Interviewing for a job? There’s a difference between checking in, ticking off

Dating and getting a job aren’t that different. Think about it — you take your date out to dinner. Things go well but what’s the next step? If you call too soon, you seem overeager and can become an annoyance. Don’t call at all and you might just fall off the map.

Now think about that in the terms of getting a job. You have an interview with a hiring manager or boss. The two of you click. Then what? The last thing you want to do is bug the boss.

After your initial meeting, you may be walking a thin line. You need to make an impression on a potential employer. You want to stay in his or her professional life. But going overboard will most certainly cost you the job.

The process should actually start before you’ve even had an interview.

“We recommend that job seekers follow up by phone or e-mail four to five business days after their resume should have been received,” says Steven Rothberg, president and founder of “The four or five days provides the recipient with a chance to review the resume but not so much time as to make it likely that it will be lost.”

When you follow up, you’re adding a more lively, personal touch to your business experience. Make the conversation short, sweet and to the point.

“When you call or e-mail, simply ask them to confirm that they received your resume,” says Rothberg. “Don’t ask for an interview or when they’ll make their selection.”

Interview follow-up

The real line-walking comes after the interview. All your cards are on the table. And even though there’s not much your interviewer really needs from you to make a decision, you want to stay fresh in their mind.

“There is a fine line between assertive and annoying,” says Diane Gottsman, owner of the Protocol School of Texas. “There is nothing wrong with calling to find out when the position will be filled. There is also nothing wrong with sending a thank you note. But calling daily and multiple times a day appears too eager and excessive.”

No one likes to be pestered and nothing is more pestering than an incessantly ringing phone. If your interviewer picks up the phone and hears your voice, asking whether you got the job or not, you probably just killed your chances. But an e-mail can be much less intrusive. Your interviewer can read it when it’s best for them and get back to you when they have time.

“If you do not receive a follow-up e-mail, you may e-mail again a few days later and express your continued interest in the position and inquire if there is any more information that the hiring manager needs from you before making his or her decision,” says Gottsman.

A phone call can calm your nerves and an e-mail can make you sleep easier but what do e-mails and phone calls do for your potential employer? What do they get out of making you happier?

“The key is to be different by adding value and not by being a nag,” says Adrian Miller, author of “The Blatant Truth: 50 Ways to Sales Success” (Adrian Miller, $14.95). “Instead of e-mailing or calling and saying that ‘I’m just checking in or touching base,’ e-mail or call with a substantive purpose that has a value to them.”

Give them a reason to talk to you. A quick call can turn into a meaningful conversation if you have something to actually talk about.

“Send an article on a topic relating to the job and what was talked about during the interview,” says Richard Deems, co-author of “Make Job Loss Work for You” (Jist Works , $12.95). “Include a note that says something like, ‘We talked about this and that during our interview and I came across this article that deals with the issues.’ ”

Not the right fit

But even if you do everything right, sometimes it just doesn’t work out. You’re not going to be the only one going out for a certain position. Once that position is filled, your interviewer might let you know. Chances are they won’t. There’s no reason to waste your time chasing your interviewer around just to find out that you’ve been passed on for the job.

“If you receive continued ‘crickets,’ it’s best to put your energy in an outlet that you will have a better chance of results,” says Gottsman. “It’s never a good idea to only apply for one position and put all of your hopes and plans into only one opportunity.”

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