Knowing what to say in a post-job interview follow-up email and how to say it can get you a little extra credit when weighing you against a rival candidate for the position. It’s not a question of whether to write such an email but rather how to do it right. This article will lay down the rules you need to abide by to make your post-interview follow-up count.
What you gain by writing a job interview follow-up email
It may seem as though competition for job vacancies has never been harder, and that you’ll never secure a good job – or indeed any job – when you don’t even get a response after an interview to say “sorry, but on this occasion, we are unable to offer you the position”.
Applicants feel despondent that they’ve apparently been turned down for the job. They often conclude that if they don’t hear from a prospective employer then it’s not worth chasing them up. But this is not always the case. Sometimes you fell in the cracks, and other times you tied with another candidate, and the right words can help you tip the scale in your favor.
A job interview follow-up is an opportunity to ask for feedback
I can understand why you would not be motivated to send a follow-up email after a bad interview because you feel there is no way to convince them to take you. But even if you’re 100% right, this can be a mistake; at the very least, you could gain some useful feedback on your performance. You can use that feedback to improve your job interview performance on your next attempts.
A job interview follow-up keeps you top-of-mind
Following up will also remind the interviewer that you exist, something that is easy to forget when they may be interviewing several candidates. It also creates goodwill if you thank them for giving you an opportunity and is a chance to remind them of your suitability for the position. Besides, they may be inclined to retain your details in case further positions arise if you send them a polite email to follow up after the interview.
Indeed, you may have been overlooked for some reason that can be overcome. I know of one jobseeker who wasn’t offered a position. Still, when she contacted the employer to ask for feedback she discovered that the only reason she hadn’t been offered employment was that they didn’t have a vacancy within her preferred hours.
They asked if she’d be willing to work a different timetable – and the job was hers. So you can see that contacting an employer post-interview can be worthwhile. But how should you word your email and make it stand out for the right reasons?
Make-or-break rules for writing a post-interview follow-up email
The following rules are clear and simple guidelines you should use when composing your next job interview follow-up. Go through them one by one as you would a checklist each time you write your follow-up to make sure you get it written and make no mistakes. If you abide by these rules you will raise your chances of being reconsidered and getting the job. Good practices make for good luck.
#1 Be concise but informative
Your interviewer is a busy person and will have dozens of emails every day. Start with a relevant subject line; it should contain the word ‘interview’ to make it clear what the email is about. Consider something like:
- interview Jan 20
- interview follow-up [your name]
- Feedback for an interview [job title]
- Thank you for your consideration
You should avoid writing a lengthy email, but endeavor to include all relevant information. Thank the interviewer for their time, summarize why you think you are a good match for the job, and say something nice about the company or the interview. The message should remind the interviewer who you are, and why they should consider you.
#2 Make your message spotless
It’s surprising how many candidates fail to check their messages and job application for mistakes. Prospective employers will not be impressed if you deliver a message with errors in it; they will suspect that you do not pay attention to detail. Don’t just run your message through a spell checker; this will not pick up errors that are nevertheless spelled correctly, such as their/there. Read through your message carefully. You can also use tools such as Grammarly
#3 Use a template
If you’re really stuck on what to say in your message, there are plenty of sample follow-up emails to help you. Look at Careers Booster to get your follow-up email done by professionals, at the Balance and the Muse for ideas. However, do not copy the sample message precisely; make it more personal and relevant to your interview.
#4 Be professional
You want to reinforce the idea that you are someone they want on their team. Make sure your message is completely professional in tone, and avoid the use of slang terms (unless the company is the kind of environment where this may be appropriate). Use the interviewer’s title unless the company is very informal.
#5 Remind them who you are
Given that your interviewer may have interviewed several people, it’s easy for you to get lost in the crowd. Take the opportunity to remind them of something about you, by mentioning something about you that will make you stand out. Perhaps you could refer to something that emerged during the interview, such as an occasion on which you performed particularly well, an interesting (or relevant) hobby you engage in, or anything that will distinguish you from other candidates.
