The interview’s over and you’ve sent thank you notes to everyone you met. You’re hopeful they’ll contact you about further interviews or, even better, to request references. How much time should you let go by without hearing anything before contacting them? What should you say when you do?
First, at the end of the interview you should ask when you should expect to hear from them:
“I’m very excited about the position and all of the terrific people I’ve met. When do you expect to make a final decision?”
Start by following up with the person who said they would contact you. Give an additional 48 hours from the time you expect to hear from them before reaching out. This gives them time for the inevitable delays in the process and doesn’t make you appear desperate. If possible, respond back to a prior message so it looks like a continuing conversation and more likely to be opened. If that is not possible, here’s a sample subject line:
“Hi Steve, It’s Emily Johnson, Marketing Manager candidate”
The body of your email should reinforce your interest in the position and give a specific skill you have that qualifies you for the position. It’s also good to include something specific from the interview to refresh their memory of you:
It was great meeting you the other day to discuss the Marketing Manager position. I’m following up on where you are with making a decision or the next steps. Everything I heard from you about the position is very exciting. I think I’d be a perfect fit based on my familiarity with Acme’s products and my 3 years of experience with Zoho CRM. Any updates?
Thanks again for taking time to meet with me, Steve. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
This email specifies the position and gives defined reasons why you’re qualified. They’ve probably reviewed many resumés and interviewed several candidates, so reiterate why you applied and what makes you the right person.
Completing interviews and making a final decision takes time so don’t send a follow-up message the next day after the interview. That’s when you send thank you email(s) or the following day (at the latest). Make sure your email is professional (with a touch of personalization), polite, brief and clearly states your purpose. Everything matters, so don’t treat the subject line or body casually.
Many people are aware that a resume is scanned for about 30 seconds and placed in the yes or no bin. You might be surprised to know that the same applies to an interview. Interviewers say they know within the first 5 minutes whether they like a candidate or not.
The first impression is everything. Here are some things to make a good initial impression and continue throughout the interview:
- Have a firm handshake (but not too firm). A firm handshake conveys confidence and integrity. It’s not a contest of strength.
- Being truthful. No elaboration is required.
- Be confident but not arrogant. Striking the proper balance is delicate. You need to sound and appear confident without projecting cockiness.
- Smile and make eye contact. Even though this seems obvious, interviewees often forget to do it. Sometimes it’s out of shyness or nervousness but it can be interpreted as lacking confidence or, worse, being dishonest.
- Wear proper attire. Research the company to find out about their dress code to avoid under dressing or wearing inappropriate clothing. This also applies to video phone interviews.
- Use proper language. No obscenities. Some interviewers may be offended. Don’t get too comfortable. It’s still an interview.
- Sit up tall and keep your arms uncrossed. Crossing your arms (or worse leaning back and doing it) screams conceit. Sit tall and be attentive.
- Gesture sparingly with your hands. Hand gesturing is an important part of communicating but doing it to excess becomes distracting and can seem contrived. You want the interviewer listening to you and not watching your hands.
Another common sense thing to avoid is answering a cellphone (it’s best to leave it in your car or turned off).
Impressing the interviewer requires more than just researching the company and searching the internet for common interview questions and responses. After you’ve spent so much time doing your research make sure your initial contact with the interviewer starts positively and you reinforce it throughout the meeting.
Devoting time to practice interviewing can put you at ease when communicating with spoken and unspoken (body) language. Your likelihood of getting the job is often decided in the for first 5 minutes. Make that first impression count. It’s everything!
You have identified the perfect job, sent in your perfect resume and passed all of the initial screenings. Your phone rings and they ask you to come in for an interview. We have already given you tips on interviewing, like handling unexpected questions, using the S.A.R. system, and observing and taking notes. Now let’s talk about how you communicate without speaking.
