The Job Interview Is Over. Now What?


What do you tend to do after you’ve had a job interview? A lot of the people I meet and listen to just go home and wait; and they wait longer. They rationalize this behaviour with statements that can be summed with something like, “Well, if they want me they’ll phone me right?”

Sitting around after a job interview hoping the phone will ring is actually a terrible idea, but so many do just that. Consider 3 people who applied for the job; Jim doesn’t really want the job after going through the interview, Ruth doesn’t really care one way or the other while Ahmad is extremely interested in the job – more than ever after learning more about the job and the offer in the interview. If none of the 3 communicates after the interview with Molly who conducted all 3 interviews, she can only make the same assumption for all 3 job applicants. Jim won’t care if he never gets a call, nor Ruth; but Ahmad is extremely disappointed.

In the above situation, it’s even more bad news for Ahmad because Molly was debating between him and Derek for the position, but based on the fact Derek followed up and expressed enthusiasm for the next step in the hiring process, she offered him the job. Not having heard from Ahmad, she went with the candidate who while equally qualified, appeared to want it more. All Ahmad accomplished in the end was making Molly’s decision an easier one.

I’ve done my fair share of speaking with employers over the years, getting to know how they go about hiring applicants. One thing I’ve always found consistent with the vast majority is that they appreciate candidates who want the jobs they are offering; really want the jobs. Employers are actually afraid they’ll hire people who just see the job as a job; and this lack of enthusiasm or passion could mean that when the work gets tough, the applicant will just throw up their hands and look for other work. The real go-getter however; the one who really wants the job and everything that comes with it will work through adversity and come into work each day with a love for what their expected to do.

One of the most frustrating things I do hear from people who have interviewed for jobs but didn’t get that phone call is that much of the time, the person is truly disappointed they didn’t get the job offer; they really did want that job! Again I’d have to say in the example above, how would Molly know Ahmad really wanted the job? He did nothing to distinguish himself from both Jim and Ruth; neither of whom really wanted the position in the end. You can’t expect Molly to read Ahmad’s mine; nor yours.

After a job interview, what typically happens is that after all the applicants have been interviewed, the interviewer(s) sit down and evaluate the people interviewed. Some they will dismiss right away because they didn’t perform as well as some others. In almost all situations the hiring decision will come down to 2 or 3 strong applicants. Based on the qualifications required for the job, they may even be identical. So after looking at the ability to do the work, the interviewers turn to the impression people made on them; the soft skills like personality, drive and attitude. “Who”, they wonder, “would be the best fit if all 3 of those we’ve narrowed it down to could do the actual job?”

It is precisely at this point that a phone call or short note of thanks for the interview can tip the scales in the favour of the person who does some follow up. Derek in the situation above followed up on his in-person interview by contacting the decision-makers. He told them with his brief letter that he was really looking forward to be hired; he’d gladly supply any additional information they needed to make a decision in his favour and after the interview, he wanted the job more than ever. Essentially Derek expressed what Ahmad was feeling too; Ahmad just didn’t bother to communicate this.

Okay so let’s turn from the example to you and your situation. Are you going to interviews and then getting frustrated with the end results – no job offers? You’ve put in the time doing some research before applying, you’re writing cover letters and specifically targeting your resume to the job postings; and its working because you’re getting more interviews. That’s a lot of work and you’re doing all the right things; with the exception of course of the interview follow-up.

After your job interviews you should have some idea of the timeline the employer is working with. If they are going to make a decision in the next day or so, mailing in a thank you note won’t reach them in time before they make a decision. In this case, write a note directed to the interviewer(s) from your car or local coffee shop and then walk back to the employer and leave it with the Receptionist.

Follow-up can include a phone call too; usually 2-3 days after the interview but this can vary based on what you learn as you leave the interview.

Your choice as always whether you follow-up or not; what have you got to lose? Communicate your enthusiasm and show them you want it!

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4 thoughts on “The Job Interview Is Over. Now What?

  1. Not to mention that if you really wanted that job and didn’t get it there may be a process for asking for feedback. I have done this with jobs – and it certainly helps with your next application. Because, you may even apply for a similar posting in a different location – as I have done.

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  2. Here’s two questions that can be asked before leaving an interview. 1) if not clarified by the interviewer, ask what the next step will be in their interview or selection process. Look for a timeline response. 2) Gain agreement that it’s all right to call if you haven’t heard from them before then. This takes some of the anxiety from candidates who don’t feel comfortable just calling.

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  3. I totally agree with Allan. If ask and follow up based on what they tell you it will show you are interested in the job and you won’t be bothering people. There is the other side of the coin where people end up calling back and following up so much that they are really bothering the interviewer. These people could end up being blacklisted.

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