Skip to comments.The Number One Mistake People I Interview Are Making These Days
Posted on 02/24/2012 7:36:02 AM PST by Responsibility2nd
I'm the Managing Editor of Business Insider, which means I'm responsible for all of the editorial hiring here.
So I'm constantly meeting people of all different levels, from interns to senior editors.
Lately, the majority of people I interview have one thing in common.
They're all messing up on something that I think is very important when trying to get a job: the Thank You Email.
Whether we spent thirty minutes meeting in the offices; we Skyped because you're abroad for your Junior spring semester; or we did a quick first-round phone interview, too many people are forgetting to follow up later that day or the next day with a quick email.
It doesn't have to be anything too involved. Truthfully, the shorter the better.
The Thank You Email should say a few simple things:
-Thank you for meeting (or talking) with me.
-I really want this job.
-Quick plug about why I'm perfect for it.
If I DON'T get a Thank You Email, here's what happens:
-I assume you don't want the job
-I think you're disorganized and forgot about following up
-There is a much higher shot I'll forget about you
Here's an example of a good Thank You Email:
(Excerpt) Read more at businessinsider.com ...
Quite frankly, I already get too many work emails as it is.
Uh huh. And how many people doing the hiring even bother to tell a candidate two weeks later that he didn’t get the job. That “courtesy” was ancient history twenty years ago.
Maybe this is specific to certain fields; personally I have never found them to be particularly common in my field.
The decision who will be hired, considered or rejected; is usually made before the interview is over. If you didn’t overwhelm them - the decision is made. No email, no flowers, no fancy card is going to make any difference.
In my experience, the letter may actually work against you; identifying you as a ‘suck up’. But, my job is in engineering, not a ‘soft science’. If you have the skills specific to the job, if you are personable, if your personality will meld with the team - you are in. If not, nothing will change that decision - most especially an email.
Wow. A guy who is actually looking for MORE emails.
A lot of commenters at the link are downright ANGRY at the notion of sending a follow-up email.
But look; if you apply at a company, and they call you back for an interview, and you do nothing to follow up on that position opting instead to wait for them to call you?
You deserve to be unemployed.
ping for showing to my son later
There is no magic “key” that will unlock that job, certainly not a follow-up e-mail. There are a whole host of determinants in landing a job and it is a disservice to imply that finding the right, exact, secret elixer is the only way you will ever unlock a job. It ain't so.
I’d be curious as to the percentage of interviews are fake HR go-thru-the-motions as the job was filled internally before someone had to post it publicly to cover their EOE ass.
Yep. It used to have to be a more laborious old-fashioned thank you note.
Doesn’t make sense to take the time to go in for a personal—or even have an over the phone—interview, without adding the 30 second follow up of a brief thank you.
Almost bizarre that people in her field would be skipping that step.
The part that is not addressed at all, is the level of unprofessionalism that many companies show to potential job applicants. Let's pick on Dell Comuters (Round Rock, TX) as an example.
I worked there for couple years, and interviewed dozens (as in >25) applicants for an engineering position we did not have. We flew them in from all over the country, put them up at the Red Lion, and we had no intention of hiring them. Why? So HR could have a list of pre-screened applicatants. I fielded calls from a young graduate in Los Angeles who was quite excited about a job with Dell - and I was forced by my Director to keep her on the line for over 6 months. Finally, as Lead Engineer for the group, I asked to be removed from this process as I had ethical issues with this procedure. I was 'laid off' 6 months later - pure coincidence, I'm sure.
But, the bottom line is that loyalty and professional conduct is a 1-way street. Companies have abandoned the view that their employees are a valuable asset - they are an operational expense, and treated as such. Employees learn this lesson; thus the average life expectancy of employees is now closer to 2-5 years than decades, like it was not that long ago. It used to be that you got your job, you worked your job, you would be rewarded for your loyalty, you may work 2-3 jobs in your career; you'd retire after working for a company 20+ years at a decent salary. Today, you are a cog in a wheel, you can be replaced for any or no reason at all. It's brutal; and some of the advice I'm reading does little more than identify weakness on behalf of the employee.
The follow up letter should be done at the conclusion of the interview. “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me,...I am really interested in the job if offered, etc.”
this follow up letter/email stuff is definetly 20+++ years ago.
And I NEVER received a follow-up from a company on why I wasn’t selected. Left to sit there wondering forever if/why I didn’t get the job.
Sounds like a self-center prick; a Gen Y idiot that NEEDS to be thanked. In many cases the candidate doesn’t have an email address to send a thank you as all communications for the interview come from them and it is a bit nerdy to track down the interviewer to thank them.
