Have a good follow-up plan in place before the interview

By Scott Sargis
Published In The Chicago Tribune
February 13, 2002

It is often difficult for a job candidate to determine if their interview was successful or not. Many times, they walk away thinking the interview went well only to find that the company was no longer interested.

A properly designed follow-up approach, however, will help you better read the situation.

To begin with, don’t leave anything to chance. Job seekers should be well prepared for the actual interview as well as for their follow-up approach. During the interview, obtain business cards, exact spellings, mailing addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of all company representatives that met you. This information will be invaluable in your follow-up.

At the end of the interview process you should ask:

  • How many other candidates will you be interviewing for this position?
  • How do I stand in the process at this time?
  • When will you be making a decision?

The answers to these questions will strategically impact your next move.

Now for the follow-up:

First, you should immediately send a “sales letter” to everyone you met with. With e-mail, these can be less time-consuming. Normally candidates who do send a letter only focus on thank-you part. It is important to always “sell, sell, sell” until you have an offer and this letter gives you an additional chance to set yourself apart from the competition.

A sales letter should be 30 percent “thank you for your time” and 70 percent re-emphasizing two or three of your strongest attributes for the job.

Next, if you have not heard from the company in a week, try to call the key human resources person who met you. If no one was available, then try to reach the person you spent the most time with. It is important not to alienate human resources so begin with them. Mention that you are still interested and want to know where you stand in the process. If you get an uncertain or nebulous answer; ask when will you know more?

Follow this conversation with e-mail to the immediate hiring manager, mentioning the conversation you had with human resources and your continued interest in the position.

Finally, continue to follow up every couple weeks until you get a decision. You do not want to be too agressive or too passive. You need to temper your approach based upon company feedback.

Remember, however, that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” so continue to be in contact with the company. If to much time passes, a month or longer, insist upon knowing where you stand.

The company owes you the courtesy of telling you that.