Sending a thank you note after an interview sounds like a good idea until you sit down to write it. What are you supposed to say? Do you send it now or later? It’s easy to get overwhelmed, but crafting a fabulous thank you note isn’t rocket science, and the upside to sending one is huge. Thank you notes set you apart from other candidates and make you memorable. As with most things, you just need a little guidance. So in this piece, I’ll walk you through several tips and tricks to ace your next thank you note.
Why is a thank you note important?
Before my recruiting career, I ran an art collective. Part of my job was reaching out to potential sponsors for gallery shows and events. The sponsors who made donations usually attended our events, but sometimes they couldn’t make it. To make sure our sponsors understood the impact they made and felt appreciated, I collected pictures of the event and sent those photos along with a handwritten thank you note to each sponsor. I can’t tell you how many phone calls and emails I got from these sponsors thanking me for my thank you note! That small gesture meant so much to them and opened the door to building many positive relationships over the years. I strongly believe in the power of thank you notes, especially in the professional world during job hunting.
Elements of a great thank you note
There are a few elements of a thank you note that should always be there.
- An interview recap – To clarify, I’m not saying give a play-by-play overview of what happened on your call. I’m saying give a one or two-sentence debrief of the most salient points of the interview. For example, mention that you’re excited about how the role fits into the company’s broader mission or bring up the fact that you’re thrilled to work on an exciting new product feature. ‘It was great chatting with you about the graphic designer role today. Thank you for taking the time to explain the dynamics of the team to me.’
- Reiterate why you are a fit – Go back and re-read the job description and the company mission. What did you say in your interview that shows you fit the criteria of an ideal candidate? Explain why your skills, experience, or work ethic resonate with the specific requirements of the role you applied for – in a succinct manner. ‘I believe that my years of experience working on business partnerships would lend itself well to this role.’
- Redo a question (optional) – It’s common for candidates to step away from interviews feeling like they could’ve answered a question better. So, now is your chance to redo it! Write out how you would’ve liked to answer the question after the fact. ‘I believe that my experience we touched on briefly during our talk would be a great benefit to your current project. I’ve also worked on many projects similar to this including x,x, and x.’
- Get personal – Did you attend the same university or work at the same company? Was there something funny or notable that happened on the call? Maybe a cat ran through the interviewer’s video frame, or the interviewer made a joke. If you feel you have good rapport with the interviewer, make a reference to the connection. Once, an interviewer mentioned that he loved Star Wars so a candidate signed off his thank you note with “May the Force be With You.” Now that left an impression (and he got the job!).
- Add a “call to action” – At the end of your note, you should have something like “looking forward to hearing next steps” or “looking forward to meeting the rest of the team.” Adding this sentence demonstrates that you’re eager to learn more and continue on in the interview process. It can even be as simple as, I look forward to hearing from you soon!
- Sign your name! Your whole name. Not just Bond, it’s James Bond.
- Send via email – Emails are appropriate for most interview situations (and faster) so I’d recommend it over snail mail.
- Send within 24 hours – Your interviewer, like everyone else, is doing a million things the day of your interview. To stick out in their mind among the sea of tasks sitting in front of them, send your note within 24 hours for best results.
Thank you note don’ts
As you might guess, some things shouldn’t be a part of your thank you note process. Don’t:
- Write a novel – Time is essential so keeping it to the point is necessary.
Keep your thank you to two short paragraphs at most.
- The Template thank you note – Do not plagiarize your thank you note. While I recommend looking at samples for inspiration, your note should be in your own words and personalized for each interaction. I’ve seen thank you notes that were copy and pasted for a different job – even having the wrong name for the company and even the interviewer!
- Forget to proofread – Grammar or spelling mistakes in your thank you note can be a red flag to employers looking for great attention to detail. Beyond the typical spelling and grammar checks, make sure the company name, interviewer name, and role are capitalized and spelled correctly.
Leave a great impression
Thank you notes are a way to stand out from the crowd in a competitive marketplace. Not only are they polite, but they are also a medium to show that you paid attention during the interview and reiterate your interest in the role and the company. In my experience, thank you notes are treasured on a personal level and appreciated on a professional level一a win-win. Many candidates I’ve worked with have seen the power of thank you notes, and I know you will too once you give them a try.
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