So you just finished a stressful 2 hour in-person interview for your dream job and are wondering if and when to send a thank you note. You also are trying to figure out what to say and how much to say. These are all great questions.
Should I send a thank you note?
The answer is YES! Always send a thank you to all of the people you interviewed with. You should do this after a phone, video and in-person interview.
When should I send it?
It used to be standard to mail a letter and the hiring manager would get a hand written thank you note. It’s still a great look and in the right circumstance can be a nice touch. However, in this fast-moving world with a ton of competition, the company could make a hiring decision before your letter is even delivered. You can email a thank you letter the same day to make sure your career is not in the hands of the Postal Service.
My suggestion is when you finish your interview, take some time immediately after to do a brain download. Put your notes on some paper or in your phone. What highlights did you take away from the interview? Did the interviewer make some key points that you found significant? An appropriate time to send the thank you email would be a few hours after the interview and preferably the same day. If you send it within 24 hours, you are in good shape. Don’t send it 10 minutes after you walk out. That’s not enough time to truly reflect and you can come across as an eager beaver.
What do I say in the thank you email?
KISS – Keep it simple, stupid. I’ve seen a lot of articles and blogs online suggesting you take the time in a thank you letter to address questions you feel like you bombed. No one is going to have a perfect interview and I don’t think readdressing a question you answered poorly is best done in a thank you email. Why bring the low point of the interview back up to them anyways? More often than not, the question you feel like you stumbled on is more your own insecurity. A lot of articles and experts also mention using the thank you letter as a time to send a bunch of your qualifications, portfolios, reference letters, and awards. If the hiring manager/interviewer specifically asks for this info, like a portfolio, then by all means send it. However, bombarding them with all of this extra credit “look at me stuff” can come across as overcompensating or trying too hard.
How much to say?
Keep it short and sweet. A few sentences – think of Twitter 140 characters or less. Okay – maybe a bit longer but seriously don’t write a novel. Send it to yourself and see what it looks like reading the email from your phone. That’s probably where they will be reading it and you don’t want to overwhelm them.
I think including these 3 key components makes a great thank you letter:
- Thank them for the time and opportunity to meet with them.
- Mention something that they told you during the interview that you were impressed with. It can be something about the company and its future or maybe their philosophy on business. People like to know that you listened to them and had something significant to take away from the interaction.
- Express your excitement about the opportunity and that you look forward to taking the next steps. If this is the last step, then let them know that you think you are a good fit and want to join their team.
Make sure you let someone read and edit it before you send. We all get excited and sometimes write too much or say the wrong things. Everything you put in writing is another chance for that interviewer or hiring manager to judge you. A simple spelling or grammar error can cost you the job. A thank you letter should add value to your candidacy, not take value away. If you are working with a recruiter, make sure you have them read, edit, and help you with the thank you email. They’ve done hundreds of these and they will know the company and hiring manager and what will or will not impress them.