Interview Follow-up Do's and Don'ts

Interview follow up dos and don'ts. Professional business etiquette when job searching.

After landing a first face to face interview, a job candidate ought to follow-up as a matter of professionalism and observing business etiquette in expressing gratitude. But there are proper and appropriate things a candidate should do and shouldn’t do.

Do: Send a thank-you note or letter. At the end of the face to face interview, take a moment to collect the interviewer’s business card and allow one or two business days to pass before sending your follow-up letter. Address it to the person you met with and include her title. If you interviewed with more than one person, send each one a thank-you note but don’t copy and paste, tailor it each to the person your sending it to.

Don’t: Go the email route, a hand written or typed letter with your signature is preferable and will make more of an impression. It also makes for a more personal response (if you get one) and not just clicking on the “reply” button and typing, “You’re welcome, it was a pleasure interviewing you.”

Do: Include a follow-up question. This is a golden opportunity to get yourself in front of the interviewer again—maybe not face to face—but engaged, nonetheless. A well selected, strategic follow-up question will have you speaking with the hiring manager once again and give you the chance to remind them of your qualifications without repeating them.

Don’t: Include a slew of “I forgot to ask” inquiries. Remember, this is a thank-you letter, not Jeopardy! More than one or two observations or questions is like asking the interviewer to take a quiz and could instill in her the sense you did not hear a word she said at the interview or were too uninterested to ask.

Do: Proofread your thank-you letter. Have your spouse or a friend read it as well to find errors and/or awkward statements. Rework it as needed and try to keep it short and simple.

Don’t: Send a letter riddled with run-on sentences, fragments, and misspellings. The interviewer doesn’t want to read a letter that is peppered with spelling errors and bad grammar or a letter that is akin to Finnegan’s Wake Redux.

Do: Phone the interviewer a five to ten business days after the interview. Ask for her by name and if she is not available, ask for a more appropriate time to phone back. Place your follow-up phone call between Tuesday and Friday, but not on a Monday.

Don’t: Stalk the interviewer. Becoming a Hollywood stalker that appears in grocery stores, in shopping malls, and on front porches will definitely make the wrong impression. Too many emails, phone calls, and drop-ins will tell the interviewer three things, none of which will improve your chances of getting the job: you might be mentally unbalanced, you don’t know when to call it quits, and you are very desperate.

Keep in mind, its not personal if the interviewer doesn’t choose to hire you—some applicants are better fits for various positions. And, while you are following-up with one employer, don’t neglect to pursue other employment opportunities.

Owen Richason is a small business consultant and freelance writer. He is a former business writer for "Tampa Bay Business and Financier," and his work has appeared in the Houston Chronicle’s website small business section.


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