Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Interview Follow - Up. The interview is over - Now what?

So you've taken the time to create an impactful resume, you've submitted your resume to a position that is a strong fit for your qualifications and career path, you've gone through the interview and now what?

I'm a bit old-school or at least that's what my 20-something-yr-old children tell me.  I remember when you had to look for employment opportunities in the local newspaper and had to actually mail (US postal service snail mail) or fax your resume to a potential employer.  Back when there were no cell phones, linkedin, emails etc.  At that time it was common for everyone that was fortunate enough to go through the interview process to send a Thank You note.  We've now graduated to the speed of light.  Everything is moving faster, and with this rapid movement it seems that some of the professionalism of the past has been lost.  I would estimate that of every 100 people I interview, 10 actually send a follow up email thanking me for my time and interest.  Whats worse is that fewer than that send follow up emails to thank the client when they've finished an interview with the Manager from the client site.

I know when people I've previously interviewed read this they're going to think "Oh Crap!, did I send a Thank You email?  Am I the reason for this blog post?", and the answer is maybe.  No one in particular started my wheels spinning about this topic, it was the result of noticing a pattern over time.  There are a vast number of reasons why people have gotten away from the habit of a follow - up thank you... some of which are:  lack of time, applying and interviewing for multiple opportunities at once, lack of knowledge, and lack of interest.  By "lack of knowledge" I mean that some individuals don't know who to Thank or how to go about Thanking them.  We'll cover that shortly.

There are times when a Thank you note is not necessary:  If you have had a particularly negative interview with a recruiter or manager, if you were turned down for the position during the interview or you turned down the position during the interview.  That doesn't mean you shouldn't bother, it just means it isn't expected or necessary.

Who to send the Thank you email to can depend on the situation.  If you are interviewing directly with your potential employer you will probably have the interviewer's email address, in which case a "Thank You" email within 24 hrs of the interview is appropriate*.  You might experience multiple interviews within the same company, and the same rule applies:  a "Thank You" email within 24 hrs of each interview.  If you are starting the interview process via a staffing company (search firm) then a quick email to your recruiter after your initial interview is appropriate.  Thank you notes for subsequent interviews with the staffing firm's client should be sent to your recruiter to be forwarded on your behalf to their client.  If the interviewer from the client site has provided you with their contact information then any thank you email you send to them should also be CCed to your recruiter.  This keeps the recruiter up to speed on how the interview process is moving along so no miscommunication transpires. 

This process is a two-way street.  In general Recruiters will send an interview follow - up email if the person they have interviewed is moving on to interview with the client or if the person might be a potential fit for future opportunities.  If the person is moving forward to interview with the client the Recruiter's Thank You email should supply the following:  A quick Thank you for your time, a full (or at least as full as they have) job description, the name of the client, and any information about next steps in the process.  I will be honest in saying that there have been times where I've dropped the ball on this process.  I might hang up the phone after an interview, prepare and submit the resume to the client and then get side tracked.  We all have those days.  If you haven't received confirmation from a recruiter that has stated they are sending your resume to a client.... ASK FOR IT!  You should always have a communication trail and record of what positions you have been submitted to. 

I wonder what Emily Post would think if she were alive today?  Miss Manners writes about this topic occasionally, but she tends to be a bit rude and condescending... which leads one to believe she's also lacking some manners.  The rule of thumb for Thank you notes should be "when in doubt, send it out".  It never hurts to show appreciation.  I've provided example content below.

*when interviewing directly for a potential employer for a C-Level position or a position you are extremely interested in, sending a Thank You card in the mail is a great way to stand out and show your interest.

Example Thank You for a recruiter:

Hello (Recruiter),
Thank you for your time on the phone today regarding the XYZ role at XYZ Company. Per our discussion, my qualifications seem to be an ideal fit for this position.  I look forward to the next steps in the process.  If there is any additional information you require, don't hesitate to call or email me.


Example Thank you for Direct Manager: has a great section on Thank you letters with examples:

One last piece of advice:  try not to be TOO flowery.  There is a tipping point between professional and sappy.  Some executives might be looking for a brown-noser but is that really the type of person you want to work for?  Don't use words like EXCITING! EXCELLENT! SUPERB! AMAZING! and don't over-sell yourself.  Even the above example from Monster made me a bit queasy.  Make references to how your skills and experience fit with the touch-points from the interview, but stay away from telling the reader how to do his job ie: "you won't find a better fit for this position" or "I am your ideal candidate for the job".

A simple Thank you can go a long way..... (in all situations)

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