Many aspects of the job search process have changed over the years. However, one thing has remained unchanged, and that is the importance of sending an interview thank-you note after meeting with a prospective employer.
You might think that a thank-you note is old-fashioned and a minor part of the job search process. But that’s where you’d be wrong. Most employers still expect to receive one—and they usually appreciate and take note of the gesture.
The act of writing an interview thank-you note is fairly simple, takes little time, and can make a huge impact. It can help you stand out from the competition and show that you’re willing to go above and beyond what is required of you in an interview.
Why You Should Write a Thank-You Note After an Interview
No matter how timeless the practice seems, there are several reasons why you want to keep writing those post-interview thank yous.
No Thank-You Note Could Mean No Job
You’re fresh out of the interview—feeling good about your presentation, answers, and connection with the interviewer. You feel like you absolutely nailed it. You’re 100% confident you’re going to get a callback.
But then a week passes, and you don’t hear anything. And then another week. Whoosh! A month has gone by. Nothing. Not a word. You follow-up to check in, but the position has already been filled.
Where did you go wrong?
A survey by Accountemps found that 80% of human resources managers consider whether or not they received a thank-you note when making their hiring decisions. However, the same study found that only 24% of candidates send thank-you notes.
Sending a post-interview thank you may be the one thing that sets you apart from other candidates. For example, if you find out that the company is interviewing 20 other candidates for one position, there’s a good chance you’ll stick out from the competition—in a good way, no less—if you’re the one that sends a thank you.
It’s a Second Chance
Sometimes, your interview may have gone less than ideally. It happens. And while you may have recovered during the interview, a thank-you note offers you a second chance to clear the air.
Say the interviewer asked, “How would your last boss describe you,” and you answered, “Quiet.” Even though you clarified what you meant by that during the interview (you did, right?), you could use the thank-you note as an opportunity to clarify your answer further.
For example, you could say, “While ‘quiet’ may not sound like the greatest quality in an employee, I believe it accurately describes my style. I like to focus on my job while I’m working, which means I’m not spending a lot of time talking outside of meetings.”
How to Write an Interview Thank-You Note
You’re convinced that you should write a thank-you note after an interview. But, writing one isn’t really your thing. No worries! We’ve got tips and tricks that will help you craft an outstanding post-interview thank-you note.
Timing Is Everything
If you can, send your thank-you note the same day as your interview. When that’s not possible, make sure you send it within 24 hours of the interview. You want to stand out amongst other candidates, so the sooner you send it, the greater chance you have at making a lasting impression.
Email or Snail Mail
In general, you’re better off with an email thank you. Even if you were told that there wouldn’t be a decision for “at least a week,” most hiring decisions are made within 48 hours of the interview. If you miss that window, your thank-you note won’t help your application.
However, there is nothing wrong with a paper thank you if you feel that it would make a better impression on the hiring manager. A handwritten note could signal that you’re willing to put a personal touch on things. In some industries (like nonprofits), that “personal touch” may be the one thing that sets you apart from other candidates.
The Subject Line
There isn’t much to the subject line for a thank you email after an interview. But, the odds are pretty good that the recruiter gets a lot of emails with names as the subject line. Make sure your message stands out with an appropriate subject line.
Start the subject line with “Thank You.” But don’t stop there. Add your name and the job title, so it’s easier for the interview to find your specific email. There are a few variations, but any of these could work:
- Thank You – First Name Last Name, Job Title
- Thank You – Job Title, First Name Last Name
- Thank You – Job Title, Last Name, First Name
Address the Person Properly
Let’s say that the hiring manager asked you to call them by their first name during your job interview. It makes sense, then, to address them informally when writing your note of thanks. But if you’re unsure what to call them (or if they didn’t ask you to call them by their first name during the interview), it’s best to stick with a more formal Mr., Mrs., or Ms.
Thank Them for Their Time
This might sound a wee bit obvious, but some people get so caught up in trying to sell themselves in the interview thank-you note that they forget to actually thank the interviewer for their time!
Show How You Connected with Them
Let them know how much you’d like to work there. Tell them exactly what you loved about the position or company culture. Show them that you connected with them.
Mention a Highlight from the Conversation
Again, you want to keep this short and mostly focused on how grateful you are for their time and consideration. But to really stand out and remind the hiring manager of how wonderful the interview was (at least from your point of view!), and remind them of who you are (maybe they interviewed a dozen people that day!), briefly mention a highlight from the conversation or something you know they really enjoyed hearing or talking about.
For instance, if their eyes lit up and their ears perked when you talked about your excellent communication skills, touch on that again in your thank-you note. If you bonded over having graduated from the same college, a simple “P.S. Go Wildcats!” might put a smile on their face.
Show Enthusiasm for the Position
Emphasize how excited you are to be considered for the position and tell them why you feel it’s a great opportunity.
Reinforce Your Top Qualifications
After thanking the interviewer for their time, briefly reinforce your qualifications. Hopefully, you learned more about the position and the specific duties. Describe how your skills and experience will benefit the company and give a specific example.
