What’s the Right Way to Follow Up After a Job Interview?

(This article appeared originally on NextAvenue.org.)

Job candidates frequently make one big mistake after an interview: idly waiting for the employer to call with good or bad news. But the right follow up can maximize the positive impact you made during the interview and increase your chances of getting hired.

A young female job applicant is addressed by a panel of employers. Rewire PBS Work Interview
The right follow-up can make or break your job offer.

Interviewers like proactive and ambitious candidates; they are the lifeline of the employer and its future. What’s more, some interviewers dismiss candidates who don’t follow up.

But it’s important to follow up after a job interview the right way. There are three common mistakes job applicants make:

1. Contacting the employer too frequently

One of the worst mistakes a job seeker can make is coming across as obnoxious or pushy. Before leaving the interview, ask when you can expect to be contacted and how he or she would prefer you follow up. Some prefer applicants email them; others give candidates their work phone numbers.

If you don’t hear anything by the time your interviewer gave, follow up. But only contact the employer once a week (or so) to remain professional and interested.

2. Being too casual

Be as professional as possible in your writing and the way you talk to the employer after your job interview. Your vocabulary doesn’t have to be academic or entrepreneurial, but the way you address your potential employer could be the deciding point in whether or not you get hired.

3. Any form of negativity

Complaining or saying negative things about the employer or to the employer can sometimes be misunderstood and cost you the job. Focus on the positives of your experience with the employer so far and make sure you include them in your follow-up.

The value of a thank-you note

Thank-you notes are a good way to nudge interviewers into delivering the verdict about your employment. It might sound old-fashioned, but it’s a good idea to send one after an interview.

Let’s take a look at two drastically different types, which will give you a good indication of the formatting and the information they should contain.

The first type of thank-you note can be used by people with professional experience who don’t require much feedback, but do want to come across as friendly, cooperative and team-oriented. It focuses on highlights from the interview.

A young male job applicant addresses his interviewer with a bemused expression. Rewire PBS work Interview
Applying and interviewing for a job, and then following up, is a lot of work, but there could be a big payoff in the end.

In this type, you might say something like: “I wanted to thank you for the opportunity your company presented for me and your sincere consideration of my application. I enjoyed the questions you asked since they really helped me reflect on my past professional experiences. I hope to hear from you soon.”

The second type of thank-you note works for self-aware people who want to learn as much as they can about themselves. It consists of a subtle follow-up note that emphasizes feedback.

It might say something like: “I’d like to thank you again for the time and patience you had with my application—I can imagine a lot of candidates applied for the position. I’d like to formally ask you for your professional feedback about my performance on the interview itself.”

A lot of work, but a big payoff

The road from writing a job application to writing a thank-you note can be stressful and unforgiving, even for the most resilient candidates. Keep in mind that the process will pay off once you land the job. Even if you don’t, you will have gained valuable experience to take into your next application and interview process.

A headshot of Sylvia Giltner. PBS Rewire. Sylvia Giltner

Sylvia Giltner is an HR manager and freelance writer at ResumesCentre.com. She helps people write the perfect resume and land a desirable job.