Job interviews are a big investment of your time. You researched the company and role, scoured your resume for the perfect talking points to match you to the position and cleared your schedule to meet with the hiring manager. But your interviewers made a time investment in meeting with you, too, and if you want to seal the deal, you'd better be prepared to formally thank them for it.
According to a survey by online job-matching service The Ladders, 75 percent of interviewers said that receiving a thank-you letter from a candidate affects their decision-making process. This means that, although you may have been qualified for the job, your failure to follow up could make it seem like you're not interested enough to go the extra mile and reach out afterward.
Beyond showing your enthusiasm for the position, a thank-you note also allows you to reiterate why you are the best person for the job, said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of staffing firm Accountemps. The letter is best sent via email within 24 hours of the interview, while you're still fresh in the interviewer's mind. It should be brief — no more than two to three paragraphs — and it should reference particular points from the conversation, Messmer said. [See Related Story: 10 Things You Should Never Write in a 'Thank-You' Note]
For candidates who are wondering whether it's appropriate to send a handwritten note instead of an email, there's no easy answer to this question. Although a handwritten letter may offer a quaint, personal touch, the organization will likely receive it too late for it to have an impact.
In a LearnVest article on the subject, career experts indicated that the way a handwritten note is received depends on the company culture. This extra effort might be appreciated by a more "traditional" company or a nonprofit organization, but a fast-paced, modern startup may be put off by this outdated method of communication.
To solve this dilemma, you may consider sending both an email, immediately after the interview, and a handwritten note as soon as possible after that. However, Alison Green of AskAManager.org believes that sending both is overkill — email is the better method because of its speed and professionalism, she wrote.
Crafting your letter
Public-speaking coach Jezra Kaye said the best place to start with your thank-you note is by putting yourself in the mindset of your "audience," i.e., the people who interviewed you. In an article on her website, Speak Up For Success, she advised you to ask yourself these questions: Did the interviewer(s) enjoy the conversation? Where did you connect with them? and What kind of interviewing style did they have (warm and friendly versus strictly business)?
Kaye said to make three main points in your letter:
- Thank the person for meeting with you
- Mention something you liked about the interview
- Repeat your interest in the job
In an article on job-hunt.org, author Susan P. Joyce reminded interviewees not to be casual with their tone or language, even though email is a relatively informal method of communication. Don't slip into informalities, or use emoticons or "text speak" such as "LOL," she wrote.
As with your resume and cover letter, customize your thank-you note, and double- and triple-check it for grammatical and spelling errors. A typo-filled follow-up can easily ruin the stellar impression you made during the interview. If you met with multiple people, be sure to send one note to each person, if you have his or her contact information.
Sample thank-you letters
Based on these tips, here's an easy template you can follow for a thank-you letter after the interview:
Good afternoon, Jeanette,
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me yesterday about the staff writer position with Business News Daily.
It was a pleasure meeting with you, and I truly enjoyed learning more about the role and the company. After our conversation, I am confident that my skills and experiences are a great match for this opportunity.
I am very enthusiastic about the possibility of joining your team and would greatly appreciate a follow-up as you move forward with the hiring process. If you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me by email or phone. Thanks again, and I hope to hear from you in the near future.
Other sample thank-you letters can be found on the following websites:
- Career Confidential
- Job Interview Tools
- Quintessential Careers
- Career Nook
After you send your email, keep an eye on your inbox. Joyce noted that you shouldn't panic if you don't hear back from the recipient right away, but if several days or weeks go by, you should follow up to see if there's been any progress in making a decision. However, don't take this as an invitation to bombard the hiring manager's inbox. One or two well spaced follow-ups is plenty — don't contact the person daily, or even weekly, asking for a decision, Joyce said.
For more tips on writing a great thank-you note, visit this Business News Daily article.