So, you applied for the job. You landed an interview. You think you’ve aced the interview so now you’re waiting to hear your good news. But then you get an email that says:
“Thank you for applying to XYZ Industries. We regret that at this time we cannot make an offer. We wish you the best of luck in your job search.”
Let’s face it, no one enjoys being rejected. But keep your spirits up!! There are ways to improve your results in landing the job of your dreams, and it begins with a well thought out follow-up letter or email.
Following-up means getting in touch with the company after your interview to get feedback on your performance, and to thank them for the opportunity to interview with them. Follow-up can also work in your favor in situations where you applied but were not invited to interview. Your goal with this type of follow-up might be to find out how you could improve your chances next time. Regardless of your reasons for following up, the best way to do it is by sending a follow-up email or letter.
Sending a follow-up email instead of making a phone call tells the person you respect their time and you’re not trying to rush a decision or put them on the spot. It also ensures the individual has more time to give you well thought out response. And as a bonus it gives you a paper-trail ensuring that you have a written copy of the feedback for future reference.
Best practice for every expert job seeker is to send a follow-up email or letter after every application, whether you were invited to interview or not. However, if this is difficult to achieve, you should at least send a follow-up email or letter after every interview. Below are three strategies for getting better results from your job interview follow up process.
Understanding the Formalities of the Follow-Up
Your follow-up email /follow-up letter should be written in the normal, professional, business letter style. If you were not asked to interview, you should send your follow-up email when you receive the rejection letter or email. Another option is to send your follow-up email two weeks after the application closing date for that particular job. It is always a good idea when you haven’t heard anything back in a while, to call the hiring department first to find out if they have selected candidates for interviews, and if those candidates have already been notified. Don’t send a follow-up letter until you know for sure you haven’t been selected.
If you are upset with the company for not giving you the opportunity to interview, don’t let this show in the email/letter. Keep your tone respectful and professional.
In those instances where you were invited for an interview, ensure that your follow-up emails/letter is addressed to the person or persons who interviewed you. Refer to them by name and remember to thank him/her for taking the time to interview you. (Click here to find sample follow-up emails and letters).
Asking the Right Questions in the Follow-Up Email or Letter
When writing your follow-up email or letter, keep in mind that the purpose is to gather valuable information. You want to get feedback about your application or your performance in the interview so you can improve your future job applications.
A follow-up email or letter after an application where you were not interviewed could ask questions like these:
- Did my application fail to meet the job specifications? If so, could you please point out where I missed the mark?
- What information, skills, qualifications or experience would have influenced you to invite me to interview?
- Were there any visual or style issues with the format of my resume that you think I should not use in future?
If you were actually interviewed, your follow up email might ask these kinds of questions:
- How did I come across in the interview?
- Was there anything about my behavior or responses that you would advise against for future interviews?
You may also want to ask about specific questions that the interviewer asked to better understand what they were looking for and to see if you answer satisfactorily.
Taking Action on the Follow-Up Feedback
This is the most important outcome of executing a follow-up email or letter. If the response to your follow-up suggests you need to make changes to your resume or cover letter, be sure to make those changes. Have someone look over your revised documents to make sure there are no new mistakes, and to ensure your changes make sense.
Hopefully, the feedback you receive from your interview follow-up email/letter will give you some useful tips about how you come across in interviews. Use this feedback to practice getting it right. Have a friend or family member role play interview scenarios with you. If you had problems with any specific questions, come up with some similar questions and ask your friend to quiz you.
Remember, the main purpose of the follow-up email or letter is to get as much information as possible to improve your chances of success going forward. It is an essential part of the job search process. In addition, a well-executed follow-up email will help you stand out among your competitors and will keep you top of mind as someone who makes a real effort. If future positions open up or become available they may consider you as a top candidate all because of the effort you put in! For this reason, it is essential that you remain courteous in your communications. And if you get a particularly favorable response to your follow-up email or letter, a thank you card will be a nice touch!