What to do after an interview
And breathe. The interview you prepped so hard for is over. What next?
Attending an interview is often a nerve-wracking experience. It’s easy to leave the room, let out a sigh of relief and simply wait for your prospective employer to call. However, the next bit isn't just a waiting game. The steps you take now can boost your chances of securing the position, and can even help you do better in future interviews.
This is the ideal time to reflect on exactly how you performed in the interview, assess what went well and consider what could've been improved. Use the post-interview period to reconnect with your prospective employer, remind them how great you are and demonstrate that you're eager and interested. Thank them for meeting you and keep yourself fresh in their mind.
From how to email after an interview to turning down a post that simply isn't right for you, our post-interview etiquette guide talks you through the next steps in securing your next job.
Know the hiring process
To manage your own expectations, it’s important to understand the company's hiring process. This will give you an idea of when you're likely to hear back so you know how long to wait after the interview for a job offer or rejection. The process differs from business to business, so be sure to ask during your interview. If the recruiter is taking a two-week holiday the following day, it’s better to know they’ll be out of office than to be left wondering why they haven’t been in touch.
One of our top tips for how to leave a job interview is to ask for the contact details of the people you spoke to. This way, you can send an interview follow-up note, and you also have a contact if you don’t hear back. Asking for a business card is an easy and professional way to do this.
To sum up, before you leave the interview room, politely ask:
- The anticipated start date
- What the next steps are
- When you should expect to hear back
- For the interviewers' contact details
Learn from the interview process
After an interview, don’t just wait by the phone. Watching your incoming calls and constantly checking your inbox will add to your nerves, and it’s futile. The employer will get in contact when they’re ready and, unfortunately, hitting the refresh button on your inbox won’t hurry them along.
Rather than twiddling your thumbs, use this in-between time to reflect on your performance. It's helpful to think objectively about how you came across in the interview, what your strengths were and what you can work on for next time. There's always room for improvement, and there's plenty of opportunity to put your ideas into practice – after all, the average person changes jobs five times during their career.
How to evaluate your performance
Before you let out that sigh of relief, keep your mind engaged for just an extra 30 minutes so you can reflect and re-focus. Immediately after your interview, find a quiet space – this could be your home, your car or a coffee shop – sit down with a pen, a pad of paper and your thoughts.
When it comes to how to write a good evaluation, we recommend rating yourself out of ten on the following:
1. How punctual were you?
2. How well did you introduce yourself?
3. To what extent were you confident and professional?
4. How clear and calm was your tone of voice?
5. To what extent was your body language positive and engaging?
6. How well did you get on with the interviewer?
7. How successfully did you market your strengths?
8. How well did you put a positive spin on your weaknesses?
9. How well did you handle difficult questions?
10. How engaging were your questions about the role?
11. Overall, to what extent did you leave the room on a positive note?
Wondering how well you scored? A positive score is between five and ten.
When you've noted down your initial thoughts, put your list away and sleep on it, then revisit it in the morning when you have a fresh pair of eyes. You might realise that you forgot to mention one of your key strengths or selling points. Don’t fret – make a note of that too, as it's something to mention if the interview is taken to the second stage.
If you’ve applied via a recruiter, ask them for any feedback the employer may have given them. They might have some advice on ways to improve for next time, too.
Learning from your evaluation
This might have been your first interview in ten years or your third this week, either way, there’s sure to be a takeaway. Now you’ve identified the areas you can improve, it’s time to work on them.
Go back to your evaluation list, congratulate yourself on your strengths and move on to your areas of improvement. Let this inform how you prepare for your next interview. For example, if you were late or arrived with seconds to spare, next time aim to be five minutes early. If you tripped over a difficult question, you can prepare an answer and ace it next time.
If you struggle to speak calmly or succinctly in an interview situation – nerves sometimes get the better of us all – try taking a deep breath before you begin to talk. It'll settle your breathing and allow you a moment to think. Memorise the key strengths you want to touch on and plan a few ways to discuss them, giving you something to lean on if you draw a blank during the conversation. Find a partner to practice with so you can get used to saying it all out loud. Give them a list of questions you’ve struggled with before and rehearse your answers. An objective outside view is invaluable.
Send a thank you note
It’s a simple gesture, but surprisingly the majority of job seekers forget this crucial step. Sending an interview follow-up isn’t just polite – it also shows the employer that you’re keen and helps to keep your name at the forefront of their mind. As a guideline, it's best to follow up with an email or phone call within at least two business days of the date the interview took place.
Be personal. If there was something that particularly excited you about the company, let them know. This is one more chance to convince them that you're the best person for the job.
Writing an interview follow-up email
Sending a follow-up email after an interview is a quick and easy way to thank the employer. Your name will appear promptly in their inbox, rather than waiting on a notepad at reception. Plus, it allows you to put your thoughts together succinctly and gives you a chance to edit before you hit the send button!
First and foremost (and quite obviously) your thank you email should thank the interviewer for taking the time to see you. Secondly, it should reiterate your interest in the role. Keep it short and to the point – remember, your interviewer has their own job to get on with, and you want them to read every word.
Things to remember for your email interview follow-up:
- Keep it short and sweet.
- Within 24 hours of the interview is good practice.
- Show personality.
- Remind them of your strengths.
- Include any information you’ve promised, e.g. a personal website.
