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Planning the follow-up strategy while confronting an interview!

published February 26, 2013

By Harrison Barnes, CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
( 69 votes, average: 4.5 out of 5)
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Closing the Interview and Planning Your Follow-up Strategy

You will probably have some clues as to when the interview is over. The interviewer will either stand or ask if you have any questions about the job.

That is your chance to ask questions you did not have an opportunity ask earlier, but even more important, it is the time for you to appraise how well you did, if you are interested in the job.

Planning the follow-up strategy while confronting an interview!

The interviewer may offer definite feedback by the type of comments or questions he or she asks. That may take the form of planning the next step. If that does not happen, try to get some indication of your possible chances for the job. You can do this easily without appearing brash. For example, if you have no clue from the interviewer, you may simply ask, "Is there any-thing more about my background or experience you would like to know, as it relates to this job?" Or, "Do I seem to have the kind of experience that you're looking for?" These kinds of questions can elicit favorable comments, negative ones, or noncommittal ones. If there is not a definite interest exhibited at this point, you can support your case in the follow-up letter.

Whatever may be the outcome of the interview, your follow-up letter marks you as a professional who is also courteous. Try to remember the interests and needs of the employer and refer to them in the letter, stressing again how you feel qualified for the job and would enjoy working for the organization now that you have had an opportunity to find out more about it. Keep the letter brief, but be sure to end it on the note that you look forward to hearing from the interviewer concerning the position. Be certain to tailor the specific details to your own situation.

You will hear one way or the other. If the interviewer is interested, you may be called in for a second interview, particularly if salary negotiations were not finalized. A phone call from the company is always a good sign, although it may not necessarily mean that the job is definite. It may be a call for a second interview. Regrets and rejections always come in the form of a letter, sometimes weeks after the job is filled.

If you are interested in the job, however, and send your follow-up letter after the interview, it is perfectly acceptable to call the company within a week or so to see if they made their decision or when they expect to make it. If you are turned down, you may politely ask why. Sometimes you will get a direct, specific answer that will help you later on. You may also get a general response that stresses the number of qualified candidates who had applied for the position. All you can do at this point is review the steps you have taken and analyze your interview.

To help you evaluate your interview performance, keep a log and record your reactions as soon after the interview as possible. The following model provides a format for this recordkeeping and self-evaluation. Recognizing what you did right and what you could have done better will help you to improve your interviewing skills!

Most of us have had the experience of wishing we had said something or not said something during an interview. Such regrets may hamper our chance for success at subsequent interviews. In order to avoid this trap, try to make an honest self-evaluation and learn from each of your interviewing experiences. Practicing with another person may also help you; ask your teachers or members of your local paralegal association whether they would be willing to do a mock interview with you.

A Note on Informational Interviews

Informational interviews are exactly what the title implies. They are not interviews for a specific job opening, but are valuable opportunities for you to learn specific information about a firm or organization, such as how the firm operates, the role of paralegals, the employer's view of the job market, the employer's advice regarding your specific background and experience, and types of paralegal positions for which you would be best suited. The goal of this type of interview is for you to develop interviewing skills, without the stress or anxiety that accompanies an actual job interview. But just as important, the interview enables you find out what a certain job is really like.

If you impress someone at an informational interview, that person will very likely keep you in mind if a job opening occurs. For that reason, you should follow the same process in sending a follow-up thank you letter and enclosing a current resume for that company's future reference. It is also important for you to keep a log of these interviews.

Find the other sources that can help you identify the most appropriate information sources, including directories, guides, and association encyclopedias. Do not overlook your networking contacts in setting up your informational interviews. Some points you may wish to include are given below. Add your own points to the list.

Positive Points:
  • Good chemistry with interviewer
  • Congenial atmosphere
  • Answered questions confidently and directly
  • Interviewer seemed to focus on my strengths
  • Job described clearly
  • Others

Negative Points:
  • Interviewer not interested
  • Forgot to bring up important information
  • Felt uncomfortable and nervous
  • Felt rushed in answering
  • Did not feel comfortable about appearance
  • Was late for appointment
  • Did not understand questions asked
  • Lacked confidence
  • Others
The purpose of this self-evaluation is so that you can recognize your weaknesses and overcome them as you continue the interviewing process. Make extra sheets for each interview.

Following Up on the Interview

It is very important for a paralegal applicant to write a brief follow-up letter a day or so after your interview, whatever your self-evaluation. These letters should never be handwritten, in as much as they will be placed in your file. Remember that this will be another opportunity for you to highlight what you can bring to the company; it will provide a chance for you to include anything you may have forgotten to mention during the interview itself; and it will also be an appropriate place for you to address any concerns the interviewer may have had about your qualifications for the job.

Review your self-evaluation chart as this can be helpful in follow-up of your interview!

See the following articles for more information:

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Alternative Summary

Harrison is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal employment space that collectively gets thousands of attorneys jobs each year. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. Harrison is widely considered the most successful recruiter in the United States and personally places multiple attorneys most weeks. His articles on legal search and placement are read by attorneys, law students and others millions of times per year.

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