Influencing The Decision of the Search Committee

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Effectively following up after your interview is one of the keys to getting the job.  Its purpose is more than just a courtesy to thank the hiring manager for taking the time to interview you.  The follow-up should also be viewed as an opportunity to influence the decision of the hiring committee.

Too often candidates who interview for a job do not follow-up with the search committee after their interview.  Instead, they wait to hear back from the hiring manager and hope they are offered the job.  Of those who do follow-up, most will just send a nice letter thanking the committee for the interview.  Of course, a nice letter is better than no follow-up correspondence, but in both cases you have blown an opportunity to influence the search committee.

After your interview, you have a tremendous opportunity to convince the search committee that you are the right person for the job.  This is usually done through a strategically typed letter, handwritten note, or a well-crafted e-mail.  However, there are certain strategies you can implement that will give you a greater opportunity for influencing the search committee.  The following are four strategies you can use during your follow-up process.

Asking Questions – Most search committees are looking for someone who can solve their problems.  If you ask the correct questions during your interview, you will know what problems and concerns face the organization.  From there you can address their problems and provide a potential solution.

Concerns About You – What concerns does each search committee member have about you as a candidate?  You will need to address each of these concerns in a personalized thank you letter.  Since you don’t know which committee member has the greatest influence on the committee, you will want to try to influence each committee member into believing you are the right candidate for the position.

Properly Timing Your Correspondence – Typically, the last person to interview has the greatest opportunity to leave the search committee with a lasting impression.  How do you combat that if you are not the last to interview?  You will want to strategically time your follow-up correspondence.  For example, if you are the first of four candidates to interview, you will want your letter of influence (thank you letter) to arrive the day before the final candidate interviews.  The strategy is that you want the committee members thinking of how great you are while they are interviewing the final person.  If your letter arrives too early, you lose impact due to the passing of time.  If your letter arrives too late, they might have already offered the job.  However, if you are the fourth of four to interview, you will need to send notes of influence very quickly.  In this situation, you might need to send an e-mail instead of a letter.  Regardless of when you interview, you will need to develop a letter of influence, addressing their concerns, and solving their problems.  This letter needs to be timed properly.

Outlast Your Opponents – Quite often the person who gets the job has outlasted the other candidates.  In other words, they didn’t allow their ego to convince them to withdraw from the search.  Sometimes other candidates are offered the job and they turn down the offer.  Outlast your competition and be ready for the offer when the hiring manager turns to you as a candidate.

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 9 books.  Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at, or his new book, Execute for Success at


Properly Following Up is the Final Stage of the Job Search Process – Make Sure You’re Prepared!

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Sonoma State University


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