Many people believe that what you say is the most important part of communication. You might be surprised to know that studies have shown non-verbal communication is six times more effective than verbal communication. In the first few minutes of an interview the person makes a decision about you, good or bad. It is difficult to recover from a bad initial impression. You are more likely to end where you begin in their mind.
This makes how you communicate non-verbally critically important. A sanguine disposition, a sincere smile, eye contact and a firm handshake say more about you, at first, than your actual words. Combined with your appearance and posture, these queues can determine how quickly the interviewer looks to end or extend the meeting. Everything matters. Even how you walk in and interact with the receptionist is being critiqued. It is important to NOT be cocky or abrasive but to exude confidence, poise, and to be engaging.
They’re “checking you out”
There are a host of queues the interviewer uses to form opinions about you at first sight. Let’s examine five of the most critical:
• Grooming - Before you shake hands, they notice how you’re dressed and manicured. The obvious things are well kept general cleanliness, nails and hair. The use of an unscented antiperspirant is recommended. Ladies, minimal make-up and no perfume are preferred. If you do wear perfume be sure that it’s faint. Don’t have your scent arrive 10 seconds before you do. Arrive early enough to give any necessary last minute touch ups to your appearance.
• Attire - Dress appropriately. Men, if a suit is appropriate, wear something dark. White or plain colored shirts and a conservative tie. Shoes should be black and polished. Plain dark socks are recommended. If the attire is business casual, wear a pair of dark slacks and a solid color shirt. Polo shirts are often acceptable. Women, a dress or business suite (pants or skirt) are appropriate interview clothing. For business casual environments pants or skirts and casual tops or sweaters work fine. Neither men nor women should wear anything loud, overstated or that does not match.
• Eye Contact - Trust and confidence are, also, communicated through eye contact. If it’s not a habit, practice it with your friends or family in simulated interviews. It’s an important part of the rapport building process. Looking down or away gives the impression that you lack confidence or are insincere. The idea isn’t to get into a “stare down” but to develop a natural rhythm to making eye contact with people you communicate with. Not just during interviews. Introverts can find this a difficult skill to develop but should actively work on it as part of effective communication. If you have eye glasses, be sure to clean your frame and lenses prior to the meeting to remove smudges. You may also need to have your frames adjusted so they fit properly.
• Posture - Whether standing or sitting you should be tall and attentive. Maintain your posture from the moment you leave your car. It’s especially important when first greeting your interviewer. Pay attention during the interview that you are not creeping into a slumped posture. Proper posture is also signals your interest and readiness. Let the interviewer know you are physically fit and have the stamina to perform well in the position.
• Gesturing - Use your hands to communicate as long as it is natural and not forced. Too frequent or overly demonstrative hand gesturing can be a distraction and interfere with your message if the interviewer focuses more on their movements and misses some of what you have to say. Crossing your arms and/or legs can signal that you could be nervous or conceited. Simply, don’t do it. Relax and use physical gestures to enhance your communication. Your goal is to bond with the interviewer and make them comfortable and want to learn more about you.
Unspoken language can separate you from your competition. Everyone being interviewed is qualified, it’s the subtleties that get noticed. Don’t underestimate the value of non-verbal communication. Make them envision you starting tomorrow. Practice, perfect, and perform. Everything matters.
Rapport is an important part of the hiring manager’s decision process. Rapport is built through finding shared interests. To find things you may have in common with the interviewer, pay attention to your surroundings during the interview. Having a system for capturing details about the interviewer will help when writing your thank you letter and any future communications.
Being prepared for an interview involves more than researching about the company and rehearsing answers for anticipated questions. During the interview you should be taking notes about items you notice in the interviewers’ office that show their interests. Your page should be divided into 4 sections: Questions to Ask, Personal Effects, Awards/Degrees/Art, and Miscellaneous (Hobbies or interests).
Here’s a sample notepad with information filled in from a mock interview:
These are examples of things you should jot down during your interview. If you don’t have time to write them down in the interview or circumstances don’t permit, make a mental note and write them down immediately after you leave while they’re still fresh in your mind. Refer back to your notes when writing your thank you letter (email). Pick one or two things you noticed about them personally and make a reference to it in your letter. Here’s an example of how to include it in your thank you letter.
