One of the most common frustrations described by job seekers is the lack of courtesy they feel from employers, particularly after an interview has been conducted.
Amy Dickinson, an advice columnist for the Chicago Tribune, recently handled this topic when a reader asked, “Are we, as a society, becoming such cowards that we cannot be courteous? If one has gone through the interview process, shouldn’t the person at least be notified of the outcome? Come on, employers. Where are your manners?”
In her answer, Dickinson noted that the phenomenon may not be new, as she applied for numerous jobs in years past and was notified only once that she wasn’t getting the offer. She goes on to advise the reader to stay in touch with the employer, since “no news is not necessarily bad news,” and concludes by reminding job seekers that they have a greater incentive to keep the contact alive than the company does.
I agreed with Dickinson as I sat munching my toast over the morning paper, but I knew that she was going to get at least one angry response. Sure enough, the next week’s column included a strongly worded letter decrying Dickinson’s “gall standing up for employers’ rights to treat job seekers without respect.”
I still think Dickinson gave a good answer, but I can understand why it wasn’t very satisfying. Employers do behave badly when they don’t respond to people they’ve interviewed. There really isn’t an excuse, other than being caught in a tsunami or getting hit by a bus on the way back from the meeting.
But job seekers aren’t going to change anything by feeling hurt and angry. Nor is that a good position from which to re-contact the employer. Do you really want to sound upset when you make that follow-up call?
You were planning to make a follow-up call, right? Ah. Here’s the thing that I’ve come to know, but not understand: An awful lot of candidates go to interviews, go home and never follow up. But they still get steamed when the employer also skips the follow-up.
Rather than argue about who should be doing what, I’m going to suggest that job seekers anticipate following up not once, but five times. Yep, five. Further, I’d like to introduce the idea that the employer may never respond at all. If you keep your expectations low for them, and high for yourself, you’ll feel more in control of the situation. What’s more, you’ll suffer less disappointment, because people will be acting exactly as you anticipated.
Curious about those five follow-ups? Here goes.
1. Handwritten thank-you note sent by snail mail the day of the interview: “I was delighted to meet with you today and look forward to our next conversation. Thank you so much.”
2. Formal follow-up letter e-mailed within five days of the interview: “I wanted to thank you again for our meeting last week, and to express my interest in this position. Upon reflection, I realized that we did not get a chance to discuss ….”
3. Follow-up call a day or two after the e-mail: “I wanted to touch base to be sure you have all the information you need from me as you prepare for the next round of interviews. I’m very interested in this position and I’m excited about the prospect of telling you more about what I can contribute to your department.”