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THE CLOSE

Your interviewer will give you signals letting you know the interview has come to a conclusion. Watch for them. Should you have any doubts, pose this: Have I answered all your questions? That will give the interviewer a handy way to wrap things up.

Rise from your seat, offer your hand and thank the interviewer. And before you leave ask how long before you'll hear about their decision. It's a fair question, but one that too many interviewees forget to ask.

On your way out the door, thank the receptionist.

THE FOLLOW-UP

Your work isn't over once you get out to the parking lot. The interview you've just had is a gift, and a gift should stimulate a proper thanks. As soon after the interview as possible, sit down and compose a thank you letter. Refer specifically to things said in the interview. And, the thank you letter is one more chance to expound upon your value as a new employee. Here's an example:

James Bascomb
2424 Wilson Way
Alta Springs, MI 48888
(313) 555-5555

Mr. Gerald Steingraber, Esq.
Vice President and General Counsel
Gamut Industries
One Gamut Place
Vespers, MI 49999

Dear Mr. Steingraber:

Thank you for sharing your insights about the Gamut Industries Legal Department during our interview yesterday. I appreciate the opportunity to hear first-hand about the challenges you expect to face over the next several years, particularly the patent questions regarding the hybrid small engines your company has developed.

With a B.S. in mechanical engineering under my belt, I was already preparing myself to tackle difficult patent litigation as I entered law school. During my career I have sought every opportunity to work on issues involving intellectual property, and my experience would be of great benefit to you and your colleagues.

I'm looking forward to hearing from you. And thank you again for your time and interest.

Cordially,

James Bascomb

Traditionally, the way to send a thank-you letter has been to hand write it on stationery and put it in the mail not more than 24 hours following the interview. With e-mail, however, certain rules of etiquette may have to give ground. Stacey Curtiss, Human Resources Administrator for GE Aviation has this to offer about follow-up by e-mail.

Thank You

"A hand-written note isn't necessary, really. I have no problem with a thank-you letter by e-mail. The content is more important than the way it's transmitted."

A FINAL WORD

There are no guarantees. You may have done everything right, answered every question astutely, posed great questions yourself, and looked more businesslike than a Wall Street financier. And still you didn't get the job. It happens. Don't be discouraged. In fact, there's actually an opportunity for you when you're turned down. Send a note to your interviewer, thank him or her for the meeting and declare your availability for future openings. It can really make an impression. Tom Brown, Human Resources Officer with Fifth Third Bank, believes strongly in this tactic:

"It leaves a great impression. It tells me that the person is sincere and has character. And you can be sure that the next time I have a suitable opening, I'll go to the file with those letters. It's really amazing how few people will send a letter after being turned down."

Remember, the past is only prelude for the future. And each interview is practice for the next one - for that job you really REALLY want.

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