A lasting impression: Why you need to send a follow-up letter after your job interview

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Much has been said about making a first impression but for job seekers, making a last impression is just as important. If you think that your part in the job selection process is over once you’ve been interviewed, think again! While your resume and interview performance will determine whether you make it to the next step in the hiring process, to get noticed amid an unknown number of applicants, you should consider sending your interviewer a short follow-up letter.

A follow-up letter serves a multitude of purposes that can benefit both you and the hiring manager. Most importantly, a follow-up letter can convey your gratitude to the hiring manager for taking the time to meet you to discuss your resume, qualifications, compatibility and interest in the job position. Furthermore, most hiring companies interview several applicants for a position and a follow-up letter may prompt the hiring manager to take a second look at the applicant’s resume.

According to 2005 survey, How to Get in the Front Door, nearly 15% of the hiring managers surveyed responded “they would not hire someone who failed to send a thank-you letter after the interview” and 32% responded that they would still consider the candidate, but would think less of the applicant.

Initiating the follow up

If you are granted an interview, it is a good idea to discuss the preferred follow-up method with interviewer to gauge their level of receptiveness to the practice.

“It is important for the candidate to follow up after the interview because it shows their interest and motivation for the job," advises Mario C, Installation HVAC Manager for a large service company. “We monitor follow up from potential candidates because it shows they are really interested in working for our organization.” Mario further adds that he sees it as a positive if the candidate inquires as to the status of the position. “This demonstrates that the candidate is motivated and a self-starter which is someone who I would want on my team.”

Another beneficial aspect to following up is that if the candidate discovers that they are not being considered for the position, it enables the candidate to move on and concentrate their efforts elsewhere.

Best follow-up methods

One major factor to consider when following up on an interview is determining what method would be best. Years ago, before the internet, a neatly handwritten note was acceptable. Today, however, email plays a big part in the business community and is an acceptable method for thanking an interviewer. Likewise, many organizations are striving towards a paperless environment, so an email may be work well within their green initiatives.

Out of the 650 respondents to the survey mentioned above, “one-in-four hiring managers prefer to receive a thank-you note in e-mail form only; 19% want the email followed up with a hard copy; 21% want a typed hard copy only and 23%prefer just a handwritten note.” The survey also revealed that 26% of the respondents expected to receive some sort of correspondence from the applicant within 2-3 days after the interview, and 36%responded that 3-5 days was acceptable.

Follow-up letter basics

Your follow-up letter should be brief and focused on its purpose - to reinforce your interest in the hiring company and job position. You will want to highlight key elements of your resume, clarify any murky segments of your interview, and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the position. Ensure the spelling of the hiring manager’s name and title is correct and your letter is free of typing errors. Start your letter with something creative reflecting a part of the interview or the company itself rather than a standard ‘thank you’ opening line.

The follow-up letter is a vital component of making a good impression, so use this opportunity to get your name in front of the interviewer again.

Christine Cristiano is a Certified Career Strategist, Career Coach, and Resume Writer. She has extensive experience in the nonprofit sector and is a member of Career Professionals of Canada.

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