Mastering the allusive art of the job interview follow-through

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The “follow-through” concept has to be the most undervalued tool in landing a job. It typically comes up under two circumstances. First, when you stay in contact with a source because an appropriate role is about to become available. Second, when you complete an interview and the interviewer identifies the next steps saying “please follow up with me.”

I have never minded the first situation, but until recently I was always uncomfortable in the second. The post-interview follow-through has now landed me meetings and interviews. Overall it’s a great skill to have when you work in sales, origination or business development. It shows thoughtfulness, consideration and interest. When you are in pursuit, following through is the best way to act like a pursuer.

But when it comes to interviews, I have struggled to follow through with confidence and without arrogance. I used to think it was beneath me, then I got a reality check and the follow-through became part of my daily life.

The key question every candidate must ask is “how bad do I want the job?” If the answer is “very much,” you will find it easy to follow through with enthusiasm and to gently encourage your interest in the firm without being annoying. The key test is that of interest in the role.

My focused follow-through

Like in dating, if you are seeing several people at the same time, you are never truly focused on one particular person. It may be fun and flattering, but your attention is never there. In your job search, you should extend your options as far as possible, but there are limits to the level of attention you can deploy to win a role. You can chase as many jobs as you wish, but are you really focused on the one you want, or are you just chasing multiple offers?

Just as a woman strings along a man to decipher his true intentions, an employer may do the same. Firms want to know that they have your full attention; like in dating, when they know that they are one of many you are considering, they lose interest and set you free.

Once I realized this, I found that my follow-through efforts became more natural and sincere. I typically used e-mail to avoid awkward phone pauses and to allow my contact enough time to respond appropriately and at his or her own convenience. I found that as long as I respected the employer’s follow-through deadlines, the interviewer responded in a timely way and with transparency about where I was in the process. And although it took four months, this behavior eventually led me to an interview.

I am a woman. I find that in dating I need to test a man to see whether his intentions are honorable. But in my job search, I am on the other side now – courting an employer. It’s exhausting “dating” multiple companies at a time. I know men who do it easily, but they don’t take their targets too seriously.

Editor's Note: The author is an American financial professional looking for work in Singapore and Hong Kong. The views expressed are her own and not those of eFinancialCareers.This first appeared on our Singapore site but it is applicable here as well.

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