Many candidates believe that the interview is the toughest and most important part of the application process. However, how you follow up after the interview is just as crucial.
You might have made a positive impact on the hiring manager, but you need to maintain your efforts. There are many critical, yet avoidable, mistakes applicants often make after participating in an interview. Hiring experts outlined a few of the most common, and how to recover. [See Related Story: The No. 1 Thing to Avoid Doing in a Job Interview]
1. Following up too much.
It's alright (and even expected) that you follow up after your interview, but don't overwhelm your potential employer with multiple messages and phone calls. If you reach out too often, you're going to turn off the hiring manager.
"Many of us have been programmed to send thank you notes immediately following an interview, and sometimes that's the right plan, but … be respectful of any communication parameters the interviewer may [have] set," said Jodi Chavez, president, Randstad Professionals and Life Sciences at Randstad US. "For example, if your interviewer requests email communication, stick to that and don't reach for the phone."
Additionally, she added, your follow-ups will differ depending on how far along you are in the interviewing process.
"In general, the earlier you are in the process, the more quickly you should check in," Chavez said. "An initial phone interview with no response may require follow-up within the week. However, you may want to wait seven to 10 days after a second or third interview."
During the interview, you should ask the hiring manager when you should expect to hear back, and when it would be appropriate to reach out if you haven't heard from them, said Jennifer Akoma, human resources director at Android Industries. Don't take it upon yourself to reach out to people who haven't given you permission to do so.
"We had one candidate [who] … used an organization that many of our employees were involved with to get their internal emails and phone numbers," Akoma said. "Their guerilla tactics ended up leaving a huge negative impression on me and many members of our staff."
2. Don't get too comfortable with the interviewer.
You might hit it off with the hiring manager, but you should remain professional and appropriate through the entire hiring process.
"Be polite, but never become too familiar," said Chavez. "Many people assume comfort early on in an attempt to build rapport, but this could put off your interviewer."
This goes for social media as well. While it's a great tool for marketing or showing your personality, it's not good for socializing with a potential hiring manager. [Read related story: Social Media Success: A Guide for Job Seekers]
"[One mistake is] asking to connect on LinkedIn with a hiring manager or one of the interviewers as soon as the interview is over," said Richard Orbé-Austin, career coach and partner at Dynamic Transitions Psychological Consulting. "This request may seem too presumptuous and be a turnoff to the hiring manager or interviewer."
3. Don't change your salary expectations.
Mike Astringer, founder and principal consultant at Human Capital Consultants, Inc. noted that HR professionals interview candidates based partly on their initial compensation expectations.
"We [need to] know that they fit into our overall compensation range," he said. "All too often, a candidate will interview for a job, become overconfident [and] then dramatically increase their compensation expectations."
Astringer said he makes an offer to a candidate based on those initial salary expectations. Candidates should avoid greatly increasing their expectations at the final hour, he said.
"It makes the candidate look bad, it makes me look bad, and it wastes everyone's time," Astringer added.
What happens if you mess up?
Mistakes happen. If you handle them with pure intentions and grace, depending on how serious they are, you might be able to recover.
"I haven't had anyone recover [from a mistake], but I also haven't had anyone try," Akoma said. "For example, if someone noticed an error on their thank-you letter and owned up to it quickly, I think I would still consider them. It shows accountability and willingness to admit and correct a mistake."
But no matter what happens following a mistake, don't burn bridges.
"If you don't get the particular position, you always send a gracious follow-up to the hiring managers and/or the HR person expressing interest in future opportunities," Akoma added. "It will make a good impression and could get you considered for other opportunities."
Additional reporting by Shannon Gausepohl and Brittney Morgan. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.