After the Interview, Get Moving

Don't just sit around and wait for results. Instead, quickly follow up with both a handwritten thank-you note and an e-mail

Dear Liz,

After a job interview that seems to go well, I'm never sure how long to wait before contacting the company again. I don't want to be pushy, but I do want to signal my strong interest in the job. How long should I wait, and how should I make that follow-up contact?

Yours, Trish

Dear Trish,

Great question! Your very first "thanks for the interview" follow-up should come the day after the interview, or three days later at the most. This is a hugely important part of your job search, so don't overlook it or rush through it.

My recommendation is that you send two thank-you letters to each person you interviewed with: a handwritten "snail mail" note and a longer, more content-rich e-mail message. Because you're going to contact each of the folks who interviewed you, it's essential to collect a business card from each person on your interview roster at the hiring company.

In fact, this is the very first thing you should do at each interview, before the conversation starts. When the interviewer says "It's so nice to meet you," you'll say "Likewise. And before I forget, may I please have one of your business cards? I'd love to be able to follow up with a letter after our meeting today." Since businesspeople don't always carry their business cards around their offices, it's highly likely that one or more of your interviewers won't have a business card on his or her person.

A Good Reminder

No big deal—you'll have a pad and pen with you, and take down each person's contact information (name, title, e-mail address, and snail-mail address, and if you can sneak in a quick question, also ask each interviewer what his relationship is to the open position).

When you get contact information, it will be easy to touch base with each interviewer a day or two later. Use your good stationery to write (in your best penmanship!) a short note thanking each interviewer for his time and adding one datapoint that shows your suitability for the position.

There's not enough room on a typical blank note card to do more than that. That's why you'll also write a two-paragraph, thoughtful, incisive e-mail follow up message to each interviewer. In this one, you'll go into a little more detail about how your background equips you to do a fantastic job in the role you're seeking.

Keeping It Upbeat

Anyway, after that first thank-you double-blast, you'll wait a week before you call the company to get a status update. Companies move slowly, and there's a good chance that you won't have heard anything from them a week after the interview. Doesn't matter—you want to make sure they know you're vigilant.

Call the hiring manager or the HR contact—whoever you met with—and leave a brisk, upbeat voicemail message saying, "Thanks again for meeting with me—I'm just calling to let you know how delighted I was to interview with you, and to check on next steps if you're thinking that this role and my skills are well-matched."

Good luck, Trish!