This is somewhat of a continuation post to my previous blog post, “Some thoughts on Interviweing…”. Now that you survived the interview process, what do you do? This is a common area of discomfort for people interviewing for any kind of job, not just positions dealing with SQL Server. In this post I’d like to focus on a topic that I like to refer to as “Post Interview Etiquette” and how it might impact your ability to get hired for a position. Whether or not to follow-up an interview is without a doubt one of the most confusing areas regarding the interview process for a new job.
Sending a Post Interview Thank You
One thing I have learned over the last five years of marriage is that despite having a primarily “southern” upbringing where manners were extremely important, and every response was “yes sir/ma'am and no sir/ma’am, I definitely fall short in the etiquette arena. My wife loves to quote Emily Post’s , Etiquette, and on numerous occasions, I have been stabbed by fork for violating the basic rules of etiquette at a formal event. One of the things that I have learned from my wife is to always send a “Thank You” note for everything. The last two times I have interviewed, I have made it a point to follow up the interview with a brief email to the interviewing party, thanking them for the time the opportunity to interview for the position. For example:
I want to thank you for your time and the opportunity to interview for the
Senior Database Administrator position at Joes Crab Shack. After learning
more details about the position, I feel that I would be a good match based
on my past experience managing data in the casual dining market segment,
and architecting high performance consolidation solutions for virtualizing SQL
Sever using VMware ESX as a host platform.
Please let me know if I can answer any further questions regarding
Thank you again for your time.
I intentionally keep the letter brief, starting with a quick thank you, and then a recap of why I am a good fit for the specific position and its requirements. One thing I never do is ask for a status update or whether or not I got the job. The point behind a thank you is not to dig into whether or not you got the job, and doing so to early can be an opportunity killer just as much as not knowing the recovery models available for use in SQL Server as a Database Administrator would be.
Recently I have been on the interviewer side of this process, and have been interviewing potential candidates for a couple of new Database Administrator positions at my current job. Out of all the candidates I have interviewed, only two provided any kind of follow up thank you email after the interview. One of them also corrected an incorrect answer they had made during their interview, something that has really stood out to me as an interviewer, because this person took the extra effort to go look up something they were unsure of and then not only admit they were wrong, but provide reference to the correct information in the email to thank me. I personally don’t know that I would have done that in a thank you message, but it certainly made an impression about that person.
When is it appropriate to ask for status?
This is a sticky point in any interview process because you want to know whether or not you got the job, while the employer may still have additional interviews to complete before making a decision. One of the questions I always as an interviewee is “When do you expect to make a decision for this position?” which provides me a guideline for when I might expect to hear back from the interviewer regarding the position. In an ideal world, the interviewer would follow up with you even if you didn’t get the job, but this isn’t an ideal world, and often if you didn’t get the job, you won’t hear anything back if a formal HR department doesn’t exist that tracks the interview process. By asking when the position is expected to be filled, you can get a relative idea for when you might want to follow up on the position.
If during an interview I am told that the expectation is to fill the position the next week, and you haven’t heard back in eight to ten days, it is completely appropriate to follow up on the position either with an email, or phone call. You should be as brief as possible when making the follow up, especially if it is a phone call, which can be an unscheduled disruption for the interviewer. Most interviewers expect candidates to check the status of their application, but be careful how frequently you check the status; do it to often and you will create a negative impression that could cost you the position.