“The waiting is the hardest part.” – Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, “The Waiting”
That stretch between the first interview and the second one can be a killer.
So too is the waiting if the hiring manager is so busy to finish interviews or reach a decision.
The hiring cycle is stretching longer as employers are more selective. Jobs that used to take two months to fill may take four times as long, as managers wait for better candidates, according to a WSJ.com article last month.
So after the interview, you wait and wonder. Or you work on ways to land to a second interview, or even create a consulting project for yourself, said Pennell Locey, a senior consultant with career management firm Keystone Associates.
Candidates who are smart also are creative in staying connected to decision-makers and others, she said.
Check in too often and you’re seen as a pest. But if you lay low you could be forgotten in the crush of other candidates and daily tasks. She recommends a follow up every seven to 10 days, and not burn your chances by following up every two or three.
“Time runs exponentially longer for the job seeker than the hiring manager,” said Locey, who used to manage a university career department and retraining programs for displaced workers in Massachusetts. “It’s such a fine line between attentive and needy.”
Here area half dozen ways Locey recommends to be attentive and stay connected until you get called for the second interview:
- Send thank you notes aplenty. You know you must send one to the hiring manager. But you’ll really be a standout if you thank the administrative assistant, especially if she helped you with travel arrangements or other details. Then maybe you met with a few other people in your department. Send them a gratitude note too. Locey said such appreciation really demonstrates your people skills and can go a long way toward advancing your candidacy. It’s important though to be gracious, and not sound like a suck-up.
- Give a thoughtful expansion on the interview. If there’s a subject that got short shrift or a question that you didn’t answer well, come back around and address it better. Send this follow up within a week or so of the interview, otherwise it looks contrived, Locey said.
- Check in with your internal recommender. Whether this is your ex-wife or a former colleague, they may be able to give you some inside information on the hiring plans. They also may be able to help you understand any delays in filling the job.
- Offer some information. Send the hiring manager some blog post, conference information, white paper or other valuable information. “Make it useful or light,” she said. You want something that connects you two. If you don’t have a great link to share, you could comment on corporate news or changes. If there’s a new senior vice president, see how that may affect the department where you want to work. The message: “I’m staying informed. I’m watching.”
- Seek to give new details about yourself. When you think all the interviewing is almost done, you could write the hiring manager again, and note that time and conversations may have reshaped the job’s details or the company’s expectations. Then ask: “Is there anything we didn’t cover that would be useful?” This is an opening for another conversation.
- Offer to take on a pressing problem or piece of work. During the interview you’ve found out that the company has a tight timetable for its new project. Yet the job you want was just reposted with some different qualifications. So you write to the hiring manager and offer to help with an urgent need. Be clear you know you’re coming in for a short-term quick-fix and you understand the organization is continuing its search to fill the opening. Focus in on one piece where you know you could be helpful and that you know needs addressing.
One way to identify those needs: During the interview ask about the most important things you would need to accomplish in the first 30, 60 and 90 days after being hired. Or try “What are some quick wins you want me to produce for you?” Locey suggests. Use those needs to propose a project and the project could lead to more projects or possibly the job you interviewed for so long ago.