Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Post Interview Strategies

So, you have completed your interview. The question is "What next?" The wrong thing to do at his point is to hope that you left a positive impression on the company and hope that they will call you back for another round of interviews or hope that they will call references. Here are a few actionable steps you can take that will enhance your chances of success:

  • Recruiter follow-up: If you secured the interview through an Executive Recruiter, make certain that you call them shortly after the interview to debrief. Be prepared to step through the interview in some detail so the recruiter can get a read on how the interview dialog went. Remember, your recruiter has an excellent understanding of how the company will conduct their process. That process will usually take distinctly different paths based on the company's interest. Your feedback will prove to be invaluable as it will help your recruiter devise creative follow-up strategies that would work well with a particular client. Each client is unique and has different expectations of how they would like to be approached by candidates – both during and after the interview process. Your recruiter has a unique perspective on this.
  • Email correspondence: As stated above, your recruiter will guide you on this step. But if you secured the interview without a recruiter, you should still correspond with the company within twenty-four hours of the interview. Make note of this very important step: NEVER LEAVE THE INTERVIEW WITHOUT A BUSINESS CARD FROM EACH PERSON YOU MET! The reasons are obvious, but it's amazing how many people I debrief who failed to take this simple step. Not only do you get accurate contact information, but you also have each person's proper (versus functional) title. People can be funny about their titles. A functional sales manager may have a VP Sales title. If you address him in your correspondence as "Regional Manager", it won't likely reflect well on you. Send a personalized (not cc'd) note to each person and make each note somewhat unique. Anymore, email follow-up is preferable to hard copy. Some companies just want to see that you have enough savvy to send a follow-up note to them and don't care too much about content. Other managers like to see good content and look for writing and grammar skills so make sure you pay attention to content, clarity and presentation.

    • Content: The note should be personable yet professional. Do not exceed three paragraphs. If your note (and notice I'm calling it a "note" and not a "letter") begins to scroll down your screen, it's too long. Your first paragraph should express gratitude for the opportunity to meet, the managers personal time spent with you, how much you enjoyed meeting him/her and that you enjoyed (or were excited) to learn more about the company and opportunity. This paragraph should be very upbeat and positive while adding a personal touch to the dialog. Use words that create energy and excitement throughout. The second paragraph should (briefly) restate what your main interview take-aways are, what your understanding of the positions responsibilities or requirements are and how you feel you match those requirements. The third paragraph should close with a positive affirmation and confidence in your unique ability to contribute to the organizations success and your desire to continue forward in the process. If you have already scheduled a follow-up interview, confirm the time and date and your anticipation for the meeting. If you have not yet secured the next meeting, this is where you express anticipation of a next meeting and you can even list some calendar slots for the next two weeks that work for you. Be presumptive that you will hear back from them. Encourage direct communication from the hiring manager should they have any lingering questions that you can answer.

    • Clarity: Be sure that you are concise, on-topic and crystal clear in your communication. You want to be neither too terse (which comes off as distant and cold) nor too familiar and verbose (which comes off as self-focused and presumptuous). Show concern for the manager's time and schedule and be direct but without an edge.

    • Presentation: Keep in mind that this note is not a tweet or text message. I recommend that you do not send it from your mobile computing platform unless you have no other option (especially if you are early in the process). Chose an east to read font style (Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, Tahoma, and Verdana are good choices) and a font pitch that will be suitable to most any size screen. Typically a 9-12 pitch range is good. Times New Roman 9 pitch reads very differently than Arial 9 pitch so use discretion. The idea is to make sure that the font size is easy to read without being over bearing. Stay away from fancy backgrounds, font styles, etc. Address the note appropriately. "Mr." or "Ms" salutations are fine, but not usually expected. Most managers will be fine (and prefer) first name communication. But use your best judgment in each scenario based on your perceptions after meeting the person. Make sure your phone number is in your email signature.
  • Phone Calls: Phone follow-ups are not typically expected (especially early in the process). They are warranted once mutual interest has been established and there is specific reason for the call. Many times, a candidate may ask a manger if they can call directly on a certain date for feedback. Often, the manager will open that door of opportunity. Just be careful not to abuse this privilege.

Your post interview follow-up is important as it is a way to bridge two interviews and maintain some momentum in the process. Your promptness and professionalism and effectiveness at his juncture can give you a competitive edge in the interview process.

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