Thank you notes are an essential, but often overlooked, part of the job interview process. Many jobseekers believe their work is over when they shake hands with the hiring manager and leave the interview. However, there is one essential step that could determine the difference between “You’re hired,” and “Thanks, but we decided to go with another candidate”: the interview thank you email.
According to an Accountemps survey of more than 500 human resources managers, 59% of respondents thought a thank you note was very helpful and 32% found it at least somewhat helpful. Only 10% didn’t think a post-interview thank you note was helpful.
So, the vast majority of HR managers like to receive an interview thank you email. Follow the six tips outlined below to help you understand the rules of etiquette regarding these notes.
When to send the thank you note
Send it as soon as possible, so no later than 24 hours after your interview. There are two reasons for this. First, you want to connect while the hiring manager still remembers you and what a great candidate you were during the interview. Also, recognize that hiring managers often make the actual decision quickly. The time frame you were told usually states when the decision will be revealed. So, don’t delay sending your interview thank you email.
What medium to use
A handwritten note sounds nice and personal, but time is of the essence. You don’t know how long it takes for the note to be delivered to the hiring manager — and whether or not it will sit under a stack of other papers before it’s read. A phone call also seems good, but you can’t predict when the hiring manager will have time to chat. And if the call goes to voice mail, once again, this individual might have to hurry through several voice mail messages and won’t have time to think about what you’ve said. An interview thank you email is the best medium because it is a timely means of communication; in addition, it is a lasting and easily accessible record.
How to reinforce your enthusiasm
By now, you know the importance of being enthusiastic in your interview. Your thank you note is a great chance to show that same enthusiasm. Let the hiring manager know that you were excited to get the opportunity to interview for the job and you enjoyed meeting. You can also reiterate that you have a passion for performing the various job functions, and you’re eager to be a part of the organization. Close by stating that you’re looking forward to hearing from the company soon.
Deciding whether to sell yourself in the note
The interview thank you email should not be a transcript of the job interview. Who wants to read that? However, you should use this opportunity to reinforce your strongest selling points. A good way to accomplish this is to note your familiarity with some of the job functions, your knowledge of certain points discussed during the interview, and how you think you would be a good fit with the company because of those reasons.
During the interview, the hiring manager may have given you permission to call them by their first name. However, you need to maintain a level of formality in the thank you note. Men should be referred to as “Mr.” and women should be referred to as “Ms.” — whether or not you know her marital status. The only exception here is a super laid back startup run by people young enough to have enjoyed *NSYNC non-ironically.
In an interview, you “think on your feet,” meaning you don’t have a lot of time to consider your responses before you reply. If you recall any answer that you bungled, use a sentence or two of the interview thank you email to clarify that point.
Don’t make the note any longer than you have to. There’s a reason it’s called an interview thank you “note,” and not an essay. Each sentence should have a specific purpose: Showing gratitude and proving your competence. During the interview, the hiring manager may have veered off topic to see if you are a good culture fit for the workplace. Don’t bring up that conversation in your message though. It won’t help your chances (it probably won’t hurt them either, but it’s better to be safe.)
Also, don’t harass the hiring manager. Once you send the interview thank you email, don’t send more emails to inquire about the status of the job. If you were told that a decision would be made in the next two weeks, you are allowed to ask after two weeks have passed. Just don’t do it before.
Most jobseekers never make it to the interview round. If you get to this step, take advantage of this opportunity to make a good impression by showing that you’re grateful just to be a candidate. Also, use the interview thank you email to emphasize your enthusiasm, highlight your strong points, and clarify any issues. Your professionalism and thoughtfulness will go a long way when swaying the hiring manager.
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