by Guest Author, Mitchell Glass
Leave a lasting impression on your prospective employer.
You found a dream opportunity on a job site, breezed through the application and crushed the interview. So now what?
Now, you follow up.
A thoughtful follow-up can be the cherry on top of a strong interview, yet one survey showed that 57% of job hunters don’t send a thank-you email after an interview.
This is a huge mistake. Many hiring experts agree that the actions you take after an interview can set you apart from other candidates — for better or for worse.
Here’s how to make sure it’s for the better.
How to follow up after a job interview
The best way to follow up a job interview is with a thank-you note. Handwritten notes can add a special touch, but a thank-you email is faster and more practical.
Taking the time to show your appreciation helps you stand out. It’s a small gesture, but if you’re “tied” with another candidate, not doing it could be a deal breaker. Or, if you’re already a top pick, it could cement the decision.
It demonstrates your thoughtfulness and willingness to go the extra mile, and it’s an easy way to keep the conversation going.
Employers want to hire candidates who can build relationships with clients and represent the company brand well. An effective follow-up shows the strong interpersonal communication skills that you’d bring to the job.
If you don’t hear back within a reasonable length of time, you can send additional follow-up messages. But to avoid seeming pushy, follow the tips below.
How to write a follow-up email after an interview
To maximize your odds of winning the job, make your follow-up email count. Include these five sections to knock it out of the park.
1. Show appreciation
Start by thanking the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you. Conducting interviews and evaluating candidates can be exhausting, and everyone likes to feel appreciated.
2. Reinforce interest
Explain how, after speaking with the interviewer, you’re even more pumped about the opportunity than you were before. Offer a specific reason why the role and culture seem like a perfect fit.
3. Flex your listening skills
Mention specific talking points from the interview to show you were listening. (To make this easier, take note of some ideas on your phone as soon as you finish the interview.)
4. Puff them up
Do some low-key brown-nosing by highlighting something impactful that the interviewer said or asked. Explain how it affected you or any insights it gave you.
5. Ask a question
Ask a question about one of those insights. You want to leave the message open-ended to keep the conversation going. Every extra exchange gives you another opportunity to contribute ideas and show you’re the best fit for the role.
It sounds like a lot, but try to keep it as brief as possible — recruiters have a lot on their plates.
If multiple people interviewed you, craft personalized messages for each one. When writing, choose a tone based on your audience and the seriousness of the role.
If your interviewer was cracking jokes and said, “Call me Tommy” when you tried to address him formally, a casual-yet-professional approach is a safe bet. But if you’re a lawyer interviewing with an uptight, all-business type of employer, formal language is the way to go.
How to end a thank-you email after a job interview
Wrap up your note by offering to provide additional information, restating the decision timeline discussed in the interview and signing off with your contact info. Here is an example:
Please let me know if you need any additional information to help with your decision. I look forward to hearing back from you over the next two weeks.
How long should you wait after an interview to follow up?
Leave the interview, go straight to your computer and send your emails. The last thing you want is your thoughtful follow-up message to arrive after the interviewer has made a hiring decision.
Hiring managers weigh follow-ups differently, but some might consider a lack of follow-up to be a lack of interest in the company. One analysis showed that 68% of recruiters and hiring managers say a thank-you note affects their decision, and 16% say they’ve disqualified candidates for lack of thank-you notes.
Long story short, make sure your follow-up arrives before they decide.
What to avoid after a job interview
Your follow-up strategy to a job interview can make or break your odds of success. Whatever you do, don’t make these five mistakes:
Choosing the wrong form of communication. Email works great for a quick thank-you message, but what about your second follow-up? Email is the safe bet, but a phone call adds a personal touch and shows initiative. But phone calls can also be more intrusive. The safest bet is to choose whichever form of communication the recruiter has used most in the past.
Using canned follow-up emails. Sending the same canned email to all of your interviewers can do more harm than good. The whole point of the message is to make the interviewer feel special and show how thoughtful you are. Copy-and-paste email templates won’t achieve either of those goals.
Sending additional follow-ups too soon. Always ask for the next steps at the end of your interview. That way, you’re clear on the timeline and won’t overstep your bounds. If you haven’t heard back within the agreed-upon time, give a gentle nudge without being pushy. Simply tell them you’re excited to hear any updates.
Sending too many follow-ups. Reaching out keeps you top of mind, but don’t be a stalker. If the process is moving slower than expected, don’t start bombarding them with voicemail messages. Instead, shoot over something of value once a month, such as a relevant article or kudos on a work achievement. Your goal is to stay top of mind without being annoying.
Putting all your eggs in one basket. Don’t pause your job hunting efforts while you wait. Keep checking sites like ZipRecruiter for new opportunities. Don’t stop applying until you’ve accepted an offer.
Need more job search advice?
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About the author: Mitchell Glass is a freelance contributor.