What you do after the interview could matter most for success


Instead of sending the traditional note of thanks, stand out from the rest with a letter of influence

Do you ever have the feeling that it's easier to get through the eyeof a needle than to come out the winner in the interviewing contest? Whohasn't experienced the following: you've had two rounds of interviews witha leading veterinary practice. Everything seemed to go well. You fieldeddifficult questions, addressed concerns, and you're sure you made a verygood impression. Now what? Why aren't things moving along as rapidly asyou expected? You thought you nailed it-but there's no phone call, no offer.

The Five O'Clock Club cautions that, just when a job seems to be withinyour grasp, don't be surprised if things get derailed. The practice is noton your schedule. It might be seeing other terrific candidates. Or the positionmight be put on hold due to internal politics or budget considerations.A lot can happen that is simply beyond your control.

* The interview is the beginning, not the end

Many job hunters seem to assume that the interview is the end of theprocess. Of course, they dash off the thank-you note, but they think ofthe job offer as a piece of ripe fruit, and they wait for it to drop. Theymay even make "status checks," which don't add value to theircandidacy.

In this complex, booming market, the Five O'clock Club reminds clientsthat the interview is the beginning of the process, not the end. Interviewfollow-up can be as crucial as the interview itself, and it can be the mostdemanding and brainiest part of the job search process. Follow-up may requireproactive strategies to influence the decision makers and keep your candidacyalive. While avoiding any steps that may appear excessive or pushy, thefollow-up stage may be a subtle dance of laying groundwork and nurturingthe situation with strategic, value-added activity.

* The foundation for successful follow-up is built during in theinterview itself.

* Approach the interview as a consultant would, and dig for information.A consultant probes the issues and concerns that have prompted the practiceto bring someone on board. Focus on the practice owner or manager's needsas opposed to dwelling on your own worries.

* Try to find out the hiring timetable, where you stand vis àvis other applicants, and what concerns or reservations they may have aboutyour candidacy. Listen carefully and non-defensively.

* Take notes during the interview-as any expensive per diem consultantwould do. You want to gather enough information to write a substantive,high-impact influencing letter. Especially if you are interviewed by severalpeople, detailed notes on each meeting may be crucial for smart follow-up.If appropriate, you may say, "I'd like to take notes if you don't mind,to make sure I capture all your points." If you don't take notes, makesure you write down as much as possible after the interview.

* An influence letter outclasses a thank-you note

The beginning of smart follow-up is usually a letter:

* Write an influencing letter to each person you've interviewedwith. Address their unique styles, responsibilities and concerns. You mighthave to look beyond the formal reporting structure to figure out who's reallyimportant in the decision process. In some cases it might be the trustedtechnician or a potential veterinary colleague that has a big say in whocomes on board. So acknowledge everyone with a customized e-mail or letter.

* Remember that this letter goes far beyond the traditional cookie-cutterthank-you notes that are so common; it summarizes and expounds on the issuesbrought up in the interview and may be used to address weakness or respondto concerns about your background. It represents you and the caliber ofwork that you do.

Ms. Robbins is a career counselor with strengths incounseling, writing, transition coaching and career development. She alsoserves a member of the media team with the Five O'Clock Club, a nationallyrecognized career counseling organization. The club provides affordable,state-of-the-art career counseling services directly to individuals andoutplacement via the corporate market. Services include small group as wellas individual career coaching through a nationwide network of certifiedcareer counselors. The club's methods are based on 14 years of research.For more information, call 800-538-6645.

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