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Post-Interview Etiquette: How to Write a Thank You Letter for a Job Interview

Post-Interview Etiquette: How to Write a Thank You Letter for a Job Interview

James Clift
James CliftPublished on: April 2, 2019
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‘Thank you’ letters were once considered a common courtesy. Nearly all job-seekers would write a ‘thank you’ letter after a job interview to follow up with the employer. However, with the advancement of technology, this act of gratitude has slowly grown uncommon.

Interviews can be conducted in a variety of ways, and while traditional in-person interviews are still common, they are not always the employer’s preferred means of communication.

Whether your interview was done through email, over the phone, or in-person, sending a ‘thank you’ note after a job interview is a must.

Why Send ‘Thank You’ Letters After an Interview?

Not only is sending ‘thank you’ letters an important way of expressing gratitude, it can also be extremely beneficial to you as a candidate.

The next time you finish an interview, take into consideration these outstanding advantages a simple ‘thank you’ letter can bring.

1. It Shows Your Character

Many people think that the interview is their one and only shot at impressing employers, as well as the last time they will speak before hearing back with results.

However, a ‘thank you’ letter gives you a second chance to show your character.

The work ethic, passion, and gratitude that a ‘thank you’ letter demonstrates will put you above the candidates who don’t follow up and keep you in the minds of employers.

2. It Demonstrates Your Passion

The fact that you took time out of your day to thank employers for meeting with you speaks volumes about how passionate you are about the position.

Although employers are primarily looking for someone who gets the job done and performs with excellence, an enthusiastic candidate stands out from the rest.

3. It Puts You Above the Competition

Everyone dresses nicely, acts their best, and brings their A-game when going in for an interview. After all, this is the make or break moment that determines whether you are qualified for the job and meet the hiring manager’s requirements.

You can stand out from the crowd by following up with a ‘thank you’ letter after your interview. This will reinforce your enthusiasm for the role and keep you at the top of the hiring manager’s mind.

When Should You Send a Thank You Letter After an Interview?

While it might seem desperate or hasty to send a ‘thank you’ letter right after leaving a job interview, it is important to send the note when your interview is still sharp on the hiring manager’s mind.

Additionally, the longer you wait the more likely it becomes that the employer has already made a decision.

If you truly want to be remembered by the hiring manager, make a lasting final impression, and stand out among the other candidates, it is best to send the ‘thank you’ letter no more than 24 hours after the interview.

What to Say in Your ‘Thank You’ Letter & How to Make it Great

Since the ‘thank you’ letter is the last chance you have to speak with the hiring manager, knowing how to use your words to make a lasting impression is important.

The way you word the letter should remind the interviewer of your conversations, remove any doubts from their mind, and demonstrate your work ethic.

Remember, however, that the wording of the message depends on the tone of the interview.

If the interviewer remained strictly on topic, asked no questions about your personal life, and made no comment about his, then keep your ‘thank you’ letter as formal as he kept the interview.

If the interviewer was open to discussing personal life, made comments about his own, and kept the atmosphere light and casual, then there’s room for more personality in your letter.

Regardless of tone, there are a few things you should always keep in mind when writing a ‘thank you’ letter.

1. Less is More

The interviewer took time out of their day to meet with you, which is why it is polite and meaningful to thank them.

Your follow-up letter shouldn’t require much more of their time.

While any interviewer would appreciate a follow-up, it’s important to make it prompt and concise.

A typical rule-of-thumb is to not exceed the length of one page (for both handwritten letters and emails).

2. Revisit Interview Highlights

If you want employers to remember you, highlight the major topics of the interview.

Although you likely discussed many things during your meeting, reminding the employer of all of it will definitely exceed one page and leave less room for the important stuff.

For a lasting and powerful impression, only emphasize the highlights.

3. More Professional than Personal

Even if the setting of the interview was more personal than formal, your thank you letter shouldn’t abandon professionalism.

If a personal connection was made during the interview it is fine to make reference to it, but focus on the professional.

To avoid sounding desperate or overly casual, emphasis should not be placed on the personal connection between you and the hiring manager but on the highlights of the interview and the benefits of hiring you.

4. Proofread & Edit

Before sending your ‘thank you’ letter, proofread it closely and fix any spelling and grammar mistakes. Each error makes the letter sloppier and less professional.

A well-written letter looks professional and shows the employer that you care about the quality of your work.

5. Add Skills You Didn’t Discuss in the Interview

Your follow-up message is a great opportunity to bring up any important points you feel were missed during the interview.

Additional skills, certifications qualifications, and experience are great things to expand upon in your follow-up.

During a job interview, the hiring manager has control over what questions are asked and what topics are discussed.

In a follow-up, you can decide over what information you provide and what the manager will read.

6. Include Contact Information

Including your contact information in your letter makes it easy for the employer to contact you. It also shows that you are anticipating a response and encourages them to reach out.

7. Include ‘Thank You’ + Position Title in the Subject Line

When sending a ‘thank you’ letter via email, including the title of the position as well as the phrase ‘thank you’ in the subject line indicates the content of the message and tells the hiring manager that it is worth reading.

Just like the message itself, the subject line should be straight to the point. Following this simple formula is the perfect way to keep the subject line brief while still providing the important information.

8. Link to Portfolios

Providing links to your portfolios, online certificates, and other professional platforms encourage the hiring manager to take a deeper look into your qualifications. It will also provide evidence for the expertise you have claimed to possess.

Proof of your qualifications from multiple sources makes you stand out and appear authentic, leaving a great impression with employers.

The ‘After Interview Thank You Letter’ Checklist

Making sure that you have included everything important and left out what’s unnecessary can be challenging when you write a ‘thank you’ letter after an interview.

To make things simple, refer to this list while writing your 'thank you' note:

  1. Thank the hiring manager for their time
  2. Make paragraphs brief and concise
  3. Include only major interview highlights
  4. Make no more than one reference to a personal connection (if any)
  5. Add important details that were missed in the interview
  6. Link to your online portfolios
  7. Include ‘Position Title + Thank You’ in the subject line
  8. Proofread and edit

In order to prove that you’re the best candidate, you must put your best foot forward.

Following these eight-steps will result in a ‘thank you’ letter that’s professional, impressive, and the right length.

James Clift

James Clift

James is an entrepreneur and the Co-Founder of VisualCV. He has spent the last 10 years building businesses, from window cleaning to software. His passion is helping individuals create the careers they want.

James on LinkedIn

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