You took the time and came up with a killer resume and cover letter.

You even went a notch higher and aced that interview – a well pressed suit, best hair day, perfect scent and you answered the questions with such confidence you felt like James Bond.

You saw it all in the eyes of the hiring managers on the interview panel. They were amazed!

Now all that’s left is to sit back, relax and wait for that appointment letter. Right?

Wrong!

There’s something else that you need to do.

Of course, your resume, cover letter and flawless answers in the interview room should set you apart from the other candidates, but you’ll be at a vantage point if you do one more thing.

What’s the magic bullet?

Following up the interview with a perfect thank you letter.

This letter could give you the edge that you need to break the tie with your closest competitor so it could mean the difference between getting the job and getting regret mail. This is because in addition to showing that you are a courteous individual, it shows that you are genuinely interested and committed to getting the job.

You can also use it to give a gentle nudge to your prospective employers if you haven’t received an update in a while.

Depending on your situation and the available means of reaching out, the thank you letter can be a physical formal letter, a quick note or an email sent out to your hiring manager. Although it won’t make them hire you for a position you are not qualified for, it creates a positive impression of you in the eyes of hiring managers. So your interview doesn’t really end until this letter is sent.

The important thing to remember is that this letter is simply not just a formality that should be done to check off all items on a checklist. It can be a powerful weapon when you follow the right approach. You don’t know how many candidates your hiring manager spoke to, so you should do everything you can to be memorable.

Since a very small fraction of the applicants receive invitations to interview, and usually only one will get a job offer, it’s important to do all you can to be the one.

WHY YOU SHOULD SEND A JOB INTERVIEW THANK YOU LETTER

Here are a few reasons:

  1. It is good manners. Right from elementary school, we were taught to say thank you whenever someone does good to us. Your interviewers took time off their schedules to listen to you and that’s a good enough reason to say thank you.
  2. The second reason has a direct benefit to your job application. By sending a good thank you letter after the interview, you’ll be getting your name in front of your competitors one last time before the hiring decision is made. You can use this chance to leave a positive impression on your hiring managers and that will increase your chances of getting the job.
  3. I hate to break it to you, but sending a thank you letter is no longer an option. It’s an expectation. Why is that? There are employers out there who think less of candidates who don’t send thank you letters after interviews. To be fair, there is also a good number of others whose hiring decision won’t be affected by whether or not you sent a thank you letter. Unfortunately, you can’t tell when the letter could give you an edge, but we do know for sure that sending it has no negative effects on your application.
  4. It will only take a few minutes. Think back from the time you first heard about the job opening. How much time have you put in to get to where you are now? At least, you have spent a number of hours combined. Would you like all this work to go to waste just because of something that will only take a few minutes to do?
  5. A thank you note doesn’t only say thank you. You can use it as a tool to show that you really want to work for the company. It also gives a gentle nudge to the employer to get back. Here’s an example: “Thanks for chatting with me on Tuesday about the Web Developer job at ABC. I was particularly thankful for your description of the new user portal that ABC is planning to roll out next year. I’m excited to learn more.”
  6. It shows that you are willing to go the extra mile. According to a report by Monster, a thank you letter tells the interviewer that you are willing to do what it takes to get the job. Instead of promising them heaven in the interview room and looking desperate, you could show them with your actions by actually going the extra mile. Besides, if you can’t take the extra step to get the job, who knows how you’ll be six months in after you are hired?
  7. A job interview thank you letter may not give you a job that you are not qualified for, but it will tip the scale in your favor. Imagine you are a hiring manager and you have narrowed down the search to two candidates. Both of them are qualified for the position, experienced and they look passionate and promising. However, only one of them sends a thank you letter. Which candidate are you likely to go with? You will agree with me that the one who took time to say thank you looks more attractive.

By now you must be convinced that a job interview thank you letter is a must for every interview that you attend. Let’s now move forward and look at some common pitfalls to ensure that you are doing it right.

