The 2020 update for my best-selling Ladders Interviews Guide is out now and available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions. I’ve included a brief excerpt below.
This updated version is designed to make your 2020 interviews go smoothly. Whether you’re interviewing for better pay, a better job, or simply to maintain lifestyle insurance for you and your family, the third edition of Ladders Interviews Guide gives you the essence of what you need to know in about 90 minutes.
Ladders Interviews Guide provides 49 common interview questions and answers, best practices and expert advice on questions to ask in an interview, how to answer behavioral interview questions, and interview tips for fast-rising and mid-career professionals. Along with its companion guide, Ladders Resume Guide, they make a great pair of helpful guidebooks for you on your 2020 adventures.
Here’s the excerpt I promised you…
After the interview: Saying thank you
Use your “thank you” to remind your interviewers of what they liked best about you. It’s a chance to reiterate your interest and re-confirm the details of your ability to deliver on the job’s three most important success factors. And it’s a chance to outline the questions or concerns that you need addressed.
With your notes in hand from your day of interviews, review how it all went. Were the three most important things consistent across everyone with whom you spoke? Were their questions consistently on topic and directed toward hiring the same role? Were their answers to your questions consistent? Where did their answers vary? What did you learn about the role that makes you more excited? Less excited? Did you get a clearer sense of what they are looking for, and what they’re not? Did they get a clearer sense of your priorities?
Your thank you note is a chance to frame your conversations and pull the company’s hiring decision in your favor. It can’t kindle a fire, but you can fan the flames a little in the direction you want to go. The length, tone, and formality should follow your industry practice, but the typical thank you note in American business practice for 2020 should be two paragraphs. People won’t read much more than that.
Thank each interviewer again and reiterate, very briefly, how you can contribute. You want to demonstrate active listening by specifically referring to something you discussed in your interview, ideally in one half of a sentence. And your note should address two or three of the key factors, reminding your interviewer of your capabilities and experience in that area. Across all of your thank you notes, you should vary content, order, and coverage a little bit. Mix up sentence and word order and use slightly different phrasings so that, should your emails be passed around to others, it won’t look like you simply copied and pasted.
As a matter of fact, do not copy and paste. It’s easier and takes less effort to copy and paste, and that’s exactly why you shouldn’t want to. Show your interviewers that you care enough and respect them enough to write an individual note. Do not use a template. And it is really much, much better if you retype by hand each of your emails to each separate person you met. Copy-and-paste edits too often show up at your recipient’s inbox with font sizes varying word to word, with spacing and sentences broken up and looking awkward. It can even be the case that the email that looks great when you send it to yourself will look awful when it arrives in another person’s corporate inbox. At Ladders we send over one billion emails per year, and we’ve experienced firsthand how frustrating this can be. Nonetheless, the plain fact is that, relative to the time you’ve spent interviewing, and the importance of this follow up, the risk of having the formatting go very wrong is not worth it. Retype all your thank you emails by hand.
It’s also worth mentioning that some formal environments still welcome the handwritten thank you note, though very few expect it. Perhaps 2 percent of candidates for professional jobs ever write handwritten notes. Handwritten notes do not change the outcome one way or the other, but may add lift and momentum to your candidacy. Formalities are increasingly unexpected, and in some cases, unwelcome, in U.S. business circles. You’ll have to judge your industry’s expectations accordingly.
I’d like to say that you shouldn’t have to take the customs around “thank you’s” too seriously, because it can seem silly. But the plain fact is that in some cases, your interviewers take it very seriously, and the content of your thank you emails can set the tone for the outcome of the entire interview process. It’s easiest to do these notes well if you maintain the discipline of writing notes either during or immediately after each interview. You’ll certainly never remember the specific comments later: “I enjoyed our conversation about changes in the mobile ecosystem, and how my background could be useful in designing the advertising strategy for Wakanda’s new tourism campaign.” This helps the interviewer remember why they liked you when the time comes to make a decision.
Interviewing is stressful, and I know there’s a temptation to spend the time you’re waiting to hear back fretting anxiously. There are endless worries and recriminations you can generate for yourself. But you really need to separate your emotions from an effective assessment of your performance. It’s extraordinary how often I’ll hear from readers who thought they’d done very poorly in an interview, only to have an offer come through along with feedback that the interviewers loved that person. It’s natural to feel anxious, but don’t let that cloud your judgment.
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