Your interview was a nerve-rattling endeavor with impossibly high stakes…But you survived! After days of pacing the floor, mapping your route to the venue, getting your interview suit dry cleaned (or purchased), and practicing in front of the mirror, you're now standing on the sidewalk outside of the building with the interview behind you. And you're ready to start processing the experience and moving on with the next step. Here's a quick guide that can help you navigate your career decisions during the next few hours, days, and weeks.
The First Hour
First things first: What will you do with the rest of the day? Start by heading to the nearest stationary or card store if you haven't done this already. Pick out a small, tasteful card with no pre-printed message inside for each person who interviewed you. Take your cards home, change out of your suit, and start writing.
Each message should thank your interviewer for her time. This little card also provides a great opportunity to restate your interest in the position. Let your interviewer know that you'd love to work for her company and you hope she'll agree that you'd make an excellent match. Tell her you look forward to hearing her decision. Keep every word of your message upbeat, professional, and hand- written.
Then address your message to the correct person (with the correct spelling of his or her name) and drop your cards in the mail. NOW your interview is officially over.
The Next Five Days
For the next five days after your interview, you have one task: getting back to the grindstone. Resist the urge to play the interview over and over in your mind, and try not to dwell on any moments you may view as mistakes or oversights. Act as if your interview never happened, and pick up your job search immediately where you left off. Don't miss a beat. Keep reaching out to your contacts, making lunch plans with your mentor, and scanning job boards for available positions. Take another look at your resume. Apply for at least one or two positions every day. Just don't sit still while you wait around for news.
After five days have passed, it's reasonable to start checking your messages anxiously and keeping your phone close. It's still too early to be impatient, but if you're destined to end up in this position, this should be about the time that the competition starts falling away and your name starts rising to the top of the list.
Once seven business days have passed in silence, it's time to reach out. Send an email to your interviewer asking politely if she's made a decision. Keep your message short, clear, and professional, as always. If you receive no answer, pick up the phone and call. Leave a voice message if you don't connect.
Two Weeks Later
At this point, a decision should either be pending, or it should have already taken place. As awkward and disrespectful as it may seem, many interviewers contact only the candidates who interest them and let the rest fend for themselves. This is an unfortunately common practice, so if your interviewer calls you to tell you were passed over for the job, be sure to thank her politely for both the call and the opportunity. If you hear only silence, reach out a few more times before turning your full attention to other positions.
If you're contacted during this period with news that isn't exactly a job offer, that's a positive sign. For example, if your interviewer calls to thank you for your patience while a decision is made, let your hopes rise. But stay grounded. Until you've received an offer in writing, formally accepted the offer, and started work on your first day, don't let your job search efforts fall by the wayside. Throughout the process, take nothing for granted and always keep your interactions cheerful and respectful.
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