You’ve passed the first milestones on your way to the next step in your career; your resume and cover letter have succeeded in getting you a job interview. You had mutual chemistry with your interviewer, learned a lot from the conversation(s), and are eager to join your potential new employer.
Your next step after a positive interview is to follow up with a prompt and personalized thank you note. A thank-you note is more than just a nod to etiquette. It should:
· Emphasize your understanding of the role
· Reiterate your interest in the position and organization
· Review or remind the employer about your qualifications for the position
· Show appreciation for the employer’s time and attention
From the interviewer’s perspective, a thank-you note doesn’t just signal manners; more importantly, it signals interest. Interviewers want to know that you went home, thought about the discussion, digested it all, and concluded that you’re still enthusiastic about the position.
Where do good candidates go wrong?
It’s just a courtesy thing. Interviewers are interviewing you because they might want to enter into a business arrangement with you—one that they’ll benefit from. So, despite the term “thank-you note,” your correspondence shouldn’t be as much about giving thanks as about following up on the interview in a way that demonstrates your enthusiasm for the job. It should build on the conversation from the interview and explain why you’d be a good fit for the job.
No gifts! A (fortunately) small number of job candidates send fruit baskets or other gifts after an interview. Do not do this. You will unsettle your interviewer and create awkwardness—and it won’t help you. If you’re not qualified, a gift isn’t going to change that. Advance note writing. Some job seekers write their notes in advance, figuring they can then just hit “send” on the email after the interview. But this means that the note will truly be perceived as a perfunctory and scripted; you won’t be able to reference anything from the interview conversation and you don’t demonstrate that you can build on that conversation.
Delaying the note. If you can’t even manage your time well enough to send a thank you note, how are you going to manage a fast-paced and challenging job?
Should the note be delivered by email? Snail mail? Typed? Handwritten?
This reporter contacted Peter Vincent, Vice President of Human Resources for the National Audubon Society, to get his input on format.
“I don’t particularly care the note is handwritten or via email”, said Mr. Vincent, a long time Human Resources professional. “What amazes me is the number of people who never send a thank you or follow up note at all.” Don’t be one of them!
E-mail is appropriate, particularly as a supplement (i.e., write both an e-mail and hard copy) when that has been your means of contact with the person you want to thank.
If you want the job, take the time to write a knockout thank you note. It’s your chance to stand out from among other candidates. Create a positive message that makes the hiring manager interested in knowing more about you. While the best thank-you note in the world can’t get you a job for which you are not qualified, it’s possible that it can tip the scales in your favor if you’re one of two standout candidates.