The unfortunate and consequential lost art of the post interview thank you note

Thank You. Two little words. Two very powerful words. We use them a lot in conversation. The art of writing a post interview thank you note, thank you email, heck even the thank you text is being lost.I remember back in the “olden days” – before the Internet – when you interviewed for a job, you followed through with a handwritten thank you letter sent via the postal mail. The idea was to show the people you interviewed with that you were listening and that this job was important to you. Now that we are in an age of instant communication, it’s even easier to do this,yet so often it is a step that is missed.  Spoiler alert: if anyone on my staff interviews a candidate that does not send a thank you note within 48 hours (within 24 or less is even better), it’s an immediate pass!  I can say with 100% confidence I am not alone in this policy.

If you are on board with bringing this back into your processes, and you should be, or want to stand out to recruiters and hiring managers which in the wake of layoffs and more competition on the street is kind of important these days, here are a couple of things to consider when writing the email, handwritten note or both!

  1. Don’t wait! This doesn’t mean write something poorly just to get it out there. Try to send your email within a day of an interview. Everything is still fresh in your mind as well as the interviewer’s. You want them to remember you! If your interview is virtual on Zoom or Teams, write it within the hour!  The hiring manager has you on their mind and what better way to leave a positive impression.  Some managers and recruiters interview up to 6,7,8 people a day, tomorrow you may not be as memorable or even forgotten!
  2. Email notes are fine, texts are pushing it.  Is it really that hard to open a mail client or web mail to write in a more traditional, dare I say formal format?  Text messages can often be clunky, prone to spelling and grammar errors, and are hard to reference or find later.   You have already put in the time to apply and participate in that interview, so take the extra step to distinguish yourself from other candidates. Don’t be lazy, send an email.
  3. Personalize and BE AUTHENTIC. Make sure you point out something specific that you discussed during that interview to help show that you’re listening and engaged. Also, remember that the interviewers will likely come together to discuss their meetings with you. If you send a generic email to everyone you spoke with, it will not come across as genuine. Take the time to personalize each thank you. It is worth it.
  4.  Title the email with “Thank You: Job Title, Interview Date”. I know this part seems impersonal, but remember, the interviewers could be meeting with many candidates. This will remind them of who they met with and when.  They may also put your email in a folder and then have to reference it days later.  Make yourself and your correspondence easy to find! 
  5. Get to the point and CHECK GRAMMAR. Be clear and concise. Just a couple of paragraphs is all you need. Highlight a couple of points from the conversation, common ground where you connected with the interviewer or reference recent company news that you are excited to read about.  Lastly, check spelling and grammar.  With spell check and free tools like Grammarly there is absolutely no excuse for spelling or grammatical errors.  If there are errors, it shows your lack of attention to detail and that you don’t care enough to be thorough.

In what has quickly become a more competitive job market, the little things can make the difference between a job offer or not.  Letting someone know that you appreciate the time they have taken to speak with you with a thoughtful, well-written thank you email can be the differentiator between you and another candidate.