Job-seekers employ a range of tactics that they believe will get them jobs. They work with search firms, build their social media connections, network and contact companies directly. These strategies often lead to interviews, but they don’t necessarily move the needle when it is time for a company to decide whether you’re the right person for the job.

Influencing the hiring manager is the tactic that will secure the job for you, and the post-interview follow-up is the most effective strategy for truly influencing the interviewer. Here’s why.

While hiring managers typically go into an interview with a description of the job and its responsibilities, as well as a vision of the qualities the ideal candidate will possess, their perceptions of their needs can change during the vetting process. Each person hiring manager sees may cause them to think of new qualities they want in an employee, or new duties that could be included in the job description.

The person who gives the hiring manager the most food for thought, who stays in his or her mind the longest, and helps him or her better define the job has a better chance of being called back for another interview. A post-interview follow-up helps seal the deal.

If you’ve made it to the interview stage and the interview went well, it’s not only perfectly acceptable for you to make a follow-up phone call, it’s imperative. When you make the call, do more than ask for a status update: “I just wanted to check in and see where you are in the decision-making process.”

Instead, when they hiring manager tells you they’re still interviewing, try talking about the many ways in which the position could be structured, and the hiring manager’s evolving needs. Offer your help; don’t just ask for a job.

Remember, your immediate goal following an interview is not to get a job, but to build the relationship that will lead to a job offer. This takes time, and hiring managers are naturally cautious. They prefer to move slowly, in measured steps, rather than hurry into a decision that could turn out to be wrong down the road.

Before you end an interview, feel out the hiring manager about following up. How soon can you make contact to keep the movement going? Each interviewer will be different. Immediately after the interview, drop the interviewer a note or email thanking him or her for the interview and promising to keep in touch.

Your next contact should be a follow-up phone call. At that time, keep the conversation directed at relationship-building, and you won’t come across as a pest.

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