Submitted by: Barbara Schultz, VP, Human Resources (Retired): Aux Sable Liquid Products Inc, CCC Board Member & CCC Volunteer Career Coach

Most interview advice centers assist on what to do before and how to act during the meeting, but generally stops there.  There is an equally important and generally overlooked step; how to keep the door open after that last interview.  

Let’s start at the conclusion of the final interview and talk about what should happen before you even leave that meeting.   You may have had occasion to ask questions along the way, but it’s impossible to think of everything. And, that’s okay.  In fact, it’s more than okay because it opens an opportunity to stay in touch. 

Here’s how it works. Thank the Interviewer for his/her time, express your continued interest in the position and inquire about the timeframe of the search, i.e. when do they expect to fill the position?  Then, ask if you may call back in the event you have questions.  The Interviewer then agrees to your call and you’ll ask what time would be convenient as well as what number should you call. You now have secured permission from the Interviewer to call at a time when they are likely to be available and at a number that is best to reach them.  This is a critical step to remaining in the forefront as a candidate.

As soon as you leave the interview, jot down key points related to scope of the job, and any open ended questions that you would like answered.  Most important, consider two or three areas in which the Interviewer described a situation that s/he is seeking to resolve and how YOU would or have handled them.   Consider specific examples in which you can clearly demonstrate YOUR role.

Prepare those 3 to 4 questions as previously discussed and call the Interviewer back within the week following your meeting.    Here’s a sample question to ask of the Interviewer:  “You mentioned that your company has a problem with turnover and we ran out of time to probe it, but I’d like to share some of the ways I dealt with it at my last employer:  I did an analysis of the rate and cost of turnover, possible reasons and compared it to companies in our industries.  Then, met with leadership, got consensus on reasons and presented possible solutions, cost of solutions and prioritized them”. I found the most effective way to address turnover was to improve the selection process. This one step decreased our turnover rate from 10% to 5% and saved 25k$ in the first year”. In this one follow up phone call, you showed the Interviewer that you listened and came up with a solution.  You may have just jumped to the front of the candidate line.  Probably everyone else is simply waiting for the phone to ring with an offer while you have kept that connection strong.  

Here are a few other activities that should be occurring post interview.  Assuming that you have already established your criteria for the ideal job, check what this employer indicated in the interview or that you observed regarding culture, percent of travel required, physical location, etc.  If an offer is made, you now have a scorecard against which you can judge the offer.    

The possible outcomes post interview are as follows:

Employment Offer is made- make sure it is made in writing in addition to a verbal offer.  Do NOT give notice to your current employer until you have the offer in writing
A different job is presented - Interviewer is considering you for an alternate opportunity- listen to what is being proposed and see how it compares to your scorecard.  You may be asked to come in for another interview with a different set of Hiring Managers
A different type of employment is being offered- budget constraints could be an issue and  you are being offered a job as a contractor rather than an employee –listen to what is being proposed and see how it compares to your scorecard
“No Thank You” letter is sent and you are no longer being considered for the job- send a LinkedIn message to Interviewer, thank him/her for the time and request to be connected on LinkedIn  as you would like to network with them in the future;  valuing them for their knowledge, time, etc.
Absolute silence- you never hear a thing from the employer.  You have just learned something about their culture-not a place that probably respects people or where you would want to work.  Time to move on to other opportunities

In the case of a potential offer, you certainly want to focus on this prospect, but also need to pay attention to the other “irons in the fire”.  So, concurrent with all the activities you will engage in after your one-on-one interview, keep your activity going with other prospects.  There is nothing worse than looking down the barrel of an empty pipeline when your one prospect dried up.

Last but not least, it may be time to take a breather and step away from the job search for a day or two.  Enjoy some physical activity, get outside and explore nature, or spend some time with friends and family.  You’ll need to recharge your batteries, do a postmortem if things didn’t work out, and get ready to find your next customer.  If you do get an offer, congratulations and job well done!

Oh, and one more thing.  You don’t need to be in active search mode to accept an invitation for an interview.  It’s good practice, keeps you in touch with the job market, and may even give you a greater appreciation for the job that you currently have.  If you have the time to do the interview and can maintain confidentiality, then there are few risks and many benefits.  You will also accomplish the ultimate goal of continuous learning, leading to a happier career.

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