It’s widely agreed among hiring managers that a thank-you note alone will not get you a job. But very often, it can be that little bit of weight that tips the scales in your favor, particularly if it’s between you and a few other candidates. The reality is that the note is often less about the “thank you” (though that’s certainly important) and more about the message: desire and a final impression.
Elements of a Good Thank You
Above all else, make sure to keep your note short. You’ve already had an interview, and the overarching goal here is to put a bow on your presentation.
- Thank your interviewer for the opportunity to apply and for the time they spent with you.
- Discuss either a highlight of the conversation or something positive that you didn’t mention about the culture of the company or the position in question that really resonates with you. This avoids repetition (remember the interviewer was just with you) and adds one more facet to your application.
- Have a professional subject line, something like: “Thank You – Firstname Lastname”
Those above elements really should be enough. These days a thank you email is the most popular and accepted form to use, rather than the handwritten thank you note of the past. This isn’t to say that isn’t classy, it’s just that it’s not as done anymore and there’s no need to step out of the frame you have likely been using to communicate (email, phone, etc.) to something you haven’t used up to this point (handwritten communication). Remember to stay professional in your language and avoid any forms of casual tone. Even if you connected well with your interviewer it’s important to keep the experience and presentation all the way to (what you hope is) a successful conclusion.
Make sure that your note is sent within 24 hours of the interview – it’s a good interval to put your name and impression back in front of the interviewer.
Your Actions and Words
It’s often said that actions speak louder than words, but a thank you note is one of those rare entities that’s a bit of both. It’s clearly an action that you chose to do, that isn’t required, and indicates you’re the sort of person that goes the extra mile. But it’s still powered by your words, and a note that sounds like it’s a copy and paste job is going to ring hollow in the ears of an experienced hiring manager. If your note, like you, is authentic, engaging, and on target, you may accomplish the goal of the interviewer doing what he/she already was leaning towards: hiring you.
George Clooney got off to a rough start in Hollywood and wasn’t getting as many callbacks as he thought he should. As he leaned on others for advice, one piece of advice stuck with him particularly. A friend reminded him that casting directors don’t want another person to walk through the door after you. They have a problem to solve. They want to hire the right person and move on to the next task. If you feel you’re right for the job, and you’ve put forth your best case, try to end the search for them. Surely, like you, they don’t want to do another set of interviews.
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Stephen writes about startups, hiring and career issues for VocaWorks.