By Barbara Mitchell
Q: I’ve had interviews for jobs that I know I’m a great candidate for, but I hesitate to follow up. How can I keep in touch with the interviewer without making a pest of myself?
A: I hope that before you left the interviewer’s office you asked what the next steps will be and when a decision will be made. This is a great opportunity for you to get valuable information, and most applicants neglect to ask.
Say, “I’m interested in knowing your time frame for making a hiring decision.” If you’re told the decision will be made in two weeks, that information will come in handy as you follow up. Ask if you can contact the interviewer if you think of a question later, and ask if the person is open to connecting on LinkedIn. If he or she says yes, you have another way to stay in touch—and then make sure you connect.
Always get a business card from each person you meet with, and send a thank-you email to each one as soon as possible after you leave the office. In your emails, reference something you discussed in the interview that you want the interviewer to remember. For example, say, “As we discussed, your position requires someone with strong skills in problem solving. This is a strength that I’ve demonstrated often in my current job,” and then give a one- or two-sentence example. Let the person know you’re interested in the job and that you look forward to hearing from them soon. End by providing your contact information where you can be reached with any additional questions. If your handwriting is readable, consider sending notes via snail mail since it is unusual to get mail and it may get you noticed. Your handwritten note may take longer to reach the interviewer, but it will still have impact.
Ask if you can contact the interviewer if you think of a question later, and ask if the person is open to connecting on LinkedIn.
After this it gets tricky. If you know the employer’s plan was to make a decision in two weeks and the two weeks have passed, email and politely say that you are eager to hear their decision. Hopefully, that will get you a response, but many times it doesn’t. If you don’t hear back, wait a week and leave a voice mail restating your interest.
If you still don’t hear from the employer, let it go and move on. If you’re still interested in that organization, keep in touch with the hiring manager with an occasional email passing along an interesting article or congratulating him or her on a promotion or other success.
Bottom line: It’s OK to follow up—and, in fact, if you do it right, it may set you apart from other applicants.
Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].