Writing thank you notes after a job interview can feel a lot like kissing your dentist's feet after a root canal. For most of us, the interview is a necessary, but uncomfortable experience that we want to just get over with and run screaming to the nearest pub to forget about. Besides, writing anything for a potential hiring manager is anxiety-provoking in itself. Still, skipping the thank you note could cost you! Read on for thank you note tips.
Why write thank you notes?
Not writing one could cost you the job.
If you think hiring managers and search committees don't notice whether or not you send a thank you note, think again. They notice, and it often will be a factor in determining who makes it to the final round of interviews and who they hire. It's an employer's market, and given the choice between a candidate with social savvy and one without, employers will pick the one with it. Also, I've heard hiring managers say that they have passed on candidates they would have pursued otherwise if the candidate had written a thank you note. That might seem like a silly reason not to hire someone, but it's also a silly reason to lose an offer.
Thank you notes can help you address areas of concern and give you a second chance.
A thoughtful and strategic thank you note can provide you with the opportunity to expand on something you mentioned during the interview that might strengthen your position in comparison with other candidates. You can also use the note as a way to assuage fears or concerns the employer might have about hiring you. Caution: don't harp on those concerns too much and be as positive as possible! For example, if the employer is concerned that you are overqualified for the job, emphasize how much you want to get back into the trenches or enjoy working on the front lines. Emphasizing the idea that you are feeling generous and will bless them with your tremendous expertise at half the normal price will probably reinforce their concerns.
How to write thank you notes—frequently asked questions
Cards? Letters or Email?
The safest course of action is to email each person you met with (individual emails—no ccs or bccs, please) and follow up with a paper note/letter. If you know who you are meeting with along with their email addresses, you can set up simple thank you emails in your drafts folder and just hit Send when you get home. As for the cards versus letters debate, it's up to you. If you write like a doctor, a typed letter is probably a better way to go. Handwritten notes are becoming more unusual and may make you more memorable. Also, thank you cards are prettier than letters and more likely to be saved and put in a visible place providing the prospective employer with a daily reminder of your gratitude. On the downside, thank you cards don't leave a lot of space to write much of a note, so if you're feeling particularly inspired after the meeting, it might be hard to get everything on there that you want to say. For the handwriting-challenged folks out there, SelfRecruiter John Crant recommends taking a fat marker and writing Thank You! and signing your name. Simple, personal and unlikely to draw attention to your scrawl.
How soon should I send them out?
Thank you notes are most likely to influence a hiring manager's decision if you send them within 24 hours of the interview. However, if two days have passed and you just noticed that the stack of notes is still sitting in your mail pile next to the door, don't give up. A late thank you note is better than no thank you note. Also, even if it arrives too late, the employer will think of you in a more positive way if they receive one from you. It's important to keep in mind that every interview is an opportunity to get valuable face time with a hiring manager. Even if you don't get the job you interview for that day, you still might get another one that opens up in the future if you make a good impression.
It was a great meeting. Can I send them my 200 page proposal on how I intend to revamp everything?
I would resist. First, you don't want to inadvertantly provide free consulting for the company. Second, a short thank you is a good thank you.
What do I say?
Some version of "Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today regarding the [position you interviewed for here] opening with your company. I look forward to joining your team, and believe I have the following valuable skills that will support your goals now and into the future: [3 reasons you're the best candidate ever!]