1. Follow-Up Interviews

Companies vary in their interview procedures. So, after the first interview, you may still have other interviews to come. And multiple interviews are useful for you – you can make a better decision based on a fuller picture of the organization and more people. When the need for further interviews occurs, you should prepare for each interview as you did for the first one. Update your research on the organization. Check your success stories. (See Interview Successfully for full information.)

Since multiple interviews can create problems if you are employed, do not hesitate to ask if the organization can consolidate them into one afternoon or do them outside your normal business hours. Many will try to work with you in these cases.

Sometimes, even further interviews are needed because a key player changes. When this happens, be as prepared as you were for the first interviews. The new player probably has very little information on you and often does not yet have a trusting relationship with the others you have met.

After each interview phase, reevaluate your interest. Let the organization know if you are no longer interested. If you are interested, follow up with thank-you notes reiterating your interest.

2. References

Organizations ask for references to check your past work experience. Past supervisors are most critical; other management or clients are also good. For students, people you interned with and summer or part-time work supervisors are generally better than professors. Good friends and family have no place in your references unless they have specific work experience with you.

You need to work with the people you select as references in advance. Ask them if they are willing to be a reference. Send them a copy of your resume as a reminder of the work you did together and your other attributes. Ideally, you want to have five or six references identified and agreeable to being contacted. You want their current phone number of preference.

When you provide an organization with your references, you are giving them permission to contact these people. Do not be surprised if they expand on your list and contact others who may know your work. This is a smart practice on their part and is increasingly common. If you do not want your current boss contacted, say so – no one wants to jeopardize your current job. But having another reference at your current workplace is a great asset.

Letters of referral are useful when a previous supervisor is retiring, the company no longer exists, or the source is from another country. Those from past employers are often seen as somewhat less than useful because they are most commonly used when a person is let go involuntarily. However, you can ensure that these are useful to you if you make sure that any you get do have some substance about your work achievements in the text body. Such letters are given to potential employers when they ask for references. Keep the original and give the requester a copy.

3. Thank-you Notes

Do you really want to make yourself stand above your competitors? Send thank-you notes! Most candidates know they should do so, but don’t. And fewer still write notes that actually help make the case for a job offer. So you can stand out by:

  • writing a short note (hard copy or e-mail)to each person you interviewed with;
  • putting in one new fact in the first paragraphabout your abilities related to the job;
  • thanking the person for his or her time and enthusiasm, knowledge, and/or interest and for some specific thing he or she told you that increased your interest; and
  • reiterating your interest in the position.

How do you write an effective thank-you note? By reviewing the notes you took during your interviews and any other research you have. Using that information allows you to make the case for what you can do for the organization. You do not need to provide a review of their business plan, just some good ideas about how you can contribute to it! Remember good thank-you notes are genuinely appreciative but also are a simple sales tool.

Do not send the exact same note to each person if you interviewed with several. Vary the new facts you give or expand upon some point you made in the interview. Many organizations talk about candidates in team meetings after the interviews, most gather all these notes into the same file, and the hiring manager is likely to look at them all or ask HR about them.

Why bother with a thank-you note? This is not just to prove you are smart enough to know your manners. It can make the difference between the candidate who gets the job and the one who does not. Good thank-you notes add to the hiring manager’s knowledge about your skills and abilities. They make the case that you are a smart business professional who understands the organization’s needs and will effectively contribute to achieving its goals. You can write these on simple, good quality note cards and stand out because this is no longer as commonly done. Or, for most organizations (except the most traditional), you can e-mail them. Either way, do them quickly, make them relevant, and check your spelling and grammar before sending.