Mastering The Art Of The Follow-Up Email In The Job Interview Process


There’s a fresh perspective on the traditional job interview follow-up email – a viewpoint that goes beyond expressing your thanks (as well as your keen interest in the position). The strategy utilizes a four-step process to help you to create your own digital response, no matter what the position, as a follow-up to your interview. Note that these strategies (not templates!) are designed for the critical interview follow-up email, usually sent within 24 hours after your interview. Here’s how these email reply strategies can help you to change the conversation, and stand out from the crowd.

  1. An Objective New Subject – the old tried and true response from Career Services here is “Thank You for Your Time”. Hang on – give me a second while I faint from pure boredom. Why offer up the most mundane subject line on the internet? An authentic conversation is never a template. There’s more to offer than just gratitude – especially when you have actually met the supervisor and interviewed for the role! Look at the challenge that you would solve, if you came on board. The interviewer told you what it was! Consider the conversation – what really stood out in your mind and energized you about the role? What new information did you discover in the interview? Gratitude and appreciation are nice – but connection is what gets people interested. Real focus on solutions is what gets people hired. Go beyond courtesy: How can your subject line better reflect your solutions – your abilities – and show that you have an understanding of what’s really needed? What about subject lines like these: “New Ideas for Product Launches – from Nathan”, “Engineering Your Team’s Results – From Jessica Vishnu”, “Fighting Uncertainty in Product Management – from Keesha”. Look past the boring and canned ‘thank you’ subject lines. They’re going to hire you, personally, so why not make your email more personable? Get real, and leave the fake thank you message for the guy who won’t get the gig.
  2. See Service and Share It – what’s the service that you can provide? Beyond your excitement and enthusiasm for the role (which is as common as hair on a dog’s back, let’s face it) how can you really help the hiring manager? Say that. Say that one thing, honestly and clearly. Focus on the service you can provide. My client, a decorated military veteran, sent over a follow up email for a position that the interviewer thought was a step backward in his career. We changed from a “Thank you for your time, I’m sure my experience would be an asset to your organization” (ugh) to something more real. Here’s an excerpt: “Hi Karen, When you asked if I view this position as a step backward in my career, it really got me thinking. Actually I see it as an opportunity – and I’m grateful for our conversation. Stepping into an organization where my values make sense is always a step forward. When I was in the military, my rank was never as important as my mission. That’s still true today. And it’s that commitment to the mission that reminds me how I can help you to achieve your goals….”
  3. The Whole Reason Your Experience Exists – Hey, why are you writing all about yourself? “I’m so happy, I’m so enthusiastic, I’m so energized…” Great, but what about your interviewer? The reason your experience matters is because it matters to your interviewer. Want to create greater impact for your follow-up email? Tune in to this channel: make the second person first. (The second person is “you”. Not you, dear reader, but your interviewer. Your audience!) If your experience doesn’t matter to your interviewer, it doesn’t matter. Concentrate on how every piece of your resume is focused on creating value and solutions for your future employer. Your personal journey is interesting, but when the interviewer is part of the story it becomes valuable. Focus on value, and make the second person first.
  4. Create a Connection – in every interview, if you’re really listening, there’s a key theme or idea that matters. Perhaps it’s a comment about culture, or work ethic. Maybe the hiring manager comes right out and tells you what’s missing, and what you need to do to get the gig. Whatever that key phrase might be, consider that restating that theme could be very powerful in your follow-up email. Why? Because it shows that you are listening. Your email continues the conversation – continues to elaborate on that top of mind idea, restating how you are the candidate who can solve big problems. Reinforce that theme in your email, if you want to elevate beyond a digital thank you card. For example, one of my clients interviewed with a company that described their culture as the “Wild West”. So his thank you email went like this: “Jeff, the ‘Wild West’ was what you said this morning in our interview. Your words really resonated with me – I know exactly what you mean. Maybe it’s because I’ve thrived in ambiguous environments – even chaotic situations – where I’ve had to bring certainty to the operations. As we discussed, I’ve helped others to see that uncertainty doesn’t mean uncertain outcomes. That’s why I know I can be of service to you and your team in the following ways…”

The best follow-up email doesn’t follow a template. It follows the conversation that started IRL with your potential hiring manager. A powerful follow-up email goes beyond canned answers, and reflects your sincere abilities to create the service you know the company needs. Focus on those needs, and go beyond just your personal journey, if you want to accelerate your chances in the job interview process.





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