Phone interviews can be incredibly intimidating. You are robbed of the ability to read your interviewer’s body language and facial expressions, so figuring out how to navigate them without losing your cool can be tough.
But the challenges don’t stop there. Just because you’ve finished an interview doesn’t mean that you’re home-free. After a phone interview — or any kind of job interview, for that matter — it’s in your best interest to send a follow-up email or thank you note. Though it’s not mandatory, sending a note is a great way to demonstrate your continued interest in a position and build rapport with the hiring manager.
In order to establish the best way to approach following up after an interview, we spoke with Cynthia Pong of Embrace Change who is a career coach specialized in working with women of color. Pong walked us through the best ways to gracefully and effectively follow up after a phone interview to make sure you get that in-person interview. She also walks us through how to continually follow up throughout every step of the interview process.
1. Always follow up.
Pong recommends always following up after every encounter in the hiring process — whether it’s an initial phone screen or another interview down the road. She says it’s important to thank the person for taking the time to meet with you, whether it was for 15 minutes or a whole afternoon. While not mandatory, Pong insists that sending a short email expressing gratitude is something everyone should get in the habit of doing after any kind of interview.
2. Refer to next steps.
Pong recommends mentioning in your thank-you email that you are looking forward to speaking further. At this time, you can allude to next steps by mentioning the next applicable step depending on your situation. “If you’ve just had a phone interview, it’s a good opportunity to say you’d like the opportunity to speak in person,” Pong says. She adds that no matter where you are in the hiring process, it’s important to say that you enjoyed the conversation and express your continued enthusiasm for the role.
3. Mention something they said that you thought was interesting.
One great tip Pong recommends is to relay back a piece of information that your interviewer mentioned that you found interesting (this is why it’s important to take notes if you can). It can sometimes be tempting to repeat reasons why you would be a great fit for the job, but incessantly stressing how perfect you are for the job can get to be a bit much, Pong says. Instead, she recommends referencing back to something the person said. “Maybe it’s: ‘I enjoyed our conversation about your philosophy on work,’” Pong explains. “It’s a nice touch that shows you were listening.”
4. Don’t send a boiler plate email.
Though great for saving time, canned emails are not a good approach when it comes to landing a job. Even if you swear by email templates, it’s worth taking time to personalize your note and make sure that it’s appropriate for the job and interviewer you met with. Even if you’re meeting with different people at each stage of the interview process, Pong recommends always switching things up. “If you send the same thank-you note every time they’ll probably notice it’s not authentic,” Pong says, adding that even if you’re emailing separate people, you don’t know whether they are sharing your emails amongst themselves.
5. Don’t rush.
We’re all busy, but make sure you take the time to write and double check your email and that you aren’t distracted or flustered when you’re writing it. “Recently, a client misspelled the person’s name in a thank-you email because they were in a hurry,” Pong says. She recommends double checking to make sure that this doesn’t happen to you. Looking for a job can be a stressful process, but you don’t want to make things more anxiety-provoking for yourself by sending a typo- or error-ridden email. Take time to write, read over, double check what you're sending. As always, make sure you are spelling people’s names right and that you're not sending a generic message without applicable information in it.
Ultimately, Pong says that it’s important to remember that people make decisions based on their emotions — whether or not they want to admit it. You don’t want to give recruiters or hiring managers any reason to pause and wonder if you’re the right candidate by not taking a few minutes to follow up. After all, Pong says, something as simple and easy as a follow-up email shouldn’t be the reason you’re eliminated from a job you want.