Follow-up: Putting a personal finishing touch on a good interview

Follow-UpBy Joel O’Brien — As the academic year winds down, the job search “silly” season intensifies for many teaching candidates as experienced teachers pursue other positions and/or change districts, creating additional teaching openings.

Reflecting upon my own teaching job search, first seeing these positions can produce feelings of excitement and anticipation. However, it is important to not overlook the careful preparation required to secure a desired teaching position.

In Telling Your Story: Interviewing Effectively, I discussed strategies such as the STAR method that can be helpful when describing one’s experience during the interview process. While interview performance is crucial, equally important is following-up with administrators to seal the deal after a stellar interview. For those who have experienced it, there are few things that feel better than leaving an interview that went exceptionally well, where you and the interviewer connected and genuinely enjoyed each other’s conversation.

While it is easy to get caught up in these feel-good moments, the interview does not stop there. Below are three pieces of advice for following-up with administrators after an interview:

  1. Timeliness – Generally, I recommend submitting thank you notes or emails anywhere between a few hours and twenty-four hours after the interview.  While it may seem better to send correspondence as soon as possible, handing out a thank you note or sending an email immediately following and interview can some across as impersonal and thoughtless. Conversely, waiting too long can also be costly, especially if the administrator is looking to make a quick decision. While there is no one right formula to follow, make sure to ask about next steps going forward in the process before leaving the interview. If mailing a handwritten note, take into account the extra time for delivery. If you prefer to add a personal touch with a handwritten note, but are concerned about whether or not it will arrive on time, feel free to send both an email and handwritten note.
  2. Be Personal and Genuine- When writing a thank you note, it should be customized to capture insight and points discussed during the interview. While customizing each thank you note can be time consuming, it often times can be a deciding factor when administrators are making final decisions.  Including specifics from the conversation reflects a sincere interest in the position and says a lot about one’s awareness and listening skills. You can test the level of personal touch in a note by covering up the name of the recipient and evaluating whether or not you can tell who the note is directed toward. If you cannot identify the individual strictly by content, chances are the note is too generic.
  3. Contact Information- While this may appear obvious, it can be overlooked amongst the differing demands of the interview process. One factor that can help with attaining this information is to request the names of all interviewers prior to the interview. After receiving names, you can search individuals on the school district website to verify that their information is available. If not, it is appropriate to ask individuals for their business card or contact information at the conclusion of the interview. It is difficult to follow-up with administrators without their contact information. Lastly, make sure to send a separate note to each person participating in interview, as they most likely will have some input when making the final decision.  If they compare thank you notes and they are all the exactly same, it may come across as impersonal and less credible, as discussed above.



In an electronic era filled with text messages, tweets, and snap chats, a personalized note or email never gets old and still holds a lot of value, especially during the job search!

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