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After the Interview: Answers to Five Common Questions

After the Interview: Answers to Five Common Questions

By Margaret Steen

Your networking and polished resume paid off, and you landed an interview. You just met your potential new boss and coworkers.  Now what? Here are experts' answers to common questions about what to do after the interview:   

Should my thank-you notes be handwritten, or is email OK?

Email is OK and sometimes even better, because it arrives faster. Email interview thank-you notes to everyone you interviewed with.

If you think the hiring manager would appreciate a handwritten note, follow up with one. "I don't think it's necessary, but I think it adds something extra," said Marianne Adoradio, a career counselor in Silicon Valley.

What should my interview thank-you letters say?

You should thank your interviewer for speaking with you, of course. But use the rest of your note to follow up on what you learned about the company's needs. Focus on the employer, not on yourself.

"When employers hire candidates, they're hiring them for one reason only, and that's to solve a problem," said Valerie Frederickson, founder and CEO of Menlo Park, California-based Valerie Frederickson & Co., a human resource executive search and consulting firm.

It may not be practical to offer specific solutions in your post-interview thank-you letter. But you should make it clear that you understand the company's goals and could help meet them.

How long should I wait to follow up again?

Ask during the interview how soon your interviewers are planning to make a decision. If they're looking to hire quickly, follow up quickly. If the hiring manager is about to leave on a three-week vacation, then wait.

If you're getting responses from the recruiter or hiring manager, keep following up every week or two.

What should my follow-ups say?

You don't want to pester a potential employer with questions about why the decision hasn't been made yet. What you should say depends on what the job is as well as on your personality.

One strategy is to treat your follow-up notes like a sales pitch. Discuss the company's needs, perhaps asking questions about how they're planning to approach a particular problem. Candidates should "get into a dialogue about how they could help solve those problems," Frederickson said.

But this approach may not always be the best one. Recruiters, for example, are interested in updates on your job search. If you can honestly say that the employer you interviewed with is your top choice but you recently met with two others, that's good information to pass along.

Why do some companies not respond to follow-ups?

One explanation is that people are just impolite. "The people who don't get back to you after the interview are the same people who don't RSVP for your Christmas party," Frederickson said.

But often, there is more going on. Sometimes a company freezes new hiring to save money or prepare for a restructuring, for example. It's also possible that the company has made an offer to another candidate but you're the second choice. In that case, they may not want to tell you in case the first candidate turns them down.

So resist the temptation to assume that you blew the interview, and instead focus on the company's needs in your follow-ups.

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