A simple follow-up after your interview can make all the difference

You eased through the online application, passed the informal phone screen with flying colours and wowed in the face-to-face interviewer. Job (application)'s a good'un, right?

No! There's one final step oft forgotten by the aspiring employee: a follow-up email after the interview.

The icing on the application cake, an interview follow-up allows for one last flurry of self-promotion, a further expression of thanks and ‒ more valuable than all ‒ the chance to stick firmly in the interviewer's memory. Here's how to craft the perfect email that can make that happen.

Don't hesitate

The rigours of an interview can really take a lot out of you, so don't feel guilty for taking a little downtime in the hours that follow. Come evening, however, you should be sitting down to write your interview follow-up email. Promptly dispatching the message plays to its primary goal – ensuring you're lodged front and centre in the employer's memory.

Of course, nothing's worse than composing the perfect message only to realise you don't have the recipient's email address! So make sure to get details from everyone in the room at your interview or, better yet, suggest swapping business cards or connecting on LinkedIn.

Say thank you

Good manners cost nothing, but their absence can seriously hinder a promising application. An email after the interview should, first and foremost, express gratitude.

A sentence will suffice for this; laying it on too thick runs the risk of appearing insincere. That means watching your hyperbole ("I'm so, so honoured," "It's been the greatest privilege" and so on) and steering clear of any overly personal expressions of thanks. Your goal is to find a mix of genuineness and professionalism.

Remind them of your qualifications

With each passing stage of the process, the employer has been building a clearer picture of your skill set and accomplishments. You don't want to use your follow-up email to introduce a whole new list of skills, but you can reiterate what's already been said. In no more than a sentence or two, remind the interviewer of your personal attributes and skills most relevant to the position and, most importantly, re-emphasise your enthusiasm for the role.

Share anything you failed to mention in the interview

If there's a nugget of critical information ‒ be it some supremely relevant experience or an applicable qualification ‒ that was left unsaid in the face-to-face, the time has come for a last-ditch declaration. Now, it doesn't reflect too well that this strong suit wasn't voiced in the interview, so you'll need to weigh up whether it's valuable enough to bring up after the fact.

If you do decide to go for it, a little accompanying apology for your forgetfulness is advisable - and don't mince your words. Just explain that there is a piece of information you didn't mention in the interview that you would really like to share, and then share it.

Clear up mistakes

Interviews are stressful affairs and we're all human. We make mistakes. And, for the most part, employers are sympathetic to this. If you made a glaring inaccuracy in the interview, one you just can't get over, it's worth a brief clarification in your follow-up email.

If it's more of a white lie than a genuine error that's bugging you ‒ say, some slightly exaggerated experience ‒ don't feel the need to own up. Little half-truths creep into all personal accounts and exposing them will only cast doubt into the minds of those you're trying to win over. If the mistake was more material, however, like accidentally understating the relevance of some experience, a quick word of correction could play in your favour.

Ask any outstanding questions

A post-interview email also gives the opportunity to ask any questions that may have been left unanswered. Strictly speaking, you should've had the chance to air any queries at the end of the face-to-face ‒ it's unwise to waste that opportunity in favour of asking retrospectively.

But again, we're all human, and in the pressure of an interview, it's easy to forget your lines. So don't feel too sheepish about politely asking a relevant question in your follow up.

Keep it brief

After all this, it's important to remember that an interview follow-up email should be viewed as an embellishment to an application, not an extension. Eulogising your virtues and gratitude at great length might make you feel good, but a busy employer has no time for long-winded wheezing.

Keep your message bright and breezy. A brief, gracious "thank you," a couple of words on your abilities, any outstanding questions you may have ‒ and that's a wrap!

The job hunt is tough at the best of times, so stacking the odds in your favour is fundamental. It's understandable that the very last thing you might want to do after a gruelling interview is re-engage with your inquisitors, but it's truly a step worth taking. You've done the hard bit, now put the cherry on top of your application with a follow-up email and be content knowing that you've given yourself the very best chance of success.

Make sure your CV is strong enough to get you into the interview room. Submit it for a free, objective CV review to see how it stacks up.

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