Following Up After Not Getting the Job in the Public Sector?
July 24, 2013 7:45 AM   Subscribe

I recently interviewed twice (once over the phone and once face-to-face) for a position at a public university. I was not selected for the job. I know it is done in the private sector, but is it appropriate in the public sector to write a follow-up email thanking them for their time, consideration, etc. etc.?

I have an application in for a similar interview in the same department that is a better fit. Any tips on the content of the email (if appropriate) would be appreciated, too.
posted by entropicamericana to Work & Money (10 answers total)
I have interviewed in both and have never sent a thank you note after I was not selected, unless a casual "thanks for letting me know, best of luck with XXX project" seems appropriate. The time for thank yous is immediately after the interview(s).
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:51 AM on July 24, 2013

I cannot imagine a circumstance where a short thank you for their time and effort is inappropriate. It is not done often, but I see no harm and potential upside.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:52 AM on July 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

FWIW, I did said thank-you emails immediately after both interviews, too.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:56 AM on July 24, 2013

Couldn't hurt, and it will show that there are no hard feelings about the decision, which will tell them that they shouldn't disregard your other application. I'd be as friendly as possible, and try to reference something about your interview process that will remind them of you, and connect it to the new opening.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:57 AM on July 24, 2013

It is not inappropriate. I have received such cards (in my public sector job I see a lot of candidates) and they are always appreciated. It may or may not have an influence on the hiring committee for another position, but it's never a bad thing to be a nice person.
posted by epanalepsis at 7:59 AM on July 24, 2013

Is it ever appropriate to ask why one wasn't selected or if there is anything would could improve on?
posted by entropicamericana at 8:03 AM on July 24, 2013

They would (and should) probably be advised by their HR department to simply say that another candidate was a better fit.

What you might want to do (and what I did to get a job at a public university), is to ask that person or another person more closely aligned with the new position (though probably not the actual hiring manager for the new position) for an informational interview, to get a better sense of the industry, the university and the department. When I did this, immediately after getting rejected for one position, the person I had the informational interview with dragged me along to the office of another person, whom she knew would have a position opening soon, and she told her to make sure I was shortlisted for it. It worked out really really well.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:14 AM on July 24, 2013

I was on a public university hiring committee last summer. Of the 8 or so candidates that we interviewed I had maybe 2 thank you letters. It was nice, but receiving or not receiving one wouldn't impact my attitude towards a candidate in future interviews or professional settings.

With regards to asking questions, for the committee the whole process was very confidential. It would not have been appropriate for me to tell a candidate why they weren't hired. That's something you should ask the HR department, but don't expect a particularly helpful answer back.
posted by sbutler at 10:13 AM on July 24, 2013

I'd say go for it. My department at a public University recently interviewed two people they couldn't decide on. Person one got hired. Now another person has quit and person two was immediately offered the job.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 10:23 AM on July 24, 2013

You can ask why you were not selected, but they will not tell you, and it might harm your chances at another position there. Really, any answer you get to this question anywhere will not be helpful to you. They are not going to tell you "you seemed a little socially awkward" or "we had an internal candidate who was always our choice"--there is too much liability in giving you the truth.

Your job search will go much better if you stop thinking about it anyways, just work on improving whatever you can and forget about the ones you didn't get.
posted by epanalepsis at 1:01 PM on July 24, 2013

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