Job Doc

Can I really ask follow-up questions to my interviewers? Elaine Varelas advises keeping engaged

Whether it's asking questions about processes or clarifying a point of discussion, follow-up questions can serve as an opportunity to keep engaged with the interviewer. Elaine Varelas offers advice on how to follow up.

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Q: After an interview, when HR people or managers say “don’t be afraid to reach out with any questions” – do they really mean that? I thought of a couple questions after I walked out and am worried about an interview question I may have accidentally bungled. Is it really appropriate to ask, or will it make me look like I was under-prepared?

A: Try and assume in an interview that most people are telling the general truth, so when they say, “Don’t be afraid to reach out,” they are really encouraging you to stay in touch, continue the relationship, and understand the next steps in the interview process

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Be smart about the questions that you come up with after you left and consider whether they are really important, if they reflect well on you or not, and how urgent the information is for you to get. For example, you may wonder if the company closes early on a Friday before long weekends as a practice. This is probably not the most important information for you to get. It does not represent you well, even though it would be wonderful to know. That’s not the kind of question the interviewer meant.

It sounds like a part of what you’re describing is trying to ask a question so that you can give a different answer than your previous one. You have a great opportunity here to write a terrific email to the individual, letting them know how interested you are in the position and that you wanted to clarify a point that they had asked. This gives you the chance to reinforce something that perhaps you didn’t feel you articulated as strongly as you would have liked to, and it could showcase another area where you want to demonstrate your expertise.

You may have noticed  people are not easy to reach by phone, but you can also leave someone an email delivering the same message: “Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the role. I enjoyed our conversation and want to clarify one piece of information….” Then, explain. Always offer the opportunity for continued conversation if they’d like more information. They will decide if they need to call you back, or call about the next step in the process.

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Generating phone tag is absolutely not what you want to do. You want to make it easy and convenient for this person to hear the information that you want to offer, and you can do that by sending an email or leaving a voicemail. On both your email and your voicemail, don’t forget to leave your phone number. Your goal is to always make it easy for anyone to return your call, even if there’s not a plan for them to do so.

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