Should I follow up after interview?

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The email from Talent Acquisition read:

“You are invited for an interview at our Detroit WLBS office – next Monday 11-15.”

Jekyll was overjoyed. Against what his friends had said, his web development online certification from Codecampfolks wasn’t fruitless, after all. In fact, he had won a small bet against one of them, and he was excited to shame him.

But Hyde couldn’t be shamed. He would always grunt.

Those courses – they can’t teach you programming.

-Hyde, veteran COBOL programmer

Hyde, a homeless man in his 60s, sold strawberries on the streets of Detroit, and Jekyll often ran into him. If he was high on his programming skills, Hyde managed to level him up.

DISCLAIMER: If you hate fiction, stay for a while. You will soon find that at least one of them is for real.

Back to Jekyll: Jekyll wanted to get over it on Monday itself so rest of the week could be party anywhere – or relief he screwed it up. And he would nail it, why he would not?

He would avoid all streets where Hyde frequented until the interview was over. 

And over it was, on Monday evening. Grueling 1-hour task of website module building, followed by 2 interviews – by tech lead and top manager respectively. He managed to maintain his cool through out, but at the end of it, he was exhausted. So exhausted, that he forgot to ask whether there will be a next step.

Monday evening, Jekyll drank lot of beer. Finished battle had eased him up to dream indefinitely. He could not sleep that night. 

Tuesday morning was drowsy. All that was expected was a call from the WLBS. For full day he sat on his PC switching between webpages – Detroit junior web developer salary trends, premium range smartphone reviews, trendy t-shirts and trousers catalog. His eyes got puffy. Nothing changed the day. 

Wednesday held a closest friend’s wedding at city’s outskirts, and Jekyll had dreamed of announcing his success there. But his interviewer failed to wake up from slumber despite Jekyll checking his phone every 3 minutes.

Jekyll could barely hold until Wednesday night, when he googled “should I follow up after interview” – all the results said yes. And they advised rigorously on the techniques.

Thursday morning, Jekyll waited until 11 AM – now everyone would be in office. He reached a peaceful corner in a cafe to avoid anxiety, and fill up his stomach, before he picked up his phone.

* *

By the time Jekyll hung up, Hyde had sat himself on the opposite chair, and started devouring a donut. Jekyll was in no mood of feeding a homeless old programmer today, but he had no energy left to argue or flee, after the call was over.

Hyde was smiling with his age-defying smirk.

“If they wanted you, they will call. Grow up, kiddo.” 

And this time too, Hyde was right.

* *

Almost all career sites unequivocally advise devs like Jekyll to follow up – what they differ in is the technique of follow-up.

Most of them advise polite emails over repetitive phone calls – and they all are right – only under one situation: you are relying on a recruiter, the middleman, who is responsible for communicating with both the employee and the employer about every phase of recruitment.

If there is no one between you and your employer, take this: As a developer – if you stand out – your employer always contacts you. 

In certain situations when they will not contact you despite of the fact that they liked you:

  • they have screened you – and have also told you so, but you have some disagreement about nature of work / compensation. Again. no need of repeated follow ups unless you change your stance on disagreement.
  • they want time with more candidates – and it is only fair.
  • they already told you about the deadline of judgement before which you should not expect their answer

By following up with your employer, you are not only disturbing their judgement process and devaluing yourself in their eyes. It is much more than that. 

You are falling prey to a potentially harmful psychological trait: Validation anxiety. 

Now, what was that?

Validation Anxiety is all things that clutter your mind while you wait for those 3 magical words (a.k.a. you are hired!):

  • Did I mess up whiteboard interview with the sorting by employee / department
  • Did I not thank them for the interview opportunity
  • Did my attire suck?
  • Was I late?

Those symptoms describe validation anxiety. And the bad part about it is – it runs for days.

Irrespective of any of it being true, the whole exercise is futile when things are out of your control. And yet, everyone falls prey to it simply because it’s human. 

But there are certain techniques that humans try to get rid of validation anxiety. Just like people doing aggressive workouts – an effective anger-channeling technique known since ages.

While validation anxiety is not same as anger, it is just a matter of time before it turns into one.

So what technique could you try to avoid validation anxiety instead of following up after your interview?

You code.

In the interview, if they asked you to implement sorting of employee records by names, followed by departments, why not try building a small website capable of adding and removing employees to an organization? You are sitting on your couch alone, you have no one else watching over you. 

One more tip: You must do this on the after-night of the interview itself. That’s when it works the best.

All you do is write code, erase, rebuild – finally see it work. Sweat it out with your fingers. If it takes more than a day, good. Time is best healer for validation anxiety.

Benefits of not following up after interview:

  • Spending your Tuesdays & Wednesdays much more productively than regretting and waiting
  • Gain back confidence that was somewhat eroded past the interview
  • Have an item ready for your interview next week for Lake Victoria FrontOffice Solutions – a hundred million bigger firm than WLBS.
  • In case WLBS runs out of candidates and calls you up next Monday, show them off your post-interview creation, along with an offer from LVFS. 
  • Indifference is the strongest weapon. Ever heard of being conspicuous by absence?
  • Most importantly: Tell WLBS that show goes on without them anyway. Show them who is the boss.

After all, that’s what Hyde always wanted to do in his prime, but nobody told him how to show it: Show off your best, and offer nothing but indifference for the rest of whatever is left. 

And he has been chasing you in the streets of Detroit – to avoid making you repeat his fate.