“the interview come from them”
should have been:
“the interview come from HR”
At the end of the interview, you stand up, shake hands looking the interviewer in the eye, and you thank him for the opportunity to interview.
That should be it. I can't imagine why anyone would want sycophantic garbage clogging up his in-box the next day.
Now, if you interview with this chick, by all means send her an email, but the reason for it eludes me unless she just likes seeing people suck up to her.
I think this may still have value, in the 'soft' sciences. HR manager, Supervisor, manager, Insurance industry, Medical industry - somewhere where dealing with customers and the public may be the norm.
However, this is practialy unheard of in the engineering industry. Usually, the decision to hire/not hire a person is made before the interview is even over. Managment has made the decision, before the applicant has left the building. Due to nothing short of rudeness and unprofessionalism - the applicant will likely not be told 'No, Thank you' .... ever. It costs nothing to keep him hoping, and on the line. Maybe there will be a sudden need, and the #2 candidate can be quickly reeled in. Sure, they will promise to let you know in a week; but this is seldomly, if ever the case.
Absolutely true. Mid-level managers do not want to be bothered by incessant whining from interviewers that were discarded during the interview process. Usually, the person will say "Hello, my name is Bob, and I'm the ......". You visit with him for 20 minutes, and you never see him again. I've been shocked many times to find that the boss I have, when I'm hired, is actually the person who identified himself as a lower-level team member. This is done to evade the endless emails.
To all the detractors here, consider these facts:
- A thank you email costs you nothing. Except maybe a few minute away from your Playstation.
- If nothing else, it represents civility, something that is all but lost to the last couple of generations. Practicing civility makes it habitual, which WILL make you more attractive in the job market.
- If one in one thousand thank you letters are effective, that's an extraordinary edge over someone who never writes one.
Very, very true. I had the unfortunate situtation of being at a social setting and ran into an ex-employee that was fired for cause. He still sends an email nearly every day asking about his status to job postings he has applied for. I try my best not to be rude as he is friends with another close friend of mine, but it is getting old. Our HR is very good about keeping distances between managers and candidates but this guy is well beyond any normal boundaries.
Just Damn. Your experience at Dell was brutal. But this has been the case for many companies for many years.
The only options for potential employees is to game the system as best they can. I would follow up with the position, but after a couple of weeks - if not offered a job - I would forget about that company and move on.
What ineffable twaddle.
Are you looking for someone who can write and edit copy, or interviewing candidates for the Queen and Her Court Rose Parade float?
If someone bothers to meet with you, they want the job. A “thank-you” at the end of the interview suffices.
Anything else is just sucking up and a sop to your outsized ego.
Many moons ago, with college graduation a month or two away, I drove 500 miles (round trip) to interview at a small company. Part of the agreement was that the company would reimburse me for my gas - regardless of whether I got the job. I’m still waiting to hear if I got the position (this was in 1987), but they DID send me a check for gas - two weeks after the check expired. Two years later, I drove nine hours, one way, to interview at yet another small company. I must have REALLY bombed the thing, though; I’m still waiting to hear back from them, one way or the other.
Get this, I interviewed for a position WITHIN my company and NEVER received a follow up - even though the manager and HR person were one builiding over. Furthermore, when asked for a status from the manager via company instant messaging, my instant message was closed by the manager.
Yeh, ok, lady,....what comes around goes around. I’ll have my day with you.
I think the social mores have changed. While some managers may like a thank you note, I think most would see it as a waste of their time. About being convinced that somebody *really* wants the job...in this economy, everybody really wants the job.
However, it's not hard to write a thank you note, and in my experience HR people are needy illiterates. So it may help you land the job if you throw them a bone thanking them for their precious time and consideration. Certainly don't mention all the mistakes and incongruencies in the job ad (one of my fav's was "Must Have Masters - prefer Bachelors").
Send a thank you note by snail mail. That’ll really impress them because no one really does that anymore.
That probably means they want a candidate with a Masters.
But they will only pay based on a Bachelors.
Or maybe they mean bachelor as in no married people.
I used to tell people directly that I wasn't interested in them and why. I realized that they had traveled to come see me and I would offer to answer their questions if they had any.
Back in the ‘80s I was in programming and for a while had to do the Resume routine. One day I got the idea to add a second page, usually a no-no. I titled it “Technical Addendum”. Programming to me was nothing more than a problem-solving job, once solved you moved on to the next one, and other than remembering a new technique, forgot about it.
