September 16, 2014

Thanks! 15 Job Interview Thank You Note Tips

Credit: karen roach/Shutterstock

It may seem like a simple formality, but sending a thank-you note after a job interview can mean the difference between getting the job and going back to square one.

"I can tell you that only about 20 percent of the candidates send one — and it really brings those candidates to the top of the pile," said Lori Kleiman, a human resources consultant.

But thank-you notes are more than just a polite way to let your interviewer know you appreciate his or her time. If you write your thank-you note the right way, you can use it to reiterate why you're the best fit for the job. In your thank-you note, you can answer questions your interviewer asked that you think you didn't address adequately, make a personal connection with the interviewer, and more.

And even if you don't get the job this time, sending a thank-you note means that you keep doors open for the future.

"Remember that this may go into your personnel file at the employer, and that even if you are not the first choice for the position, you may get a call about a similar position or if the first choice does not work out," said Linda Carlson, author and owner of small business consulting company Barrett Street Productions.

So how do you write the perfect thank-you note? Follow these 15 expert tips for making sure your thank-you note is successful in every situation.

Don't write it ahead of time

"Do not prewrite the thank-you note before the interview. I've seen candidates interview, and at the end of the interview hand the manager a thank-you note. Make it a genuine note." – Christen White, account executive, Uproar PR

Take notes

"Be sure to take notes during the interview so that you can personalize the thank-you note. Include a tidbit from your conversation that you know will help the interviewer remember who you are, and use the thank-you note to remind the interviewer why you are a good fit for the position." –Jodi R. R. Smith, president and owner, Mannersmith

Tailor it to the company's culture

"Consider the individual interviewer and the company culture before sending your messages. A more traditional organization may prefer a handwritten letter, while a technology start-up may expect an email immediately." – Amanda Augustine, job search expert, TheLadders

Cover your bases

"In today's market, send both [an email and a mailed note]. The email gets there fast, in case the employer is making a decision right away. The snail-mail thank-you letter leaves a lasting impression that lingers longer. How you follow-up with the interviewer shows the interviewer how you will communicate with co-workers, clients and other stakeholders, if you are hired. The snail-mail thank you showcases your writing and shows you will make the extra effort." – Callista Gould, certified etiquette instructor, Culture and Manners Institute

Make it personal

"Mention something that the interviewer spoke about personally that was important to them (fishing, golf, kids, etc.) and possibly some of the business initiatives that they brought up. It makes the note more meaningful." – Seth Deitchman, former career coach and financial adviser, The Mercury Group at Morgan Stanley

Show your value

"Don't just thank your interviewer for the time they spent. Provide additional value by giving more details about why the employer should hire you. Be sure you use specific examples [of how] your past performance [makes you a] great candidate for this new job." – Scott Vedder, author, "Signs of a Great Resume"(CreateSpace, July 2012)

Include relevant content

"Sending a link to an article, video or podcast that complements the interview conversation impresses many interviewers." – Mark Anthony Dyson, host and producer, The Voice of Job Seekers podcast

Attach your résumé

"Be sure to express your interest in being considered for the specific position you interviewed for. Your letter should convey enthusiasm, intelligence and professionalism. Lastly, attach a copy of your résumé." – Nicole Kennedy, program manager, Polishing the Professional

Slip in your business card

"Immediately after any meeting, our best practice is to send a personalized thank-you email to every person you met with. Following that, write a thank-you card, stick your business card inside and send it out ASAP." – Ketti Salemme, communication manager, Tiny Pulse

Fix any interview mistakes

"Admit to an imperfection [and say] something like this: 'I wasn't completely satisfied with my answer to your question concerning my management style, and I’d like to take this opportunity to briefly readdress it.' This can be an effective way to redo an interview question that you mucked up during the actual interview." –Joseph Terach, CEO, Resume Deli

Say what you wish you'd said

"Many candidates report that after they leave the interview, they think of all the other things they could have said during the meeting. Rather than labeling this a liability, turn it into an asset by discussing these points in the thank-you letter, and remind the reader of your ability to produce similar results for their organization." – Barbara Safani, owner, Career Solvers

Act like you already got the job

"My advice is to send them a proposal of the things you will accomplish in your first 90 days on the job. In other words, start working before you even get hired. Do not just say, 'Thanks for your time; I'm really excited, blah blah blah.' Everyone says that. Your goal is to stand out and be unique while showing your value. What better way to do that than to explain to the hiring manager exactly how you will do your job and do it well?" – Melanie L. Denny, career empowerment coach

Use it to follow up

"Let's say, for sake of argument, that at the end of the interview, the interviewer tells the candidate that she can expect a decision within two weeks. Two weeks pass, and no news. The candidate should wait a third week and then send what I call a 'thank-you rejection letter.' After three weeks, the candidate should write, 'Thank you again for interviewing me for the position. I realize you have probably decided to go with another candidate. While I am naturally disappointed, I do appreciate having had the opportunity to interview and look forward to seeing you in the future. Best wishes.'" – Bruce Hurwitz, executive recruiter and career and business counselor, Hurwitz Strategic Staffing

Use it to soften rejection

"If you don't want the job, still send a thank-you note. Let them know why you're declining the job and what job would be a good fit. Things could change, and they might refer you to someone else. If they tell you they hired someone else, thank them for letting you know, and let them know you're still interested in a career with their company. Do not ask why you didn't get the job, which could put them on the defensive and make them uncomfortable. Always leave the door open for future possibilities." – Ronald Kaufman, author, "Anatomy of Success" (Self-published, December 1998)

Send it on time

"It is best to send an email within a few hours of the interview and a handwritten note within 24 hours." – Teri Hockett, CEO, What's For Work?

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