As the hiring process moves toward automation and speed, taking the time to write a thank-you letter helps you stand out from the crowd and humanizes your application. A thoughtfully written thank-you note provides you with the chance to reiterate your qualifications and add a touch of personality.
“Sending a personalized thank-you note is exactly that – personal,” Rebecca Kiki Weingarten, career transition coach and co-founder of RWR Network, told Business News Daily. “In our high-tech world, it makes a high-touch impact that stands out.”
Those two simple words – “thank you” – could be the very thing that lands you the job.
There are many reasons why sending thank-you notes is important. Not only is it good business etiquette, but it also allows you to express your interest in the position and demonstrate that you are a good listener. Thank-you notes can also accomplish the following.
A thank-you email should be sent within 24 hours of the interview, while you’re still fresh in the interviewer’s mind. Keep the content of the email brief – no more than two or three paragraphs – and reference particular points from the conversation.
Matt Ross, CEO and co-owner of Slumber Yard, remembers a candidate who went the extra mile in mentioning personal details from their interview.
“I briefly discussed my hometown, but what was amazing was that the candidate remembered my hometown and found a way to include it in his follow-up,” Ross said. “He said his brother would be passing through [my town], so he made sure to tell him to pick up a cake from a popular bakery there. This not only showed me he was a good listener but also that he was willing to go above and beyond by doing research. It left me with a pretty good taste in my mouth (pun intended).”
According to Jodi RR Smith, author and president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, sending a note could show that you know other proper business etiquette, like standing when a client enters the room, not chewing gum in front of the CEO, holding doors open for others, arriving to meetings on time and dressing appropriately.
A thank-you note is a great way to reiterate your interest in the role and organization.
“First, it is a basic appreciation of the time the interviewer spent with you,” Smith said. “Second, it is a signal to the interviewer that you are aware of higher-level interpersonal skills. Lastly, the thank-you note expresses your ongoing interest in the organization and the job opening.”
Conversely, 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 study by iCIMS, 63% of recruiters said they would be more likely to hire a candidate who asked for more money and sent a thank-you note than a candidate who asked for less but did not send a note.
When writing a thank-you letter, keep it clear, straightforward and shorter than four paragraphs. Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopInterview and TopResume, cautioned against recapping your entire resume in your thank-you note, since the interviewer has already reviewed it and discussed it with you during the interview. A basic summary of your qualifications is appropriate. [Related: Interview Skills That Will Get You Hired]
Here are a few details that every thank-you letter should contain:
As with your resume and cover letter, customize your thank-you note. 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, send one note to each person.
If you are looking for a little extra guidance, here are a couple of templates you can follow for writing a thank-you letter after an interview. Take the time to personalize every letter you send – avoid copying and pasting the same basic form letter. Recruiters will notice these right away, and they won’t do you any good. Review post-interview mistakes to avoid when making a good impression.
Good afternoon, Tim,
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. I especially loved hearing about your in-office MVP vote – it sounds like a great way to boost employee morale!
After our conversation, I am confident that my skills in business writing and experience as a copy editor 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.
Dear Ms. Nelson,
I wanted to reach out to thank you for taking the time to speak with me yesterday about the social media manager position at Business News Daily.
I really enjoyed meeting you and learning more about where your team is headed. Based on our discussion, it sounds like you have a very exciting year ahead with the site updates and customer base expansion.
With the team at such a critical juncture, I’d love to lend my experience and skills to help the team build a stronger customer base and social media presence – particularly bringing my unique lens as a marketer that we discussed from my time working at agencies.
I look forward to speaking further with you and your team to see how I might be able to help you reach your goals. If we’re a good match, I would be very excited at the prospect of working together.
The best way to send a thank-you note will depend on the specific person or organization you are communicating with. While some companies prefer digital communications (e.g., email), others appreciate the novelty of a handwritten note.
Augustine said that email is the most common method for sending a post-interview thank-you note “because of its immediacy and ability to attach materials or hyperlink to additional information that can help advance their candidacy to the next interview round.”
Augustine suggested that it is still important to check out the culture of the company and determine which method they would prefer. If you’re interviewing at a tech startup or see the company uses technology, email would likely be the most appropriate.
After you send your email, keep an eye on your inbox. Don’t panic if you don’t hear back right away – it’s normal for a company to take its time reviewing applications. If several days or weeks go by, send a polite follow-up to ask if there has been any progress in making a decision.
However, don’t take this as an invitation to bombard the hiring manager’s inbox. Send no more than two well-spaced follow-up emails, and if you don’t hear back after that, accept it as a rejection and move on.
On the flip side, if the company seems more old-fashioned and traditional, a handwritten note mailed to the office might get you further.
“I prefer handwritten notes,” said Rachel Sutherland, CEO of Rachel Sutherland Communications. “Everyone loves getting mail, especially something you’re not expecting. It’s kind of funny to think of snail mail as being special, but in this case, it works.”
If you’re doing a handwritten note, your method of delivering it depends on the timing of the hiring process. Smith said that if you know they’ll be making their decision the next day, write the note as quickly as possible. In that instance, Smith suggests writing the thank-you note in the lobby and asking the receptionist to deliver it as soon as possible. [Learn how companies think about their hiring process and even how they think about contact management.]
Evaluate the company culture to determine if email or regular postal service is the best way to send your thank-you note. However, the content of the message is often more important than the method of delivery.
It can, if the note is well written.
“There are times when the candidate has a terrible first round, usually due to nerves,” Smith said. “But they took the time to write a sincere and well-considered note explaining their interest in the role and how their experience makes them uniquely qualified.”
Other times, Smith noted, there are phone screens instead of in-person interviews, and those who write a thank-you note are automatically invited back for an in-person interview. Sutherland had a similar experience.
“I got my college internship at The Detroit News because I handwrote a thank-you note,” Sutherland said. “How do I know? One day in the newsroom that summer, the editor told me I was the only one who wrote a thank-you.”
Augustine noted that sending a thank-you note doesn’t automatically increase your chances of getting the job; however, dismissing this bit of post-interview etiquette might decrease your chances of receiving an offer.
“While not every recruiter or hiring manager cares whether a candidate sends a thank-you message, I’ve never heard of a single one, in any industry, think poorly of a candidate for sending a thank-you note,” she added.
Skye Schooley and Jennifer Post contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.