After the holidays, many of us have to sit down and write thank you notes to our friends and family for all the gifts we got. But writing thank you notes is also an important aspect to the job search process. In fact, writing a thank you note after an employment interview may help you edge out your competition. I know of specific instances that students have come back to tell me that they were told by their interviewers that they got offered the position, in part, because they were considerate and wrote a thank you. At the very least, sending one gives you yet another opportunity to remind the prospective employer why they should hire you, and also reinforces your enthusiasm for the position.
Plan to send your note within three days after the interview. You may either type, handwrite, or email your note. If you type it, use a traditional letter format (block or modified block). Also if you type or handwrite the note, use high quality stationary. If your note is handwritten, make sure your writing is legible. Keep in mind handwritten notes are less formal, so if your interview was more informal and you had a good rapport with your interviewer, this may be the best choice. In more formal cases, it may not be a good choice. It’s also acceptable to email your note, particularly if you know the employer is going to be making a decision quickly.
If you were interviewed by more than one person, send each person his/her own note. It’s polite and also demonstrates your thoroughness. Make sure to spell the interviewers’ names correctly. Recruiters have told me stories about how turned-off they are if a student spends a whole day interviewing with them, and then fails to get their correct names and spellings in correspondence.
Here’s the recipe for a thank you note.
In the first paragraph,
Remind the interviewer of what position you interviewed for and the specific date
you met. Thank the interviewer for his/her time and clearly state your continued
interest in the position.
In the second paragraph,
Remind the interviewer of a special qualification that you have and indicate your
commitment to the job if you are hired. Mention something specific that you
learned in the interview.
In the third paragraph,
Close on a confident, audience-centered note. Be friendly and complimentary.
End with a request for a decision and provide your contact information.
You should also write a thank you note even if you don’t want the position; in this case you would let the interviewer know that you’d like to withdraw your application. This is good manners and may be helpful to your future job search. There’s a reason your mother told you never to burn any bridges!