Seven ways successful candidates follow up after an interview

Your carefully-crafted application for a new academic job got you shortlisted. After hours spent prepping your presentation and honing your technique, the interview is finally over – and the waiting begins.

But there’s no need to be passive. Be proactive and take action now, to put yourself front of mind and ahead of the field.

One of the best ways to do that is through thoughtful follow-up. It might seem a quaint courtesy, but it makes a tangible difference. According to a recent survey of recruiters, 68% of those questioned said a thank you note from a candidate had an impact on their decision-making process.

So to help guide your post-interview follow-up, here are seven suggestions:

  1. Send a thank you
  • Now’s not the time to launch into a lengthy missive. Be concise: your brevity will be welcome.
  • Make a note of the different people you met and thank each of them individually for their time. Resist sending a generic mass email.
  • Make it warm and sincere: take time to recall something that each person did that you genuinely appreciated (“I really valued the time you took to introduce me to the Professor of Linguistics.”)
  • Be engaged and enthusiastic (“It was exciting to hear more about your work on yodelling. I checked out the results of your research into pitch stabilities on ResearchGate and the outcomes are impressive.)
  • Send as a reply to a previous email, where possible, to foster a sense of connection.
  • Dispatch it within 24 hours of the interview, before distractions kick in.
  1. Organise your travel expenses

It might seem a small detail, but small details create a strong impression. Be sure to:

  • Include all relevant information in the appropriate format.
  • Be swift in submitting your claim.
  • Express your appreciation for the reimbursement.
  1. Clarify the time frame

Identify the appropriate person to ask and then establish when you can expect to hear the outcome of your application. Be clear, but not pushy (“Could you give me an idea of the likely time frame for a decision?” “When would it be best for me to check back in?)

  1. Continue the conversation

Look for effective and mutually-beneficial ways to maintain contact. To do this you could:

  • Forward any research or links you referred to. Keep it brief and to the point (“I mentioned the trials we ran back in August, heres the link to the website), but make it clear you are available to answer any additional questions.
  • Engage with the university’s news channels and share their posts on Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • Follow faculty members on social media and interact with them.
  • Make valuable introductions to people within your network working on an associated topic.
  1. Give your referees a heads-up

Again, this is a simple courtesy that may pay dividends. Let your referees know to expect a reference request. By doing this you raise your profile and give them a useful prompt, making them less likely to overlook a recruiter’s request and more likely to be ready with a warm and timely recommendation.

  1. Make a call

Once you’ve waited longer than the time frame given, feel free to call your contact. Sometimes a simple reason for a delay can be quickly identified and resolved – like the reference for one candidate that ended up stuck in the hiring manager’s junk email, holding the process up for weeks.

  1. Lay foundations for the future

Employers are looking for proactive, committed and enthusiastic people. Even if you’re not selected for the role you interviewed for, another post may become available soon. Prepare the ground and:

  • Check out these tips for handling rejection and use your learning to inform your next application.
  • Stay engaged by using your LinkedIn network to connect with faculty and researchers and build fruitful relationships for the future.

Finally, if at the end of the process you’re offered the job, now’s the time to read up on our advice for preparing for your brand new academic post. Congratulations!

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Jo Mitchell
Jo Mitchell is an experienced writer and editor. After studying Modern Languages at the University of Oxford she worked in fundraising at Oxfam GB and Viva, where she specialised in writing communications for major donors. She now provides freelance editing and copywriting services at Nightingale Ink in the firm belief that sometimes words can sing.

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