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08/27/06
How Much Is Too Much?
Filed under: Interviewing
Posted by: site admin @ 11:07 am

In just the past few weeks, I’ve been queried a handful of times by clients: How soon can I follow up after an interview? It’s been more than two weeks … should I follow up? I haven’t heard a thing, what should I do?

First of all, I coach all interviewing clients to ascertain the anticipated interviewing timetable at the time of their meeting. When do you anticipate scheduling the second round of interviews? When do you hope to have the selected candidate on board? This gives a general sense of the overall timeline–you may discover that the new position isn’t funded until the next fiscal year.

The initial follow up should be immediate–in the form of a targeted thank-you letter that goes significantly beyond thanking the interviewer for the courtesy of their time. This should be mailed (or e-mailed: gear formality to the overall feel of the interview and corporate culture) the same day as the interview (or very next morning).

Beyond the obvious, use this letter to add to any key points you wished you’d made during the interview. (Such as, "I neglected to mention that I am bilingual–completely fluent in both English and Spanish. In addition, I am able to communicate verbally in basic French and German. These skills could prove very useful in dealing with some of your global customers.") Use the thank-you follow-up letter to clarify ideas that weren’t clearly expressed. (As in, "You asked about a situation wherein the results of my actions were far-reaching. In addition to the a-b-c scenario, I was instrumental to opening our second manufacturing plant in South Carolina. I did the initial due diligence, developed the business expansion plan, and leveraged our operations to effectively make that transition, which has been win-win for our customers, suppliers, and overall margin.")

Always close the thank-you letter with an indication of your next follow up: "I’ll plan to contact your office in the next week. I’m very excited about moving to the next stage in the interview process." And then be sure to do so! If you are "screened out" in your follow-up calls, indicate to the secretary that Ms. Edwards is expecting your call (you’ve already set Ms. Edwards’ expectation that you will be calling).

Be professionally persistent in this follow up. For the first few calls, do not leave messages. Instead ask for appropriate times of day to call back. The same is true with voicemail: Don’t leave a message the first few times; instead, continue to try to call back and reach the individual directly. Once a contact has been made, again reiterate enthusiasm about the opportunity and ask about the timeline for a follow-up interview. Gear your subsequent follow-up activities to that information learned.

Expect that the higher up the chain the opportunity is, the longer the decision cycle will be. Even if weeks (and months go by), don’t become discouraged. Continue to practice professional follow up until (a) a successful conclusion (subsequent interviews … leading to an offer) or (b) solid evidence that you were not the selected candidate (for *this* position–you will be for another opportunity!). Good luck in practicing practical perseverance!

- Jan Melnik, MRW, CCM, CPRW, President, Absolute Advantage … Don’t forget to check out http://careerhub.typepad.com for the best in career search advice from the career industry’s top experts and http://careers.beyond.com for valuable career management expertise

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