Interview Follow-up: Top 10 Tips!
This job was important to Don and when the call came to schedule an interview, he took special care as he prepared.
As a non-profit accountant, Don was very aware that opportunities were disappearing as his industry began outsourcing his business function.
Early in the recession, many accounting jobs had been eliminated. It wasn’t a surprise when he was laid off. Nonetheless, he was devastated and especially worried.
Don was unsure that his career in non-profits would carry him to retirement. He wanted to change industries so when this interview came through he didn’t want to blow the opportunity. It added a new layer of stress.
The call came on a Tuesday and they wanted to move quickly. The interview was scheduled for Thursday morning. Don called and we met in my office on Wednesday morning to prepare. He would meet with four different people, each for 30 minutes. Afterwards, he would circle back with the HR Director.
Don liked the people and they seemed to like him. They even laughed when he described a situation from his early career—a time when he had to deliver bad news to senior executives. It wasn’t funny when it happened, but in retrospect he had learned some powerful lessons. Don was sure he could do the job and he felt positive when he left.
His excitement rose when the recruiter called later that day and said they would contact him by noon on Friday. Don called and gave me the great news. I was skeptical of their timeline.
Sure enough, noon came and went.
Don called me a little after one o’clock. He was seriously upset.
“Don, I’m not surprised that they haven’t called you back.”
“Yeah, but they said by noon today. They were specific.”
“Uh, huh. I hear that a lot. What they really meant was they hoped they could move it through that fast. Really Don, think about it. Where you used to work; would they be able to pull together a contract, offer letter, and get approvals in less than a day?”
At five o’clock Don called back. He was sure he was out of the running. Perhaps they offered the job to someone else and were waiting for an answer before telling him he didn’t get the job.
Monday noon: still nothing.
I called. Don was upset, going over and over the interview sessions trying to figure out what he had missed.
Tuesday noon: no response.
Don called. This time he was angry.
“Yep. This is the hard part. Still, we don’t know what’s going on. Maybe they’re trying to get you more money!” (I was trying to put a positive spin on it…which didn’t work.)
“What should I do?”
“I suggest you finish cleaning your garage or whatever project you started. Tomorrow morning, I’d call. Again, keep it short and light. Simply ask for an update. Leave a voice mail if no one picks up. Don’t make any accusations. You need to sound positive and up beat—as if this whole ordeal is nothing. Demonstrate your flexibility.”
Friday: the recruiter calls.
Don was stunned and blurts out, “Sure. What time should I show up?” Recovering a bit, he said, “I look forward to meeting them!”
Three weeks later, Don signed the contract. He was exhausted.
The time following an interview can be the most excruciating phase of the job search. The dance that follows has to balance a host of factors including:
- Demonstrating your interest
- Keeping a professional distance
- Respecting the hiring process
- Being eliminated because you were overbearing.
With so much at stake, it is one of the most difficult challenges.
What is the time frame?
The time period from your interview to an offer can vary widely. Sometimes only one interview can be managed a week. So interviewing four candidates takes a month. From the offer to the start date can take one or even two months. Other times, it can be less than a week with an almost immediate start date. There are no rules here.
Here are my top tips.
- Manage your expectations by carefully listening for abstract terminology. When you hear, “We want to move quickly on this.” …Remember that “quickly” to them might mean two months.
- It’s critical that you set yourself up to comfortably reconnect following the interview. So asking about their timeline gives you permission to reconnect when you haven’t heard anything. Ask for something specific, or at least a range when you can expect to hear.
- Reconnect by phone or email. Give the following information:
- Date of the interview
- Job title
- Name of the hiring manager if known
- Be brief. Let them know you are still interested.
- Your tone should be pleasant, professional and without any negativity, judgment or hint of accusation.
- When it’s over, regardless of the outcome, send a thank you note by email.
- Reconnect again when you land your next position.
My application is dead…why should I bother?
Even if you think the opportunity is gone there are some really good reasons to reconnect with hiring professionals.
- Recruiters have other positions to fill and so do HR professionals. How you handle a rejection can set you up for a different position.
- If a position doesn’t work out, you now have a connection within a company. Periodically connect with them; approximately once each month until you are hired.
- Hiring professionals, especially recruiters, have a portfolio of people they like to work with and place. Currently we are expected to change jobs every 3.5 years. Being a part of a hiring portfolio may help you avoid a future layoff.
I’ve written this blog to encourage you through your job search. It isn’t over until it’s over. Manage your attitude to remain positive. Encourage others. Together we can get through this with our dignity and integrity intact.