Be One Step Ahead: Follow-Ups That Work

Julia Zielke Etiquette, Interviews Leave a Comment

Aced your interview?! Perfect, now it is time to relax, twiddle your thumbs and wait patiently for that all so important phone call, right? Not quite.

Be one step ahead after your job interview with sending a follow up letter to your interviewers within 24 hours of your interview!

Follow up letters or thank- you notes show integrity, sense of appreciation and professionalism. They are also a great way to sum up your key achievements and remind the interview panel why you are the ideal match for the advertised role.

According to career expert Dr Katharine Hansen only 5% of job seekers make the effort to write a thank-you note after the interview. So make sure to seize the opportunity and be ahead of the pack!

When do I write a follow-up letter?

The answer is: always! Even if you think you don’t really need to make the effort to write up a letter after the interview, there is virtually no interview situation where it is not appropriate to thank the interviewers for their time. Writing thank-you notes (to every member of the interview panel, yes!) might look like a petty task but it is guaranteed to pay off in the long run.

The medium is the message

Remember when you had to use a pen and paper to write? Well, thank-you notes and follow-ups are among the few occasions where handwritten notes are still appropriate (given that you don’t have the illegible handwriting of a four year old).

However, depending on the company culture, you can also write a standard letter. If the company is less conservative (for example a tech or media business) then an email is a great idea too.

Phone calls can come over as overeager (unless you are applying for a sales role in which case managers might be looking for someone very proactive).

Trust your gut instinct on this though. If you gained a friendly and casual impression of your interviewers, choose a less formal medium. If the interview situation was rather stiff, a formal thank-you letter printed on nice looking paper will give you an edge over other candidates.

Find the right tone

Dear, I mean Hi Susan, or no Mrs. Miller… eeeehm…when starting a letter think back to the interview. Did you use their first name during the interview? What kind of rapport did you develop with the individual interview panel members? The rest of your letter should flow from here.  As a general rule: better be too formal than too informal.

Most importantly: check your spelling and grammar. You don’t want to come across as sloppy and inconsiderate in which case a follow-up note can really put you in a bad light.

Where are the templates?

Sorry, there is no such thing as the perfect template. Why? Because the key to a good thank you note is that it is PERSONAL. Yes, personal means that you will have to re-read the job post, look out for cues during the interview, consider the company culture and refer back to your specific set of qualifications.

To make things easier here is a simple step-by-step guide to writing a good follow-up letter:

  • Dear so and so
  • Thanks for your time
  • It was great meeting you
  • I really like [insert something meaningful] about your company/ the role
  • You are looking for xyz?
  • I am perfect for you because I happen to have xyz
  • Some concluding remarks about how awesome it would be to work for them

That’s it. Easy, right? You will get the hang of this soon- we promise!

I have been waiting for ages, can I contact them again?

If a company promised to call you Monday but it is Wednesday, then yes, you can write a short email or letter. Make sure to keep the tone positive and not sound accusatory; all you want to show is that you are serious about this job (and remind them that that really are an awesome fit for the role!).

Allyson Willoughby, senior vice president of people at Glassdoor, suggests wording your message along the lines of, “I know you mentioned you were hoping to make a final hiring decision by the end of the month, and I wanted to follow up and see where you are in that process.”

Avoid these common mistakes

Don’t be overeager or cross professional boundaries. For example, it would be seen as unprofessional to send flowers or other gifts as a thank you. And please don’t make the mistake of adding the interviewer as your Facebook friend right after the interview- not cool!



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