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Success Plans for Follow-Up Interviews

Executive Summary

How do you know how to approach a follow-up interview? Many interviewees are scared to be too pushy, but that may be just the drive your interviewer is hoping to see.  

  • Having personally worked with countless hiring authorities throughout the years, Tony Beshara knows that when it comes to follow-up interviews, selling yourself with confidence and assertiveness can help a potential candidate “close the sale.”
  • During a follow-up interview, get to know your interviewer and be prepared to confidently and persistently advocate for their support.
  • You may have beaten out 90% of the competition to get to that follow-up interview, but now is not the time to take your foot off the gas. In fact, it’s time to step up your game.

So you’ve made it past the first interview and now you’ve been called back for a second one. You should be congratulated for making it past the initial interview since 90 to 95 percent of the candidates don’t make it that far. But the process is not over by a long shot. Now you have to really step up your game because the competition is tougher, and the hiring authorities want to determine who the best candidate is from among the very good ones.

COLLECT INFORMATION FOR FOLLOW-UP INTERVIEWS

The strategy for follow-up interviews is not far off from the strategy that you used in the initial interview. To a certain extent, you’re going to do exactly what you did in the initial interview with a couple of added steps to give you the advantage.

Again, the process is simple, but most people don’t think to do it. When you get to interviews beyond the initial interview, you will basically give the same kind of presentation about yourself that you gave to the person that did the initial interview.

You will want to take into account everything you learned about the next people that you are interviewing with: their likes, dislikes, and concerns. In a way, you will want to customize your presentation based on what you learned about them from the previous interviewer. It is not easy, but it is simple enough.

Whether you have just one interview beyond the initial interview or nine interviews, you need to gain as much information as you possibly can about the people that you are interviewing with.

The best way to do that is to pick the brain of each individual interviewer before you go to the next level. Find out as much information about subsequent interviewers as you possibly can.

Ask about their professional life, their personal life, their family, their hobbies, their personal likes or dislikes— whatever the initial interviewer is willing to share. You never know what even minor detail you might have in common with the next interviewing authority that will set you apart from the other candidates.

Remember. You’re going to give the same basic presentation about yourself to everyone you interview with. You’re going to treat them just exactly the same way as you did the initial interview authority.

USE POWER PHRASES AS A COMPETITIVE EDGE

As you wind down the interview, you use these power phrases:

  • Thank you for meeting with me. I really appreciate the opportunity. Please tell me how I stack up with the other candidates you have interviewed.
  • Do you have any concerns about my ability to do the job you are hiring for?
  • Have I made my experience and ability clear to you?
  • How do I stack up with the other candidates that you have interviewed?
  • What do I need to do to get the job?

In sales terminology, you are “closing” the sale. You are doing everything you can to get the support of the person that you are interviewing with. No matter how many second, third, fourth, and fifth interviewing authorities beyond the initial interview you speak with, they are going to have a say in your being hired. Don’t be duped by any of them saying to you, “Well, I’m really not important in the hiring decision. They asked me to interview you as a courtesy.” Don’t buy it!

If the people you’re speaking with couldn’t say no and eliminate you as a candidate, they wouldn’t be interviewing you.

Now, after you ask this last question, don’t be surprised if the interviewing authority says something like, “Well, I’m really leaving the decision up to the direct hiring manager. So, I will get with him or her and give my input.”

If you hear this kind of thing— and it’s likely you will—you have to use this power phrase: Mr. or Ms. _______________, it is obvious that your opinion means something, or I wouldn’t be interviewing with you. From what I understand you are highly respected in the organization. Do I have your support? Are you going to tell Mr. or Ms. _______________ to hire me?” This is a phenomenally powerful phrase. It is aggressive, direct, and to the point.

The interviewing authority may very well try to beg off by saying something like, “Well, it really isn’t my decision.” If you hear something like this, you need to use this power phrase: I understand your position, but it’s important for me to know that I have your support and your vote. I’m sure the hiring authority will ask your opinion, and I need to know I have your support.”

