by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Note: Here’s a secret only a handful of job-seekers seem to know… employers and recruiters appreciate job candidates who send thank-you letters after the job interview.
Why don’t more job-seekers write thank-you letters? Some say it’s simply too hard. Nonsense. It’s not any harder than writing your resume or preparing for the interview. More importantly, it’s one of your last chances to sell the employer that you are the perfect person for the job!
Job-seekers should ideally send thank-you letters within 24 hours after a job interview — and certainly no later than about 2 days after the interview. You may even want to ensure that the interviewer has your thank-you letter in hand no later than end of the next day.
Thank-you letters can be mailed, dropped off, or emailed. They can be typed or hand-written. The key element is to take the time to write them.
What should be in a thank-you letter? And how long should it be?
Most job-seekers write a thank-you letter that reinforces their fit with the position and employer, but there may be times when you feel you need to add a key element you forgot to mention in the interview, to reinforce a question that arose about your qualifications, or to attempt damage control over an interview gone bad.
Remember to address the thank-you letter with the correct spelling and title of the interviewer, as well as the proper spelling of the organization.
Fundamentals of a General Thank-You Letter
Use the first paragraph of your thank-you letter to show your genuine appreciation for the job interview and to reinforce your interest and fit for the position.
Use words like thank you, thanks, appreciate, excited, and enjoyed.
- Example opening paragraph: Thank you so much for taking the time to discuss the assistant brand manager position at Kraft Foods with me. After meeting with you and the other members of the marketing department, I am further convinced that my background and skills are perfect for the position.
Use the second paragraph to showcase some of the key elements of your background that match exactly what the employer is seeking in candidates.
Use words like convinced, ability, experience, achieve, collaborate, and contribute.
- Example second paragraph: I am eager to bring my previous marketing experiences, strategic problem-solving skills and passion for your brands to your department. I am convinced the knowledge, skills, and experience I’ve already achieved make me the best candidate for the job.
Use this optional paragraph to reinforce a point you perceived as a possible weakness during the interview or to play up a key strength the employer seeks — or to mention something you forgot to state in the interview.
- Example third paragraph: As for your concern about my sales experience, I want to reiterate that my having been new member recruitment chair at my school’s chapter of the AMA, along with outstanding grades in my professional selling classes, qualify me nicely.
The fourth and final paragraph of your thank-you letter should again thank the recipient for the interview and for being considered for the position, and mention that you are looking forward to the next step in the process and hearing back shortly.
- Example fourth paragraph: I look forward to hearing from you regarding your hiring decision. I know I am the perfect candidate for the position. Finally, thank you again for your time and consideration.
Final Thoughts on Writing Job-Seeker Thank-You Letters
Remember that this formula is just an outline of a thank-you letter. While the content is important, it’s just as important to write it and get it into the interviewer’s hands as quickly as possible. Listen and write from your heart.
Want to see some free examples of different types of thank-you letters? Follow this link to some some sample job interview thank-you letters.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Check out all of the thank-you letter tools and resources in the Thank-You Letter Resources for Job-Seekers section of Quintessential Careers.