Writing a Thank you Note After an Interview

A thank you note after an interview could be the one thing that gets you hired

Getting through an interview is intense. It not only consumes your thoughts during the strained few minutes you’re interrogated, but is a bee in your bonnet both before and after as well. Naturally, the time leading up to an interview is spent preparing and researching for potential questions, but many ask what can we do afterwards other than wait. How about a thank you note after an interview?

Unbeknownst to many, there’s more to do after an interview than just twiddle your thumbs and wait for a response. That involves reaching out to the company – or preferably people – who interviewed you to thank them for their time.

While it is a good gesture to thank anybody, in this scenario a thank you note after an interview serves a self-serving purpose as well: it keeps you in their mind.

Thank you notes after an interview are more important than you think!

Recruiters interview and screen dozens of candidates in a day. But they don’t make their decision the second they see you. They wait until they’ve seen the very last candidate before making up their mind. For some that might be at the end of the day, but for others the decision to choose from an outstanding pool of talent might wait a couple of days or even more than a week.

After the time lag, only the most memorable leave an impression and are easily recalled during decision making.

A thank you note is a physical reminder that’s hard to ignore. It practically screams “I was here!” not letting the panel forget you so easily.

A thank you note after an interview is not common, so it’s something that makes you stand out of the crowd. They won’t throw it away but will most likely store it with your file. So when reviewing your data, the thank you note will make you pop out from the rest as a positive reminder of who you are.

Interviewing candidates is just as stressful for the people interviewing you. It takes a lot of time, and at the end of it they’re pretty exhausted. A thank you note after an interview will make them feel appreciated and create a positive impression of you. It will mitigate any reservations they had during the interview and reflect positively on their perception of your character.

Companies want people who are amicable and easy to work with. A thank you note after an interview goes to show that you are understanding, cooperative, and polite – all which are key traits for somebody who works well in a team.

Add a unique detail

A thank you note after an interview should be able to instantly help the reader recall who you are. Writing a generic message followed by your name is not enough to set a spark. You don’t want the interviewer to be scratching their head when they get the note wondering which candidate you are out of the dozens they’ve interviewed.

One way to make a thank you note after an interview effective is to add a key detail discussed during the interview that is unique.

Mention how much you enjoyed your discussion on a particular topic like Pepsi’s controversial ad campaign or thank them for answering your question on supply chain partners or explaining a certain topic.

To avoid falling into a trap of having a mundane interview that would be forgettable, ask a question towards the end which is different and unique from what is typically asked. Ask something which lies in the interviewer’s area of expertise or about the organization that is hiring.

Asking a question which the interviewer knows a lot about will create room for discussion different than the majority and energize them. Referencing it in your thank you note after the interview will make it easier for them to remember who you are.

Print and electronic go together

A lot of people often get confused over which form of media they should use to send the thank you note through; paper or email? The answer is both. But not at the same time, preferably with a gap of a few days in between. Forbes recommends sending a handwritten note after an interview one or two day later, and an email follow-up after three or four days.

Typically you should send a physical letter saying thank you by the next day. If you’re traveling from afar, then write one by hand and leave it with the receptionist, with instructions to deliver the next morning. Or just send it by post the very same day.

People often underestimate the power of email, thinking that it’ll get buried under hundreds of others. That is not always the case.

Most large organizations have a dedicated staff member (or members) who correspond to every email. According to surveys by CareerBuilder and Accountemps, most employers in the USA say that a thank you note in the form of an email is acceptable.

Content matters

The gesture of a thank you note after an interview is charming, but the shine only lasts if what’s inside continues to dazzle. It should be able to hold the attention of the reader and impress at the same time. That doesn’t mean writing elaborate poetry, but rather more about keeping it polite, memorable and easy to read.

Recruiters don’t have much time while screening through hundreds of candidates, and probably won’t spend much time on your thank you note either.

That’s why you should keep it brief and write in short paragraphs. Short paragraphs create white space in the letter drawing attention to the words. Even those with the smallest of attention spans will be more likely to go through all of it.

Even if you’re on a first-name basis, keep the tone formal. It indicates that you are serious about working and showcases professional behavior.

At the end of the email, write your full name and contact details and say “thank you” instead of “thanks.” They will already have your CV so there’s no need to send it again, but a link to your LinkedIn page at the bottom will make it easier for to check your credentials to jog their memory.

Also, don’t forget to add your “unique detail”, and a skill, qualification or experience which would be an asset to the job.

End the note hoping for the possibility of another meeting to further discuss your ideas and how you could contribute to the organization. And lastly, reference the date and time of your interview in the subject of your letter to make it easier for them to find your file.

Good luck!


Article by Mishka Nasir Orakzai

Categories:   Career, Personal Marketing