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Job Interview Thank You Note Guide

By Susan P. Joyce

Job Interview Thank You Note Tips and Samples

Sending a thank you note after your job interview is not optional, if you are interested in the job or the employer.

Which Is Best: Hand-Written, Typed, or Emailed?

Preferences very depending on industry, location, and corporate culture. However, everyone agrees that sending the thank you within 24-hours of the interview is a requirement.

The biggest issue to consider is the timing of the delivery of your thank you. Fastest delivery is best, of course, which is email, but not all employers consider email to be appropriate for business correspondence.

Email Is Acceptable for MANY Employers

Exceptions exist, of course, but many studies, like the 2012 Accountemps employer survey, have shown emailed thank you notes are usually fine, although, of course, individual and organizational preferences may differ. The safest thing to do is to ask which method of sending thank you notes or "staying in touch" is preferred.

Email Choice Considerations

You can have some indicators that an emailed thank you is acceptable and/or necessary:

  • If the decision-makers are within a few days of making the hiring decision, you want them to receive your note immediately. Email is usually the best choice when an immediate response is required.
  • If all of your communications with members of the employers staff (excluding an external recruiter), have been via email, an email thank you should be acceptable.

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Email Thank You Note Protocol

Of course, you must proof read very carefully, regardless of the method you use!

  • Send a separate message to each person who interviewed you, not a single message with everyone in distribution regardless of whether you put them in the "To," "Cc," or "Bcc" fields.
  • Send a unique message to each person because the messages will probably be shared, making you look a bit tacky if everyone receives the same text.

If you are concerned that email may not be considered appropriate or acceptable, follow-up immediately with a hand-written or typed thank you note sent via the post office/snail-mail.

IMPORTANT CAUTION:

If you are employed, do NOT send this email message (or any other job search activity) from work, and definitely don't use a computer or smartphone owned by your employer to send the message. That technology may be monitored by your employer who will not be happy to learn about your job search. If your job search is discovered, you could lose your job.

Use a non-work email address, like Gmail, for your job search activities, and use your own hardware and network, not your employer's.

Typed Thank You Note Is Preferred by Some Employers

Some organizations are keeping technology at a distance for as long as possible, and they prefer that approach in their employees. If technology is more tolerated than appreciated, responding in a formal way may be the best approach. If all of your interactions with the employer have been very formal, then a formal typed thank you is probably appropriate.

Using the postal service is not the fastest way to send a thank you note in comparison with email. In addition, mail may first be delivered to a "mail room" before being distributed to the offices in larger organizations on several floors of a building, creating greater delay in the delivery of your message.

Having the correct snail-mail address is not optional for quick delivery of your note. To ensure the speediest delivery, specify the address very clearly and carefully.

As appropriate for the organization and location, include:

  • Name and title of the recipient
  • Company name
  • Building name (if appropriate)
  • Floor and office/suite number, and/or mail stop
  • Street address
  • City, state, and Zip Code

Note that having any of the information above missing or wrong will delay, and perhaps stop, delivery of your thank you note. Hopefully, you received a business card you from each interviewer at the end of the interview. That business card should contain all of the necessary information if snail-mailed correspondence is acceptable.

If you don't know what the Zip Code is, use the USPS Zip Code Look Up to find it. A missing or wrong Zip Code will definitely delay delivery, and you want your thank you note to be received ASAP.

As usual, be sure that your printed thank you is perfect. A formal organization that requires such a response will probably not be very accepting of errors in your thank you.

You may gain points and speed by hand-delivering your printed thank you note to the receptionist. Don't linger or try to talk with anyone. Just drop off the note and leave.

Hand-Written Thank You Notes Are Preferred by Old School Employers

Some organizations appreciate the formality of a hand-written note (employers like old-line Boston law firms and similar "old school" employers). Hand-written notes are not common, so writing one might be a very good way to differentiate yourself from other job candidates.

The major problem with hand-written notes is that they may be difficult to read. Focus on writing very clearly if a hand-written note is appropriate. And, again, consider dropping off your thank you note to expedite delivery.

Be particularly careful in addressing the envelop when hand-writing it. Focus on legibility, including the appropriate address elements indicated above. If possible, use your word processing software for the address, and send the envelop through your printer so that it will be clear and legible.


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Send a Thank You After EVERY Interview

Whether it is your first interview and it was over the phone or Skype, or the 3rd round of in-person interviews on-site, your thank you will put you ahead of the majority of job candidates who don't make the effort. Your thank you will also give you an opportunity to remind each interviewer how unique and excellent you are.

More about writing effective thank you notes: Sending Your Thank You After the Job Interview and 7 Costly Job Interview Thank You Note Mistakes for more information.

Sample Thank You Notes

Use these samples as guides to help you write your original thank you notes, customized to you, the employer, and the job:

  • Sample Formal Job Interview Thank You Note

    This example is the format of a standard printed or hand-written thank you note, when the organization or the person is formal and an emailed thank you would not be appropriate.
  • Sample Job Interview Thank You Email

    This example is the format for a standard formal thank you email, which is acceptable to most employers now.
  • Sample Telephone Interview Thank You Email

    Since telephone interviews are different and often ignored by job seekers, this is an example of the kind of email you could send after a telephone interview.
  • Sample Second Interview Thank You Email

    Sending a thank you after your second interview is as important as after the first interview. But, the message needs to be a bit different. See this sample to understand how to make it different.
  • Sample Job Interview Thank You to the Person Who Referred You

    Someone who has referred you to their employer or to someone in their network has done you an enormous favor. You are much more likely to be hired, as a result. This thank you is an example of the kind of thank you to send them.
  • Sample Job Interview Thank You to the Recruiter

    This thank you is only for the external recruiter -- one who is NOT AN EMPLOYEE of the employer you interviewed with. That external recruiter can be an excellent ally for your career since, if you stay in touch, they can refer you to other employers for other jobs when you are ready to move on.
  • Sample Thank You Note After a Bad Job Interview

    Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and you KNOW that you blew the interview. If you really liked the people and still have this employer high on your list of target employers, carefully send this message. Remember that we may think that we have failed when we others don't have that impression, so use this thank you very carefully.

By sending a thank you note, even for a telephone/screening interview, you will gain credibility and demonstrate your professionalism.

More About What to Do After a Job Interview:


About the author...

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+.


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