Follow up mistakes by Mark Anthony Dyson
Great follow-up skills during a hiring process are powerful, but mistakes happen. But the worse thing is not following up at all. Employers have short memories, busy schedules, and splintered interests, especially when five other candidates come across the same. They pick the stand-out candidate, not the one who offered their best effort. If you’re on the job interview circuit, follow-up is essential.
As I stated previously, a follow-up is best used to strengthen your relationships with the person interested in hiring you. While reminders are an excellent reason to call, you’re missing out on a potential opportunity to jump on other candidates if it’s only to remind them of you.
Consider it a charitable performance, no matter how effective your presentation comes across. If you don’t follow up with a phone call conversation or, minimally, an email, you are leaving money on the table.
Avoid these mistakes has benefits you won’t see an immediate ROI (Return On Investment):
- You’ll establish yourself as a great communicator. Good managers appreciate clear coworkers within their team.
- Positive follow-up sends a message that you want to be treated with dignity and respect.
- Follow-up demonstrates reliability and your enthusiasm for the job.
- Good follow-up reminds them of the seriousness of your candidacy.
Here are mistakes to avoid while following up:
1. Not communicating how their time served you.
Most people who meet with you about a position were not trained to interview. Likely, they don’t like the process or having to do it several times, especially since it takes away from their vital work. Most candidates don’t follow up, but those who do becomes memorable. Thank the interviewer for their time. Share with them what the opportunity means to you at least twice, once right after the interview and in your follow-up communication.
2. Lack of persistence or exerting minimal effort
My colleague and friend Ebony Joyce told me recently, “The fortune is in the follow-up.” It’s part of the work, and it must count. This means to leave voicemails and sending streams of unresponsive emails aren’t enough. The email has become the staple for follow-ups after an interview these days. To ensure someone received your message, you can use an open email alert tracker, so you’ll know when the person has read your email.
3. Too long to follow up (later than 24-48 hours)
While late follow-up communication is better than none, a day or two afterward is best. I told the story years ago of two clients calling me the same day stating they didn’t hear from the employer after an interview for two weeks. I told them to follow up with thank you notes which one did and the other didn’t. Neither of them got the job they interviewed for. The woman who followed up impressed the hiring manager and created a contract position for her. Eventually, the contract position became a full-time job.
4. Lack of thoughtfulness
“You only get one shot” is not just a line from an Eminem song. It is the truth when it comes to impressing an interviewer the first time. You can’t afford to forget what the company wants. You must be clear about how you fit based on the conversations and articulate it persuasively. An effective way to show your thoughtfulness is to share stories of how you’ve done it before or to reimagine it in a way the interviewer never thought of before.
5. No enthusiasm
If you’re not envisioning yourself working for the person you interview, you might as well move on. Showing you care about the company is a fundamental attribute a manager considers quietly. The best follow-up calls for managers are energizing to them. Zeal will appear fake and disingenuous, but enthusiasm and anticipation inspire. It starts with the interview when you ask questions, be mindful with answers, and be clear about your why. The follow-up reinforces it.
6. Lack of confidence
People are more confident when interviewing with several companies than they rely on one potential opportunity. The lack of confidence rares its ugly head if you are thinking about what can go wrong. If you don’t get the job, it’s not the end of the world. But you are what you seem. Even a few words can expose your insecurities about how you feel about your ability to do the job. Keep what you’ve accomplished and your impact in front of you, and leave your doubts behind.
7. Not confirming (or receiving) contact information
Hiring managers have handed me business cards with wrong or outdated information. There are times when the website has incorrect information. It’s likely sincere and overlooked, but a correct call back number or email address is essential to follow up. One solution is to read back the information on the card (for those interviewing in person) or read back what’s on the website.
8. You added little to no value.
Quality follow-up is an opportunity to add value. If you’re checking or confirming you got the job after a final interview is a small part of a follow-up. Even if the job is yours, you add value to grow future coworker relationship(s)—plan on advancing the conversation you had during the meeting. Think of ways to add depth or additional insight as it relates to work. While there are many ways to have a meaningful conversation, positive energy must ooze from the follow-up.
9. Lacking respect for people’s time
Follow-up must be focused and strategic. Another opportunity to “shoot your best shot” must be done with the hiring manager’s (if not the interviewer’s) time. Create a brief outline of what you want to cover, then let it go. Call first, and oblige if the person wants to carry the conversation further. If they got to go, appreciate their time, and let them know you are accessible if they have further questions. If you email the person, keep it short and to the point.
10. Not using LinkedIn to stay connected
Many people share how a hiring manager says no the first time but hires them later. Or, what has happened recently with boomerang employees, they get recruited or welcomed back to their former company a short time after leaving. The LinkedIn connection doesn’t promise a hiring manager will come back to you when they hired and passed on you or keep you top of mind. It has the potential to keep you in mind when they see how you are creating value for your next employer. Many stories of former candidates successfully getting second chances because of their continued connection.
Follow-up is a strategic tool most effective when planned and executed. It doesn’t always go exactly as planned, but a plan can minimize mistakes. The follow-up can be your last chance to impact your impression on an employer, a bridge to a working relationship, or the bridge to an opportunity in the future.