Brazen Careerist

Google is a window into our collective soul (sometimes not the most flattering one). Many of us are willing to share pressing worries and weird anxieties with search engines that we'd confess to almost no one else.

And what's true of medical symptoms and romantic quandaries is also true of your job search. Typing "after an interview" into Google Trends reveals our escalating post-interview anxieties and lays bare all our worries about how and when to follow up.

Unfortunately, though Google is great at surfacing our concerns, it's not always excellent at providing answers. Google search results often offer exceptional advice mixed with utter nonsense.

So, what questions are people secretly nervous about after their job interviews, and what are the best available answers to their concerns?

1. Should you mail a thank you note, email or call?

Even the greenest internship candidate hoping to schlep coffee to her first-ever office knows you're supposed to thank your interviewer afterwards. But the popularity of search terms such as "interview thank you," "thank you letter," "thank you email" and "thank you note" suggests many of us are confused about what form this contact should take.

Be memorable with an actual paper note? Opt for convenience (and avoid the appearance of desperation) with an email?

Unless the interviewer showed up in a bowtie and monocle and called you sir or madam (or gave other obvious signs of being extremely old-fashioned), almost all experts agree that the speed of an email trumps the personal touch of a paper letter.

"I've gotten scores of emails asking the same question: Should I send a handwritten or electronic thank you note?" says Jessica Liebman, who handles all of Business Insider's editorial hiring as managing editor. "While it varies depending on the industry, I'd strongly suggest going with the email."

"For most employers, an email is an acceptable form of thanks because email is a part of everyday business life and arrives quickly," concurs CareerBuilder Editor Anthony Balderrama.

2. What should your thank you note say?

Keep it short and sweet (and just a little salesy). Here's what Liebman says you should mention:

-- Thank you for meeting (or talking) with me.

-- I really want this job.

-- Quick plug about why you're perfect for it.

And what should you leave out? Kevin W. Grossman, an executive at BraveNewTalent and author of the book "Tech Job Hunt Handbook," recommends you leave out anything regarding salary or benefits.

"Seriously, that's left to when you're made an actual offer," he says. "And unless it was already discussed during the interview process, refrain from editorializing too much about personal or other professional issues that could affect your job performance in any direction."

3. What's the best time frame to follow up?

Speed counts. No matter how memorable you were, the interviewer is no doubt incredibly busy. Her good impression of you starts eroding under the onslaught of day-to-day tasks as soon as you leave the room.

Some advice encourages job seekers to send thank you notes immediately after the interview. "Same day. From your laptop in the parking lot, if you really want to wow them," suggests Forbes.

"You can send it the day of your interview to show just how eager you are," agrees Liebman.

But after that speedy initial contact, it's probably a good idea to sit on your hands. Again, this depends on the specific situation. If a hiring manager gave you his card and specifically said "call if you have questions," he may be testing your gumption to pick up the phone -- but generally, calls are annoying.

"The phone call is one of the easiest ways to sabotage your image," says Balderrama. "Phone calls are a nuisance in a way that letters and emails aren't."

Still, to phone or not to phone is one of the toughest decisions. The best bet for next time may to be to shortcut the conflict by getting specific follow-up steps outlined at the interview. (Click here to Tweet this thought.)

"There's no cut-and-dried script for inquiring about next steps," says Glassdoor career expert Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter. "But the point is, if the interviewer doesn't tie up loose ends neatly at the wrap of the interview, take the reins to inquire respectfully about next steps. With this information in hand, it will help you gauge how to handle your follow-up communications."

(Jessica Stillman is a contributor to Brazen Careerist. She writes a daily column for Inc.com, writes for Women 2.0 and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch and GigaOM, among others. Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Be Brazen.)

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