THE CONFIDENT HAVE THE UPPER HAND

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for you to use this line of questioning. I also can’t tell you, unfortunately, how many candidates over the years, to whom I have taught these power phrases, can’t quite bring themselves to use them. Because they fear rejection, they don’t use them and give me the namby-pamby excuse, “Well, it just didn’t seem appropriate.” Or something like, “It just didn’t seem like the right time to say that.” What this tells me is they didn’t have the courage to ask the cold, hard question: “Are you going to hire me?”

How to Fail Your Follow-Up Interview →  

The higher up the management chain you interview, the more this kind of respectful bluntness will be appreciated. Decision makers love it when candidates use these kinds of qualifying phrases. In fact, don’t be surprised if the interviewing authority smiles and says something like, “You are the only candidate I’ve interviewed so far that has asked me these questions. I appreciate your courage.” Even if you don’t get the answer of, “Yes, I will support you,” you will definitely be remembered by the interviewing authority. This kind of courage is the kind of thing that decisive hiring managers really appreciate. And they don’t hear it very often.

WRITE THANK-YOU EMAILS

Don’t forget to write thank-you emails to these interviewing authorities in the same way you did with the initial interviewing authorities. Reiterate why you were a great candidate and a few reasons as to why they want to hire you. Be specific; don’t write something vague like this: “I am a qualified candidate. This is an excellent opportunity for both your firm as well as myself. I would do a great job. I would appreciate your vote and your support.”

Many people get to a second, third, or fourth interview and think that since they have gotten this far, they have a lock on the job offer. They relax in their intensity, alter their presentation, and basically quit selling, thinking it’s a done deal. This is a terrible mistake! At each succeeding interview, you should present yourself in exactly the same manner as you did with the initial interview. If your system is working, don’t mess with it.

You should only alter your technique based on what the immediate interviewer might tell you about the next interviewer. If the initial and subsequent interviewing authorities make suggestions about your presentation, make sure you alter your presentation to incorporate their ideas. Keep in mind that if interviewing authorities promote you to the next stage of the interviewing process, they have at least stated that you might be a viable candidate. If you ask the right questions as I have suggested, you’ll not only get their support, but you will get their input and suggestions on how you might be able to interview successfully up the ladder.

WHEN TO MAKE A PHONE CALL

Once you have completed each subsequent interview, follow up with emails, letters, and phone calls, if appropriate. I would not recommend calling an interviewing authority whose job is to simply “gut check” or provide another opinion in the interviewing process unless you bonded with him really well. You do want to phone the actual hiring authority and ask him or her about the decision. The more aggressive and assertive you are about selling yourself and closing on being the candidate who should be hired, the better off you are. You can be pushy, assertive, and confident without being obnoxious. Follow your gut, but don’t be afraid you will lose the opportunity because you are too aggressive.

Excerpted with permission from Powerful Phrases for Successful Interviews: Over 400 Ready-to-Use Words and Phrases That Will Get You the Job You Want by Tony Beshara, copyright Tony Beshara.

Bring It Home

Hearing a commotion, I looked over my shoulder to see my entire department gathered around a large cake. Walking over to find out what all the fuss was about, I saw a woman’s name along with her phone number and the name of an open position spelled out in icing across the top of the cake. Apparently, this interviewee had sent a total of four cakes to the company—one for each floor—as a follow-up for her interview. Though I have no idea if her if she got the job or not, I do know that no one will ever forget her bold and tasty follow-up.

What’s the boldest move you’ve made for a follow-up interview, and how did it work for you? Did confidence “close the sale”? Share your story below.“~ HarperCollins Leadership Essentials

Tony Beshara

Tony Beshara has been in the placement and recruitment profession since 1973 and is the president and owner of Babich and Associates, a job placement firm. He has appeared numerous times on the nationally syndicated Dr. Phil Show

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