How To Craft The Perfect Follow-Up Email After A Civilian Job Interview

Senior Airman James McKenzie, a client systems technician with the 436th Communications Squadron, trouble shoots a computer issue Jan. 19, Dover Air Force Base, Del.
Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Chuck Walker

You’re finished with your first civilian job interview, and now all that is left to do is follow up with an email to say thank you. This shows that you really want the job and are eager to show it. Most importantly, it allows you to continue the conversation from the interview, so that more questions can be asked or information offered, as necessary.

Always send a follow-up message to the person, or people, who interviewed you within 24 hours of your interview. Restate why you want the job and why you’re qualified for it. Consider adding in how you can make contributions to that position, and provide any additional information that you feel might help you get the position, but wasn’t discussed in the interview.

Related: Five dos and don’ts of writing professional emails »

If you feel like you made some mistakes, or that you forgot something in the interview, you can briefly bring this up. For instance, “While we both know that my qualifications fall a little short of this position, I want to emphasize my eagerness to learn those skills as part of my training process. I also have a proven history of tackling big challenges, and feel I would quickly overcome any shortcomings in my qualifications.”

Additionally, don’t rush when writing your email. It might make sense to write it, and then take a short break before proofreading. Even better is having a friend or family member proofread it for you. Don’t let any typos or grammatical mistakes be your final impression.

Finally, no matter if the company asks for references before or after an interview, have your contact list ready. Let those people know they may be hearing from your potential employer, so they’re ready (and willing) to speak informatively on your behalf.

An email may come back telling you the position went to someone else. If this is the case, still take the time to write a thoughtful, careful response. Thank the person again for the opportunity. Reiterate that you would love to work at their company should any future opportunities arise.

Sometimes, the person offered the job may change his or her mind, reject the offer, or it may not work out. The fact you responded so thoughtfully and quickly will keep you in the mind of the hiring manager.

If you send through your email, and don’t hear anything for 7-10 business days, it’s a good idea to send one very brief, follow-up email. Simply say, “Hello Mr. Smith; I wanted to follow up on the opportunity for which I interviewed and inquire whether any decisions have been made at this time. I am still eager for such an opportunity. Thanks for your time.” If this second email goes unanswered, it is okay to assume the position has gone to someone else.   

Few of us like to be interviewed. But you’ve have what you need to help you make your next interview your best one yet. Never forget that by just being yourself and sharing your honest interest and experience, you can create a great impression with a company.

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