Advance Your Cause After an Interview: Send a Thank you Note
By Bob Nealon
“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.” – Oscar Wilde
Recently, I was a part of our office’s hiring committee for two positions for which we were hiring. One of the positions was a full-time position managing our social media and student engagement. The other position was for our front desk student career ambassador position for which we were looking to hire two individuals.
I am happy to report that we found the right candidate for each of these positions with one person already producing results on the job and the other two starting in August as the fall semester commences. However, the hiring and interview process for these positions revealed some surprising candidate activity, or lack of activity, in this case.
One commonly-offered interview tip is to send a thank you note within 24 hours of an interview to each person with whom you met during the interview process. This is not a revolutionary suggestion as it is probably something you’ve heard many times. Additionally, you might make the assumption that most candidates do this as regular practice during their quest to land the right job opportunity.
Unfortunately, a recent CareerBuilder survey1 of 3,244 private sector full-time workers across industries and company sizes found that 57 percent of candidates don’t send thank you notes after an interview. Think about this for a second. Approximately 6 out of 10 candidates don’t take the time to say thanks for the opportunity for the professional courtesy they’ve received from the prospective employer.
Additionally, in an Accountemps survey2, over 90 percent of HR managers indicated that it was helpful for a candidate to send a post-interview thank you e-mail / note. This validates even further the importance of sending a thank you e-mail / note.
If these statistics don’t have an impact on you, consider our office’s hiring process mentioned earlier. Sadly, we experienced candidate behavior mirroring the CareerBuilder findings during our hiring process for the two positions. Here is what we experienced:
- For the full-time position – we interviewed four candidates with only two sending thank you e-mails / notes (50 percent didn’t send a thank you)
- For the two part-time positions – we interviewed nine candidates with only one sending a thank you e-mail / note (89 percent didn’t send a thank you)
Successful interviewing ultimately comes down to three key components including:
- Communicating Your VALUE (Prove you can produce results)
- Establishing a FIT (Establish your values, personality, skills, and more are a fit)
- Enhancing Your LIKEABILITY (Show your temperament and personality align with the hiring manager and team)
While this post is not about these three components, I believe sending a thank you e-mail / note relates to enhancing your likeability factor. Let’s face it, people hire people they like. It is that simple.
I encourage candidates to be their authentic self during the interview; however, do what you can to enhance your likeability factor. I maintain that the thank you e-mail / note can help a candidate build upon the likeability factor that they built during the interview.
When should I send the Thank you note?
Sooner is better, but don’t wait too long to send. A good rule to follow is to send the thank you note within 24 hours after the conclusion of the interview. However, don’t pre-write the thank you note and hand it to the interviewer as you are leaving either. It won’t leave the impression that you want it to in this case. Plus, a pre-written thank you won’t allow you to include something noteworthy you learned during the interview.
How should I send the Thank you note?
If the prospective employer’s hiring timeline is greater than a week, consider sending a handwritten thank you note through snail mail. This would allow plenty of time for your thank you to arrive through the mail. Sending a handwritten note is a lost art that takes both effort and time to create, both of which tell the interviewer(s) that you are serious about the position and doing anything you can to enhance your case that you are the right candidate for the position. One downside to the handwritten thank you note is that the space for your message is limited.
If the hiring timeline is shorter than a week, I suggest that you send an e-mail to ensure that the individuals with whom you interviewed receive your thank you note. You could send the interviewer(s) the thank you in both formats too. One benefit to e-mail is that you have additional space to send a more detailed message to the interviewer(s) with whom you met.
The bottom line here is that you need to send a thank you note.
Who should receive the Thank You note?
Send your thank you note to each person with whom you met during your interview. Personalizing the note is always best, whether you are sending via snail mail or e-mail. For instance, if you met with three interviewers during your interview, then send three separate, personalized notes.
If you developed rapport with the receptionist or executive support administrator while you were waiting in the lobby or someone went above and beyond to make you feel welcome during your visit, I also encourage you to send a thank you note to this individual too. It is common practice for executives (both HR and hiring managers) to ask the receptionist or executive support about their experience with the candidate along with their general observations (i.e. what was the candidate doing?, was the candidate friendly?, etc.). Positive feedback from those in the front office can go a long way in advancing the candidate forward in the hiring process.
