It takes time and effort to perfect your resume and cover letter, gather references, and practice answering interview questions. After all that work, the last thing you want is to ruin your chances of employment with improper post-interview etiquette – especially when it comes to the thank-you note.
According to a recent TopResume survey, sending a well-crafted email within 24 hours of a successful job interview could be the tipping point that catapults you to the top – or bottom – of the finalist pool.
"The job interview doesn't end when you walk out the door but rather affords job seekers a unique opportunity to build a meaningful relationship with the interviewer and keep their candidacy top of mind," said Amanda Augustine, a career advice expert for TopResume.
Why send a thank-you note?
If an employer has two equally qualified candidates, the offer will always go to the person who took the time to send a thank-you note, said Augustine.
"Sending the note sets you apart from the others," she said. "It shows the employer that you're polite, that you can follow through, and that you're truly interested in the role. Also, your note will demonstrate to the employer how well you can write and convey your thoughts in a short amount of space – a skill that is highly valued in myriad roles."
The note should be sent out within 24 hours, as the TopResume study advised, because you'll still be fresh in the interviewer's mind. However, Augustine advised not to send your thank you the moment you walk out of the employer's office.
"Timing is everything," said Augustine. "If you send the thank you right away, your interviewer will either assume you're sending a generic template that didn't require much thought or that you're desperately eager for the job – both of which can be turnoffs to employers."
While email is the fastest way to get your thank-you note to the interviewer, some think that a handwritten note carries more weight. Although a handwritten letter may offer a quaint, personal touch, the organization will likely receive it too late for it to have an impact.
If you write a handwritten note, first "send a quick email within 24 hours," said S. Chris Edmonds, author and founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group in another Business News Daily interview. "Mail your handwritten thank you within 24 hours … That way, it'll arrive a day or two following your email note, adding gravitas to your thoughtfulness."
The format you choose for your thank-you message should be based on what you know about the company's culture, said Augustine.
"If you interviewed with a tech startup, chances are, your interviewers will appreciate a paperless thank-you note in their inbox the next day," she told Business News Daily. "You also have the benefit of hyperlinking to additional information and attaching your resume to strengthen your message and jog the interviewers' memory."
Augustine noted that if you interviewed with a conservative organization that values tradition, a snail-mail thank you may earn you brownie points.
Constructing the note
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.
Your thank-you note, according to industry experts, should:
- Thank the person for meeting with you
- Mention something you liked about the interview
- Reiterate your interest in the job
- Address any concerns presented during the interview head-on and demonstrate you have what it takes to perform the job well
- Include small details you learned about the person, such as a shared interest, to help jog the interviewer's memory about your interview
Jezra Kaye, public speaking coach and president of Speak Up for Success, wrote in a blog post on her website that the best place to start with your thank-you note is to put yourself in the mindset of your "audience," i.e., the people who interviewed you.
She also advised asking 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)?
As with your resume and cover letter, it is best to customize the thank you, 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 their contact information.
Sample thank-you letter
Based on these tips, here's an easy template to follow for a thank-you letter after an interview:
Good morning, [Interviewer's Name]:
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me yesterday about the B2B staff writer position with Purch. 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.
More sample thank-you notes can be found on the following websites:
Additional reporting by Nicole Fallon. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.