#6 Make use of tools
There are some very useful tools to help craft your email. Copy your message into Grammarly to check for grammatical mistakes. You can also use sites like Grammar Girl and Grammar Book if you’re uncertain about any grammar rules.
Do you want to know if or when the interviewer has opened your email? Hubspot allows you to track emails and schedule them to be sent at a particular time.
The time you send your email is also important. It’s best to send it within 24 hours of the interview when it is fresh in the mind of both you and the interviewer. Also send it during business hours, so that the interviewer is likely to read it soon after it arrives, and it suggests you’re active during the normal business timetable.
#8 Express your gratitude and enthusiasm
Show your appreciation for their time and for the opportunity to attend an interview, but don’t go over the top. Express your enthusiasm for the position and that you would really like to work with the company. Indicate that you would be delighted to accept the job. For example:
- I hope to hear a favorable response from you in the near future
- I feel certain that working with you would allow me to progress in my career
- This position would be a perfect match for my skill set and ambitions
However, if you’ve decided that you don’t want the position, it would be courteous to write to them explaining that you will not be taking your application further, and thanking them for the opportunity to meet them. This will count in your favor should you later apply for a different, more suitable position with the same company.
#9 Invite a response
Word your message in such a way that it encourages a response. For example:
- I look forward to hearing from you
- Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me
- If any additional information would be useful to you, please let me know
#10 Refer to the interview
Make references to points that came up in the interview, such as:
- You mentioned that this position requires ambition, and I can envisage several ways to take my career to new levels …
- With regard to your comment on reliability, this is an attribute previous employers have mentioned …
- I understand that this is not a 9-to-5 career, and am flexible, hardworking, and willing to put in the extra hours …
#11 Remind them of relevant experience
You can give a brief summary of your previous, relevant experience and other skills that can be applied to the position you are seeking. Add anything that makes you particularly suited to the job; the other candidates will also have the appropriate skills, so you need to highlight anything that will put you ahead of them.
#12 Emphasize your value to the company
Get ahead of the competition by emphasizing what value you can bring to the company. Outline ways in which you can increase their business or reduce costs, bring in new clients, and develop the business. Show what you have to offer to the company, such as:
- Under my leadership, the department’s sales increased by 17% in 12 months
- I put together an effective team with substantially improved motivation and productivity
- I brought in new clients worth a total of $2 million in business
- I implemented new energy efficiency ideas that saved the company $56,000
#13 Be positive
Make your message a positive one. Even if you think that you’ve little chance of being offered the position, behave as though you’re eminently suited to the job. Don’t sound too desperate, apologetic, or unenthusiastic. You could well be on the final shortlist, and a convincing message may swing the final decision in your favor.
#14 Restate your interest
Employers want staff who are genuinely interested in working for them, rather than someone who just wants any job they can get. Take the opportunity to restate how keen you are on the position and the company, and show your knowledge of the company and its business.
#15 Cover any issues you omitted in the interview
This is also your opportunity to mention any issues that you did not have the chance to ask about in the interview, or that have occurred to you since.
#16 Emphasize your skills
If you were short-listed for an interview, then you clearly have a suitable skill set. Emphasize those skills again, and how they are relevant. You could also express your willingness to acquire extra knowledge that would be useful to the company.
#17 Correct mistakes
If the interview didn’t go as well as you would have liked, take this opportunity to try to put things right. For example, you may have panicked and given an answer that painted you in a poor light. Respond in a way that shows you have considered the issue more carefully and come up with a more appropriate answer:
- Regarding the issue of difficult customers, on reflection, I consider that …
- Although I stated that I have never dealt with such a situation, I have since recalled that …
- Although the project I mentioned did not work out, I did learn a great deal about how to … that can be applied to future projects
In short, your email needs to be carefully crafted to include as much relevant information as you can, but without making it too long for the interviewer’s liking. You may need to rewrite it several times, but it is worth all the time you spend on it. After all, this message could swing the decision in your favor and secure you the job you want.