Securing a Job Offer: What to do After the Interview
When you are one of many candidates being considered, what you do after the interview can set you apart significantly and increase your chances of being offered the job.
Send a Thank You Note
The first — and most important — thing to do is to send a follow-up note. The etiquette for thank you letters after the interview has changed as email takes a larger role in communication during the hiring process. Surveys reveal a wide disparity of preferences among hiring managers about whether a handwritten or emailed note is best. However, what hasn’t changed is the need to send a thank you note. It’s a must.
If you have decent penmanship and access to preprinted thank you cards (no flowers or animals, please!), and can handwrite a note immediately after the interview, go for it. Just make sure you mail it right away so that it arrives the next day, or within 2-3 days of the interview. Make sure you address the card correctly so that it will be received directly by the interviewer. Be sure to spell the interviewer’s name correctly! And double-check the card to ensure you didn’t spell anything wrong.
If your handwriting could use some help, or you wouldn’t be able to mail a card promptly, email is also acceptable for sending a thank you message. Just make sure you address the email to the right person. For a subject line, you can use something like, “Great Meeting You Today” or “Thanks For Meeting With Me Yesterday.” (And again, spelling counts here too!). Do not send the thank you email from your work email address. But do send it from a professional email address. Not firstname.lastname@example.org.
What should you write in the thank you note? The best post-interview thank you notes are brief and cover these four points:
1. Address the person by name. (Ms. Jones or Mr. Smith, not “Bob” or “Nancy,” unless the interviewer directed you to use his or her first name.)
2. Thank them for their time and the opportunity to interview for the (name of position).
3. Mention one thing from the interview that especially resonated with you, or mention an issue (or answer a question) that you felt you didn’t address properly in the interview. But don’t take an apologetic tone. Instead, say something like, “I wanted to clarify what we talked about with curriculum development. I should have emphasized that I do have experience in lesson planning and creating course outlines, having prepared a comprehensive course syllabus as part of my graduate class on Classroom Management. I would be happy to forward you a copy of these materials for your review, if you’d like.”
4. Confirm the “next step” from the interview, including what action you will take — or what you’re expecting from the interviewer.
Sample Thank You Note
Dear Mr. Jones,
Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you today to discuss the ABC Company’s job opening for a Senior Sales Consultant. The plans the company has for expanding into the European commodities market sound incredible, and I am confident I could be a great asset to the team in this position. Two things I wanted to emphasize are my language fluency and cultural competence. Having spent two semesters in Belgium during college (and returning there twice for personal trips), I possess the specific understanding of this market that the position requires. As we discussed in the interview, I look forward to hearing back from you on Monday, and hope that I am selected to participate in the second round of interviews. I know I can make a significant impact on your international sales in this role. Thanks again for taking the time to meet with me.
Follow-Up With Your References
After writing your thank you note, you should also immediately contact anyone who you had provided to the company as a reference. Let them know about your interview and how it went, and prepare them to answer any questions that might have come up during the interview. For example, if the interviewer was particularly interested in a project you worked on with a colleague, let him or her know that so they will be prepared to answer any questions that the interviewer had about that work. And ask the reference to let you know if they are contacted for a reference check.
How — and When — to Follow-Up With the Interviewer
Sometimes, the interviewer won’t know the specific timetable or process for moving forward towards a job offer. Other times, the promised time for the “next step” will come and go, and you’re left wondering if you didn’t make the cut, or if another candidate received the offer. The only way to find out if you’re still in the running is to follow-up. But you don’t want to look like a pest, either.
Here’s how to handle some specific situations:
~ You were told the next step would happen by a certain date, and that date has passed. What to do: At the end of the interview, you asked the HR person or the hiring manager how he/she would prefer to be contacted. Follow their wishes. If they wanted to be contacted by email, draft a message that re-introduces yourself and reminds them of when you interviewed (and for which position). State that you were anticipating hearing from him/her by (date), and you were contacting him/her to inquire about the status of the hiring process. Have they postponed the next step — and, if so, are you still being considered as a candidate? (Follow the same process if calling to follow-up.)
~ You promised to follow-up on a certain date. What to do: If you made a promise in the interview to contact the interviewer on a certain date, make sure you do it! This is often used as a test by an interviewer — can the applicant follow instructions? This is especially important if you were asked to send something after the interview (for example, to write a sample report, or submit a writing sample).
~ You’ve completed several interviews and are waiting on a job offer. What to do: Often the hiring process takes longer than anticipated — and the most common delay happens between the last round of interviews and when a candidate is selected for a job offer. In some cases, the decision may come down to two finalists, and one person is offered the job first. If he or she declines, you may then be offered the job. Don’t be pushy or sound desperate at this stage. Instead, be confident and helpful. A follow-up call or email at this point asks one simple question, “Do you need anything else from me to help you make the hiring decision?” You may preface that with, “I know you’re busy, and I don’t want to take up too much of your time, but I wanted to make sure you had everything from me that you needed.”
Also, stay in contact with your references during this time. Check in with them to find out if the interviewer or a reference check company has contacted them. This will often give you a clue that the hiring process is moving forward. (But keep in mind, not all companies — or interviewers — check references.)
Get The Offer
The hiring process isn’t over until it’s really over. Remember, no matter how well the interview went, the job isn’t yours until you receive an offer, accept it, and it’s approved. While it’s rare for an offer to be rescinded after it’s made, it does happen.
So, if you are offered a job verbally, ask for the offer in writing. The offer letter should spell out the requirements of the position and the terms of employment, including salary, benefits, reimbursement of expenses, and any conditions of agreement (for example, hiring conditional on a successful background check or credit check).
If you follow these guidelines, you will not only increase your chances of securing the job offer, but you’ll also increase your confidence as you understand the process. While you won’t get offered every job you interview for, remember that you only need one job offer, if it’s the job you want!
Kathy Keshemberg is a Nationally Certified Resume Writer and Certified Career Management Coach. Since 1983, she has created thousands of interview-winning resumes and related job-search materials for satisfied clients around the world. Need assistance with your career? We’re here to help! www.acareeradvantage.com