By Margaret SteenYou had your interview, and the way it ended left you hopeful. Now comes what is often the most agonizing part of the job hunt: waiting for the hiring manager to call. But you still have some control over the process. Experts offer the following advice on maximizing your chances for success:
Send Thank-You Notes
Don't stress too much over whether your interview thank-you letter is emailed or handwritten. The most important thing is to send it.
"Even if you think you've got it in the bag, there are people who expect that letter," says Laura DeCarlo, president of Career Directors International, a global professional association of resume writers and career coaches.
The kind of note to send depends on the situation. Peggy McKee, founder of Career Confidential, prefers thank-you emails sent within a day of the interview. "A quick follow-up indicates interest," McKee says.
But consider the company culture when following up. Sometimes a mailed letter will be more appropriate -- for instance, if the company is an old-fashioned, traditional one. But if you're applying for something like a social media marketing position, then email your follow-up note.
Your post-interview thank-you letter should be "a typical sales letter" with three parts, DeCarlo says: Thank the interviewer. Reiterate why you're a good fit. Close by saying you're looking forward to the next step. Even if you send the note by mail, you may prefer to type it so you have room to make your case.
Break Through the Silence
The interviewer said she'd let you know by Tuesday if you made it to the next round of interviews. It's now Thursday, and you haven't heard anything. What's going on? It's possible you didn't make the cut. But it's equally likely that the interviewer just got busy.
What should you do next? Call or email. If you don't get a reply in a few days, try again. Yes, you might occasionally annoy a frazzled hiring manager. But as long as your messages are polite and brief, most interviewers are more likely to be impressed by your perseverance, communication skills and interest in the job.
"Candidates need to quit worrying about how they're perceived and be more worried about making people see how they can contribute to the organization," McKee says.
The key is to keep your messages positive. Don't sound accusatory -- just remind the interviewer of your conversation, say you enjoyed it and ask where they are in the process. It may help to prepare a script ahead of time.
Go into Recovery Mode
Perhaps you feel that you didn't make the best impression in the interview. The follow-up is your chance to recover.
"Tell them you're going to provide them with additional resources," McKee says. If you can send documentation of your abilities -- or even get references to send notes on your behalf -- do so.
But if your reason for thinking you blew the interview is something minor, like spilling your coffee, ignore it. "If you draw attention to your embarrassment about little things, it might lead the person to think you're too insecure," DeCarlo explains.
Bounce Back from Rejection
When you hear from an interviewer but the news is bad, what should you do?
First, "thank the person for letting you know," DeCarlo says. Then ask if the interviewer would be willing to give you any feedback that you could use for future interviews. The answer will likely be no, but it shows you're interested in improving.
Then keep networking with the interviewer, perhaps by forwarding occasional, well-chosen articles related to your industry, for example, or by joining a group on LinkedIn.