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So, you got an interview. Now what? Navigating the next steps of an interview and job offer.  

Submitting your resume to an online application portal can feel like you are throwing your resume into a void. It doesn’t help when you see that you are one of thousands of applicants applying for the same job. While getting to the next stage and securing an interview is a challenge, when you are called or emailed that you’ve been selected, it sure does feel like you’re on top of the world.

There’s not a lot of guidance or clear direction when it comes to navigating the next steps after you’ve submitted your application, so we’ve got some helpful tips to keep in mind as you patiently await a response from your potential employer.

When should I follow up?

After spending countless hours perfecting your resume and adjusting your work experience to reflect the skills needed for the listed job, waiting for a response requires a lot of patience. However, if you happen to know someone at the company, it’s always smart to let them know you’ve applied for the position. This way, they can let the hiring manager know you applied, which often flags your resume. If you don’t know someone at the company, you should wait two to three weeks before following up with an email expressing your excitement for the position.

When following up with an email, include your name, the position you applied for and why you are excited for the job. If there has been a recent news story or social media posting from the organization, it’s helpful to include a note referencing the story and showing you are invested in the opportunity. At the end of your follow-up email, it’s appropriate to ask if there is a timeline for the next steps and interview.

Thoughtful questions to ask the hiring team at the end of your interview.

After you receive the cherished email interview invitation and successfully conquer the interview questions, now it’s time for you to ask your own questions to the hiring team. A lot of interviewees prepare their interview answers but fail to prep interview questions, which is an equally important element of the job interview and serves as your last impression.

To start, a great first question to ask the hiring team is: “What does it look like to be successful in this position?” This question helps the hiring team envision you as a future employee and helps you get a better sense of what your expectations are if you are hired in the position.

Another thoughtful question to ask the hiring team includes, “What professional development opportunities do you provide for staff?” This question shows that you are constantly looking for ways to improve your skills, a quality that adds value to the company.

More helpful interview questions can be found here.

Standing out after an interview.

With a strong interview under your belt, there is one final action that can help your name rise to the surface if it comes down to a tiebreaker between a few standout candidates. Writing a follow-up letter or email thanking the hiring team for their time shows that you appreciate the opportunity, are serious about the position and respect their time.

In your letter, include what you enjoyed about the interview, such as learning about new aspects of the company, getting to meet the hiring team and any other personal notes that stood out during the interview experience. A hand-written thank you card goes a long way in today’s online-dominated world, so think about taking the extra time to write a note.

Negotiating your start date and salary

Finally, once you receive the coveted job offer, the last piece of the hiring puzzle involves your start date and salary. If you’re currently working at another organization, it’s good practice to give your employer at least two weeks’ notice before moving roles. If you have vacation plans scheduled during the beginning of your new role, let your employer know and see if you can start after the vacation.

Giving yourself a few weeks between jobs to unwind and reset helps you have a mental break before your new role. Take your time transitioning and ask if your employer is flexible on a start date.

Lastly, it’s time to negotiate your salary. Employers typically don’t offer the highest salary right away, and it’s expected that you will negotiate your starting pay rate. To know what the equitable rate is for your position, do some research and see what median salaries are in your industry and specific role.

Glassdoor and Indeed offer helpful online salary tools that uncover the salary range for your role. When it comes time to negotiate your salary, focus on bringing the median salary range up as support for your claim, instead of just saying how much you deserve it. Objective data is a powerful tool, so use it to your advantage!

Looking for more help navigating the job market? Career coaches at all 23 of Virginia’s Community Colleges provide support and advice for every step of the job search. Get started by connecting with a career coach today.