After the interview: Now what?

So you have just finished interviewing with the company of your dreams.  As you walk out the door you need to remember, though, that even though the meeting part of the interview is over the whole process is not yet done.  You still have some work to do to finish it up.

Or, if you don’t want the job that badly, you can just get in your car, drive home, and have a cold one to celebrate the time that you wasted on the interview and the job opportunity you missed out on because your competition is going to go the extra mile and finish their interview properly.  The choice is up to you.

The smart thing to do is to continue to treat the job interview like a date.  Just as you want your relationship with a pretty girl or handsome guy to get more serious the same can be said about your interest in the company.  You are certainly curious as to how things went during the interview because you to want to step things up a notch and get into a meaningful relationship with the company.  Just like you want your date to call you back the day after dinner and a movie you desperately want the hiring manager to give you a ring with good news.

Even though you have left the building there are still several things you can, and should, do to increase your chances to land a job.  If you don’t do them the worst that will happen is that you won’t land an offer.  If you do the following things, though, you still may not get a job but you will come away from the experience with a stronger reputation and a better understanding of how to become a better candidate for employment.  Here, in my humble opinion (and in the opinions of many hiring managers) are the things that you should perform after the interview:

1.  Make some notes about the interview.  What questions were you prepared for?  What questions were you unprepared for?  What was the interviewer’s name and title?  You should have exchanged cards during the interview, and the back of the card is a good place to jot down the interviewer’s preferred form of address (“Mr. Smith” or “Bob”, for example).  You should take notes while the interview is fresh in your mind because otherwise you will forget those brain-hiccups that you had, and if you forget them then you are likely to repeat them again in future interviews.  I recommend getting a small notebook dedicated to the interviewing process and using it as a logbook or journal to record your post-interview notes.

2.  Send a follow-up note to thank the interviewer for their time and attention.  In the note make sure to use their preferred form of address (that you remembered to write down on the back of their business card as soon as you left the interview) and be sincere in your message.  You should be professional and courteous, but not overly familiar.  After all, you are still making an impression, and a poorly written note will do more harm than good.  Here is an example of a short and acceptable thank-you note:

Dear Bob,

Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you on Tuesday.  I am very excited about the opportunity to join XYZ Company, and I learned a great deal about the firm during the interview.  Our discussion about the corporate culture and dynamic work environment reinforced my strong desire to join the company, and I think that my skills and experience are a great fit for the _________ position.  I feel that I can be a strong contributor to the firm.

If you need to contact me for any follow up questions or additional information I can best be reached at xxx-xxx-xxxx or via email at mike@anymail.com.  I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Mike Smith

3.  As you close out the interview ask the hiring manager for the best way to contact them in the future.  This is important because it gives the interviewer an opportunity to establish expectations for future communications.  He or she may be open to a call or email or may prefer that you wait to hear from the company before you contact them.  Make sure to pay attention!  You can shoot down your chances at a job if you call them after being asked to wait.  Just follow their lead.

4.  Think hard about your experience at the interview.  Are you going to be a good fit at the company?  Did you learn anything that was unexpected or that is not in line with your goals?  If you did, then do some serious soul-searching in order to decide whether or not to continue pursuing a job there.  Don’t just take the first job that comes along if it is not a good fit.

5.  Be ready for the company’s call.  It may be a letter, an email, or a telephone call, but regardless of how the firm reaches out to you the news will be either good or bad.  This is where character really counts; if the news is good then it means that you have a follow on interview in your future or a job offer letter on the way.  If the news is bad then it means that you will need to look elsewhere for a job.  If the news is good then you need to be humble, respectful, and thankful for the opportunity to work with the company.  If the news is bad, then you need to be humble, respectful, and thankful for the opportunity to interview with the company.  Even though you did not land a job with that particular company it doesn’t mean that you can be a jerk about it; remember, you are building a reputation along with your resume.  If you are obnoxious because you didn’t get the job the word will get out.  If you are respectful, the word will get out too.  The hiring manager who did not hire you may know of a company that is looking for someone with your skill set, and if you make a strong positive impression it may help network you into a new opportunity.

Remember that the hiring process does not end with the interview.  It ends with either a job offer, an invitation for a follow on interview, or a rejection.  You can improve your chances for a job offer by following up on the interview.

__________

Lessons Learned:

1.  Write down your impressions of the interview as soon as possible so that you can learn from it.  You want to make your strengths even stronger and eliminate your weaknesses, and the only way to effectively do that is to learn from your experience.

2.  The interview is not over when you walk out the door.  Hiring managers are people too, and sending a thank you note for their time is a nice touch that will be noticed.  It is a normal part of the hiring process, and if you don’t send a note then you are behind others who do. Send the thank you note immediately after the interview.  If you had to travel to the interview, then write the note and drop it in a local mailbox to ensure that it arrives quickly.  As the saying goes: “Strike while the iron is hot.”

3.  Reflect on the interview.  Did it reinforce your desire to work there or uncover some negative aspects about the job or the company that make you have second thoughts?

4.  Be gracious when you finally get the results of the interview.  This may take a while because the hiring process at most companies takes time, so be ready to wait.  When you get the news, be respectful and courteous regardless whether it is good or not.  Remember, your reputation is always growing, and if the word gets out that you are a jerk it will hurt your chances elsewhere.

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