Job Search Series – Nailing the Interview – Part 11 – Follow Up

“If you hesitate, some bolder hand will stretch out before you and get the prize.
~ P.T. Barnum

Your interview is over. It’s time to walk the fine line of finesse and assertiveness. You should continue to express interest in the position, while avoiding the appearance of being a pest. Always be positive and appreciative, never arrogant or negative.

Therefore, before you leave the interview and send your written thank you(s), ask for the expected time frame to make the hiring decision. This information will help you to plan your follow-up strategy.

The decision-making time frame is usually two weeks for competitive positions in highly sought-after companies; but it can stretch out even longer for various reasons. For a smaller company, the time frame could be significantly shorter.

The First Call

Let’s assume that you’re working with the average two-week time frame. After you’ve sent your thank you letter or email, wait the two weeks before taking any further action. If you’ve not heard back by the end of the two weeks, wait a few more days and then place an inquiry call to the interviewer. Your message in person or in a voicemail recording could be something like: “Hello, Ms. Interviewer. This is Jan Candidate. You interviewed me for the XYZ position two weeks ago. I recall that you said you were expecting to make a hiring decision by mid-July and I thought I’d follow up with you to get an update.”

Check for articles about or announcements by the company for any news that might affect the hiring timeline, and mention any good news with enthusiasm in your conversation or voicemail message.

The Optional Note

If you don’t hear back or the interviewer instructed candidates not to call, feel free to send a short note. Send an email if the interviewer has invited you to do so.

Otherwise, send a brief typed or neatly and legibly handwritten note; sometimes this is the better choice. It takes a bit of extra effort to send a snail mail note rather than an email, and many interviewers and hiring managers appreciate that extra effort.

You may phrase your written message in a similar manner as your spoken message (see example above), and, again, mention of any positive company news since the interview.

The Second (And Usually Final) Call

If you receive a polite but noncommittal response, and again a reasonable amount of time has passed, you may place a second phone call. This call should be just as courteous, pleasant and upbeat as your first call. This should be your last call unless the employer responds and suggests or requests that you call back at a particular time.

Complications: The Other Interview

If you find yourself following up and playing a waiting game following two interviews, even more finesse and careful tactics are required. Often when this occurs you are more interested in one position more than the other. You are likely awaiting an offer for your first choice and hoping that your second choice doesn’t come through first and put you in a bind.

What do you do if your second choice does come through first? 

  1. You can accept your second choice, assuming that the old bird-in-the-hand-is-worth-two-in-the-bush tactic is the better way to go.
  2. You can turn down your second choice offer and hope that an offer for your first choice comes through, realizing that it might not.
  3. You can contact the interviewer for your first choice position and let her know that you are still very interested in the position but have received another offer, are deliberating your course of action and wonder if there is any news on a decision. If the employer is interested in you this news might spur a decision in your favor. On the other hand, if the employer doesn’t know when a decision will be made or if the winning candidate has already been selected at least you know the score and can consider your other offer.

What should you not do?

You should not accept the offer from your second choice and then resign if your first choice comes through later with an offer. This is unethical. And, while you might land your dream job at the moment, word gets around and your reputation might be damaged. That could affect your rise in your dream company and future prospects in the industry.

And, you never know. That second choice might work out to be your dream job after all.

Moving On

Hesitating to make those calls or send those notes can put another candidate ahead of you, just as P.T. Barnum understood. And, don’t give up easily, even if that call doesn’t come and it appears you’ve hit a wall. Companies are dynamic entities and there could be many reasons for the lack of response other than you are not the winning candidate.

However, after a certain time has elapsed you need to move on and focus your attention elsewhere. Accept the decision or situation graciously, and perform a post-analysis on the experience and use what you have learned to fine-tune your documents and approach to prepare for the next opportunity. But, before you do, there’s one more thing to do regarding the current situation:

Send Another Thank-You Letter If You’re Not the Winning Candidate.

If you’re contacted directly by phone or mail that you were not selected, send the interviewer a typewritten letter or email, whichever seems more appropriate, thanking him again for his time and consideration, and for an informative and enjoyable interview. Ask him to keep you in mind for any other appropriate openings and reiterate your interest in the company. You will stand out in a highly positive way, and might just hear back from this employer again.

Connecting Via Social Networks

While you should not send LinkedIn invitations to interviewers and hiring managers during the interview process, some career professionals believe it’s okay to do after a decision is made. However, I would do so with caution and only if you have connected in a highly positve way with someone along the interview route. Otherwise, it could appear to be forward and uncomfortable. On the other hand, LinkedIn is a valuable professional network, so use your judgment. As well, following people you’ve met on Twitter makes sense. Do not, however, send a Facebook friend request. Keep your interest strictly businesslike.

When An Offer Is Made

An employer will usually allow a few days to consider an offer, which will give you a little room to navigate if you’re hoping for another company to come through. But then you must accept or decline.

If this is the job you want, there are still issues to consider, questions to ask and items to negotiate. This important topic will be covered next week!

Until next time,


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