Oct 24 2013
Lack of interest or enthusiasm during the executive interview process is on the top 10 list of reasons for candidate rejection. Executives don’t always realize it or understand just how important it is to follow up after an interview, beginning with a thank you letter to each interviewer.
Following up can help you turn an executive interview into an offer by knocking out your competition, reassuring the hiring manager of your capabilities, or turning a losing situation into a winning one. Consider the following pointers.
First of all, assess each interview. Effective follow-up depends on knowing what happened in the interview so that you can develop a follow-up action plan—an excellent part of your general career management plan. Ask yourself these questions:
- How did it go?
- What did they say? What did you say?
- How many people did you see and how much time did you spend with each one?
- What role does each one play and who is important?
- Who is the decision-maker?
- Which one is likely to most influence the decision?
- How quickly do they plan to decide?
- What do you believe you have to offer that your competition doesn't?
- What problems does the interviewer have and what solutions do you recommend?
Second, follow up with each person with whom you interviewed with—regardless of how the executive interview went—as soon as possible. Your goal is to influence the interviewers. Include the following components in your thank-you letters:
- Apply the same conversational tone reflected during the executive interview (friendly, formal etc.).
- Reaffirm your interest in the position and thank the interviewer for their time.
- Reinforce your key qualifications that apply to the position and your understanding of the employer's immediate needs.
- Address any objections/misunderstandings to your candidacy or mention any points you omitted during the interview.
Reiterate the commitment you made at the end of the interview and state the next steps. For example, “If I don't hear from George within the next week or so, may I follow up with a call.”
Third, next steps may be additional executive interviews, discussion of your ideas for a new project, or a proposal on how you would handle a certain area. In addition, it is possible to influence the hiring decision maker by contacting anyone else who can help you. Think of the people (your references or mutual contacts) the hiring manager will most likely call for information. Call them, tell them about the position, and ask for their support by putting in a position word for you.
Every step of the interview process is an opportunity to make an impression. Put your best step forward right from the beginning, and it will be well worth your effort.