What should I write in my Thank You note?
You’ll want to keep your thank you note brief whether you send in an e-mail format or a handwritten note.
Below is an example you can use as you craft your own thank you e-mail to an interviewer.
Consider that this example is only to give you an idea of how to format your own e-mail. Obviously, you might include some information you learned during the interview as a part of your e-mail. Hopefully, the example will highlight some of the general information you’ll want to include.
Thank You – Social Media Coordinator Interview – <First Name> <Last Name>
E-mail Message Content:
Dear <Salutation – Mr./Ms.> <Last Name>:
Thank you for allowing me to interview for your Social Media Coordinator position this morning. I enjoyed learning more about your specific needs for the Social Media Coordinator position at <company name>.
After learning more about the position, your job seems to be an excellent match for my skills and interests.
The creative approach to social media initiatives you described today enhanced my desire to join your team.
In addition to my enthusiasm about your position, I bring <skill A>, <skill B>, and <skill C> that will allow me to deliver excellent results to your team, while demonstrating a strong team-first mentality.
I appreciate the time allocated to our conversation. I am very interested in working for you and look forward to hearing from you regarding this position. Thank you again for your consideration.
<First Name> <Last Name>
LinkedIn URL | Website URL
Handwritten Thank you Note
Below are some general suggestions for sending a handwritten thank you note via snail mail:
- Make sure to use an embossed or monogrammed blank card.
- Include both your return address and the delivery address on the envelope, so your note should begin with the date, followed by the greeting on the next line.
- The body of your note will follow the greeting.
- Close with your contact information: “I can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or via telephone (561) 555-1212.”
- Include a complimentary close followed by a comma (Example: Sincerely,)
- Include your signature after the complimentary close.
- Make sure your handwriting is at its very best, and your grammar and spelling are correct.
Handwritten Note Example:
July 12, 2017
Dear <Salutation – Mr./Ms.> <Last Name>:
Thank you for allowing me to interview for your Social Media Coordinator position. After learning about your needs, I believe my background and experience are an excellent match.
Also, the creative approach to social media initiatives you described today enhanced my desire to join your team.
I am confident my experience will allow me to produce results for you. I look forward to hearing from you soon regarding this position. If you need additional information, please feel free to call me at (561) 555-1212 or via e-mail at <email handle>@email.com. Thanks again!
<First Name> <Last Name>
Sometimes the obvious things are overlooked. Don’t let not sending a thank you note stand in the way of your job search success. Make sure to send your thank you within 24 hours after an interview to each person with whom you met.
Gratitude is always the right way to go. Here’s to your success!
1 CareerBuilder Press Release. (2016, July 28). CareerBuilder Survey Reveals Five Common Job Seeker Pitfalls That Will Hinder Any Career Search. Retrieved from: http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?sd=7%2F28%2F2016&id=pr960&ed=12%2F31%2F2016.
2 Accountemps Press Release. (2012, June 14). Farewell to the Handwritten Thank you Note? Retrieved from: http://accountemps.rhi.mediaroom.com/thank you
About the author:
For almost 10 years, Bob Nealon has been a South Florida-based career coach, focused on training and coaching college students and professional-level clients to achieve success in their employment search campaign and careers. He has trained over 5,000 clients with strategies on how to best compete in today’s ultra-competitive market to land the job and advance their career.
He holds a master’s degree in Sports Administration from Indiana State University and is a multi-credentialed career coach holding industry certifications as a Certified Professional Career Coach, Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Employment Interview Professional, Certified Empowerment and Motivational Coach, Global Career Development Facilitator, and Florida Certified Workforce Professional.
Currently, he is a career coach at Lynn University within the Hannifan Center for Career Connections in Boca Raton, Florida. If you have questions about interviewing and the importance of practice, feel free to contact him via e-mail at RNealon@lynn.edu.