A Poor Follow Up Could Cost You the Job

Published: Jun 18, 2015

Congratulations – you landed an interview for the position of your dreams. You researched the organization extensively before the interview, and you came prepared with intelligent questions demonstrating what a perfect fit you are for the job. There’s nothing left to do now but sit back and right for the job offer, right? Wrong. Whether you feel like you nailed the interview or you simply are pressed for time, there is no reason not to follow up with your interviewer to thank them for taking the time to meet with you, and to hammer the point home that you are the right person for their organization. Here are the secrets of five recruiting pros on how to ace this critical step in the interview process.

Timing is everything

Do not procrastinate. You have roughly 24 hours to follow up before your candidacy is in question. Craig Vived, founder of professional staffing firm Vivalta, Inc., says “Hiring managers typically make a decision about who to bring back for a second interview very soon after meeting all the candidates, so time is of the essence when sending a follow up thank you email.” If you fail to reach out during this short window of time, you will give your competitors a significant advantage.  But on the other hand, if a follow up is executed properly and in a timely manner, it will most definitely set you apart from other candidates.

Be appreciative

Start your e-mail by showing that you appreciate and value the time that was devoted to meeting with you. The interview process is extremely time consuming for hiring managers, and job seekers often overlook how demanding this process can be. Keep this in mind, and be respectful and appreciative of the time you are given. Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs, a leading job service site for finding flexible employment, reiterates how important it is to show gratitude to everyone who takes time out of their day to speak with you. “If you don’t feel like thanking the person, you may want to reevaluate your desire to work for them. Also, you can bet your competition for the position is thanking them and will absolutely get a leg up as a result.” A little gratitude and appreciation can go a long way to show you are the type of candidate an organization would want on their staff.

Be concise

A well-crafted follow up email is brief, yet poignant. It shows a potential employer that you are passionate about the position without seeming redundant or pushy. “A simple thank you email, no longer than a paragraph, thanking the interviewer(s) for his or her time and mentioning a couple key reasons you are interested in the position is sufficient; any more than that, and you run the risk of ruining your chances of getting hired after a perfectly good interview,” Vived explains. Keep it simple and to the point.

Don’t out rule the handwritten note

The handwritten note is not dead, though technological advances have made this type of follow up extremely rare. “A handwritten note goes a really long way,” says Meghan Hurley, HR Director for leading event organizer Reed Exhibitions.  “If you get a handwritten note in the mail, you think, ‘Wow, this person really took the time and really appreciated coming in and interviewing.” Making the extra effort to send a handwritten thank you demonstrates that you will make the extra effort as an employee as well.

Make each follow up different

Whether you met with one person or ten different people, each follow up should be customized to best capture your meeting with each individual interviewer. Mario Almonte, managing partner for Herman & Almonte PR recommends that you jog the interviewers memory by bringing up at least one topic covered during the interview.  More often than not, your interviewers will compare notes including follow up emails. “If you interviewed with three people, all three should get a follow-up email, and each email should be different, though they should express consistent points,” Almonte states. Make each individual think the time they spent with you was valued and worthwhile. If you do not have someone’s email, ask the hiring manager to pass the note along.

Remind them why they should hire you

This may be your last opportunity to “close” the interviewer and explain why you are the right candidate for the job. Stacey Hawley, founder of career consulting firm Credo, says you should wrap up your follow up email by showing how much you really want the position. “The email should conclude with a specific reason (based on your conversation) as to why you are the right person for the job,” she explains. Don’t leave any room for imagination. Offer a clear connection between your professional background and the organization’s needs.

You spend a lot of time preparing for an interview – don’t blow your chances of landing the job by failing to follow up properly. Take the time to show your appreciation, and prove that you are the best candidate for the position.

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