Getting a job can be an arduous process; the countless applications and cover letters, the interview stage, receiving an offer, negotiating benefits and ultimately accepting an offer. While the interview process is your time to prove that you are the ideal candidate, the post-interview stage can make or break your hiring chances.

Although it might be an after-thought, the importance of a post-interview follow-up cannot be stressed enough. Jessica Liebman, the executive managing editor of Insider Inc., came up with a simple rule when she first started hiring 10 years ago: they wouldn’t move a candidate to the next stage in the interview process unless they send a thank you email. Fast forward to 2019 and she still stands by it; if someone doesn’t send a follow-up thank you email, she won’t hire them.

Still not convinced about the importance of a timely follow-up? According to a study of 1,000 hiring managers by Robert Half International, 81 percent want a follow-up message within two weeks after initially applying to the job and 22 percent of hiring managers would dismiss an applicant who didn’t send a post-interview thank you note. Believe it or not, you can start your follow-up before the interview even ends. By asking what their anticipated hiring timeline is, you can determine how to schedule your messages.

How should you follow-up? There are three things you should do after your interview if you really want the job.

Write a Thank You Note

These days, email is pretty much instantaneous and finding someone’s email is fairly easy. However, if you want to go above and beyond to truly stand out, take the time to write a handwritten thank you note. The key with the handwritten notes is to send them no later than 24 hours post-interview.

In an article for ZipRecruiter, Nicole Cavazos highlights four things to keep in mind for your thank you note.

  • Be brief, friendly and conversational.
  • Restate your interest in the job and relevant details about how you’re qualified.
  • Thank the employer for their time.
  • Include any significant information that you might have forgotten in the midst of your interview.

Check-In

Once you’ve written and sent the thank you note and/or email (preferably both) you can sit back and relax for a little bit. However, if you haven’t heard back in a timely manner, or within the period that the company said you would, it is time to check-in.

This could be an awkward experience because you don’t want to come off as annoying. However, there is a delicate balance between being annoying and persistent. It is important to realize that this is all part of the process. If done correctly, your check-in can show your diligence and reiterate your interest in the position. Sometimes a company might even wait for a candidate to check-in before making their hiring decision. If you’re wondering whether or not you should check-in, what do you have to lose?

Stay In Touch

If you don’t get the job, you are allowed to be disappointed. However, you shouldn’t burn bridges! If the opportunity was at a company you are interested in potentially working at in the future, you should keep in touch to be considered for any future openings. As Cavazos says, “Rather than seeing your relationship with the employer as a failed job interview and lost opportunity, treat them as a valuable new colleague and contact.

It is important to remember to not overdo it when staying in touch. The occasional check-in is acceptable as long as it is genuine.

Wrap Up

The job interview is only the beginning of the conversation. If you truly want the job, you have to put as much effort into your follow-up as you did in the interview prep as it can make or break your chances at the job. There is a fine line between being persistent and annoying, but if you want to stay on the company’s radar you must tiptoe this line.

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