Ask The Headhunter: Should I Call the Manager After the Job Interview?

BY Nick Corcodilos  July 23, 2013 at 2:25 PM EDT

Calling the manager after your interview to follow up will distinguish you from the competition. Photo courtesy of Spencer Platt via Getty Images.

Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979, and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community over the past decade.

In this special Making Sense edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards, or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.

Question: I had a second job interview that went well. The manager walked me to the elevator and said to feel free to call him if I had additional questions. He mentioned this during the first interview as well, and I have his cell number.

How should I interpret this? Should I call the manager and follow up with some questions just to see whether I’m still being considered? Or should I hold off? It just seems a bit awkward to call with more questions following a second interview. At this point, I should have asked all the necessary questions and it should really just boil down to a yes-or-no decision on the hiring manager’s part, right?

Nick Corcodilos: I think you’re being a complacent job hunter in a time when employers almost demand a perfect candidate for a job. In a tight job market, they want to see initiative, and they want proof that you’re the best choice. But I think most job hunters are complacent. It’s how “the system” trains people to behave: Apply for a job, and quickly move on to the next one on the job board. … There are millions of them.

Do you think employers are impressed with “drive-by job hunters?”

You’re giving me a chance to talk about a much bigger issue than your question: Job interviews create artificial barriers between two people who want to get a job done. Convention says the interviewer asks the questions and the candidate answers them. Then the interviewer makes a decision. How lame!

In my experience, some of the most productive dialogues between managers and candidates happen in between interview meetings. Freed from the constraints of the interview, a manager and a candidate can explore the side topics that reveal a lot about how they would work together.

I understand your trepidation about bothering the manager. But please re-think your notion that all questions have been asked. When is that ever true in business? To me, thinking that all questions have been asked suggests complacency. Do you think the manager might see it that way, too?

In my PDF book “Fearless Job Hunting Book 6, The Interview: Be The Profitable Hire,” I describe the distinction between “A” candidates and “B” candidates. I’m sure you’ll recognize the difference in these examples from the book:

B Candidates recite their strengths, credentials and achievements using the proper active verbs. This stuff is in a thousand career books that all your competitors have memorized. In a nutshell, B Candidates talk about themselves, and they wait for the employer to figure out why to hire them.

A Candidates talk shop. They don’t focus on their past achievements in an interview. They talk about the employer’s current business and about the work that needs to be done next week, next month and all through the year.

Which candidate would you hire? Which are you?

I’m not suggesting the manager is testing you, but I’d take him up on his offer. Show him you are an A candidate. He gave you his cell phone number for a reason: call. It indicates that you are engaged, motivated, and thinking about his company and his job more than any other. If you have no questions, offer this useful discussion:

“I’ve been thinking about how this job contributes to the company’s business. It’s just one job, but every job affects the bottom line. I’ve got limited knowledge of your business, but if you hired me, I believe I could add to your success by doing X, Y and Z in these ways… (briefly explain — briefly!).”

This is an A candidate. But this is where you must put on your thinking cap first. How does the job contribute to the manager’s and the company’s success? Enumerate three ways that reveal how smart you are about the manager’s business.

Then ask this critical question:

“As the manager, how do you expect this job to contribute to the business? It’s important to me to know what role I’d play on that level. And by the way, having talked with several other employers, I’ve concluded that you are the manager I really want to work for.”

To the manager, that call might reveal the difference between who gets hired (the A candidate), and who comes in second (the B candidate). It still may take time for the manager to make a decision and to process a job offer, but this is an important way to stand out from your complacent competition. (Still not sure what I mean by “B candidates?” See Don’t Be A Cow.)

Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “How Can I Change Careers?”, “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

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This entry is cross-posted on the Making Sen$e page, where correspondent Paul Solman answers your economic and business questions