By Dr. Howard Gauthier
It’s been five days since Cassie interviewed for an athletics marketing position at a college in Maryland. This is a job she really wants and she is anxiously waiting to hear back from the chair of the search committee. She thought her interview went well but the waiting game continues.
Just then, her phone rang. She recognized the number – the chair of the search committee was calling. Many thoughts rushed through Cassie’s head as she thought about the job. This is the job she’s dreamed about, and she really wants the position. She thought they were calling to offer her the job, but as it turns out, they were calling to let her know that they offered the job to somebody else. It turns out that the other candidate did a better job of follow-up after the interview.
Of the three people who interviewed, Cassie interviewed last. She didn’t send a follow-up “thank you” letter to the members of the search committee because she thought there wasn’t enough time for them to receive her correspondence prior to the committee making a hiring decision. This lack of follow-up cost her the job.
Cassie decided to conduct some research into how a person should follow up after an interview. What she discovered was that you need to create a strategic plan for how you will attempt to influence the decision of the search committee. Of the several strategies you could use in your strategic plan, three techniques really stood out. These strategies include writing a “thank you” note to every person on the search committee, personalizing these notes, and properly timing your correspondence.
Personalize Your Note: Your “thank you” note needs to be thought of more like a “note of influence”. You will want to send a note of influence to each person with whom you interviewed. Tailor your note to them personally and address any issues or reservations they might have with you as a candidate. Let them know that you want the job, and let them know why you believe you are the right fit for the position. This note keeps your name in front of them, shows that you’re professional, and let’s them know that you want the job. It also eliminates any concerns they might have about you working in their organization.
Timing of Your Correspondence: Depending upon when you interview (in comparison to the other candidates) will determine what type of correspondence you send. You basically have three types of notes you can send, and which one you select depends upon when you interview and when the other candidates interview. The preferred type of note is a mailed letter. You will use a letter when there is sufficient time before the committee makes their hiring decision. The best strategy is to have the note arrive on the day the final candidate is interviewing. If the letter arrives too soon, the impact the letter has is diminished. If the letter arrives too late, the decision of the search committee is probably already made.
If you are the middle person to interview (not the first or the last) and there isn’t enough time to send an actual letter, you can send a note card before you leave town. In this scenario, you will want to have the envelopes already addressed and stamped. You will also want to have a template, or sample note, written out so you have a quick format to follow. Either a letter or note card is preferred because it will probably stay on the interviewer’s desk where they will continue to glance at the note.
If you are the last person to interview and the search committee is meeting right away, you will want to send an email. Make sure you personalize the e-mail, thank them, reassure them of your candidacy, and let them know that you want the job.
Sending a note to everyone you met, personalizing the note, and having the proper timing of your correspondence are three of the strategies that Cassie discovered as effective follow-up strategies. Several other techniques can be used to help influence the hiring decision, but these three strategies are crucial for getting the job.
Remember, ultimately the job will go to the candidate who is prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process. In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS!
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 www.sportscareersinstitute.com or his new book Execute for Success at www.execute4success.com.
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