A few months ago, one of my friends had an interview and asked me if he should send a follow-up note. I answered with something along the lines of – ‘if you want the job, then yeah’! You don’t need me to tell you how competitive it is to get a job these days. I recently was talking to a recruiter who had over 300 people apply for a paralegal position at a company that’s not that well known in the US… Inspiring advice I’m passing on so far, huh! ;)
Now imagine you’re one of the lucky six or so people who get an interview for a given role. Do you really want to test your luck and just hope the interview was enough? My view – you’d be stupid to neglect a simple, smart follow up. The caveat, of course, is that you have to do it right for it to add any value and improve your odds. Here are my top five tips to make sure you are set up for success:
1) Make sure you get the person’s business card if at all possible. If not, make sure to note their full name (because you’re taking notes, right?!) and most of the time, you’ll be able to figure out their email address by googling what the email format is, e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org.
2) Write within 24 hours of the first meeting. This is critical. There’s no rule like waiting three days before you call someone you met at the bar. Emailing within 24 hours is my rule for the world of work. You’re rarely, if ever, going to get faulted for being ‘too’ interested. One girl I met at an event wrote to me about six months after meeting. While I thought she was good when I first met her, I couldn’t remember why by the time she wrote to me. Not only was I unimpressed with the timing of her follow up, I’d have a hard time recommending her to anyone else if I tried. Simple case of too little, too late. If lots of interviews are going on, even two days may be enough time for someone to forget most of your meeting.
3) Reference something specific from your conversation. You don’t want the email to be totally standard – again, if they interviewed five other people that same day, they may be wondering ‘which one was she’? Trust me that interviews can quickly blur into one. This is partly why interviewers often do (or at least should) take notes. So jog their memory by saying something like ‘I particularly enjoyed hearing more about <company’s> new strategy with regards to sales and our discussion around leveraging internal talent as a way to take things to the next level. As I mentioned yesterday, I would be thrilled to be part of this exciting new phase in the organization’s history’. You may even want to send the link to a relevant (professional!) article that relates to something you discussed.
4) Restate your interest and any key selling points, without overdoing it. It’s not a cover letter-type explanation of why you’d argue you’re best for the role, but it’s an opportunity to make sure they sense your enthusiasm. You may think you came across as super interested but the other person doesn’t pick up on your interest. Are you a bubbly, energetic person? If not, it’s quite possible your level of interest wasn’t communicated. This is really important. I will never hire someone who hasn’t made it perfectly clear to me how much they want the job – through words or actions. One person I hired took the initiative to send me a presentation she’d previously given (externally – so it wasn’t confidential) that she knew I’d be interested in. Another sent me a copy of some slides she made for an MBA project, just to give me an idea of her level of PowerPoint expertise which I had asked her about. After an interview and these follow-up tactics, it was clear to me they wanted the job. PS. Both were given offers soon after.
5) Follow up again later, if needed. Sometimes job decisions drag on for ages. My now-husband interviewed with one company years ago throughout a six month period of time (and you thought waiting a few weeks was bad!). He kept thinking it was over, but following up every month or so proved worthwhile when he finally got the job. Turned out they were acquired by another company in the process – explaining why it took so long, and why they couldn’t tell him this was going on. You never know…
Do you always follow up? What do you do to show you’re the right person for the job? Post a comment below and let me know what”s worked!