Written by Eva Wislow
Eva Wislow is a career coach and writer from Pittsburgh. She is focusing on helping people discover their true calling. Eva finds her peace of mind through yoga. Connect with her on Twitter.
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 can be a mistake; at the very least, you could gain some useful feedback on your performance. 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, but 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?
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:
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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 so that it suggests you’re active during the normal business timetable.
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:
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.
Word your message in such a way that it encourages a response. For example:
Make references to points that came up in the interview, such as:
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.
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:
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.
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.
This is also your opportunity to mention about any issues that you did not have the chance to ask about in the interview, or that have occurred to you since.
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.
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:
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.