SECURE THE JOB YOU WANT & EXCEL
Many attractive employment opportunities are missed as a result of a failure to properly take the initiative in following up after the initial job interview.
If you are interested in the position, immediately send an e-mail to the interviewer thanking that person for taking the time to meet with you, describe the organization and the job, and give you a tour if he or she did so. Reiterate that you are seriously interested in the position, and briefly comment on what especially impressed you about the organization. Also, use this e-mail to clarify your response to any key issues raised in the interview or to add any important points that you neglected to make then. End the e-mail by giving the information on how best to reach you outside of your office or workplace.
For most jobs, at the same time you should also write a letter by hand to the interviewer covering the same points but expressing yourself differently. Use reasonably good quality stationery or an appropriate card for this purpose. Try to deliver this letter to the interviewer’s office yourself first thing on the morning following your interview. If your handwriting is messy, this letter can be typed.
When more than one person interviewed you, send a thank-you e-mail or, if this is not possible, a written note to each individual, changing the wording slightly for the different interviewers. Take extra care to ensure that your thank-you e-mails and letters are free of any grammatical, spelling or other mistakes, and be sure to use the correct name and title of each person they are addressed to.
In the case of jobs in manufacturing, production and technology-oriented industries, just send your thank-you message by e-mail. When the job is in advertising, fashion, publishing or any other creative field, use both an e-mail and a handwritten letter to thank the interviewer. Handwritten letters usually have more impact than an e-mail.
Even if you are no longer interested in the job, it is still important to write a courteous thank-you e-mail or letter within two days following the interview. You never know where the interviewer may end up working. It could be in a position at another organization where you want a job in the future.
It is a good idea to sit down after an interview and make notes on the points discussed, the names of everyone you met and where necessary how their names are pronounced. Make a list of those subjects where you need to obtain additional information before you can make a decision about the job. Also, write down any additional points you should make if you have another interview for this job and how you can improve your answers to any key questions that were asked.
Sometimes, an interview will reveal certain issues that are warning signs about some serious negative problems that may be facing the organization. Do not ignore these. Often, you have to do further “due diligence” research to determine if such concerns are valid, including discreetly talking to current and former employees if you can.
Examples of the more serious issues to watch for include the organization’s financial health and whether it is vulnerable to being sold or taken over by a competitor in the near future. Is the company currently losing money and, if so, how long has it been unprofitable? Is the company burdened with too much debt and at risk of going bankrupt as a result? How is the company faring in comparison with its competitors? Has the company been losing a significant amount of market share sales-wise to its competitors? Obviously, you want to avoid joining a sinking ship.
If you have not heard back within one week following the initial interview, contact the interviewer by phone or e-mail to reiterate your interest in the position and ask when you may hear further about it. This needs to be done diplomatically without you coming across as being pushy.
Invariably, serious prospective employers will ask you to provide them with references, namely individuals whom they can contact to verify the contents of your résumé and ask questions concerning your suitability for the position you applied for. In most cases, they will primarily be interested in probing your work habits, performance and any demonstrated strengths and weaknesses in your prior job.
The most appropriate references to give a perspective employer are one or two of your supervisors, co-workers and subordinates, if you had people working for you. Another possible reference is one of your teachers or professors who knew you well. If you had a major volunteer involvement with a community organization and someone in a senior position there is aware of it, include this person as one of your references. Do not use friends as references unless you have worked with them. Give a total of three to four references. In each case, include the reference’s name, contact information and your relationship with that reference.
Think carefully about who you should give as references. One of the common questions asked of previous employers is: “Would you hire this individual again if you had an opportunity to do so?” Keep this in mind in selecting your references. Only give out your references when you are asked for them.
Always ask the individuals beforehand if you can use them as a reference. It is also a good idea to alert them that a specific individual and organization may be calling to check your references in connection with the job you are attempting to obtain. Describe the job.
Do this by phone or in person to gain an idea of how your potential references will respond to any questions about your suitability for the job. Do not give someone as a reference unless you are reasonably confident that the individual views you in a positive manner.
Anticipate that interviewers will note the names of anyone you mention who is employed by one of your former employers. Although these individuals may not be listed as one of your references, they may be contacted for their opinion of your suitability for the job. Call these individuals right away to let them know this and try to make sure that they will give you a good reference if they are contacted by your prospective employer.
Throughout your academic and working career, identify individuals who can serve as potential future references, including your teachers and professors. Keep in touch with these individuals over the years and nurture your relationship with them.
Appendix 1. Personal Worksheet Sample
Appendix 2. Résumé Sample
Appendix 3. Covering Letter Sample
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