As a candidate for a potential employer, the work you've put into landing the interview has been an investment of time. Concurrently, the courting employer has done its equal share of work. By sending a thank you note for their time, you avoid undermining your investment and show the employer genuine gratitude for the opportunity.
Failure to follow up could leave the impression you're not interested enough to go the extra mile and reach out afterward. 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.
"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.
Following up with an email should be done within 24 hours of the interview, while you're still fresh in the interviewer's mind. Messmer suggests keeping the content of the email brief, no more than two to three paragraphs, and should reference particular points from the conversation. [See Related Story: Get the Job: Avoid These 3 Thank You Note Mistakes]
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by a more "traditional" company or a nonprofit organization, but a fast-paced, modern startup may be put off by this outdated method of communication.
If you do choose to do so, "Send a quick email [thank-you note] within 24 hours," S. Chris Edmonds, author, and founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group said in another Business News Daily interview. "Mail your handwritten thank you within 24 hours as well. That way, it'll arrive a day or two following your email note, adding gravitas to your thoughtfulness."
Ultimately, it should be what you're most comfortable with based on your impression of the company.
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.
Additional reporting by Shannon Gausepohl. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.