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Originally published by Idealist Careers.

Imagine you finally get your resume into the right hands. Then, you get a chance to interview with key decision makers at the organization of your dreams.

It all seems to be coming together nicely, but are you ready? How do you prepare to make the right moves before, during, and after the interview and position yourself as the best candidate to be considered?

Savvy professionals know that effective interview follow-up continues well before the actual interview, whether you’re applying to an organization or with a third-party recruiter. There are certain follow-up steps you must take to uphold the good first impression you made in the interview. It’s important to realize that how you conduct your search communicates to the employer how you will conduct yourself on the job, so continue your follow-up appropriately and professionally to seal the deal. Remember: the steps outlined below begin while you are still on the interview — not after it has ended!

1. Before the interview ends, ask about the next steps in the process.

When you sense the interview is coming to an end, and the hiring manager or recruiter asks if you have any questions… ask! Inquire about the organization, its current projects, and the position, and then be sure to ask about the next steps in the process.

By doing so, you’ll get a more accurate timeframe for when you can appropriately follow up. It’s a no-brainer that eliminates the guess-work on your part. As a former recruiter, it would stun me that so few people ended the conversation with this question.

2. Ask to connect on professional networks online

Yes, you’re interviewing in the hopes of getting the position—but you’ve also just formed a new professional relationship and added another name to your list of contacts. Asking the interviewer if you can connect on LinkedIn is perfectly acceptable.

During the interview, look for natural segues into a connection request. If the interviewer mentions they love to golf, for instance, you can refer to a great article on golfing you just read and offer to forward it to them. If they attended your alma mater, you can mention how great its online discussion group is and offer to introduce them to some former classmates who are active in that group.

Bonus Tip: When you send the actual request to connect, make sure you include a personalized note along the lines of, “I enjoyed speaking with you today. I’d like to introduce you to some fellow classmates as we discussed.” (Or whatever personal connection you made with them.)

Even if you don’t get the job, you’ve still made a great new professional connection who could wind up assisting your job hunt or career in the future. Don’t neglect to capitalize on that.

3. Take the traditional route and ask for their business card.

At the end of each interview, ask the interviewer if you may have their business card. This will help you when writing a thank you note (more about that below). Business cards are an easy way to make sure you get key information correct when following up, such as the correct spelling of the interviewer’s name, their exact job title, and their email address. If the interviewer doesn’t have one available, jot down this information on the notepad you should be bringing along to every interview.

4. Make the effort to send thank you notes immediately.

Do not underestimate the importance of this step. Interviewers see multiple candidates each day, and thank you notes are a quick and easy way to distinguish yourself from the competition, emphasize your interest in the position, and leave the interviewer with a positive lasting impression.
How to send this thank you note? Email is usually best method due to its immediacy; you can send it from anywhere and the interviewer will receive it instantly, keeping you top of mind (and impressing them with your timeliness). However, if you want the extra personalization that comes from handwritten correspondence, a physical note is also acceptable—just consider sending it via express mail so you don’t lose the immediacy factor (or, send both an email and a physical note). Sending something tangible can, no doubt, set you apart from other candidates.

Bonus Tip: The note itself should be brief, to the point, and professional yet pleasant. Thank the interviewer for their time and restate your interest in the position, reminding them of a few key reasons why you’d be a great fit for it. If you’re sending your note via email, this is also an appropriate time to attach any information you discussed, such as an article you recommended or an example of work you’ve done previously. And don’t forget to send personal notes to each interviewer if you met with more than one person.

5. Reach out meaningfully—and more than once (maybe more than twice).

It’s okay to check in occasionally after the interview, so long as you do it the right way. Sending multiple emails and leaving multiple voice mail messages just to ask if a decision has been made will not do you any favors. Instead, touch base periodically in a way that demonstrates your value and your interest in the position, without coming across as pushy or desperate.

Demonstrate extra value by including an article you’ve come across that you think the interviewer will find interesting.

At the end of the interview, you should be asking about the next steps in the process (as we covered earlier). Once you know it will take about a week for the company to make a decision, you can gently follow up after 10 days to see if there is any other information you can provide. If you can demonstrate extra value by including an article you’ve come across that you think the interviewer will find interesting, you get extra points for being a useful professional contact. Remember that you’re likely not the only person following up on this position, so if you can do something to differentiate your message from the other candidates’, do so.

6. If you don’t hear back immediately, don’t assume the worst.

In the absence of information, don’t choose to fill in the blanks with negative assumptions. That often isn’t productive. Everyone in the hiring process has good intentions to move the process along. Despite that, there will be factors in the process that will be out of their control. So always keep in mind that no news does not necessarily mean bad news. Maintain a positive attitude, and try not to dwell on it if you’ve yet to hear back from someone.

7. Remain confident in what you have to offer.

Remember … you are awesome! You have unique experiences, knowledge, achievements, contacts, and more. You can provide something (or multiple somethings) to this opportunity that nobody else can. Bring this confidence into the interview with you, and carry it with you afterwards as well.

Also, know that if this particular opportunity doesn’t come through for you, there is another one out there that is going to be a fit for you — where you will be fortunate to find each other. Believe this.

8. Don’t wait to move on and look for the next opportunity.

Don’t just sit and wait on this one position; keep your job search moving along.

This tactic will preserve your sanity and give you a greater chance of ultimate success. Even if the opportunity you’re waiting to hear about is your dream job, if you sit around and wait for them to get back to you, it will be like watching a pot of water come to a boil.

Resume your search immediately. Go for a run. Head out to meet a friend. Do all of these things, in fact. Distract yourself from the opportunity as soon as the interview is over to give yourself a fresh perspective when they do call back (remember, think positive!), and maintain your leverage by exploring other options.

These tips should enable you to master your interview follow-up process and secure that job you want.  Remember too, many resume writing and consulting firms are also available to assist with interview preparations as well.  The bottom line is knowing what to do right and doing more of those things.