Interviews don’t just end as soon as you walk out the door.
After the handshakes and the goodbyes, the hard part (for you) may be over. But now your potential employers have to start making a big decision: whether you’re the person they’ve been looking for.
Appropriate interview follow up can help round off a successful meeting, leaving a lasting, positive impression in the minds of interviewers as they decide whether or not you make the cut.
How you should follow up depends on a few factors, and is ultimately something you need to decide for yourself. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and it is a good idea to follow up even if you know there may be another interview to come. It’s worth considering even if you think you completely nailed it (other candidates may feel the same).
Is it necessary?
If you’ve never thought about interview follow up before you might be worrying that you’ve really missed a trick.
The truth is that following up after an interview is not a universal requirement, and is not always expected by recruiters. Some people may never do it and simply sail into their dream job.
But the reality is that there are many advantages to appropriate interview follow up, whether it be by email, phone, or as a written note or letter.
Is it worth it?
Having been subjected to the rigorous scrutiny of an interview, it’s easy to forget that – for those doing the recruiting – it can be very hard to choose between a selection of impressive candidates. Anything you can do to tip the balance in your favor is worth considering.
A simple follow-up email or quick call could, in some cases, be the difference between success and failure.
And that’s exactly why it’s so important to get it right. Inappropriate or misjudged interview follow up can do unnecessary damage to your chances.
How to follow up after an interview
What to say
Though there are different approaches to interview follow up, bear in mind these four essential things to address, however you choose to reach out:
- It always makes sense to say “thank you” for the interviewer’s time
- Demonstrate your enthusiasm for the position and interest in the work
- Try and re-emphasize why you are qualified and well-suited to the role
- Add or raise any important details you forgot to mention in the interview
These points represent what can be done with interviewer follow up. It may not always be necessary to touch on all these things. A brief note or thank you letter could be all you need to send.
The ultimate aim of following up is not just to ensure you make a good personal impression, but to reinforce why you are the best candidate.
Remember, you were invited to an interview because you are considered to be a serious candidate. Your potential employers genuinely just want to know if you’re the right person for the job. Interview follow up helps them work this out.
How you go about following up largely depends on industry culture, personality, and gut feeling. Try to read the people you’re being interviewed by, and always address your follow up to the person who is taking primary responsibility for the recruitment process. This might in some cases be an HR representative, and in others, it may be your prospective line manager or the relevant head of the department. (If you plan to follow up, don’t forget to make sure you have their details).
What to consider
Seeing as an interview follow up depends a lot on your assessment of what is appropriate, we’ve created a list of the most important factors to take into account:
- Time: make sure you follow up within 24 hours; or, if you’re checking in having had no response, make sure enough time has passed
- Method: stick to the same kind of communication you’ve had with your interviewer already, creating a natural dialogue
- Personality: follow ups should be personal, so make sure to write with your voice and remind the interviewer who you really are
- Formality: follow ups should be personal, but they should also stay strictly professional, so err on the side of formality if you’re unsure
- Reference: remember important and positive points raised during the interview, and refer to them again
- Take care: you want to be concise and give a good impression, so put time into your message and edit it until it’s perfect
Email, call, or letter?
As we mentioned in the last section, the decision you make about how to communicate should be influenced by how the main interviewer has communicated with you already.
If they called to invite you to the interview, then consider following up over the phone. If you have only been in touch via email, or perhaps only on LinkedIn, it might be best to stick to that same method.
But, ultimately, it should be what feels most appropriate.
Let’s take a look at the options:
Email (or online message)
This should be the standard for most people. It’s likely you’re already in touch via email, or an online messaging or recruitment platform, so it’s most natural to carry on that dialogue when following up.
If you’ve conducted an interview online, this is, of course, the first method you should consider.
Try to avoid stating the obvious or regurgitating your original application. Refer to the interview itself, keep things concise, and only say what is relevant and worth their time reading. Writing too much may leave them feeling a little pestered.
If you have nothing much to add, just send a quick thank you email.
If your interviewer has called you to arrange the meeting, or for a pre-interview screening, then giving them a quick call (during office hours) could be a good idea.
If you go down this route, make sure you’ve prepared what you’re going to say. Write down some basic points beforehand to keep you right. It won’t help if you sound nervous and don’t have anything particularly interesting to say.
Letter or note
Only consider this option if you’re sure it is appropriate. These days, it may feel overly formal or a little old-fashioned. But all industries and companies are different, so don’t rule it out completely – a handwritten note will certainly feel more deliberate and personal.
It’s important to follow up within 24 hours, so if a letter sent in the mail is going to take longer you should perhaps have a rethink. Dropping in a letter or short written note in person could solve this problem.
The content should be much like that in an email. There’s no need to elaborate for the sake of it, so keep it concise, professional, and probably a little more formal than an online message. Most importantly, refer to the interview, and try to say something meaningful and new.
Only visit your interviewer in person if it is practical, and you’re sure it is appropriate. You don’t want to appear to be pestering them, or desperate in any way. Try to keep it brief, professional, and friendly.
Make sure you know what you want to say before you see your interviewer, and make sure you are straight to the point – you shouldn’t expect a long chat or in-depth discussion, as that would become an extension of the interview and will be avoided by recruiters.
How not to follow up after an interview
While interview follow up can be a worthwhile endeavor – and many would say it is a must – it is only of benefit to you if you get it right. There is nothing worse than going out of your way to give a bad impression, undoing the good work of a successful interview.
There are a number of things to keep in mind to ensure you don’t overstep the mark:
- Don’t force it: if it doesn’t feel right to follow up, then don’t – only send a message if you think it will be well received
- Don’t regurgitate: keep it concise and don’t repeat too much from your original application – try to add something new or emphasize the key message(s)
- Don’t oversell: you want to leave them with a good impression, not force your greatness down their throat – leave the hard sell for the interview itself
- Don’t request a connection with them on LinkedIn: wait until the recruitment process is over, whether you get the job or not
- Only do it once! Whatever happens, don’t send more than one message without reply, as you may end up irritating them
- Don’t go off topic: keep it professional and focus on the job