When working with a recruiter, let that person know how it went. Give them a call shortly after the interview to give your impressions, discuss anything unexpected that came up, affirm your interest, and discuss next steps in the process.
+ Do send a thank you.
It is always a nice touch to send a prompt follow-up thank you. Not everyone expects one, but your interviewer might be one who does! Do this anytime within 48 hours of the interview.
If you are working with a recruiter, talk to them first and then write your thank you. This allows you to include any elements your debriefing may bring up.
+ Do it, paper or electronic.
If you interview at Twitter, an email is going to fit best into that culture. If you interview with a more traditional company, perhaps a paper card or letter is most appropriate. While most business correspondence is electronic these days, feel it out.
+ Do keep on point.
Your message should include a thank you and confirmation of your interest in the opportunity. Thank the interviewer for their time. Hit on a couple points about what you liked about the company, your keen interest in the position, or other topics that came up in your conversation. Reaffirm briefly what you bring to the table, how you can help accomplish the company goals, why you are perfect for the job. Keep it brief, you should be able to cover this in a few paragraphs.
If there was discussion during the interview about any follow-up information or references, provide those.
- Don’t go overboard!
Don’t send the interviewer chocolates or a Facebook friend request. Your professionalism should of course continue after the interview. It is not appropriate to send a friend request after a job interview. Chocolates or flowers are appropriate for dates, not interview follow-up.
A candidate once sent an email follow-up to the CEO of a company that had passed on hiring him. In the 2-page email, he compared himself to an athlete and gave himself statistics like a ball player, and he called a couple of times. It was a little too much. The company went from liking him but thinking of him as a little too junior for the role, to thinking he was a little crazy. In the end the candidate ruined any opportunity for a future role better suited to his experience.
- Don’t be impatient.
As discussed, your initial follow-up should be prompt and relevant to the discussion in the interview. Now give it some time. Interview schedules are hectic. Hiring processes take a lot of time; time away from the regular schedule, and time to process and discuss with the various stakeholders.
+ Do respect protocol.
Listen for when the interviewer says they will be contacting you with any next steps; if it doesn’t come up, ask about the hiring time line at the end of the interview. If you are working with a recruiter, s/he will advise you on the timing in which you should hear back. If not, go with the timeline given.
If you don’t hear back within the specified time frame, give it a few days and then make a polite follow-up call to reaffirm your interest and check in on next steps. Keep in mind that while the hire may be a priority, there are lots of competing priorities in a day, so any delay may have nothing to do with you as a candidate.
+ Do listen to feedback.
If you have an opportunity in a follow-up discussion to get feedback, appreciate it and use it to hone you interviewing skills. If the feedback is critical, don’t get defensive. Instead, thank the interviewer for his candor and acknowledge it, for example "I'm sorry I gave you that impression. I'll work on that." Remember interviewing is an art and takes practice. Each interview and any feedback provide you with the opportunity to improve.
- Don’t despair!
Occasionally, it is just impossible to get clear feedback on the status of the process or the candidate. This is always frustrating, of course. There can be a lot of players and a lot of moving parts involved, so chalk it up to not being the right opportunity at the right time, and leave everyone you interact with the best impression possible. You never know when there might be another opportunity with the same company, or the same person in the future. We’ve even seen hiring managers pass along the name of a person they interviewed to another company hiring.
About the author:
Beth Cliff, High Tech Engineering Recruitment Manager
Beth Cliff has recruited since 1995, with Redfish since 2006, and currently heads up the High Tech Engineering recruiting on the East coast. She is successful at dialing down into the technical details while balancing the total human picture.