Don’t make the mistake of thinking that once you walk out the door after an interview, it is out of your hands.

Job gurus recommend job seekers to take command with follow-up actions.

Part of your job application process, they help to send positive signals, even after the interview, of yourself as proactive, resourceful, interested and keen enough to do a follow-up.

Such an image never hurts in the job hunt.

The golden rule is to execute the follow-up — write a thank you letter and make a phone call —  soon after the interview.

Write a thank you letter

Unless employers specifically state at the interview, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”, or that you are not so keen on the job after all, a good follow-up is to send a thank you letter.

You can e-mail your letter or send it by snail mail. Here are some guidelines:

* Get the basics right. Thank them for meeting with you in person; express appreciation for their interest in you; remind them of some of your strengths and suitability for the position; and mention a few particular points about the interview that made an impression on you.

* Be short and sharp. Be enthusiastic about the job — confirm you can do it and you want it, but keep it simple and concise. Keep your letter to one page only.

* Get names and titles of the people who interviewed you from their business cards. A bad bungle would be to thank Ms Tan for her kind insights, but there was no such person at the interview. Try to refer to something specific about the discussion or questions asked by a particular person.

* Some possible lines to use: “I would like to thank you for talking to me about the research assistant position in your animation centre. Or, “I’m happy that you found my background work in computer graphics provided excellent experience for this position.”

Make a call

The second follow-up, the telephone call, can be made about five days to a week after the interview.

Calls can be a bit tricky because you may already be nervous and shaky. So if you can conquer your nerves and handle the call with smooth-as-silk coherence, do it.

If there was more than one interviewer, speak to the main interviewer. Make sure you have the right name. Prepare what you are going to say. Get to the point and adopt a professional and cordial tone.

Smile when making calls because apparently it does influence how you sound. Follow the same content and lines as the thank you letter.

Here are some tips:

Start by identifying yourself

State your name clearly and the position you were interviewed for, the date and time — so they can still remember you, even if vaguely.

If you need to tug at their memory, use professional chords. Refer to some specific item during the interview, something they commented on, or something professionally unique about yourself.

Example: “I was the lady who was once an army officer”; or “the one with the PhD in economics”; and not “I was the one in the bright red dress with a low neckline.”

State your purpose

Once they can place you, the conversation should roll on to your purpose. State simply and directly that you were anxious to find out whether there was any decision made, and how you fared.

Should they say you didn’t get the job, express disappointment and ask to be considered should other openings be available.

But usually, interviewers don’t give results over the phone. They will likely say they don’t know yet.

The point of the call, anyway, like the letter, is for follow-up contact, to get yourself remembered, an opportunity to project a good image of yourself, a chance to remedy any lingering doubts they may have about you.

Smart move

Many employers now realise the value of persons who are concerned enough about a job to write or call.

Certain employers even now expect it, especially for sales and marketing positions, where follow-ups are part and parcel of the occupation itself.

Do follow-ups make you appear desperate?

What is important is how you do it.

Confine follow-ups with the employer to one letter or one telephone call. Don’t overdo it. Lurking along their corridors or sending roses or fruit baskets are not advisable.

Interviews can sometimes befuddle employers even more as to who is the right one.

Your follow-up may make the difference, even recasting you in a rosier light.

It doesn’t guarantee you the job, but it will help keep you in the company’s good books for future references, future contact, networking.

If you did not do so well at the interview, a follow-up can act as damage control.

You may say you are sorry if you, at any time, conveyed a negative impression. You may clear up a few issues, but keep it simple. No profuse apologies are necessary.

Job interview follow-ups are a competitive move, acknowledging the need that job seekers today have to be heads above the competition.