Remember that employers will view your thank you notes as a "work sample" demonstrating the kind of employee you would be. So, focus on sending the most professional thank you notes that you can, with good spelling, grammar, and language.
Surveys by both CareerBuilder and Accountemps have indicated that an emailed thank you note is acceptable to most employers in the USA. A benefit of emailed thank you notes is that they can be sent -- and received -- very quickly. A traditional handwritten thank you will take at least one day to be delivered and, depending on the organization, may sit in the mail room or on someone's desk for several days before it is read.
However, if you interviewed with a very conservative organization, you should probably consider sending a formal thank you via USPS (a.k.a. "snail mail") in an envelope with a stamp as a follow up.
NOTE: If you have had no email interaction with the anyone in the organization, definitely do a formal written and snail-mailed thank you note.
[Related: Making Email Work for Your Job Search, Sample Job Interview Thank You to the Person Who Referred You, Sample Job Interview Thank You to an External Recruiter and Sample Thank You Note After a Bad Job Interview.]
Email can be challenging to use, so pay attention to these do's and don'ts to ensure that your message gets through and makes the best impression:
Send the message immediately after the interview, definitely within the first 24 hours, even if the interview was on a Friday (send it as early as possible on Fridays). You don't want to be that last interviewee to send a thank you, in case other candidates are also smart enough to send thank you messages.
If you use your work computer to send your message, your employer may discover the message and your intentions to leave. The result is that you could have a very uncomfortable discussion with your boss about your job search, or you could lose your job.
If you are employed, DO NOT send this message from your work email address! You may think it is impressive, but it looks tacky and disloyal to other employers. Again, it increases the probability of job loss or a very uncomfortable meeting with your manager.
Close informally with language like --
See you soon!
Leave the TO: field empty until you have completed, spell checked, and proofread the message (or put your own address in that field until it is ready to be sent).
Adapt the text in this sample (below) to your circumstances, and customize it to each individual who interviewed you.
Replace the Italicized text with whatever terms are appropriate for you and your situation.
Subject: Thank you for the [Job Title] interview on [date]
Dear [Mr./Ms. Last Name]:
Thank you very much for your time today [or yesterday or the date] to interview me for the position of [job title]. I appreciate the opportunity to learn more about this job, to meet you and [names of other interviewers], and to see your facility [or offices, location, whatever is appropriate].
[Reference anything you said that seemed important to the interviewer, like: As we discussed, I find the technology related to using cloud computing fascinating and an amazing opportunity for the future, but security is also a major concern. Keeping XYZ Company's information safe would be a top priority for the person in this job, and I would love to dig deeply into the protective technologies, as well as the threats, to avoid future problems.]
[If possible, reference any "connection" you may have made, like: I enjoyed finding someone else who attended XYZ College and also roots for the hockey team. Hope they make the NCAA Division finals next year!]
As we discussed, I have [months or years] of experience with [technology, tools, or qualification you have that seemed most important in the interview]. With my background and experience, I believe that I could become a contributor to your team very quickly.
I am excited about this opportunity to join [organization name]. Please do not hesitate to email or call me if you have any questions or need any additional information.
I look forward to hearing from you [whenever they said they would be in touch or in 10 days if they didn't give you a date].
[ Your job title or tag line, like "eCommerce Customer Support Specialist"]
[LinkedIn Profile URL]
[Phone number -- not your work number if you are employed]
Hopefully, you will get an email in response to this message, but don't panic if you don't hear from them on their deadline. MUCH may be happening that has nothing to do with you at all.
If they said they would contact you in a week, DO reach out in ten business days to see what is happening if they have not contacted you when they said they would. If you forgot to ask when they would be contacting you after the interview, ten business days is a sufficient gap to demonstrate that you are interested, but not a nuisance.
DO NOT contact them daily -- or even weekly -- for a decision.
NEVER suspend your job search while you wait for a decision from an employer, even if the job is your dream job.
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.