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If you’ve been following my journey you’ll know that I have spent the good part of the last year formulating an exit strategy from my current 9-5. I even managed to manifest an unsolicited opportunity that resulted in three promising rounds of interviews with a top boutique investment banking firm.

How I followed up after an interview during the coronavirusDisclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

In theory, my plan was formed:

  1. Spend a year researching investment strategies that would generate me passive income.
  2. Develop several streams of passive income (eg real estate buy and hold, affiliate marketing, develop a consulting business)I
  3. Hand in my resignation by March 16, 2020

Little did I know that as I was planning to resign, I would be pursued by a recruiting firm for a lucrative job opportunity with a great company. Also, unless you had a sure-fire way to predict the future, no one ever could have predicted that a worldwide pandemic would happen and disrupt normal life as we know it.

The interview timeline.

About a month before I was due to hand in my resignation, I was actually contacted by an executive recruiter via Linkedin. Out of the blue and completely unsolicited, she asked if we could chat.

It was like my thoughts and intentions over the years were being heard and somehow I manifested this! As a firm believer in exploring opportunities before turning them down, I accepted the recruiter’s invite to have a call.

I discovered that their client, the Co-President of a boutique investment banking firm was in the market looking for a candidate that had a very specific skill set and had actually asked for me by name. As far as I was aware I never dealt with this company directly before. I was flattered and assumed my Linkedin profile had garnered their attention.

The process accelerated. Within days of our initial call, I had interviewed with the recruiting firm’s president. Then over the next 2 weeks interviewed with the COO and Co-President of the hiring firm.

I thought this was an ideal situation and was anticipating getting an offer since all the feedback after interviewing was extremely positive.

Sure, this was not in my plan and I was so focused on exiting the 9-5 world altogether but I figured if the more options I have, the better. It’s a win-win situation.

The turning point.

Then the coronavirus happened. The day that my current job implemented mandatory work from home arrangements, was the day I was supposed to resign.

It was a week since the last interview I had with the hiring company and had not heard back. If it was any normal day I don’t think I would have hesitated with sending a quick email to follow up asking for an update. But now……?I was asking myself all sorts of questions.

Should I follow up? How? What is the “interview follow up” protocol during a pandemic outbreak quarantine the world has never seen??? Are they doing ok?

“Follow up” protocol redefined.

According to the general rule of thumb for interviewing (via career-focused websites like ineeded.com, balancecareers.com, monster.com), you should wait around 5-7 business days before following up with a recruiter post-interview.

Since I was the one being pursued, the whole interview process already seemed a little unconventional to me (especially since I hadn’t had to interview for a job since 6 years ago – that and well you know, THE CORONAVIRUS!)I

For the 2 interviews I had in this instance, the recruiter had made contact with me almost immediately after each one. I guess it was because the feedback was so positive on all sides and that the company was keen to hire.

But when something like this happens, what is the protocol? General rules of thumb during this situation pretty much goes out the window. All I knew was that:

  1. I wasn’t actively seeking another 9-5 job but was interested in this opportunity because it sounded very different from what I had been doing all my career
  2. I had established a good relationship with both recruiter and hiring company and didn’t want to reverse that
  3. Regardless of what my intentions were or what was happening around me, courtesy and compassion come first – especially because of what was happening.

Initially, I decided to send a follow-up email to the recruiter after the 7 business day rule of thumb. However, 7 days into waiting the whole world turned upside down.

I ended up waiting 7 more business days (mostly because I had other priorities to worry about)I The key would be to strike the right balance by being professional without being insensitive.

Example of email follow-up.

After spending some time thinking about how to craft such an email I came up with something like this:

“Hi (Recruiter),

First and foremost I hope that you and the team are doing well, staying healthy and sane during these crazy times!

I realize that this situation is unprecedented and I appreciate it might take some time before we can pick up where we left off with this opportunity. I wanted to reach out and check-in but can only imagine that (hiring company interviewers) have more pressing priorities to deal with at this time!

Fortunately, I have the capability to be working from home currently – which seems to be the norm now and available to discuss should there be any updates. If you need anything else from me please let me know. In the meantime, stay safe and take care.”

I re-read this several times before sending and even shared with my sister, K.D Brighton, to get an outsider’s thoughts. Eventually, after no further objections, I hit send and waited with anticipation.

It was no more than 15 minutes that I had received a reply! I was relieved to hear that they were doing well despite all the madness but more so because I had received a response.

In return, the recruiter was also courteous, sensitive and professional saying that she had been in close contact with the hiring firm but given the recent events, everything was in a holding pattern and speculated that it might be a while before she could give me an update.

The response was as I had expected but at least some degree of uncertainty was eliminated. That gave me some relief.

Lessons learned.

I found it bizarre how a response like that gave me some assurance despite not getting an update.

Did I get to execute my exit strategy? Not yet.

Was it inappropriate for me to follow up in the first place? Some may think so. But I am not one to leave things “hanging”.

