Step 1. Start the follow up before you leave the interview
Ask the hiring manager at the end of the interview what the next step is in their hiring process and when do they expect to make their decision. Simple, easy question, and helps you identify timing from the company’s standpoint. It also helps you determine what is appropriate follow-up communication that should come from you and when.
Step 2. Thank you note
As stated above, hiring managers notice when someone doesn’t respect protocol and send a thank you note. Be gracious and positive in your note, even if you know you are out of the running for that position. Why? Because you never know when the company or recruiter may have another opportunity where you might be a good fit.
Send your letter (unless it’s a committee interview) to each person you met with within 24-48 hours. Today it is acceptable to send your thank you note by email. Handwritten thank you letters are not a good idea if your penmanship isn’t legible; nor does it provide enough space to present key points from your interview. Be sure to customize each letter; you would not want the team comparing notes to find out you sent everyone a “cookie-cutter” message. And as with any written communication, spell everyone’s name properly. Spelling mistakes can kick you out of the interview process swiftly.
The thank-you note is also an opportunity to briefly support why you are the best person for the position and send follow-up information that may have been discussed in the interview (i.e. the white paper I mentioned is attached or can be found at xx website). End your thank-you note by confirming your interest in the job, let them know you will follow up again (specify a time range) and thank them again for the opportunity. Thank you notes should not be longer than one page.
Step 3. Don’t be a nag
Tempting as it may be to email or call the hiring manager frequently to find out your status, please don’t. And if you promised to check back with them within a certain time period, choose your words wisely. Phrasing your note diplomatically is key to getting a response. Always have a purpose for your follow-up communication other than just checking in on status; perhaps it is adding to pertinent information such as completing a certification, or a contribution to an industry journal that would confirm skills and talents. Remember, keep it brief.
Put yourself in the hiring manager’s position when considering your follow-up tactics. Would you like to receive long drawn out thank-you notes that have little value? Is your inbox overflowing with lengthy emails you don’t have time to read? Do you have time to answer numerous phone calls to reassure candidates they are still being considered for the position?
As you may have noticed with social media, messages are getting shorter and shorter. Tweets are 140 characters – not words – characters, which include spaces. And the word is out that people only read the first 80 characters of a tweet. So be a master at paring down your words to get your message across succinctly. It may just be a factor in your being considered for the next job.