I started listing the jobs I had done and after about the third one, I thought, “Damn, I’d hire me!”. There was some neat, money-saving programs/systems I had produced. I stapled it to the resume and added a little note saying something to the effect that all resumes were suspected of having a lot of Blue Smoke and Mirrors, so if the Employment Guy would just pass the Addendum to the guy I would be working for (positive thinking), he could tell in a minute whether I was B/Sing or not.
Always got a positive response and always got the job, so maybe it would still help today.
Email thank-you letters are impersonal and often unread.
If you really want the job, nothing beats a personalized, hand-written thank-you card, send via US Mail.
I dealt with that many moons ago. The prospective employer deliberately distorted something I said and then used it as an excuse not to hire me. (I found out later he had hired a pretty grad student from the university department he was out of...)
If you want the job, then you should display good manners and professionalism by writing a thank you note to the person who interviews you.
The comments on this post as well as the comments on the article’s site are eye-opening. Since when is being polite something to be disparaged?
I have not, and will not, extend an offer of employment to anyone who does not send a thank you (which basically tells me that you want the job.)
When I have hired, I have had a lot of qualified people applying and I am looking for reasons to easily eliminate some of them to get the list down to a reasonable number and then to decide between the last three or four candidates. Little stuff like this can make a difference in those situations. I’m more likely to extend an offer to someone who lets me know they want the job enough to say so in a followup.
Anymore, I’m overjoyed to see applicants that can put together a resume and cover letter in passable English. Most resumes and letters all look the same anyway, but I’m really narrowing on written communication skill. I will sometimes follow up with an e-mail of my own, if only to prompt them to write a few more sentences just to see if they can do it.
Most of the people on this thread are technical engineering types. The rules are different for them. There is very little BS factor in these types of positions.
Good to know, thanks. Although employed, in almost every instance where I have applied this it seems to have had no impact, but that’s just my limited anecdotal perspective. I’m more inclined to view the significance of sending a follow-up if a candidate advances past any initial interview first cut.
I found Dick Cheney’s interview in 1969 with Don Rumsfeld illustrative, though I can’t remember if Rumsfeld had left Congress at that point to work in the Nixon administration.
The young Cheney traveled all the way to Washington to meet with Rumfeld to apply as a staffer. He had to walk several miles in the summer DC heat and humidity while wearing the only suit he owned, a wool winter suit, because he didn’t know the city and parked too far away.
When he finally got there, only a minute or two before the appointed time, he was soaked with perspiration to the point his shoes were making squishing sounds. Before he even had a chance to find a bathroom and towel off, the door to Rumsfeld’s office opened at the exact appointment time and he was ushered in for a half-hour appointment.
In a city known for making people wait, this was remarkable.
Cheney talked for 25 minutes, at which point Rumsfeld politely said something like “Thank you for coming, but I don’t think you are the right person for the job”, stood up and shook his hand, after which the door opened at the exact ending time for the meeting and the young Cheney was ushered out.
Very straight and to the point.
Poor Cheney stood blinking in the office foyer thinking “What the heck just happened?”
When I’ve hired anyone, it’s on the basis of their ability to do the job and fit in with the team. A thank you email makes no difference to that. All they do is depress me unless they come from the person I’m going to hire. Then I think, “Oh, that’s nice.” But it makes no difference either way.
I’ve never sent or received an interview thank you e-mail. I probably wouldn’t hire the person who sent me one. Thank you notes are just too touchy feely 1950s girly. Interviews are about business decisions, they’re not bridal showers, if I hire you you can thank me then.
“There is very little BS factor in these types of positions.”
After college when looking for a job, I would call a company in my specialized technical field and would ask for whoever by name after I had done some research on who was a top dog. Mostly small firms.
Then I would call and if the receptionist asked who I was I would say “This is Tom Smith from MIT”.
Once I got the guy I would say “Hi, my name is Tom Smith, I’m a recent graduate from MIT with a degree in XYZ. I’m going to be in town for a few days and would like to speak with you and your work in XYZ. Would tomorrow at 11am work, or would sometime Thursday afternoon be better for you?”
I had numerous interviews that way. Many were useful just in getting information on other small firms that might be able to use me. A few kept in touch over the years when a job came open.
One guy, after talking with me for quite awhile about the industry in his area said “Well, sorry - we don’t need anybody at the moment. But I just had to meet the guy that had the balls to ask for an interview like that.” LOL!
I would also send a thank you letter. And while that was 30+ years ago, it can’t hurt, and is a good habit to have. As a consultant I still write a handwritten note to clients if they refer me to someone, pay their bill real quick, etc.
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