Interview Follow Up: It’s All in a Thank You

Most of us have been raised to thank people. We thank them for gifts, we thank them for attending our events, and we thank them for passing the sugar from the other side of the table.

A question I often get asked is, “When is it an appropriate time to send a thank-you following an interview, and should it be by regular mail or could it be by email?”

Thanking someone for taking the time to interview could be your final chance to make an impression. If you are going to extend a thank-you, make it count. We all have those “ah-ha” moments after an important meeting or interview. You have walked out and realized you could have answered a question with a better response and you forgot to mention that key achievement that lead to success. A good thank-you is your time to make these final points.

So, when writing a thank-you following an interview, don’t just politely thank the interviewer for their time and sign off. Of course, show your appreciation for their time, but go deeper. Let them know why you would be the perfect fit for the position you interviewed for and why you think you could be a key contributor to their company. Touch on points that were discussed in the meeting and talk about how you would accomplish them. Explain why you think that they could benefit from having you on board and how your past achievements could contribute to the success of the company. Some interviewers will leave you with something to think about or some questions to answer, and this is your time to answer these questions.

I once had a candidate who was up for a sales position. After meeting her and liking her, my client decided to pass as she did not have the experience in the commodity they were looking for. When she was told this, she was adamant that she was a true sales professional and felt she could sell anything she was passionate about. She wrote a thank-you and sold herself so well in the email it convinced my client to have his partner meet her. Consequently, she still did not get the position, but her strong thank-you did get her a second interview and left a lasting impression on my client and myself.

Email or traditional mail?
Traditional mail is so rare these days that it is always a good way to stand out. Most of us love the thrill of receiving something by regular mail that is not a bill.

However, in a job search, timing is everything and I personally fear that regular mail may get lost on most. It takes longer to get delivered, and then you are dependent on the hiring manager receiving it and opening it in time before they make their final decision. If you are going to send a thank-you by regular mail, make sure to follow these tips;

Make sure to write it up and put in the mail within 24 hours of your interview. Hand write it, don’t type it; this is the whole point of putting it in the regular mail. Use nice, clean and professional stationary. Leave the Hello Kitty for your social thank-yous; always be cognisant of your professional image. Check and double check the address, ensure there are no spelling mistakes, especially in the name and address, and always be sure to include a return address. You never know. And if it can’t be delivered, at least you can hope to get it back. So, a thank-you by regular mail is great – if you have the time.

If not, an email will always do. If you are going to send a thank-you by email, it should also ideally be within 24 hours of the interview but could be stretched to 48. The nice thing about an email is that you are more likely to get a close to immediate response, even if it’s just a thank-you for your email, which can start a dialogue. If the hiring manager is making a decision quickly, then you have a better chance of being first of thought by getting your thank-you in right away. Again, be cognisant of your professional image; just because it’s an email, it does not mean it should be any less formal then a regular letter. Keep it professional and ensure there are no spelling mistakes. Always have a signature with your full name and contact information. If you are sending an email, use a professional email address, something relative to your name. No one is looking for a sales manager who has an email “misssparkly@.” If you have to create a new email account with a more professional address, do so and keep the other one for personal use.

Contact Info
Often an interviewer will offer you their business card. If this doesn’t happen, feel free to ask for it and mention you would like it in order to send a thank-you. If you have been introduced to the company by a recruiter, it is best to send a thank you through the recruiter. When my candidates want to write a thank-you, I ask them to write up the email as they were sending it directly to my client and then I forward it upon their behalf. Many companies do not want to be contacted directly by candidates, so asking your recruiter to forward the email on your behalf is the best way to keep everyone involved in the loop.

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