If you’ve been lucky enough to land an interview, you’re probably anxiously waiting for an answer back. Whether it was a phone interview or it happened in-person, there is a way you can show you’re interested without being pushy or annoying. This secret weapon in your interview arsenal is the follow-up message!
Whenever I talk to my friends about their interviews, they usually mention how they wish they could have said more, made a better case for getting hired, or gotten the chance to show more examples of their work. This is where the wonderful tradition of the follow-up message can come in handy. It gives you a chance to thank your interviewer and give any extra details you may have forgotten. Don’t go overboard in the message, but if you regret not saying something, now is your chance.
Always. The first part of your message should thank the interviewer for their time. Everyone is busy, and it’s nice to show them you understand that they devoted time they could have used for their daily tasks to talking to you. Unless they’re an HR manager getting paid to do phone screens, your interview probably took attention away from a project or deliverable, and it’s nice that they made time for you. So thank them, because it’s important to acknowledge the opportunity they gave you.
Let the interviewer know you listened to what they were saying! A lot of interviewers for full-time positions and freelance work are pretty standard for the interviewer. If they see every candidate as a number on a sheet, then you’ll never stand out. Mentioning something they seemed to care about or a pain point they appeared concerned about will help you stand out. If you’re a freelancer, mention that you are available for quick turnarounds or weekend work if they were worried that there might be some crazy hours. If it’s full time and the interviewer mentioned they keep putting off creating a filing system, then put a note about that in your message. Saying something like, “I’m ready to start tackling that filing system!” will let them know you understand and care about what they need in a candidate.
Sometimes interviews can be a blur. If you’re freelancing, then you’ll occasionally get a chat message thread to remind you what was discussed. But if the interview is in person or on the phone then you might forget what happened. Hopefully it’s not too late for this advice: take notes! Writing down a few quick bullet points will give you content for your follow-up message and remind you about the details you talked about. Before interviews, I like to prepare a hand written notes sheet that is divided into sections. One of the sections is always reserved for things they focus on during the interview. If they mention something two or three times, it’s likely at the forefront of their mind. Putting it in your message will let them know you paid attention during the interview, which can only bode well for your attention to detail later on if you get the job.
Say What You Forgot
Like I mentioned before, walking out of an interview and remembering what you meant to say is pretty painful. Instead of spending a night tossing and turning while regretting what you forgot to say, put it in the message. Don’t overload the message with facts you meant to say, you’ll look scattered and forgetful. Instead, carefully tie what you meant to say into a relevant fact.
For example, if the interviewer asked if you had experience writing newsletters and the fact that you used to manage an internal update for a company slipped your mind, then say it! Saying something simple like, “I wanted to mention that I do in fact have newsletter writing experience. I managed the internal company newsletter at XX organization to increase staff communication. I’ve attached a sample of my work so you can see if it’s relevant to the type of newsletters you need.” You don’t have to say you forgot, just go ahead and tell them that you know what you’re doing.
We all have the occasional momentary mental slip, and when you’re under the pressure of an interview then the chances you will forget something will increase. You are only human and luckily so is your interviewer, so they’ll understand if you want to tell them something you think is relevant. Remember, stick to big points and important work. They’re probably not going to care that you wrote one edition of a newsletter once, so there’s no need to include tiny details. But if you’ve glossed over something big, then tell your interviewer.
If you have a digital portfolio, published works, or important information put it in the email. It’s even better if you told your interviewer that you would send over some work samples at the end of your discussion. That way they’ll be expecting a message from you, and it won’t be out of the blue. Even if you didn’t say anything, you can include some relevant documents and work samples in the email. Just add a quick note saying something like, “I thought you might be interested to see my published articles, so here are a few links to my recent work.” It’ll show them you’re serious about your application, and might just sway them to choose you!
Thank Them Again
Thank them for your time, remind them you’re interested, and give them a way to contact you. Keep this part short and sincere, you don’t need to oversell it. They know you’re interested so it won’t do you any good to lay it on too thick.
Now you have to wait. I always feel better after I send my follow-up thank you email because that gives me a bit of closure. When you leave an interview, there can be some sense of regret that you missed the chance to make the best possible impression. This message can give you a way to tie up those loose ends and feel better about your chances.
What else do you think a post-interview message needs? Are you ever tempted to skip sending the message? Let us know what your day after messages say in the comments below!