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The Right Way To Say Thanks After An Interview

The post-interview thank-you isn't dead, but the way you do it could make or break your chances of nailing the offer.

[Photo: AstroStar via Shutterstock]

You had the interview. You’re pretty sure you aced it. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the offer, right? Wrong.

According to Kim Isaacs, Monster Résumé Expert, most applicants don’t follow up with a thank-you letter. "Even if you think an offer is in the bag, you can always improve your chances of getting the job if you send a thank-you letter," Isaacs writes.

But it’s not enough to whip out a card or an email and consider it done. There’s an art to expressing thanks after an interview that can boost your chances of being considered for the job.

Consider this draft of a note that Donna Svei, veteran recruiter and résumé expert of the AvidCareerist, recently got from a client who was looking for feedback before she sent it.

Hi [Name],
I’m so grateful for your generosity this morning in spending time speaking with me and sharing your insights about the new position on your team. Thank you.
Near the end of our talk, I mentioned my excitement about having a chance to help create systems and processes that will allow [Company Name] to better manage [the challenge] and seize opportunities.

I hope I’ve also conveyed well to everyone on the team my eagerness to receive your/their mentorship, on [Company Name’s] culture and how to succeed as [Position Title].

There’s nothing I’d rather do with this next chapter of my [position type] career than serve one company in such depth that I become woven into its fabric. It’s plain to see you are on that path and enjoying it very much. Meeting you and hearing your story affirmed my decision to make this jump.
Whatever happens, let’s please keep in touch!
Regards,
[Name]
P.S. See attached photos of dogs.

Though brief (not a bad thing in an age of dwindling attention spans), Svei says the client hit several key points with her note, namely:

  • Illustrated soft skills such as self-motivation and commitment
  • Built on the newly established rapport with the hiring manager
  • Touched on a shared interest

Svei says this client got the job.

Before you press send (or lick the envelope closed), experts recommend that you take a second or third look at what you have—just to be sure you are cementing a good impression.

Don’t Think Of It As Thanks

This may sound counterintuitive, but Alison Green, career expert and author of How to Get a Job, points out, "The reality is, most interviewers don't really care if you thank them for the interview; they're not interviewing you to be charitable but rather because they might want to enter into a business arrangement with you—one that they'll benefit from."

Instead of simply expressing gratitude, a successful note builds on the interview by illustrating what the candidate can offer in addition to what was discussed.

Don’t Use A Template

It’s tempting to simply cut and paste what Svei’s client wrote and change the names. Alternatively, Google will furnish over 1.4 million other thank-you email templates for job interviews that provide fodder for gratitude.

If you’re really stumped and starting to panic, remember that hiring managers are usually quite accomplished at spotting a generic effort. It’s their job to weed out the good from the gaffes. Don’t underestimate the power that comes from screening recruits all day, every day. Make your thank you personal.

Don’t Rush It

Green says that even if some candidates are crafting their responses themselves, they sometimes write them ahead of time. She’s seen job seekers draft emails in advance and press send right after they walk out of the interview, or, worse, hand a note to the receptionist before they exit the building.

It’s a lost opportunity to personalize the content, as well as to build the relationship. But that’s not the only fatal flaw. "When it's obvious that you wrote the note ahead of time and planned to drop it off as you left, it drains much of the significance of the gesture and turns it into one that conveys only, ‘I'm checking a thank you off my list,’" Green says, referring to her first point.

Don’t Make A Dumb Mistake

Svei points out another instance in which a client was a perfect fit for a particular job (her dream assignment), got good feedback during the interview process, and followed up with a sincere note of thanks. But she didn’t get the position because of one small but critical mistake. She misspelled the person’s name in the note.

Svei recalls, "I got a call saying she was out of contention for the position solely because of this mistake. No appeals allowed. He felt as though it said something about her lack of attention to detail that mattered to him."

Svei’s advice to ensure this doesn’t happen to you: Exchange business cards during the interviews. "No one walks around with business cards that misspell their name. No one," she says.

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