What Your Boss Is Reading…Before They Become Your Boss
As a recruiter, I frequently ask and give advice on how to interview. Everything is in play–from how to schedule the interview to what happens immediately afterward…weeks afterward. The one thing I tell people to keep in mind is that decisions are made at any point in time throughout the process–you want to be on the positive end of that decision, so playing your cards right at each checkpoint is extremely important.
I found an article on LinkedIn today that walks interviewees through the entire process, and I couldn’t agree more with the advice here. I’ve often advocated for Career Girls to read what their bosses are–but it’s equally as important, especially for the active job-seekers, to read what their potential bosses could also be reading, which ends up being largely about how they want you to act as a candidate. Jeff Haden of Inc. Magazine guest-wrote this article, outlining 9 different things that interviewers wish they could convey to job-seekers that come through their doors. The whole article is incredible, but the one point I want to highlight is the thank-you note/follow-up:
9. I want you to follow up… especially if it’s genuine.
Every interviewer appreciates a brief follow-up note. If nothing else, saying you enjoyed meeting me and are happy to answer any other questions is nice.
But “nice” may not separate you from the pack.
What I really like – and remember – is when you follow up based on something we discussed. Maybe we talked about data collection techniques and you send me information about a set of tools you strongly recommend. Maybe we talked about quality and you send me a process checklist you developed that I could adapt to use in my company. Or maybe we both like cycling, so you send me a photo of you on your bike in front of the sign at the top of the Col du Tourmalet (and I’m totally jealous.)
The more closely you listened during the interview, the easier it is to think of ways to follow up in a natural and unforced way.
Remember, we’re starting a relationship — and even the most professional of relationships are based on genuine interactions.
The timing of a thank-you follow-up is important: remember that decisions are made at each point in the process. You can never write a thank-you too early–the earlier, the better, from what I’ve seen. I’ve watched clients make decisions between two stellar candidates based on the fact that they received a thank-you note from one and not the other. This isn’t to say that the other didn’t write a thank-you note…they just got to it later than the first candidate did. Write it as soon as you leave. Some people argue with me, saying, “But Danielle, isn’t that awkward? I mean, I JUST left the interview.” It depends, I say. How willing are you to let someone else beat you to the punch?
However, the other extremely important thing about the thank-you note is what it contains. Everyone is going to write theirs thanking the interviewer for their time, saying that they hope they move forward, blah blah blah. How are you going to separate yourself? This is easy: talk about the actual interview.
A good thank-you note should include the following parts: thanking the interviewer for their time, outlining why they would be a good fit for the job, outlining why they wouldn’t be a good fit for the job, overcoming those objections, and closing by assuming that they will move forward in the interview.
Danielle, you ask. Why on Earth would I remind them of where I don’t fit in their job description?
Simple, I say. Because they’re thinking about it already.
This is your chance to show them that you are not scared of their objections…that their concern is minimal in comparison to what a rock star you will be once you get hired. Don’t fool yourself by thinking that just because you think the job will be perfect for you, that the interviewer will obviously see how ideal the match will be. Each interviewer has concerns about a candidate (and I’ve even seen interviewers’ concerns be that the candidate is too good to be true.) Use this opportunity to counter any objections they have (and you should be asking about those before you leave, by the way,) and show that your assets are bound to outweigh any negative aspects to your candidacy. This communicates a couple of things: 1) you were paying attention to their concerns and what they said in the interview and how your background might not match up in every way, and 2) how you intend to make up for it.
I tell candidates and clients the same thing: I believe that there are very few bad people in the world so much as there are cosmically bad matches between candidates and clients. Both parties have a right to know what parts of each one are not going to fit with the other, and decide from there whether or not that’s something they can live with. By showing that you understand your weaknesses or imperfect fits, you are not discrediting yourself as a candidate so much as you are showing what a thoughtful person you are, concerned about their business and how you can be a benefit to them.
If they’re already thinking about these things, it is in your best interest to call out the elephant in the room and tell them why they don’t need to worry that much. Try this in your next thank-you note and you may be surprised at what happens next.