There is always a choice and a reasonable way to approach things. Some good lessons that I learned during this scenario:

  • Life throws you curve balls but it’s how you react that matters
  • If a door closes another one always opens – YOU just have to be open to it
  • Stick to the facts
  • You can be sensitive without being emotional
  • You can be rationale without being insensitive
  • Find a balance between professionalism and compassion
  • Everyone is human and I am not the only one
  • It is always good to have an independent, third party’s opinion
  • The world is not ending so don’t think like it (or preferably – don’t use that tone in an email!

Especially now, when no one, not even our government or other leaders we may look to in times like this, can give any definitive answers so sometimes it helps to go back to basics; stick to the facts, rely strongly on our morals, remember our duties as fellow human beings, and continue to have faith.

As the old saying “the only thing we can be certain about is uncertainty”. Strangely enough, this gives me comfort during times like this.

Thank you for reading. I hope that this provided some guidance. Remember folks – stay home, stay healthy and safe and try to stay sane!

How do you react when thrown a “curveball’ in life? Were you in the midst of carrying out a plan or about to make a life-changing decision during the coronavirus outbreak? Comment below!

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6 thoughts on “How I followed up after an interview during the Coronavirus outbreak

  1. Wow thanks for sharing such a concise article in time like this, so many have been thrown curveballs during this period.I was a victim of such,I began to outsmart it when I realize that changes will happen. …
    2) Some changes will be challenging.
    3) Accept the new change in my life.
    4) Keep an open mind.
    5) Kill it with kindness and humor.
    6) Do something kind for myself.

    1. Hi Edahnewton1 – wow I love this!! This is the best way to approach things. It’s not always easy but I absolutely agree that it is really your attitude that matters and that can make a difference – regardless of what curve balls life throws at you. You are spot on with 6) “Do something kind for myself”. I think often, people forget about self-care. It’s easy to forget. I also think self-care is a good way to care for others in a way. Keep up the positive attitude! I wish you the best and much success too! Thanks for reading and leaving me a comment:)

  2. Hello , interesting story! And mainly the timing! Coronavirus stroke us all and froze many companies and businesses. I think when situation will be in normal again, lot of people wont be able to continue their jobs or businesses.
    I was actually struggling with the same issue. Get out of 9-5 job, but probably since new year 2020. So i discovered few online businesses, which are now the best option, and i believe there is a huge potential. It was mostly affiliate marketing programs such as Prosperity Of Life – i turned it down coz they were offering some self development digital program and its further promotion for commition, but it was super expensive plus monthly fees and ads.
    Another program was Dream Team – they were offering products from Enagic (devices for water alkalinezation and some supplement products) it was as well very expensive and you would have to promote just those specific products.
    And third affiliate program was Wealthy Affiliate, which i gave a chance and am realizing now that its the best, coz u can promote what u want or choose to promote that company as well. So success here is just a matter of time and effort.
    So in times like this i just dig deeper, set up new goals and never give up!
    Be strong, take care and let us know how things turned for you.

    1. Hey Sluczech. Thanks for reading! That’s great that you are really researching and exploring alternative ways to make money. I agree with you that there are still ways to make money – via online business. It seems like the only way right now. It’s very smart to arm yourself with a lot of options, that way when the time comes to take the leap and leave the 9-5 it may help to make that decision easier. I wish you the best of luck and success. I appreciate the words of encouragement! It’s really important, especially during times like to stay positive….otherwise what is the alternative? 

  3. A plan to exit the current 9-5 job. That would definitely be a dream come true, but as you said, it’s not that easy, especially in this current time of the pandemic.

    It’s always good to have a plan. I rarely do this, generally just coasting along and taking life as it comes. Even this wonderful WA, i just stumbled across it and decided to pursue it.

    You sound well qualified in your field of work. What did you study for your degree or masters degree?

    Your follow up protocol was really useful, as i didn’t even have a clue what the ‘general rule of thumb’ for interviewing was. 

    You might as well just follow your dreams and do what you really want to do!

    How is your investment strategic research coming along? Has the passive income developed? Have you resigned yet? Are you participating in any affiliate advertising program then?

    Yes, i agree that it’s always good to be kind, courteous and compassionate.

    By the way, the world is coming to an end, but more about that in my next article. Keep living life as you know how, enjoy friends and family and most importantly love one another deeply.

    Don’t tell anyone…..Jesus Christ is returning to planet Earth and everyone will see Him. How fascinating is that!!!

    Stay safe, stay awake and trust in God!

    1. Hi Dayo…I wrote this article at the very beginning of the quarantine lockdown. Unfortunately, as you may have guessed, the firm is on a hiring freeze which I suspect is indefinite. I am very, fortunate to be working still – albeit from home so it has given me time to reassess and recalibrate. With regards to my investments, I – like most investors out there – continue to sit and wait on the sidelines, waiting for some certainty. I am also looking more into affiliate marketing side hustles and sharpening my social media/marketing skills in the meantime. Nothing profitable as yet but it does keep me productive and distracted. Thank you for your comments. I wish you the best and much success.

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