Technology may have changed how we create and send thank-you notes, but otherwise, they’re mostly unchanged. Once handwritten and delivered by courier or snail mail, today’s thank-you notes are most often sent by email. But the principle behind why we send them remains the same.
A thank-you note sent after an interview may not guarantee you’ll get the job, nor will not sending one kick you out of the running. It might, however, be the turning point that differentiates you from another candidate when all things between you are virtually equal.
A brief, well-written thank-you note tells the interviewer that you acknowledge and appreciate the time and effort they took from their busy day to spend it with you. It confirms the positive impression you made and, if well written, says you paid attention to detail and were present and thoughtful during and after your interview. It’s a small effort that tells a prospective employer that you go the extra mile. It closes the loop on the opportunity, whether or not you’re hired. Like a great dessert, a thank you note tops off the meal that was your interview.
If you’re going to make sending thank-you notes part of your job search process (and we very much suggest you do), here are some things to think about:
- Send a thank-you as soon as possible. Email allows you to craft and hit ‘send’ within a day of the interview. You want to keep your profile front and centre. If it’s been more than a day, you’re sending a follow up, not a thank you note, and the tone should be different.
- Avoid a perfunctory ‘thanks for your time’. Instead, take advantage of this opportunity to reiterate your enthusiasm for the opportunity and remind the hiring manager of the value you’d bring (briefly!) Keep it short and to the point – no more than a paragraph or two.
- A thank you note is also your chance to fill any gaps or deal with any issues raised during the interview process. Also feel free to include links to your website portfolio and LinkedIn profile (because you’ve kept it professional and up to date, naturally.)
- Include everyone who interviewed you or, better still, send separate emails to each person. Make sure you don’t just copy and paste – sometimes they compare emails. You can change up the emails enough to avoid carbon copying while keeping the pertinent information consistent.
- Keep the tone of the thank-you in keeping with the atmosphere of the interview. Stay professional; avoid being too casual or familiar. There’s time for them to get to know you better once they’ve hired you.
- Proofread before you send. And when you’re finished, proofread it again before sending. See where we’re going with this? Nothing puts interviewers off more than poor grammar, spelling or needless mistakes. While a well-written thank-you note may not get you the job, a poorly constructed one could very well ensure you don’t.
- Don’t let lack of confidence in your writing skills keep you from sending a thank-you note. There are lots of examples and templates on the Internet you can use to create yours. You don’t have to be a poet laureate; you just need to communicate simply, effectively and professionally.
Many recruiters are on the fence about the value of thank-you notes. You won’t know whether the person who interviewed you cares one way or the other about receiving one. But, like great cover letters, why wouldn’t you send one? At the very least, it’ll demonstrate your good manners and professionalism. And when is that ever a bad thing?