Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Before & After: Bookending Your Interview

Our last blog entry had tips you can use during an interview, but what else you can do to increase your chances?  Here is are a few specific things you can take both before and after that interview – steps you can take to make sure that you present yourself well and have a good follow-up afterwards.

• Preparation:  Make yourself an “interview kit” that you can just grab on your way out the door.  Prepare some business cards, extra copies of your resume, paper and pen, and a “cheat sheet” of interview tips, so you feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible.  If you are unsure about the dress/culture at the company, make sure to ask your recruiter for advice.

• During the interview, share your business cards with all interviewers, and do your best to get business cards of all the people you meet.  If you cannot get a card, then try to write down their names (with proper spelling).  Many people appreciate it if you make sure you get their name right, so it shouldn’t seem awkward to ask.  If you are unable to do so, then check with your recruiter to find out who would be the proper person for you to contact after the interview. 

• Following up and thanking the team:  A follow-up email is a vital and often-neglected part of the interview process.  Make sure that you take the time to send a thank you to the person/people at the company who took the time to meet with you.

• Why is this so important?  Follow-ups are more than just a courtesy.  You can only gain by adding this step; there is really no downside to it.   A follow-up will give you the chance to ask questions you may not have thought of during your interview, as well as show the company that you are interested in what they do and would like to work for them.  And if you make a mistake during a technical interview and realize it after you have left, a follow-up note can give you a chance to fix it and show that you are knowledgeable in that area.  Most importantly, it will keep the lines of communication between you and the company open.

• To whom should I send it?  Send your follow-up to the main person/people who you spoke with.  You do not need to send one to everyone you met if you were interviewed by a large team.  If you are unsure of who the right person is, you can always check with your recruiter.

• When should I send it?  You should send your email the day following the interview.  This will give you some time to think carefully about what you want to say, and also make it a timely response.

• What should I write?  Send a simple, concise note thanking the person/people for their time. Make sure to carefully proofread it for errors before sending it.  (Craft a template for these emails so you can save time, have a good format, and quickly customize them for each interview).  Try to make the note memorable, emphasizing what about their company excites you, what more you would like to learn about the position, and what you can contribute if you are part of their team.

Keeping the lines of communication open in this way, as well as showing your appreciation for their time and interest in the position will help you make solid contacts and make you a more memorable candidate.

We have heard from many candidates who think that no-one will read their thank you notes and that they do not matter.  Consider this: a thank-you note never hurts.  If only 1 out of 10 senior people reads it, it may be a huge opportunity for you.  If 1 out of 10 is disappointed in not receiving one, it is your loss.   And we know that more that 1 in 10 will take a look!

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