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The Art of the Follow-Up: Make a Lasting Impression With These Interview Best Practices

Imagine this scenario: You’ve spent hours crafting a tailored resume, preparing for interviews, and anxiously waiting for a response. The job search process can be an emotional rollercoaster, especially in the IT industry where competition is fierce. But have you considered the power of the follow-up?  

Many jobseekers overlook this crucial step, missing out on a valuable opportunity to make a lasting impression.  

In a world where first impressions matter a whole lot, the art of the follow-up can be your competitive secret to standing out from the crowd and landing your dream IT job. It’s no secret, after all—and the research proves it: People are generally rather quick to form opinions based on observation alone.  

In this article, we’ll guide you through the dos and don’ts of follow-ups, including proven strategies and practical tips on timing and frequency of follow-ups, crafting effective follow-up messages, the significance of post-interview follow-ups, and the importance of maintaining a professional demeanor throughout the process.  

Four Interview Best Practices for IT Professionals 

Interviews are a critical stage in the job search process, and for IT professionals, they hold particular significance. As a candidate, you have the chance to showcase your technical skills, problem-solving abilities, and (hopefully) the shared values you have with the organization.  

To help you ace your IT interviews, we have compiled four essential best practices that will give you a competitive edge—everything from thorough preparation to effective communication—enabling you to confidently navigate the interview process and leave a lasting and positive impression. 

Following Up with Initial Post-Interview Communications

First up: the thank you. After an interview, it’s crucial to follow up with a thoughtful and timely message to express your appreciation and reinforce your interest in the position. This initial post-interview communication, often in the form of a thank-you email or letter, is an excellent opportunity to leave a positive and lasting impression on the interviewer. Within 24 hours of the interview, take the time to send a personalized note conveying your gratitude for the opportunity to meet and discuss the role. Address the interviewer by name and express your appreciation for their time and the valuable insights they shared. 

Unsure what to say in your thank-you message? Start by highlighting specific aspects of the interview that resonated with you. Reference particular discussions, projects, or challenges that were discussed during the interview process to demonstrate your active listening skills and engagement in the conversation. Additionally, reaffirm your interest and enthusiasm for the position, emphasizing how your skills and experience align with the company’s needs— reinforcing your candidacy and keeping your name at the forefront of the interviewer’s mind.  

Lastly, if it wasn’t made clear in the interview, we recommend inquiring about the next steps in the hiring process to demonstrate your proactive nature and commitment to moving forward. 

Nailing Down Timing and Frequency

When it comes to following up after applying, timing is crucial. Striking the right balance between being proactive and respectful can make a significant difference in how your follow-up is perceived. After submitting your application, it’s generally recommended to wait for a reasonable period before reaching out. According to Indeed, a good rule of thumb is to give the employer about one week (or five business days) to process applications and review candidates. This timeframe allows them to navigate through the initial screening process without feeling overwhelmed, while also showing that you respect their time and are mindful of their workflow. 

While timing is important, it’s equally essential to find the right frequency for your follow-ups. The goal is to stay on the employer’s radar without being too persistent. Sending a follow-up email or message within a week or two of your initial application can be a suitable timeframe for the first follow-up. If you don’t receive a response, it’s acceptable to send one or two additional follow-ups over the course of a few weeks. Think one per week. That said, it’s essential to gauge the employer’s responsiveness and adjust your approach accordingly. If you receive clear indications that they’re no longer interested or have chosen another candidate, it’s best to respect their decision and redirect your efforts towards other opportunities. 

Crafting the Perfect Follow-Up Message

It’s one thing to have your timing down to a science, but it won’t matter all that much if what you have to say isn’t a home run with your potential employer.  

One of the key elements of a successful follow-up is personalization 

Avoid sending generic, cookie-cutter messages that blend into the sea of emails employers receive. Take the time to tailor your follow-up message to the specific position and employer. Start by expressing gratitude for the opportunity to apply and reiterate your interest in the role and consider referring to specific points discussed during the application or interview process to demonstrate your attentiveness and genuine engagement. 

In terms of structure, keep your follow-up message concise, clear and engaging. Begin with a friendly and professional salutation, addressing the recipient by name. Use a brief introduction to remind them of who you are and the position you applied for. From there, highlight key takeaways from your application or interview that align with the employer’s needs or values. This demonstrates your understanding of their requirements and your ability to contribute to their goals. Lastly, express your continued interest and enthusiasm for the opportunity to join their team. By showcasing your passion and dedication, you can leave a lasting impression that sets you apart from other candidates. 

P.S. Don’t forget to poofread your message carefully (see what we did there?) to ensure it’s free from grammatical errors or typos before hitting the send button. In many instances, a single typo or goofed-up grammar will result in an immediate “pass” from the employer—so, every word truly counts. 

Staying Professional and Polite

Last but certainly not least, maintaining a professional and polite demeanor throughout the job search process is essential—even (and especially) in the face of rejection. It’s important to remember that the job market is competitive, and not every opportunity will result in an offer. If you receive a rejection letter, it’s crucial to respond with grace and gratitude. Thank the employer for considering your application and taking the time to provide a response. Express your understanding and appreciation for their decision. This professional response demonstrates your professionalism and leaves a positive impression, which can be valuable for future opportunities that may arise within the company or industry. 

While receiving a rejection can be disheartening, you’ll always want to refrain from burning bridges or reacting negatively. Maintain a positive and constructive mindset, focusing on the experience and lessons gained throughout the interview process. Responding to rejection with professionalism not only showcases your maturity and resilience but also leaves the door open for future possibilities. Remember, industries are interconnected, and the hiring landscape is ever evolving. The employer you interact with today may be able to offer you opportunities down the line or provide valuable referrals to other organizations. By nurturing professional relationships, even after rejection, you enhance your reputation and increase your chances of success in the future.

Bonus Tip: Many employers are using automation for candidate communications. If it appears that the message is from an automated source with an unattended mailbox (i.e. “no reply”) don’t feel obligated to respond.  

IT Pros: Ace Your Next Interview With ITAC Solutions by Your Side  

Mastering the art of the post-interview follow-up is a crucial skill for jobseekers in the IT industry. By understanding the importance of timing, crafting personalized messages, and maintaining professionalism, you can make a lasting and positive impression on potential employers.  

The best part is you don’t have to navigate the complexities of making your next career move on your own. ITAC is here to support you at every stage of your job search. Our expert team can provide guidance and assistance in navigating the job market, connecting you with exciting IT opportunities and coaching you through the interview process. 

Contact us today to learn how we can support you in your job search.