We've all seen the cringe-inducing scene from the movie "Swingers" where poor, desperate Mikey overdoes it with the follow-up voicemail messages to his girlfriend after the first date.
Many job seekers can relate to this situation. Your interview went really well and you definitely like the job. The manager gave you a positive vibe and said "you'll be hearing from us". You're excited! But a day turns into a week which turns into two weeks and you still haven't heard anything back from the manager. You leave a voicemail message. A few days later, you leave another. Then you send an email. Then you call the company and ask the receptionist if maybe he's been out of town or on vacation. She says "no" and asks if you want to leave another message. You do.
This is a common scenario and too easy to fall into. Before you know it, a perfectly normal, rational job seeker becomes poor "Mikey" with too many desperate attempts to reach the hiring manager. And just like in this movie, you can bet you'll get the same reaction he got from his girlfriend...rejection.
Listen, we get why you do this. The job market can be very competitive and if you are lucky enough to find a job that you actually like, you feel compelled to be aggressive to get what you want. You're probably thinking:
- "If I can just get the hiring manager on the phone, I'll get another window to sell myself into this job."
- "Why isn't he calling me back? He said he liked me!"
- "Did he change his mind about me? If so, I want to know why. Maybe he misunderstood something I said."
The problem is that if you follow-up too soon or too often, it can come off as pushy and/or desperate. It's very similar to the dating scene. So follow the same general advice and don't overdo it. Understand that the hiring manager has a lot going on in their universe and is under a lot of pressure. There could be many logical reasons for a delayed response that have nothing to do with you personally. So don't always assume that no immediate reaction to you is a blow off and go on the defensive. Instead, execute the perfect follow up strategy after an interview.
Sending a thank you note
Send one note after every interview (not just the first interview) and make sure it arrives within 24-36 hours of the interview. Keep the message brief and to the point. Thank you letters are intended to express appreciation, so that's all you should do. Don't provide overly-detailed interview feedback, a long pitch on why you are the best candidate, or raise a question or concern you have about the job. Control that urge to "wax on" and use the next scheduled interview discussion to address these points more thoroughly.
Send these notes to everyone you met with to include other managers, members of the interview team or Human Resources personnel. You don't want to blow anyone off. This gesture to acknowledge everyone you met with goes a long way to build positive consensus. You can either write individual customized thank you notes to each or send a group thank you note and copy them all.
Try not to use a standard letter. Using a Thank You letter guide is great, but take the time to personalize it so that your message comes off as sincere. Try using the A-I-M approach to thank you notes. First, express your Appreciation for the time they spent in meeting with you and for the opportunity to learn about the role/organization. Next, express your strong Interest in the job. And finally, explain why you like it by briefly highlighting the Match between the needs of the role and your qualifications and interests.
And finally, SPELL CHECK your thank you note. Misspellings are the ultimate kiss of death. Also, consider showing it to someone else before sending it.
Calling the hiring manager
Only call if the manager explicitly communicated you'd be hearing from them about next steps. Otherwise, this unsolicited call will be seen as pushy. Also, only call after a full week has gone by without hearing from them. Give them some space and time to respond. It could also end up being an imposition if the hiring manager doesn't have any specifics to discuss with you yet.
Your voicemail should just be a quick and friendly reminder to contact you, not a detailed summary of the interview: "Hi Bob, It's Susan Miller. I just wanted to quickly follow up to tell you how much I enjoyed our meeting last Monday. I'm extremely interested in this position and was glad to hear that you thought there was a match as well. I look forward to hearing about the next steps. Feel free to give me a call or shoot me an email when you get a chance to let me know where things stand. Thanks again and speak soon!"
Don't leave more than one voicemail. They got your first message! Leaving multiple voicemails will hurt more than help.
Golden rule: If you wouldn't communicate with someone after a first date this way, then don't do it with the hiring manager. You'll get the same reaction in either instance.