How to Write the Perfect Post-Interview Thank You Note

By Michael Schneider – Human capital specialist, Welltower
It’s not just another formality. Forgetting to send this email could prevent you from moving forward in the job interview process.

CREDIT: Getty Images
You spent hours researching, cramming, and planning for the interview. You practiced hundreds of behavioral based questions and spent a much-needed vacation day interviewing. Yes, the hard part may be over, but there is still a critical step left in the process — the thank you note.

Although many see a follow-up email as a formality, a CareerBuilder survey revealed that 22 percent of managers said they were less likely to hire a candidate if they didn’t send a thank you note.

I don’t consider myself “The” subject matter expert, however, I’ve spent the past five years in executive search, HR and talent management. I’ve had the opportunity to coach hundreds of candidates on post-interview communications and I’ve definitely received a few. Here are some best practices that I’ve picked up along the way.

Follow the usual email etiquette
Write a subject line that’s meaningful and reflective of what’s inside. Be succinct and professional. Use appropriate salutations and a complimentary close. Even though you’ve built some rapport through the interview, now’s not the time to let down your guard and be casual or comical — unless the organization’s culture encourages it. Remember, everyone expects you to be on your best behavior during the interviewing process. If there is even a shred of doubt or concern regarding your professionalism, managers assume it will magnify once you start.

Get the timing right
It’s best to send a thank you note within 24 hours of your interview. That way, you’re still on the minds of your interviewers and it’s easier for you to remember important details from your conversations. However, I would recommend that it’s a little longer than the first hour afterward. Although some may appreciate the enthusiasm, an immediate email can come across as desperate.

Show genuine appreciation
Open up the note with a thank you. But, make sure it’s sincere and authentic. A generic thank you will bolster a generic response. Show that you paid attention and care about the time they spent by mentioning specifics and highlighting details that you appreciated. It’s easy to make a mistake by being too brief when it comes to showing gratitude and too detailed when it comes to selling our backgrounds.

Personalize it
When you have a collection of business cards, it’s tempting to write a universal email and blind copy everyone involved. I get it. It’s much more efficient. But, I have seen people compare and analyze emails from candidates, and they’re not too impressed when they see how little effort went into the process. Taking the time to personalize your emails speaks to your interest in the position, your respect of each person involved, and leaves a positive impression.

Reiterate your interest
Job descriptions are often vague and generalized. After interviewing, you now have a better understanding of the position and a glimpse into the company’s culture. It’s important to recall this added detail and reiterate that you’re still excited, qualified, and interested in pursuing the opportunity. Make sure that you don’t leave any doubts in the minds of your interviewers.

Although I can never say that I’ve seen someone get a job because of their thank you note, I’ve definitely witnessed people unintentionally wreck their chances by not taking it seriously. These tips will ensure your thank you note is seen as a tribute to your personal brand and not a detriment.

(Sample Thank You Note)
Subject: Thank you, John! (Executive Recruiter Interview)

John Doe –

I wanted to express my sincerest appreciation for the time you devoted to learning more about my background as well as for the insights that you shared.

In addition to the clarification that you provided on the role, I was specifically excited to learn that ABC Company places a large emphasis on team collaboration. I believe that fostering an inclusive, team-based approach is essential to leveraging diversity and spurring innovation. Also, I was thrilled to hear that your team leverages “unique software.” I have “X” years of experience using this program and feel confident that I could hit the ground running.

After reviewing the “Executive Recruiter” position with you, I am even more enthusiastic about the prospect of joining ABC Company. Should you have any additional questions regarding my background, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Have a great week,

Michael Schneider


What To Say In A Thank You Card Besides ‘Thank You’ via By Rosa Elizabeth Vargas

Have you ever felt frustrated after an interview? Sure you have! I know you’ve mentally gone over your interview answers and you remember what you DID NOT say, and you realize you missed an opportunity to REINFORCE your candidacy. Well, this is what to say in a thank you card.

Related: Mastering The Art (And Science) Of Thank You Letters

Of course, it all depends on how badly you’ve screwed things up. Sometimes, there is no backpedaling, but let’s assume for a moment you can recoup or cement your candidacy… what then do you say in your thank you letter besides thank you?

The problem with most thank you letters is they are usually prepared as just a nice gesture.

Saying thank you is a very nice thing to do; it does go a long way, but if written as an ordinary thank you, it is not strategic enough to add another dimension to your candidacy… it leverages not an additional qualifier and doesn’t elevate your interview performance.

In other words, use your thank you opportunity as a last marketing tool in order to gain a competitive distinction.

What To Say In A Thank You Card

Here are a few things you can do to take advantage of the follow-up (thank you) opportunity. Remember, now you have “insider” information you didn’t have prior to the interview – don’t waste it.

When Your Interviewer Shared A Concern

If during the interview process you were told the perfect candidate must meet XYZ and you discussed your lack in one of these areas – you need to talk about this again! Concisely bring it up, reiterate why this would not be a problem, and, in fact, promote how, despite this “weakness,” you are the PERFECT candidate.

When You Did Not Say What You Should Have Said

At times, we reflect and in retrospect recognize where we failed. Well, this is your opportunity. Bring up the topic and say you would like to elaborate, you would like to expand; you had time to think about this and want to convey the following.

When You Think You Sensed Apprehension

This is a bit risky because you could be wrong. Yet, what is life if not risky? If you are very good at ascertaining needs and you KNOW you identified a problem, “smooth” it out! Please do not say you think the interviewer did not understand… you NEVER want to convey you assume to know what others think but you can discuss what YOU failed to communicate.

You can state you would like to clarify a point you wish you had emphasized.

When You Really Just Want To Say, ‘Thank You’

There are times when you were FANTASTIC during an interview and you sincerely just want to say, “Thanks!”

Nevertheless, you don’t know how your competition performed and you are not privy as to what kind of thank you letter they are preparing. So, in this case, thank them but fortify your candidacy even further. You could…
•Accentuate three of your top qualifications as discussed during the interview. Now you have more information than you did prior to the interview – put it to work for you! Connect your qualifications with employer needs expressed during the interview.
•Bring up information they shared about the company and express how much more interested you became.
•Sell them again on the bottom-line goal they need to achieve via your employment. Seal the deal by promising to deliver.

Keep This Thank You Letter Concise

While a sales tool, it does not have to be as elaborate as your resume or cover letter.

Remember, the entire job search process is a strategic marketing effort; leverage every tool and maximize every opportunity.