How to Stand Out After an Initial Interview
by Alison Ringo
This May, some of the most populous areas in the country posted promising jobs numbers over a year ago. The New York, L.A., Houston, and Dallas metro areas seem to be steadily, solidly hiring again.
Even so, there are still millions more people searching for work than there are new or newly open positions. It may feel as though there is nothing much you can do to stand out among the crowds of people interviewing for all the same positions as you are.
Don’t let that feeling get you down: there is always something you can do to give yourself an edge after your initial interview. Here are just two connected ways you can do so.
1. Send a Physical Thank You Note – The email thank you note is the standard right now, and it’s easy to see why. Email is instantaneous, so you can cross an item off your to-do list. Email also puts your contact information right from your fingertips to your interviewer’s. Email is great. It’s also free.
What email is not, is personal. Think of how many emails you get a day, then imagine you are a hiring manager interviewing 10-20 people a week for a single opening. Email gets lost in the shuffle.
A physical thank you note, either typed up and printed on quality paper, or hand written in clear script, sets you apart as thoughtful, relationship-focused, and demonstrates a higher level of interest than simply shooting off a four-sentence email.
2. Include Ideas, Ask Questions in Your Follow-Up Email – Of course, physical notes take time to arrive (unless you overnight one, which may be prohibitive). In the interim, do send an email, but not a formulaic thing that simply notes how enthusiastic you feel about XYZ Corp and the position you interviewed for.
Instead, take some time to plan, based on what you learned at your interview and in your own research, how you might approach your first quarter at the new position.
Be careful not to write as though you have all the answers figured out and know the one true way to fix all the problems this position will need to solve. Your ideas will be best received when posed as options, suggestions, and as questions. Ask the person you interviewed with their opinion, and if they believe these ideas fit in with where the company wants to go.
Your email should go out within 36-48 hours of your interview at the latest, allowing your physical thank you note to arrive, conveying the more traditional “it was a pleasure meeting you and learning more about XYZ corp,” sentiments.
Typically speaking, these two tips work best together when you’ve interviewed initially with a head of HR, or with the person who would be your direct hiring manager.
Job hunting is energy- and time-consuming, and once you’ve scored the first interview, it’s tempting to sit back and relax a little. But if you fight that urge, you can set yourself up to emerge as the leading player on a crowded field.