While a post-interview thank-you note may seem like a small courtesy, used properly it can be a powerful, effective tool that gives you a competitive edge and sets you apart from the rest of the candidates during the hiring process. Thank-you notes not only demonstrate that you are polite, well-mannered, and considerate of their time, but also show you understand proper business etiquette. Taking the time to write a thank-you note also demonstrates that you are proactive—as well as highly motivated—in actively seeking the position.
I recently read a post on Facebook that made me cringe. While not an exact quote, the post went something like this:
“Fantastic interview today with “X” Corporation! Mr. “X” was the best—thanks for the interview and can’t wait to hear back from you on Monday that I’m your new tech! You won’t be sorry if you hire me! I’m your man! Thanks again!”
There’s no doubt that we live in the age of social media and that tools such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter have revolutionized the way we communicate. If the goal of the interviewee making the post was to distinguish himself from the rest of the applicants, he accomplished his goal—although perhaps not in the way he’d hoped. As experience will teach him, some items and topics don’t belong on social media news feeds and the post-interview thank-you letter is one of them!
Benefits of Post-Interview Thank-You Notes
While a post-interview thank-you note may seem like a small courtesy, used properly it can be a powerful, effective tool that gives you a competitive edge and sets you apart from the rest of the candidates during the hiring process. Thank-you notes not only demonstrate that you are polite, well-mannered, and considerate of their time, but also show you understand proper business etiquette. Taking the time to write a thank-you note also demonstrates that you are proactive—as well as highly motivated—in actively seeking the position. Unlike our Facebook friend, a well-crafted thank-you note memorializes you in a positive way that may factor into the final decision-making process, especially when there are several equally qualified candidates.
You should write and deliver post-interview thank-you notes promptly. As a general rule, you’ll want to write—and mail—the thank-you note within 24 hours of the interview. It’s not uncommon for job seekers to keep professional stationary and envelopes in their car and go to a nearby coffee shop, write the thank-you note, and then hand deliver it the same day. Chances are that several candidates are being considered for the position and you’ll want to ensure your note is sent promptly, keeping your name and qualifications fresh in the mind of the hiring manager.
Always personalize the content of the thank-you note. Pick one statement about the company, its internal processes, and so forth, mentioned by the hiring manager during the interview and comment on it in your thank-you note. For example, you might say that you found the new technique used in developing the company’s internal databases interesting and that you’re eager to learn more. Or, if you shared similar philosophies with the interviewer, you might want to mention how much you enjoyed hearing his or her views and that it’s nice to find a kindred spirit. Making a personalized statement shows the interviewer that your focus was not simply on selling yourself but that you were interested, listened, and absorbed what the interviewer said as well. Prospective employers like employees who are sharp, interested in others, and pay attention to details.
Every thank-you note should begin by thanking the interviewer for his or her time. The note is, after all, a thank-you note! Post interview thank-you notes are also a great opportunity to summarize your skills, experience, competencies, and other qualifications. Anything that you forgot to say in the interview, or points you want to clarify, can be included in the thank-you note. Remember, several weeks may go by between the interview and the final selection process. Thank-you notes also present a final opportunity to remind the hiring manager about your core skills and reiterate how those skills can transition to the new position, providing immediate benefit to the prospective employer.
Handwritten versus Computer Generated
Never underestimate the value—or power—of a handwritten thank-you note. Such notes are a rarity and are well-remembered. Unless you have a physical limitation that prevents you from writing, or your handwriting is so illegible as to be a detriment, thank-you notes should always be handwritten.
Mary Kyle is an occasional co-author with Ed Tittel (they've written many articles together for this site, in fact) who works as an editor, project manager, and freelance writer in Lockhart, TX.