Making an interview follow-up call
You might decide to follow up after the interview with a phone call. Some employers find this more personal than email, plus if you had a great rapport with the interviewer, it’s a good way to remind them of this and carry it forward.
It's usually best to call at the beginning or end of the working day, when they're least likely to be right in the middle of something else. Be prepared to not get through the person who interviewed you – the day-to-day running of a business can be hectic – and have a message ready that can be relayed. Script a potential voicemail so you don’t fumble over what you want to say if nobody is available to answer.
What to say when you call:
- Your name
- The role you interviewed for and when
- Thank you
- Your phone number
Sending a follow-up letter
Of course, you could decide to go old school and send a thank you letter. While it’s a little more effort, this could be the magic touch that sets you apart from other candidates. After all, who doesn’t like receiving personal mail?
Write your follow-up note as you would an email. You want your employer to be able to read every word, so consider whether a handwritten or printed message would be more legible. Relying on the postal service might slow things down, so either send your letter first class or hand deliver it to reception.
What happens next?
You’ve found the perfect job, aced the interview and you’re certain the news will be positive. So, what now?
No matter what your confidence level is like, don’t stop applying! It’s easy to get complacent if you’ve found a job you really like, and better yet received positive vibes from the interviewer, but putting too much precedence on one application can hinder your search and ultimately, your chances of finding something you love. By continuing to apply, you never know who might pick up your CV. Getting your name out there is a good way to make contacts that might be helpful in the future, if not now, and it keeps your mind occupied while you wait for contact from your employer of choice.
The dream scenario, of course, is a call offering you the role. If that happens, give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it! You might be tempted to accept there and then, but take a moment to really think about your decision. Make sure the role is right for you before signing the contract.
Turning down the position
Just because the job offer is there, it doesn’t mean you have to take it. Now’s the time to think about what’s important to you from an employer and whether this business lives up to your expectations.
Things to consider:
Is the salary as expected?
You’ll know a little about what a fair salary looks like in your line of work from your job search. Still, before you commit to the new role, do a bit of extra research to make sure this is a fair wage. It's important to feel valued because this will ultimately help or hinder your happiness and motivation at work.
Are there benefits?
Most workplaces offer employees benefits and incentives. This could be birthdays off, staff days out, health benefits or cycle-to-work schemes. Don’t be afraid to ask your potential employer what they have to offer. Remember, an attractive benefits package can sometimes be better than a higher salary.
How will your career develop here?
Once you’ve acquired the skills for your new role, will there be room to grow? Ask the employer whether there is opportunity to rise through the ranks. Even better, ask them what your career path might look like with this particular company. If there’s little potential for growth, you may have itchy feet within the first year.
Moving on with your search
Not hearing back from a role that you were invested in can feel demotivating. Unfortunately, there are employers out there who won’t come back to you. While it can be disheartening, it’s important to roll with it and move on.
It takes time to find a job that fits your skill set and fulfils you. So, try not to get despondent and instead invest your energy in finding the role that’s right for you. Go back to your post-interview evaluation and create a strategy to work on your weaknesses so that you’re ready when the next interview comes in.
If you get the chance to speak to the employer, now is a good time to ask for feedback. This will give you closure as to what, if anything, went wrong and highlight any areas you should work on.
What to do if you don’t hear back
Getting in touch with an interviewee is common courtesy. However, with the day-to-day running of business, it can slip the mind of some employers. If you’ve waited patiently by the phone and the call hasn’t come in, don’t despair. There are a couple of steps you can take to find out where you stand.
How long should you wait to follow up?
It's frustrating not to hear back from a potential employer, but try not to get downbeat about it. It’s impossible to know what's going on – it could simply be that they’ve been unexpectedly busy and the recruitment process has had to take a backseat. These things happen.
While you should be patient, you shouldn’t be passive. If the deadline they set for getting back to you has been and gone, don’t be scared to contact them. For example, if you were told you’d be contacted by Friday, give them until Tuesday morning before you reach out. This step is all about pushing just a little without becoming a pest.
How should you get in touch?
If the deadline date does come and go, drop the employer an email or pick up the phone. Email works best if you know your employer has back-to-back meetings most days. If it’s a small business, or you know your interviewer will be at their desk for a certain time, pick up the phone and call them instead.
Whichever way you decide to get in touch, remember to keep it short and courteous. Politely ask when you should expect to hear back about the position.
It’s important to be persistent without pestering. Call once and if you don’t hear back give it two business days before calling again. The same applies with email – you want to stay at the top of their inbox without spamming their account!
Key tips on how to follow up after an interview
It's common to wonder whether you should contact the employer after an interview or how to continue your job search. Either way, there's plenty you can do while you're waiting for that response to come in.
Here are the key steps for how to follow-up after an interview:
- Before you leave the room, ask the interviewer about the next steps.
- Follow-up with a thank you message and remind them of your value.
- Reflect on your performance and identify how to improve.
- Keep up your search – you never know what else is out there!
- Don’t hesitate to contact the employer if the agreed date passes.
- Be persistent without pestering.
- Move on if you don’t hear back.
- If an offer comes through, make sure you're happy with it before accepting.
Now, while you’re waiting for that call to come through, remember the importance of keeping that ball rolling. No matter what your next role looks like, Monster has the latest vacancies. Search for jobs now to see what other exciting opportunities are out there, or upload your CV and your next employer can find you.