It was really a pleasure meeting you today. Thank you for taking the time to discuss the marketing manager position with me. Everything I heard was terrific and I left even more excited and impressed about the people, the position, and the company. I believe my successful track record as a marketing manager coupled with my enthusiasm about everything at DM Enterprises makes me the perfect candidate and I would love the opportunity to join your team and help you achieve your goals. If you have any further questions please feel free to contact me at your convenience. I eagerly look forward to hearing from you soon.
Btw, We have a shared love of Corvettes. Here’s a cool article that I really enjoyed about the new Corvette coming out next year. Check out corvettecomingoutnextyear.com
Interviewing is hard enough as it is. However, they are more difficult when you get a bad interviewer. Sometimes it’s not their fault, because they haven’t been properly trained on how to conduct an interview. They have a job to fill and need to see if you’re a good match. They might cursorily read your resume and start the interview.
It can lead to everyone being frustrated and a waste of time. Poor performances by the interviewer happen for many reasons:
• They don’t ask questions
• Act rushed and preoccupied
• Unprofessional or too casual
• Does not know or understand your experience
• Can’t answer your questions or can’t explain the job requirements
• Asks inappropriate questions (religion, age, marital status)
These are only a few of the reasons. The list is endless. When you’re confronted with this situation you need to know how to handle it and save the interview.
Here are 5 things you can do to make the most of the time:
1. Remain Calm - You’d certainly be justified in getting upset because you took time to prepare for this interview and the other person didn’t but don’t let your emotions show. Be professional no matter what. Keep smiling and focus on staying positive.
2. Take the Lead - It’s important to make sure that the information you want to communicate gets shared. If the interviewer is not directing the meeting then you have to do it. Be professional but confident and lead the conversation to make sure both of you are participating. It should not be a one-way communication. If the discussion is going off track, get it back by responding “That’s very interesting information and thank you for sharing it. Do you mind if I give you some relevant details about my background that I think are valuable for this position?” After you’ve gotten the attention back to the job, share a story about something you’ve done that makes you an excellent fit.
3. Stay Focused on Pertinent Information - If the questions get into things such as your religious beliefs, marital status, or other personal topics, ask how they are relevant to the position. To not seem un-cooperative you can indicate that you don’t have any obligations that would prevent you from working extended hours or days if needed. Giving reassuring responses allows you to politely answer the questions. Getting into a discussion about their legality could derail your chances of getting hired.
4. Emphasize Your Accomplishments - If the interviewer appears to not understand your background don’t get too technical with them. Instead, discuss your accomplishments and how your experience positively affected your organization. Sometimes they are from a department (or role), such as HR, that is not directly related to the position you are interviewing for. It’s okay to ask if they understand and if they would like a further explanation from you.
5. Get Your Most Important Information Across - If there’s something important in your history that you haven’t had the chance to communicate, make sure you do before leaving the interview. You can do that by saying “Something that has not come up during our conversation that I think is very relevant to the position is my experience in...”. Give a detailed story about it and why you think it’s important for the position. You want to make sure that your first and last impressions on the interviewer are powerful. That’s not to say that everything isn’t important, but they’ll retain the last information because it’s the most recent.
Finally, as you’re doing your post interview assessment pay attention to what took place and the message that it sends about the company and the job. If the interviewer was bad that may be an indication of how working there would be. If they don’t prepare for potential new hires this could be a sign about how the organization operates. They should be trying to appeal to you as well. Don’t make excuses for them. Accept your frustrations and consider whether you should still be interested. They should value their time with you. Sometimes interviewers are having a bad day and that may not be indicative of the company. But gauge that against other things you observe while you’re there. Consider all of the information and then decide how to proceed. Don’t let a bad interview turn into a bad career decision.