One of the most difficult parts of any application—to a school program, for a job, etc.—is the interview. Often, depending on what you’re applying for, there are multiple interviews involved. But it’s that first one that will probably weigh on you for weeks, cause you to look up innumerable tips and strategies, and make you queasy the morning of.
The good news is, if you’ve done all this preparation for the interview, you’re probably going to nail it! And really, there’s no better feeling than sitting across the desk from a prospective employer and having all the right answers to his or her questions. Unfortunately, as great as this feeling is, it’s not the end of the process. In many cases, a strong applicant is expected to follow up on even the most successful of interviews.
So how does that work? Well, it’s actually a more intricate process than you may expect! But to help you out, here are a few tips on how to appropriately follow up after a successful interview.
For starters, there can be a difference between following up and sending a thank you note. An article on this same topic at The Muse made an important note in this regard, arguing that applicants should “get that thank you note out with lightning speed.” Indeed, politeness and humility are crucial in any application process. It’s important to let your interviewers know that you were grateful for the opportunity to express yourself in person, answer their questions, and so forth. A quick thank-you note immediately following the interview is a great way to start the follow-up process.
Next, before you delve further into the process of following up and awaiting a reply, it’s probably best to do some very honest self-reflection about your interview process, and how the interview itself went. Generally speaking, self-reflection is a huge part of applying to any school program or job. In a blog post for Menlo Coaching, Alice van Harten talks at length about how to address questions that ask you to assess previous failures or shortcomings. Incidentally, I’d highly recommend reading about this topic before you undergo an interview in the first place, as it’s something that commonly comes up. However, even after the interview, the thought process of answering these questions appropriately is important to understand. Applicants have to be able to look back at the interview and honestly understand where it went well, and where it may not have. Understanding your own performance will help you to strike the right tone moving forward.
When you’ve had time to send a thank-you note and assess your own interview performance, it’s time to think about an actual follow up, which should occur a short time after the interview. And at this stage, one of the most common questions people seem to have (at least in my own experience) is how, literally, to follow up. Email? Telephone? Text Message? Well, I’d point you toward an article in Mashable for the correct answer in this regard. In that article, the writer suggested reverting to the last communication medium used by the company (or employer, etc.) before the interview took place. So, if the last message you heard came via email, follow up via email.
As for what you actually say in the follow up, it will depend a great deal on what you’re applying for and how the interview went. It would be difficult to advise on any follow-up questions to ask or statements to make in a broad sense. However, one common tip that a lot of experienced applicants tend to act on is to record as much as possible about the actual interview once it’s over. Writing down specific information, high and low points, questions that might come to you right after the interview, etc. can give you a strong foundation for the follow-up. With this kind of information on hand you’ll be able to structure a few strategic points to emphasize and come up with some follow-up questions to ask when you do contact your potential employer again. If you need help with this, recruitment specialist Tony Beshara has even written up a template you can use to record your post-interview thoughts!
And the rest is up to you! Just remember to be prompt, concise, honest, humble, and positive, and you’ll likely craft a follow up that will boost your application just the way you hope.