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Remember to say thanks

Published December 05. 2009 09:00AM

You made it to the job interview. You answered all of those questions intelligently, you think you made a great impression on the hiring manager, and you're cautiously optimistic that you could be the next member of their team.

Now, the waiting game begins.

Rather than sit around and wait for the company to come to you (if they're interested, they'll call soon enough), there are a few things you can do to follow up with the company that will help you stand out from the rest of their job applicants.

I've always found the follow up after an interview to be delicate business. On one hand, you definitely want the hiring manager to know you're absolutely interested in the position and will show up tomorrow if need be, but on the other hand, you don't want to come across as pushy, demanding, or desperate. Filling available jobs is the hiring manager's primary job, but most human resources departments tend to have a few other demands on their time going on at once, and even though filling a particular position is a top priority, things that needed to be done 10 minutes ago often trump a new hire.

One of the easiest, but most overlooked, ways to follow up with a hiring manager is to send a thank-you note. I prefer to send a short handwritten card, but if your handwriting is less than perfect (or legible, in some cases), then a brief typewritten letter is acceptable. In most thank you's that I've sent to hiring managers, I've thanked them for taking the time out of their day to meet with me for (list position you interviewed for). I'll often add that I feel the position is a perfect match for my skills and that I feel I can bring a lot of enthusiasm to the position. If I toured their facility, I'll say something brief (usually a sentence or two) about the building; if not, I'll comment on the company's latest milestone or achievement, and I'll wrap it up with "Thank you again for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you." I would also make it a practice to send thank you's to everyone who interviewed you. Sometimes companies ask candidates to meet with additional managers besides just those in HR, and it's just as important to make a positive impression on those folks, too.

Writing a thank-you note shows that you're considerate, conscientious, and genuinely interested in the position. I would suggest sending the thank you very soon after the interview; ideally, that same day or the next day at the latest. You want to stay fresh in management's mind, especially if they plan to make their decision fairly quickly.

If the hiring manager didn't give you an estimated time frame for filling the position, it's appropriate to follow up with them about a week later. At that time, they might have a better idea of when they're planning to fill the position. Some companies could estimate two weeks, but because of unforeseen circumstances, it could take several weeks or a month until a job is filled.

When calling the company, ask politely if they've made a decision regarding the name of the position you interviewed for. Never sound pushy. Hiring managers want to make sure they've gone with the right candidate, so it could take another round of interviews before they're sure they found the right fit. They know what they're looking for in a new hire, and if you're it, they'll make sure you know it.

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