So, you interviewed for a sales position and it went well. Congrats—but your job isn’t done.
To really close the deal and get the job, you need to excel during the follow-up period. Here’s what you should be doing immediately after the interview, within 24 hours of the interview, and within a week of the interview.
Right after the interview—
1. Take notes on the interview as soon as you can.
It’s tempting to just chill after you’ve finished a taxing interview, but you’re doing yourself a tremendous disservice. The interview is most fresh in your mind immediately afterwards, so use the opportunity to take notes on your conversation. You might even want to use a voice-to-speech app to record notes on your return trip.
Some things to take notes on:
- Key information about the company and product that you learned during the interview
- Your impressions on company culture
- What qualities and experience seemed most important to the hiring manager
- What points did you handle well during the interview?
- What points tripped you up?
- Information about next steps in the hiring process
- Any interesting personal information you learned about your interviewers: hobbies, favorite sports teams, etc.
Yes, this is a lot—but writing it down will help you to impress during subsequent interviews and the follow-up process.
2. Identify the hiring manager’s biggest pain point.
For sales professionals, it’s useful to think of the hiring process as a sale. To succeed, you need to identify the hiring manager’s biggest pain point. Then, your job is to demonstrate how hiring you will solve that pain point.
Use the information you gathered during the interview to deduce what that pain point really is. Oftentimes, the questions managers asked are richly informative in this regard. Did they focus a lot on the top of the pipeline, or did they seem more interested in your ability to close deals? That can tell you a lot about the manager’s priorities.
Try to distill the pain point into a simple sentence or two. Be as specific as possible; it’s not really enough to say that the company wants to hire sales representatives because they need more bodies on the sales team. Think about the company’s long-term and short-term goals. Do they want to grow revenue, add bigger clients, or move into a new vertical? This will impact how you position yourself as a candidate going forward.
Once you’ve completed these steps, then you can take a (short) break for some R&R.
Within 24 hours of the interview—
3. Collect contact information for all of your interviewers.
Ideally, you’ll have business cards for everyone that you collected during the interview. But if for some reason that didn’t happen, take some time to find the information you need. Search the company website and LinkedIn for contact information, including everyone’s current title. This is necessary for the next step.
4. Send thank-you emails to all interviewers.
There’s some debate on how to best follow up after an interview: phone call, email, or a handwritten thank-you note? In most cases, email is the correct choice. In today’s fast-paced world, you can’t wait for the postal service to deliver your note. You want to make sure your interviewers receive a thank-you note within a day of the interview. Although a phone call may also be appropriate (see below), email is the best way to ensure that your note is read ASAP.
Some tips for writing a stellar thank-you email:
- Make sure that you spell everyone’s name correctly and use the proper form of address. For women, “Ms.” is generally the honorific of choice, unless you’re 100% sure that she prefers something else.
- Keep the email relatively short—no more than 3-4 (brief) paragraphs. No one has time to read a long, rambling email.
- Use professional language that reflects the company’s culture. You don’t need to be super-formal if that’s not the company culture, but you probably don’t want to be too casual just yet, either.
- Remind the interviewer who you are by mentioning something unique to you. This is a chance to get across your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
- If you felt like you were unable to communicate a particular point during the interview, you can state it now (without being long-winded or overbearing).
- If you had a good personal rapport with the interviewer, include something about your discussion: “I hope the Cubs start doing better!”
Within one week of the interview—
5. Depending on company culture, consider a follow-up phone call.
A phone call isn’t always necessary, but it can be a nice touch. If the job will require a lot of phone-based communication, it might be helpful to prove your competence at phone calls. Some older hiring managers may, in fact, expect a phone call. Use your assessment of the interviewer’s preferences and company culture to make an informed call on this.
Keep the phone call short and sweet, following the same principals as for follow-up emails. If you don’t reach your interviewer on your first try, leave a polite voicemail. Avoid making multiple calls in short succession, and always be polite to receptionists.
6. If you don’t get a response, send a second follow-up after about a week.
It is okay to send a second-follow up if you don’t get a response the first time. For your second follow-up, it’s sometimes helpful to try another method (i.e. a phone call if you sent an email last time).
During the second follow-up, stay super polite. Avoid coming across as upset that you didn’t receive a response the first time.
7. Let it go if you don’t hear anything.
Not hearing anything within the first week isn’t necessarily a sign that you’re out of the running. Some companies take 3-4 weeks to move onto the next step. But after two or three total follow-ups, you just start coming across as pushy. Keep your fingers crossed, but don’t allow yourself to obsess over the job. If this isn’t the one for you, another opportunity will come your way.
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