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Sending Your Thank You After the Job Interview

By Laura DeCarlo

No "downside" really exists for sending a thank you note after a job interview, although most job candidates don't bother to do it. Sending a thank you -- if done reasonably well -- will definitely not hurt your chances at a job.

Worst case, your thank you will be ignored.

Best case, it will improve the impression you left after the interview, making you stand out from your competitors. Few job candidates send thank yous.

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Writing Your Best Thank You

Regardless of how the interview happened -- in person, over the telephone, at lunch, or via an online video -- a prompt thank you note, to each participant, is appropriate.

When you get home from your job interview, hang up the phone, or disconnect from Skype, look at your job interview notes, dig in, and write your thank you immediately.

In most -- but not all -- circumstances, email is acceptable.

The Value of Thank You(s)…

Of course, a lot of job seekers think that writing a thank you letter is a waste of time, and hopefully the job seekers you compete with have that attitude -- because it is wrong.

A recent CareerBuilder survey* showed that 22% of employers are less likely to hire a candidate who does not send a thank you, and 91% like being thanked, according to an Accountemps survey**. So, you can be pretty sure that sending a thank you note won't hurt your chances at the job.

Let’s look at the value of this thank you:

  • Impresses employers with your follow-through.
  • Shows courtesy toward the interviewer.
  • Shows your understanding of professional courtesy.
  • Conveys your interest in the position.
  • Provides you an opportunity to get back in front of the employer again, in case you have faded from the memory of an employer who met too many people too quickly
  • Allows you to introduce information that you neglected to mention in the interview.
  • Allows you to clarify anything that you don't think you communicated well during the interview.
  • Demonstrates your skill at written (or emailed) communications.
  • Meets your competition so you don't lose an opportunity simply because your competitor sent a thank you.

In the end, you have much more to gain than to lose by writing the thank you notes. And, if you don't write the thank you, you may blow the opportunity nearly 25% of the time (yikes!).

Choosing the Right Thank You Method

We have three options now:

  1. Hand-written thank you notes.
  2. Word processed notes that are printed, put into (hopefully) printed envelopes, and mailed.
  3. Emailed thank you's (see the sample job interview thank you email).

[Related: Sample Job Interview Thank You Note, Sample Recruiter Job Interview Thank You Note, Sample Thank You Note After a Bad Job Interview, and Sample Thank You to the Person Who Referred You.]

Some people do a combination of methods -- sending an emailed note immediately after the interview and then sending a printed or hand-written note (different from the emailed note!) the next day via "snail mail." Email is acceptable to nearly 90% of employers according to that CareerBuilder survey referenced above and linked at the bottom of this article.

Your choice of method depends on the job you are seeking, what you feel most comfortable doing, and what you think the people there will prefer.

For example:

  • If the job you are pursuing requires skills with email, send an emailed note that demonstrates your email expertise
  • If the job requires extensive use of word processing software, creating and sending a note (with address printed on the envelope) demonstrates your word processing skills.
  • If all of your communications with the employer have been via email, sending an emailed thank you may be most appropriate.
  • For formal organizations like law firms and accounting firms, a hand-written thank you sent via snail mail may be the most appropriate.

If you use email, do NOT send one email message to everyone you interviewed with. Make each message unique, based on your notes, and send each to only one individual.

Yes, you need to write different letters that reflect the different discussions and points made (or not made).

Remember, you never know who really holds the influence on the hiring process! Thank everyone who interviewed you.

Don’t think you know who is most important and write one thank you, only to them. You could do yourself damage if you choose the wrong person, so don't take that risk.

Thank You Do's and Do NOT's

A thank you / follow-up letter can make all the difference in the world! But, you’ve got to get it written ASAP! You shouldn't really wait more than 24-48 hours, especially if they are making a quick decision. You might even hand deliver it.

Do's:

A strong letter will address the issues of the interview. It should:

  • Highlight what the employer liked about you.
  • Cover positive information you wish you had said in the interview.
  • Express your skill in areas that the employer showed concern over.
  • Keep the message short - not more than one page and a couple of paragraphs.
  • PROOFREAD VERY CAREFULLY, preferably have someone else proofread it before you send it.

Optional: It’s always a great idea if you can add further value to the employer by enclosing something like a newspaper clipping or article relevant to the employer’s personal or professional interests, or those of the company/department.

Do NOT's:

Some important no-no’s include:

  • Sending generic or canned thank you letters.
  • Faxing thank you letters.
  • Claiming experience or qualifications you don't have.
  • Handing a sealed thank you letter to the employer at the end of the interview!
  • Don't forget to sign it, if you do a snail-mail version!

Creative Thank You's

Be very careful, because this can backfire badly if you send it to the wrong person or the wrong organization.

Sometimes there is room for creativity in the process:

  • A desktop publisher might “design” a flyer selling graphic skills while marketing personal strengths for the job.
  • A marketing person might write a mock press release for getting the job or develop a marketing plan for an idea they have for the company.
  • A web designer might develop a CD letter or a Videographer might create a video letter. Of course, include a text letter just to be safe…
  • A shoe salesman might send a shoe with a letter in it that starts out, "Now that I’ve gotten my foot in the door..."
  • A chef might bake something exquisite, and send it with a letter that says, "Now that I’ve shown that I can put all the right ingredients together…"

If you opt for something clever, make sure that it is suitable and relevant, not just a neat idea.

For More Information About What to Do After a Job Interview:

* The CareerBuilder infographic
** The Accountemps survey


About the author...

Laura DeCarlo is recognized as the career industry’s ‘career hero’ making a difference to both job seekers and career professionals as the founder of Career Directors International. She possesses 11 top-level certifications in resume writing, career coaching, and career management; 7 first place resume and job placement awards; and has written three books on interviewing and job search including Interview Pocket RX, Interviewing: The Gold Standard, Resumes for Dummies,and Job Search Bloopers. Follow Laura on Google+ and Twitter at @careerhero.


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