3 years ago
January 7, 2015

Interview Etiquette: When (and How) to Follow Up

After a successful sales interview it is often the first instinct of a good sales candidate…

Rhys Metler

After a successful sales interview it is often the first instinct of a good sales candidate to follow up with the hiring manager and say a brief “thank you” for the interview. This is a nice gesture and is something we would recommend that all candidates do as long as circumstances call for it and the message is appropriate. There are some cases where such a follow-up is inadvisable and others where an email with the wrong tone leaves a negative taste in the hiring manager’s mouth. Here is a quick guide to the etiquette of sending a follow-up:

Did you receive a business card?

Handing someone your business card is probably the clearest signal you can give to let them know that they may contact you in the future. In many interviews it is common to exchange cards during introductions or after the interview is over but in some cases a hiring manager may choose not to offer his card. Don’t be offended if he does not; it is possible that he is not in the practice of offering his card to people he interviews or that he prefers to keep his correspondence limited to prospects and clients. In these cases do not seek out his contact information to force a follow-up as he may be put off by your aggressiveness.

Are you sending the right message?

When a hiring manager gives you her contact information, it means that she is open to hearing from you again. It doesn’t mean that she wants to hear why you’re the absolute best candidate for the position; that’s what the interview was for! Sometimes candidates feel the need to sell themselves all over again in a follow-up email. I can think of a few cases where candidates performed very well in their interview but then sent an overly aggressive follow-up email restating why they should be hired and they were perfect for the role. In all cases, the opinion of the hiring managers changed after receiving these emails. What hiring managers really appreciate is brevity. Simply tell them that you enjoyed speaking with them, thank them for their time and leave it at that.

Are you speaking about the right role?

This last bit of advice seems obvious but this is a mistake that candidates make all the time. During a job search it is not uncommon to be interviewing at multiple companies in multiple industries and you might find yourself sending many follow-up emails after interviews. One candidate that we worked with performed so well in an interview that the hiring manager was ready to send a job offer out; until he received a follow-up from the candidate addressed to someone else and referring to another industry entirely! The hiring manager changed his mind and decided to interview more candidates. Make sure that you check and double check the recipient’s email address, the subject of your email, and that your email is about the right job! If you are using the same thank you message for each follow-up make sure that you adjust the name of the recipient and the title of the role accordingly. 

Update: For more great advice about follow up etiquette, read this great article by Lynn Taylor from Bloomberg Businessweek.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 11+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and two daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day, tropical vacations and cottaging.