How To Effectively Follow Up After A Job Interview

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

Do you consider yourself courteous? Most people do; we are taught at a young age to say, "please" and "thank you." However, it may surprise you to learn that some hiring manager and recruiter surveys indicate only about 60 percent (or less) of interviewees actually follow up after a job interview with a thank you note.

In this buyer's market, it would be a shame to miss out on that perfect-fit opportunity simply because you were less considerate than the next candidate. And, it would also be a shame if you didn't take advantage of the chance to overcome potential objections by addressing any interview bumbles with a well thought out follow-up communication.

Consider these five tips to help set you on the right interview follow-up course:

1. Request a business card from the interviewer(s). This ensures you have their most basic contact information, which should include their full name, title, email, phone number, and possibly even business address. When following up, you want to show your attention to detail and respect by addressing the interviewer with their correct title and name.

2. Inquire about next steps. Depending upon the interview tenor and whether it seems appropriate, you may also ask specifically when a decision will be made about the position. Or, if it is clear that the interviewing cycle is complex, and that no decision will be made until further follow-up interviews are conducted, then you may ask when the next interviews will be scheduled and/or when would be a good time for you to follow up.

You get the drift. There is no cut-and-dried script for inquiring about next steps. But the point is, if the interviewer doesn't tie up loose ends neatly at the wrap of the interview, take the reins to inquire respectfully about next steps. With this information in hand, it will help you to gauge how to handle your follow-up communications.

3. Determine a follow-up method. If you are a technologist or in a technology-related or technology-savvy career (which envelops most careers in today's modern world), then you most certainly will want to follow up electronically, by email or with some other technological means, if applicable, to demonstrate tech-adeptness. If you get the sense that the recipient is more traditional and that a handwritten or typed follow-up letter that is snail-mailed is better, then do that.

Or, perhaps you should do both, to ensure the interviewer receives your communications. Email can sometimes land in a spam box and/or be buried quickly amidst the sea of other mail. If time allows, email a follow-up within 24 hours, while also concurrently snail-mailing a note that will land in their mail box in the next one to three days.

4. Determine the content to include in your follow-up letter. An initial "Thank you for the opportunity to interview" is necessary to show basic thoughtfulness and appreciation for the interviewer's time and energy. Beyond that, and in a brief, pithy format (no longer than approximately three to five paragraphs), you'll want to address any overarching points that were made in the interview. For example, if a specific question or discussion point stumped you or left you feeling a little less than articulate, then use the follow-up letter to smooth it over.

Show, through word clarity, that you are qualified by pointing to a story, result, or skill set that will help overcome the objection you may have left as residue at the close of the interview. As such, consider the follow-up letter an opportunity not only for professional courtesy, but also for clean-up, if you will, as well as to reinforce your value for the specific role.

5. Close the sale. You've been on several interviews over a course of several days, weeks (or even months), and you know you are one of the final candidates. What can you do differently that the other candidates may not be doing? Write a "Why I Should Be Hired" letter. Leave no doubt that, as the best candidate for the job, you will hit the ground running and that your past performance will promptly translate to return-on-investment. If it is a sales job you are vying for, you may assert this follow-up a bit more powerfully than say, for an accounting professional role. Use your instincts regarding the letter's tone, but DO take the initiative to restate your value, energy, and enthusiasm to help close the deal.

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, chief career writer and partner with CareerTrend, and is one of only 28 Master Resume Writers (MRW) globally. Jacqui and her husband, "Sailor Rob," host a lively careers-focused blog at Jacqui is a power Twitter user (@ValueIntoWords), listed on several "Best People to Follow" lists for job seekers.