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The Post-Interview Thank You Note: Write One to Secure The Job

You just aced an interview for your dream job – congratulations! Now, you can just sit back and wait for the offer to roll in, right? Wrong. Hiring managers expect (and anticipate) a timely post-interview thank you email, letter or note.

Believe it or not, a position can be won or lost based on this one factor. Meaning, if your top competitor for the position sends a thank you and you don't... Well, let's just say that you don't want to risk that happening.

Besides being a professional courtesy, a thank you note is a chance to stay on the hiring manager’s radar, emphasize your interest in the position, demonstrate your ability to follow through, and show your writing and communications skills. A thank you note also gives you the opportunity to provide information you forgot to mention in the interview, to reinforce specific points that make you the perfect fit for the position, and even touch briefly on any personal connection you may have had with the interviewer (e.g. "Thanks again for the tip on the bike path in Cambridge – I plan to try it out this weekend.").

Below are some rules to keep in mind when writing and sending thank you notes.

  • Send your thank you note no later than 24 to 48 hours after the interview. The timing of your thank you note is critical because the employer could be making a decision quickly. Especially if there were other candidates in line for the position — you want to make sure your thank you is timely and echoes the positive impression you left at the interview.
  • Don’t send a generic thank you note. Make sure your message touches on at least a couple specific points that were discussed in your interview.
  • Make sure to send a thank you to everyone who attended the interview. You never know who will be making or influencing decisions during the hiring process. Because thank you notes can get circulated, send each person a personalized message. If appropriate, try to reflect on how something relevant in your work experience (a past project, etc.) could positively impact that person's role/department in the company if you were to be hired.
  • Keep the note short. A few paragraphs are really all you need to express your thanks and convey any qualifications you want to emphasize or bring to their attention.
  • Keep your message positive. Don't offer excuses for any skills you may have felt you lacked. Focus on reiterating what you bring to the table.
  • Proofread your note carefully. Like your resume and cover letter, your thank you note should be well-written and completely free of any grammar issues, typos or misspellings.

What Should You Say in Your Thank You Note?

In addition to thanking the person for their time and saying how much you enjoyed meeting them, you want to convey your continuing interest in the opportunity and your enthusiasm for what the job entails. Use this opportunity to recap the skills you offer that are required of the position and were of most relevance and interest to the interviewer. Explain further why you feel you would be a good fit and want to join their company. Also, feel free to touch on any shared interests, hobbies, or activities you and the interviewer discussed, as this can establish a connection and help them to remember you.

How Should You Send Your Thank You Note?

In some hiring scenarios (such as with a professional services firm, i.e. a law or accounting firm), a handwritten thank you is still expected. However, with most organizations, a professional email (or email with an attached letter that matches the design of your resume) is fine. If the organization is very conservative, you should follow your email with a word-processed, printed and snail-mailed letter that has a different message.

While emails tend to be informal in most instances, you want to make sure your email thank you is very professional and follows the rules of formal letter writing. Conveying your professionalism as well as your business communications skills at this stage in the hiring process can make a difference.

What Should You Do Next?

After you send your thank you note, don’t panic if the person doesn’t respond, but don’t just sit and wait either. Depending on the next steps that were outlined in the interview and what would be most appropriate, you should try to follow up by phone or email a week or two after you send your thank you.

How to Eff up Your Follow-Up After the Interview
Smart or Stalker-esque? The Art of Following Up
Why the Post-Interview Waiting Game Takes so Damn Long
The Value of Thanks-Giving in Your Job Search 

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