3 Interview Follow-Up Mistakes Job Seekers Should Not Make

By Bob Evans
In September 7, 2016

The goal of most job seekers is the same. Create the perfect resume and cover letter, apply to jobs at companies you find to be a good fit and hopefully get an invitation to come in for an interview.

With all of the research, studying and preparation during the job seeking process geared toward the resume, cover letter and interview, many job seekers forget just how important follow-up is. Working in the recruiting industry, you would not believe how often we hear from employers that someone did not send a follow-up or thank you message after an interview—despite our project coordinators reminding them to do so in a post-interview conversation!

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In this week’s “Three for Thursday,” we examine three interview follow-up mistakes job seekers need to stop making right now if they want to land the job of their dreams.

Do Not Forget to Send a Follow-Up Communication

Since we just touched on this above, it seemed like a good place to start. Seriously people, how difficult is it to remember to send a follow-up email or thank you note and drop it in the mail?

Okay, end mini-rant—let’s get back on track here. A follow-up communication of some sort is a way for you to stay fresh in the mind of the person who interviewed you. Yes, you may feel like you had the best interview ever and they should remember you no matter what, but the realization is that in most cases you were probably one of 10 people they interviewed for that job.

So, how can you stand out post-interview?

If you had a good interaction with the interviewer (here’s to hoping you did), try and find a part of your interview that stood out and write about that in the follow-up. “Dear John, I wanted to thank you for taking the time to interview me. I enjoyed our conversation and learning all about the company, especially the funny story about your initiation into the company during your first week. I hope to have a similar experience if I join the team.”

See how easy that was? And I didn’t even interview with John or hear the funny story like you did/will!

Do Not Send a Standard Follow-Up Message

Okay, so you remembered to send a follow-up message, but what did you actually say in it?

For many, the follow-up becomes just another item to check off on their list of things to do when going through the job seeking process. What tends to happen for most is a lack of personalization when it comes to sending a follow-up, and this could be a red flag to the interviewer job seekers do not know about.

As mentioned in the previous section, the follow-up communication is an opportunity for you to remind them why you stood out in the interview—why would you want that to be as non-genuine as your out of office message in Outlook?

Instead, you need to take this chance to be sincere and show the interviewer you were paying attention when you had the chance to meet with them. Think back to a talking point you were both mutually interested in (hey athletes, you probably talked about sports at some point), and use this to your advantage in the follow-up. Maybe they gave you some piece of advice, website to check out for resources or a book to read they really enjoyed that gave them insight on the industry—tell them you looked into it and cannot wait to dive deeper.

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Want to know the best thing about being sincere and genuine in your follow-up communication? If the interview went well, it should be fairly simple to come up with a talking point or two for your follow-up. Honestly, you will probably spend more time Googling “How to write a good follow-up email” than you actually spend writing it when you just take a few moments to think back to your conversation in the interview.

Do Not Wait Too Long to Send Your Follow-Up

It is honestly impressive how some job seekers treat the process like they are teenagers dating for the first time. “When is a good time to call her?” “How long should I wait after getting the number before I send her a text?”

Newsflash people, this isn’t the mid-90s. The three-day principle is long gone in our on-demand society. Instead, “out of sight, out of mind” has taken center stage—so you need to strike while the iron is hot.

Now, I’m not suggesting to send the follow-up the second you walk out the door from your smartphone, but you should not be waiting a few days to send that message. The best thing about a follow-up is the ability to set the stage for what comes next. If you knocked it out of the park during your interview, the person you interviewed with likely has already spoken with the final decision maker—so this is your opportunity to show them you are even more of a go-getter than they already thought.

What is a realistic time-frame to send your follow-up? 24 hours, period. If you send it after 24 hours, you are allowing someone else who interviewed in that time to shine brighter than you and be the person most relevant in their mind. After all that preparation you put into getting ready for the interview, nobody wants to be the forgotten person—so do not take too long to act!

Bonus Suggestion

This isn’t really a “mistake” anyone is making, but just a suggestion from employers we have spoken with. Do not be afraid to write a longer follow-up message.

Honestly, if you are not writing at least two paragraphs you probably are writing too generic of a message. One employer I spoke with said, “Honestly, if they do not have at least four talking points in their follow-up message I feel like they do not really want the job. We spend 30 minutes or more interviewing people for jobs, there’s plenty to follow-up on with us.”

That employer is dead on with their assessment of follow-up messages. In the interview, you have gotten to know each other, talked about the industry, talked about the position and connected about something of mutual interest. If you do not have a few paragraphs worth of talking material after the interview, you probably are not a good fit for the job anyway.

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Bob is the Digital Content, Marketing Manager for NexGoal and has been writing in the digital world for 10-plus years.