After the Interview


So, the big day has arrived, you had the interview, what’s next? Probably your first instinct is either Starbucks, Erdinger or back to the hotel for an in-room burger. But don’t slack off just yet – what you do next can have a great influence on the outcome of the process, so stay focused for a few more hours.


Write Journal Entry

Your first step after the interview should be to write a journal entry of the event. By journal entry, I mean write down what you discussed, who you met, what you asked, and anything else that seems relevant. I personally like to keep a journal and photograph notes with my phone. You can do it however you want, but do it! This will give you tremendous advantages.

First, you will have better recall (and understanding) of the job for which you are applying. Second, it will make you seem like a knowledgeable, adroit professional, especially if your understanding is reviewed at later interviews (always my second question – in case you’re interested in a career in recruitment). And finally, your journal will put you in a better position to ask your potential employer (and yourself) questions about the role, which will help you make an informed decision.


Say Thank You

In my experience nothing is more disappointing than people who don’t say thank you. It’s annoying to give your time and effort without recognition or thanks. If you give someone a pay-rise and they don’t thank you it takes the “edge” off the moment (RMG staff please take note). So, when you’ve left the interview and let an hour or so pass, take 20 minutes to draft a thank-you email to the person or people you’ve met. Here’s why:

1. They will immediately remember you. Most people do not follow up, and are quickly forgotten. Ask any business person what they want from their staff, their suppliers, or their spouses: it’s for people to follow-up and do what they say they’ll do. Because most people do not send interview thank-you notes, you will immediately be remembered for doing so.

2. The time to do this is the same day. If you leave it until the next day you’ll be forgotten. Following up the same day reinforces a person’s memory of you.

3. Be sincere. Phrase your follow-up honestly and with integrity. There’s nothing more pretentious and underwhelming than a feast of superlatives if you don’t actually mean them.

4. Be personal as well as to the point. Explain that “I really enjoyed meeting you” (if you did), and then go on to explain what you specifically enjoyed. This will help to build rapport with the interviewer. To quote Simon Cowell’s Dad: “Everyone in the world has a post-it note on their forehead which says ‘I want to feel important’.” Spending time to follow up shows respect, which is especially important in China.

5. Be clear that you would like to go to the next stage in the process (if you do). Companies appreciate confidence and dislike hesitation. There is nothing wrong with being assertive and ending your message with “I really look forward to the next stage in this process” or “I would be really great to meet you again.”


Call Your Recruiter

Despite the popularity of online job boards and social media sites, in China’s fast-paced employment market the vast majority of professional positions are filled by recruitment firms. The job of a (good) recruiter is to help you understand and manage yourself through the hiring process. Good recruiters work either exclusively for a company or are even pre-paid in advance, and do not have to worry about which candidate takes the job. Likewise good recruiters realize that you gain far more in the long term if you act with integrity and professionalism. Therefore:

1. Treat your recruiter with respect. There’s a reason that qualified attorneys, accountants, marketers and other executives change careers to become recruitment consultants, and it’s not because they’re stupid! So realize that the more you contribute to the recruiter/candidate relationship, the more you will benefit.

2. Trust but test. It’s important to be confident in the knowledge and competence of your recruitment consultant. Ask them challenging questions; probe what they say; test their market knowledge and experience. If you’re confident in their ability, you will relax and be open with the recruiter.

3. Watch out for red flags. Recruiters who tell you how great you are should not be trusted. Recruiters who don’t return your calls clearly aren’t that interested in you. Recruiters who tolerate you not returning their calls are desperate. Don’t work with them.

4. Make sure you call immediately after the interview to debrief. I can’t stress this enough, it must be immediately after all meetings. Their job is to ensure that the interview has gone smoothly, and to guide you when it has not. Therefore they need to have a snapshot of your state right after the interview.

And finally, don’t make the mistake of putting all of your eggs in one basket. If you want to move to Shanghai or Beijing, then be focused and make sure you explore the market fully. You won’t know if an opportunity is good until you’ve compared it with another. And one final tip – if someone asks why you are interested in the job, “because I’ve been headhunted” is probably the worst answer you could give, yet I hear it surprisingly often. E-mail me privately if you really need an explanation. Good luck!


ROBERT PARKINSON is CEO & founder of RMG Selection, an international recruitment organization whose Asia-Pacific region offices are located in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore.