ask for anything in return. In fact, including the line, “No response necessary” is a good practice.
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