You just finished your job interview. What are your next steps? By now, you likely know by now you should send a thank you note, but if you’re like most… you won’t.
The post-interview thank you note is still far more important than most realize.
In some cases, it contributes directly to whether you are a stand-out candidate – or are immediately lost in the interview shuffle. And to make your note really effective, you should put more into it than just a simple “thank you”.
Here are some important tips to craft an effective thank you letter:
Before You Can Write a Good Thank You
Before you leave the interview, you must ask a couple of really important questions!
- What are the next steps in the process
- What is your time-frame for hiring… and if I don’t hear from you by then what is the best way for me to follow up with you?
These questions serve a couple of purposes. First, asking these questions show you are interested in the job and will take accountability for following up. Second, you now know when you should follow up and you won’t feel like a pest because you’ve gotten their permission!
The Thank You
The interview is a business transaction… not a birthday party, bridal shower or social event. That is why your thank you email should be in the form of a letter with three paragraphs (just like your cover letter).
Sure, one could make the argument for a handwritten note. I hear it a lot. But I am taking a stand on this: You have more to say than just “thank you” and that may be difficult to do in a handwritten note.
Three paragraphs only. I mean it. Then shut up!
- Paragraph 1: This explains why you are writing… hint: say “thank you”.
- Paragraph 2: This explains how your specific skills are a match for the job and how you will add value to their organization. This might also be an opportunity to address any of your areas of weakness during the interview or to improve upon an answer given during the interview.
- Paragraph 3: This emphasizes your gratitude for the opportunity and states when YOU will be following up.
(If you can accomplish this in a handwritten note, be my guest!)
The Purpose of Your Letter
There is more than one reason you are writing this letter. You are being polite, yes. But above and beyond that, the sincere thank you is part of the selling process. You are convincing them that you are the right candidate!
Additionally, sending a thank you makes you memorable.
Almost no one sends a thank you note. When the organization is interviewing lots of candidates, it is very easy for them to mix everyone up or forget specifics. Your thank you helps remind them who you are… and sets you apart!
Snail Mail vs. E Mail?
This process isn’t about which is easier for you, or which method you think might work best. Because you asked those important questions before you left the interview, you know the recruiter’s time frame for next steps, so let that determine how you deliver your thank you. Their sense of urgency should be the only consideration.
Sometimes job seekers want to send both an email and a snail mail letter. If that is the case, make sure the email different from the letter. Email, by definition, is shorter and a bit less formal. Go ahead and send a well crafted email thanking the interviewer(s) for their time and indicate that you have mailed them a letter as well.
Some Additional Pointers
- Use formal business letter heading and closing
- Do NOT use a cut and paste template… be original, each time
- Customize your message and details for each and every interview and interviewer
- Be as specific as possible when talking about how your skills/qualifications match the job and why that is of value to the organization
- Interject the right tone/personality to fit the organizational culture and personality of the person interviewing you
Quintessential Careers has a vast collection of Sample Job Interview and Career Thank You letters. I recommend you check them out… and emulate!
The thank you note is huge. Period. No, it won’t help you recover from a terrible interview. But even if the interview was “middle of the pack” in the eyes of the recruiter, the right thank you can greatly improve your chances of getting a second interview… or a job offer.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Career Sherpa!
About the Author: Hannah Morgan is a career sherpa, guiding new job seekers through the treacherous terrain of job search. If you are looking for no-nonsense advice, check out her site Career Sherpa, and follow Hannah on Twitter for the latest job search news and trends!