After your interview. you may wonder whether to send a post-interview thank you note or letter. And if so, what should the note say? Or NOT say. (That’s right. You can still screw things up. But I’ll say more about that later.)
Just remember that your interview process does not start or end at the interview itself. Every contact you have with the company — or even people somehow connected to the company — can wind up being communicated to the hiring team.
And so whatever you do, you want to add positively to the picture of yourself you’re painting. And that even applies to thank you notes!
Do after-interview thank you notes really matter?
Thank you notes are a nice extra. They won’t on their own get you the job — except in rare cases. And not if you aren’t qualified for the job. But they shouldn’t lose you the job either. (Again, there are exceptions.)
Although I never ruled someone out for not sending one, some hiring managers may use the lack of one to help eliminate people. Not my idea of smart hiring, but everyone is different — especially if the job requires relationship building and interpersonal communication. Still, odds are it won’t cost you the job if you’re highly qualified in their eyes.
But why risk it? A short, polite, well-written post-interview thank you can add a positive note to the impression you leave behind. It can help you stand out (and be remembered) as someone thoughtful and professional who they’d enjoy working with. Especially if you take the time to make it a good one!
Email or letter or phone call? Oh my!
When sending a post-interview thank you, most of the time an email to the person(s) who interviewed you will do nicely. Then again, depending on the type of job, an old-fashioned handwritten snail mail note (typed if your handwriting is as bad as mine) might be a nice touch.
As for phone calls … I personally never liked it when candidates called me just for a thank you. I mean, it’s a nice thought and shows they are willing to go the extra step. But when your day is busy, even a pleasant enough call may be going too far. Especially if you keep trying to chat them up. And especially if you’re one of perhaps 10 post-interview calls, all cutting into a busy person’s day. It can get awkward.
I know that may sound harsh, but again … why risk it. Of course, you are the ultimate judge. And there may be a job or connection that was made that helps you feel comfortable that a call is the way to go. Still, I would save calls for communication specifically requested by the hiring side.
What NOT to say in a post-interview thank you
First rule is not to say too much. Respect that people are busy and that they may have hundreds of emails sitting in their inbox at any one time. Plus, the more you write, the more chance you have of adding something that raises an eyebrow or two.
Best not to try to go over your interview point by point, trying to improve things you said. But if you do have something new to add that strengthens your case, say it briefly. And, if needed, connect the relevancy dots for them in a way that is pleasant and doesn’t beat the point into the ground.
Oh … and don’t use their first name unless they asked you to. Instead, use a more professionally formal Mr. or Ms. (or Mrs. if specifically mentioned, otherwise Ms.) or a title like Dr. as appropriate to the situation. And if more than one interviewer, a short customized note to each might be nice.
ONE MORE THING: While reviewing a top choice, I once saw a thank you note that was sloppy. And the candidate signed it with the oddest, almost manic, handwriting. He also said some odd things that seemed a little high maintenance.
Well … his thank you note caused me to dig deeper into his history / references. And there were big red lights that the interview team missed. So be aware of what you send — and what you say.
Tips for writing an after interview thank you
So now we get to the post-interview thank you note itself. A well-written thank you note can, at the very least, help an employer remember you. Hopefully in a positive light. And it can reinforce parts of the interview that went well. [There’s a sample thank you note to use as a template later on.]
Your goal is always to help them see you as a great match for the company and the job. One more opportunity to remind them who you are — even beyond the actual interview. And part of that is leaving them with the feeling you’d be great to work with.
Now, we know that a thank you note alone can’t do all that. But it can help add to the positive feeling — and, by keeping it simple and on point, not raise any concerns.
Two more things:
- SUBJECT LINE FOR EMAILS – So your note doesn’t go into their Spam Folder, identify the position in the subject line, along with your full name if not obvious.
- And, as with all communication, if your email handle is not professional, create one that is for your job search.
- WHO TO SEND IT TO – Interview thank you notes should be addressed to the interviewer(s) or main contact person, unless told otherwise. Again, use appropriate title as described earlier.
BASIC POST-INTERVIEW THANK YOU NOTE
IMPORTANT NOTE: I strongly advise that you adapt this sample template to your own style and circumstances. Each interview is different. If possible, make it feel like your voice.
But this should at least help get you started:
Jill Jackson, Executive Director
The Lawrence Organization
525 East 72nd Street
Dear Ms. Jackson,
It was a pleasure meeting you (today). I left excited by the job and the possibility of working with all of you at The Lawrence Organization.
It was especially interesting to learn about _____________________. [Insert a line or two max that strengthens the fit in THEIR eyes.]
Please feel free to let me know if you need any more information or if there are any writing / work samples I can provide to help you decide that I’d be a great fit for ______ (company name).
Thank you again for the opportunity. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
© Work To The Wise 2020. All rights reserved.
EXTRA TIP: I used to attach a personal business card to my own post-interview thank you notes. But only if you think it’s appropriate for the job. Instead of a company name, you can bullet-point a few key skills. Like a mini-resume. If you don’t have one yet, they make a great addition to your job search tool kit. (And they don’t cost much.)
And even if your job isn’t normally one where you’d have a business card, there may be circumstances where a “Joan Doe, Professional Waitress” business card or whatever (even when networking) could leave a fun memorable impression.
More posts to help