Top ways to sabotage your interview follow-up
From a hastily written thank-you email to social media snafus, these mistakes can weaken your chances of getting hired.
Navigating your first job search when you’re fresh out of college is no easy feat. You have to craft your resume, apply to jobs, research prospective employers, and, of course, ace job interviews—but you probably know you have all that on your plate. Asking, "Should I follow up after an interview?" is going to come up at some point. Here's the fact of the matter: Interview follow-up matters—almost as much as the interview itself.
Here are seven things to avoid doing after a job interview.
Rushing your thank-you note
A thank-you letter is a must, says Ethel Badawi, co-founder of legal recruiting firm Pollack Badawi Group. However, Badawi says some job candidates fire off an interview thank-you email right away—as in, from their smartphones the minute they exit the building.
It’s a misstep for a couple reasons. “Many hiring managers don’t like a rapid thank-you email,” she explains, “because they either think you haven’t taken the time to really reflect the interview, or they assume you wrote the thank-you email beforehand and just hit send.”
Another reason you don’t want to rush your interview follow-up: “It’s always helpful to have a second pair of eyes look over correspondence with a potential employer for spelling or grammatical errors, especially when the stakes are high and you’re applying for a position that you really want,” says Stephanie Waite, senior associate director at Yale’s Office of Career Strategy.
Following up too often
Now that the answer to "Should I follow up after an interview?" is clear as can be, you need to decipher a slightly fuzzier scenario. Figuring out when—and how often—to check in with a hiring manager is tricky, Waite says, since it depends on the interviewer. Her advice: “Send a thank-you email within 24 hours and then wait about 10 business days to check back in to see what the status is of your job application. At that point, I would ask the interviewer, ‘When would be the best time for me reconnect with you?’”
Connecting to the interviewer on social media
Sending your boss a friend request is one thing—and it’s a decision you shouldn’t make lightly. Trying to add a job interviewer on social media? Bad idea. “[Social media sites are] still very much seen as more personal platforms rather than a professional platforms,” Badawi says.
Though social media can be a great networking tool, Waite advises job candidates against sending hiring managers requests to connect. “We tell students to hold off because it can come across as too assumptive that you’re receiving an offer,” she says.
The exception? “I think adding a recruiter is OK before you get a job offer, since it’s someone whose job it is to be out there networking and meeting potential job candidates,” Badawi says. Still, it’s good business etiquette to check with a recruiter via email before sending a request.
Talking about the interview on social media
“In the age of social media, there’s a tendency to want to post about every single moment of your life,” Waite says. “However, I don’t recommend posting anything about how the job interview went, even if it went great.” Why not? “You never know if that information could be misinterpreted by an employer while they’re looking at your social media accounts after the interview,” says Waite. Just…don’t.
Obsessing over your performance
Even when job interviews go well, some candidates will sweat over what they said (or didn’t say) during the audition, says Badawi, to the point where they email the interviewer to explain their statement. However, “you can’t really control the outcome after you’ve interviewed for a job,” she says.
That being said, “If there is something that really, really needs clarifying, like a gross misstatement, I would advise candidates to work that into their thank-you email,” Badawi advises. “For example, if you misstated a position title or dates of employment at a particular job because you were nervous, you’d want to correct that information before an employer runs a reference check.”
Slowing down your job search
You aced the interview—now it’s time to sit back and wait for the hiring manager to offer you the job. Wrong! “Just because an interview goes well does not mean you will get a job offer,” Badawi cautions. “Hiring needs can change, hiring budgets can change, and these are things that are outside your control.”
That means your job search isn’t finished. Keep checking ads and submitting your resume to positions that appeal to you. “You should be applying to jobs until you have the right job offer in hand,” says Pittsburgh-based career coach Chris Posti.
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