• Wed, Jun 22 2011

Working It: Lead By Following Up

When you really want something, you pursue it. You take time and go out of your way. If the getting’s too easy, you might suspect something’s amiss. After all, how many good things in life don’t require much effort?

This all makes sense when it comes to dating, applying to college, apartment hunting, or procuring concert tickets. So why are we so passive in pursuing jobs? And by “we,” I mean most people, but specifically women. Men are often praised for being “aggressive” in the business world. Meanwhile, women are concerned with being communicative and fair and respected. This starts even before they’re hired.

So let’s assume you had the chutzpah, panache, and other fun adjectives to get an interview somewhere. You’re officially a part of the Working It Club.

The first rule of Working It Club is: There is no Working It Club. I mean, not really.

The second rule of Working It Club is: You totally get this is a reference to Fight Club.

The third rule of Working It Club is: Never leave a job interview without asking when and how you’ll hear back about a job. Seriously. Never. You didn’t get all dressed up and impressive, because you like telling strangers about your work history.

Your pursuit of a job isn’t over until…it’s over. If you haven’t heard back, you can’t assume someone else got the job. Wait until the time the interviewer gave you and then follow up. Don’t act like your interview never happened. All that communicates is that you didn’t really care that much. No one wants to hire that girl.

(Caveat: If you totally bomb an interview, you get a pass. But getting stumped on some questions isn’t bombing. Bombing is being so unqualified for a job that there’s no way in hell that you’d feel right taking it. Or realizing post-interview that you don’t want the job. Or pooping your pants in the middle of the interview.)

Do you know how many people never follow-up after an interview, even if it went really well? Me neither. But it’s a lot! Too many people keep quiet, lest their enthusiasm come across as annoying. Meanwhile, they lose that last opportunity to self-advocate.

Ideally, you can follow-up with a quick, short email. Thank your interviewer for his or her time and restate your interest in the position and why you’re a good fit. If you can allude to something interesting that you and your interviewer discussed (and that he or she will  remember), go for it. It’s time to stand out. Again.

If you have to make a phone call, stick to the same script. Don’t be impatient, but do realize that you have options. This follow-up is merely asking if one door is shut or open.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can’t show your personality. I recently spoke to Alyson, who’s worked for different political campaigns on Capitol Hill. She once interviewed for a job that was the perfect fit and waited anxiously to hear back. When she found out that an irresponsible, less capable male acquaintance had secured a job like the one she wanted, she was pissed.

“I called the person I’d met and left a blunt voicemail: ‘Are you gonna hire me or not?’” Alyson says. “I was mad, and I didn’t even think about it backfiring.”

Within hours, someone else on the campaign called Alyson. She got the job. “The best job I ever had,” Alyson says. “I knew it would be.”

Now that’s working it.

Do you follow up after job interviews? How do you do it?

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  • KittenJuggler

    This is gender neutral advice, right? Or are we assuming, that men just show up and that’s how they get the top job while women have to actually work.

    Stop abusing your position as a women by filling other women’s head with counter-productive info. Be the best and top job is yours.

  • Objective Observer

    “Pooping your pants in the middle of an interview…otherwise you get a pass”??? Are you retarded? Is this a position for anal sex?

  • Amanda Green

    Objective Observer, the pooping your pants bit is a joke. Poop is funny.

    Hi, KittenJuggler. This advice definitely applies to men, too. This site is aimed at women and speaks to women’s experiences and issues in the workplace. But yes, everyone should lead by following up.