After every job interview, it’s critical to follow up with a thank you note to the person that interviewed you. Thank you notes are not just common courtesy; they are essential elements of the interviewing process.
Your smart competitors will be sending them and employers may hold it against you if you fail to follow up with a thank you. They may view you as uninterested, lazy, or impolite.
In fact, sending a thank you letter or thank you email can make the difference between getting the job and getting passed over. It’s your opportunity to remind the interviewer of your interest in the job and the top qualifications that set you apart from other applicants.
The following tips will help you craft a great thank you note for any job interview.
1. Don’t Procrastinate
Send a thank you email immediately after the interview. You want to reinforce your good impression (or strengthen your not-so-good impression) in your employer’s mind while the memory of the interview is still fresh. If possible, send your thank you note within 24 hours of the interview.
If you find yourself struggling to write the “perfect” thank you note, remember that it’s more important to send a good thank you note promptly than to send a great thank you note after the interviewer has already eliminated you from the running. Do the best you can in the time you have. The tips below will help you.
2. Customize Your Job Interview Thank You Notes
When writing your thank you note, it’s important to keep your reader in mind — her personality, her level within the organization, and her top priorities for the job in question.
This reader focus will serve you well in choosing both format and content for your thank you. While an email thank you note is standard these days (and will reach your recipient much sooner), there may be times when a handwritten note or card may help differentiate you from other candidates. Some candidates opt to send both in these situations. Think about what seems most appropriate for your interviewer.
You also must customize the tone of your letter for each interviewer. You don’t want to send a stiff, formal thank you letter to a 28-year-old techie manager.
You also don’t want to be too casual or familiar if your interviewer was a 60-year-old CEO in a three-piece suit.
Every thank you note should begin with a sincere expression of appreciation.
For example: “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me yesterday.”
See below for what should come next to turn a thank you letter into another opportunity to sell yourself for the position.
3. Your Thank You Letter is a Sales Letter
You must look at your thank you note as a marketing/sales opportunity. This may be your last chance to influence the interviewer and convince him to bring you back for a second interview or even extend a job offer.
Here’s how: After expressing your thanks for the interviewer’s time and interest (see above), concisely reiterate why you want the job, why you think you are the best choice for the job, what you can give to the company that other applicants can’t, and any other selling points for this particular position.
If you were paying attention in the job interview, you’ll know which details will be most compelling for your interviewer.
Use the thank you note to add important details that you forgot to mention (or the interviewer forgot to ask about) or to reinforce the aspects of your background that seemed to impress the interviewer. If you are one of a crowd of candidates, don’t assume that the interviewer will remember all of the details. It never hurts to reiterate your strongest points.
Just remember to keep the letter short and to the point. If you try to include too much detail, you will lessen the impact.
Also, don’t forget to communicate enthusiasm and interest in the job. This is especially important if you feel you were stiff in the interview.
Show interest, but not desperation. It’s okay to say that you would love to have the opportunity to work for a great firm like Company X or take on such an interesting role.
It’s not okay to say you really need a job right now and you’ll do whatever it takes to get an offer. Show confidence in your qualifications even if you have to fake it.
Close by providing your contact information and expressing your willingness to provide additional information as needed or meet with other decision makers.
It’s also fine to politely inquire about next steps in the process if the interviewer didn’t provide that information in the meeting.
Special Note: Remember that you should write separate thank you notes to each interviewer — even if you participate in a group or panel interview or meet with three separate people in a row at the same firm.
Each person will play a role in the decision-making process. Address each separately and tailor your thank you notes to address the different individuals and their specific priorities/concerns.
4. Pay Attention to the Details
Always, always proofread your thank you letter and make sure everything is spelled correctly, including names. Do NOT rely on your spell check tool. If you don’t know how to spell a person’s name, call the office and double check. Nothing is worse than misspelling somebody’s name in a thank you letter.
Finally, make sure you have the right name in the salutation. Don’t send an email to Bob that leads off with Dear Fred. When you’re sending lots of thank you notes, this mistake is common, but it makes you look sloppy.
If you follow the advice above, a simple thank you note can greatly improve your odds of scoring a job offer or a second interview. Good luck!