Keep It Short
Remember, you’re not writing a novel here. You’re writing an interview thank-you note. Keep it short and sweet.
If you go the snail mail route, make sure you have a professional signature. Your signature is a representation of you, and you want to be perceived as an adult, not a kid. So make sure your signature is clear of cutesy clutter.
It’s also crucial that your signature is legible; don’t scrawl your name across the paper. But if you have really bad handwriting, you can always type your full name underneath your signature, so your employer will know who the card is from—and know whose resume and cover letter to put at the top of the pile.
If you go the email route, signing off with a “Sincerely, Your Name,” is good enough. However, make sure you delete anything that your email program automatically adds at the bottom of your signature. The link to your LinkedIn or social media profiles is fine. The quote about “It’s beer o’clock somewhere” is not.
Bonus Tip: Send an Individual Note to Each Person You Met With
Sometimes you interview with several people in one day, which means each person gets a thank-you note. While it might be a pain to personalize every thank-you note (especially if it was a group interview), do it anyway.
This shows that you took the time to learn about each interviewer, demonstrating you are a detailed and thoughtful person. It’s fine to use the same opening (Thank you for your time today) and closing (Sincerely), but make sure you mention one unique thing for each interviewer. If nothing else, you never know when the recipients are comparing notes to see if you created a unique thank-you note for each of them!
And be sure to triple check the name at the top! Copying and pasting can be a dangerous game.
What to Leave Out of a Post-Interview Thank-You Note
While getting the right things in the thank-you note is important, it’s equally important to skip a few things, too.
If I Don’t Get This Job, I Don’t Know What I’ll Do
Yes, you want that job. But, you still need to avoid these types of phrases that place even more of a burden on that employer. You can be enthusiastic about the opportunity without making it the thing that’s solely responsible for your happiness and well-being.
Emotional threats like this one won’t do you any favors. On the contrary, they only make you seem desperate—and perhaps even a little unstable.
This Job Would Be so Good for Me, Because
This is a trap that’s easy to fall into. You want to talk about all of the ways that the role would positively impact your life.
Here’s the brutal truth: prospective employers don’t care. It might seem selfish or cold-hearted, but they want to know about how you’ll add value to their company—as opposed to how they can benefit you.
Resist the urge to rant and rave about all of the reasons that job would improve your life, and place the majority of your emphasis on what you bring to the table and how that contributes to any company goals.
I Need to Hear Back from You By
Hopefully, you and the recruiter discussed the hiring timeline during the interview. If you didn’t, you might think that the thank-you note is a perfect time to ask when they will make a decision. But it’s not. It only comes across as rude and desperate. In this case, the best you can do is say, “I look forward to hearing from you soon,” and wait it out.
If you do have an offer from another company on the table, it’s polite to let the other employer know and ask when they might have a decision on their end so you can weigh your options. The operative word there is ask—you don’t want to dole out rude demands.
I’m Perfect for This Position
While you should always be confident and believe in yourself, there’s no such thing as perfect. And, even if there was, can you prove you’re perfect? Don’t talk about how you’re perfect for the role. Talk about how your skills will contribute to the role and the company.
Example Interview Thank-You Notes
It’s easy to say, “write this, not that,” but what should a thank-you note look like anyway?
Sample Thank-You Note 1:
Dear Interviewer Name.
Thanks so much for taking the time to meet with me today. It was refreshing to hear how you’ve created an open and collaborative environment that encourages honest and transparent communication between all employees.
It sounds like Company Name is shifting its marketing strategy. I’d love to contribute my social media skills and experience to support the company’s continued growth. In my current position, I’ve grown our social media following by X% and would love the chance to grow your social media following by even more.
Again, thank you. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Sample Thank-You Note 2:
Dear Interviewer Name:
Thanks so much for meeting with me today about the Job Title position. It sounds like your team is embarking on an ambitious undertaking, and I would love to contribute to your new sales strategy.
I enjoyed learning more about Company’s long-term sales goals. It sounds very similar to the strategy I enacted at Former Company, so I believe I’d be able to hit the ground running and help you achieve your quarterly sales goals.
Again, thank you for your time. If you have any other questions for me, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Thank-You Notes Are Not Dead
Love them or hate them, post-interview thank-you notes aren’t going anywhere. But, now you know exactly what to say (and what to avoid) to help leave the best impression possible with your interviewer.
Waiting to hear back about a job is hard. In the meantime, we’ve got advice on when you can and should follow-up on an application and what to do when you don’t hear back from an employer after an interview.
GET MORE JOB SEARCH TIPS ON THE FLEXJOBS BLOG >>>
Ariella Coombs, Jennifer Parris, Alexis Reale, Adrianne Bibby, and Kat Boogaard contributed to this post
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
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CAREEREALISM, Managing Editor
Ariella Coombs is the managing editor of CAREEREALISM. She’s a wicked career nerd, and loves finding ways to make career more fun. Follow her on Twitter @AriellaCoombs!Read More >
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