Just as your real job interview begins well before your formal interview, which we discussed in the previous column, so too your interview does not end when you leave the interviewer’s office. Rather, your real interview continues through your follow-up actions. At a minimum, you don’t want to burn any bridges by being pushy. Beyond that, through the steps listed below, you can improve your chances of being hired.

Confirm next steps. Before you leave the interviewer’s office, you should ask about the next steps in the hiring process and the timing of those steps. If you have not heard from the company within the stated time frame, it is okay for you to contact the company and ask about it. It is very important that you respect the time frame stated by the company and do not appear pushy (examples: calling to check in before the agreed-upon date, or calling frequently).

Thank-you notes. You should write a thank-you note to everyone who interviewed you. While hand-written notes were once the standard, emails are now the norm. They should be sent within a day of your interview. Between the U.S. Postal Service and a company’s mail room, snail mail can take days to make it to the intended recipient and the hiring process may have advanced quite a bit by then. Emails, on the other hand, arrive almost immediately.

Thank-you notes can serve three purposes:

You thank the interviewer(s) for meeting with you and reference one or more points you discussed.

You restate, briefly, why you think you are a good fit for the job.

If you did not respond well to a specific question, you can provide a better answer. For example, “When you asked me about x, I wish I had mentioned y.”

Response to a rejection. Even after a company informs you that they picked someone else for the opening, all is not lost. You should craft a letter which:

expresses your thanks, again, for the opportunity to interview with that company,

briefly restates, again, why you think you would be a good fit, and

expresses that if a similar opportunity becomes available, you hope to be considered.

If the candidate who was hired turns down the job and the company does not want to start the search process from the beginning (which entails a new batch of resumes to review, candidates to interview and other time-consuming tasks), they may pick you to fill the vacancy.

Bottom line: Your interview continues even after you leave the interviewer’s office.

For further reading:

“Five Real-Life Examples of Job Seekers Hurt or Helped by Their Thank-You Notes,” by Caroline Ceniza-Levine (Forbes.com)

“Why Bother with a Thank-You Letter?” by Alex Freund (www.landingexpert.com)

“I Had My Interview. Now What? five Post-Interview Tips” by Kristin Sherry (LinkedIn)

“The letter to write when you don’t get the job” by Lisa Vaas (www.theladders.com)

David Marwick is KempMillJobAssist’s workshop coordinator. He studied economics at George Washington University and worked as an economist for George Washington University and the U.S. Government Accountability Office.