MISTAKES TO AVOID IN YOUR JOB INTERVIEW THANK YOU LETTER

A job interview thank you letter is an important part of your job application. Don’t take it as just another formality that is done because most people do it. Here are some mistakes to look out for when working on your thank you letter:

  1. Don’t make excuses. No matter how bad the interview went, don’t use the thank you letter to explain your mistakes or apologize for anything that didn’t go as planned. Instead, focus on the good things that happened in the meeting. Even if the interview went wrong, this will get them going on reasons why they should hire you and who knows? They could choose to overlook the flaws when they remember the good parts.
  2. Don’t send the same letter to different interviewers. Let’s assume you interacted with three different people in the interview and you intend to send a thank you letter to all three of them. Drafting just one letter and only changing their names won’t give you a big advantage. If you want to really impress your interviewers, take time and personalize the message for every recipient. Take their name during the interview and be sure to mention something that the person shared during the interview.
  3. Don’t oversell yourself. The letter is intended to show gratitude so avoid statements that sound too salesy. Statements like “This job is perfect for my background” should not be seen. Instead, show your excitement about the possibility of applying your skills in projects that were mentioned in the interview.
  4. Avoid aggressive requests. Mentioning that you will be calling to ask about the status of your application in a few days or weeks won’t work in your favor. It will only show your desperation. It’s okay to make a follow-up call at the end of the window given by the employer during the interview. However, you don’t have to mention it in the thank you letter.
  5. Don’t include references unless you have been asked for them. Although sometimes employers will ask you to send a list of references after the interview, they are not always required. Sending the list distracts from the primary aim of the letter which is to show your gratitude and interest in the job.
  6. Avoid talking about reimbursements or remuneration in the interview. Even if you were promised some reimbursement for your interviewing expenses and you have not received any, don’t mention that in the thank you letter. Instead, focus on delivering your gratitude and standing out.

With that out of the way, let’s look at what your thank you letter should have.

VITAL ELEMENTS OF A JOB INTERVIEW THANK YOU LETTER

You’ll be happy to hear that if you’ve made it this far down the hiring process, preparing a thank you letter will be a breeze for you. It’s nothing compared to the effort it took to prepare your resume and cover letter, or the time it took to prepare for the interview.

However, its importance cannot be overemphasized. It’s vital that you do it right. You want it to have a positive impact on your application. Here’s how to do it:

Be Authentic

Think about the door to door salesman trying to sell you detergent. If during the presentation you have any reason to think that what they are saying is not true, chances are that you won’t buy. The same is true for your job interview thank you letter. The product you are selling is yourself and if for any reason the hiring manager feels that you are not being genuine, they won’t buy.

Studies have shown that 96% of employers would pick someone with the right attitude over someone with a perfect skillset. Honesty, loyalty and trustworthiness were named among the top six attitude qualities that are sought after. Your thank you needs to be sincere and not just another chance to pitch yourself.

The best way to do this? Go personal. Try to remember something relevant that happened during the interview. It could be something that the particular interviewer said or did during the interview. Mention this in your letter. For example, say something like this: “Your flow chart with the flow of work in the department helped give me a clear picture of the expectations in this position.”

Of course, it should be something you genuinely enjoyed during the interview.

Mention Names

Nothing shows you as selfish like sending a thank you letter addressed “To whom it may concern”. You were with them in the interview, and you were introduced. If you can’t remember them, why should they remember you? Your message should be relevant, customized and compelling to everyone who receives it.

It can be hard sometimes to get the names of all the people who interviewed you if the panel was big. A good practice is to take every chance you get in the interview room to mention their name. For example, saying something like “That’s a very good question, Mr. Smith. The reason why…” then you go ahead and answer their question will help you recall their names. You can then transfer them all to your notebook after the interview for use in your thank you letter.

While you are at it, make sure you don’t send the wrong message to anyone. Make sure you have the right names. If need be, you can confirm the names with LinkedIn profiles. Most people have their basic information on the website along with a description of their position.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

How many times have you clicked away from a website because of a bad user experience? The job market today is flooded, hence employers have too many options to settle overlook even the small errors. With this in mind, you should make a point of making sure your letter is well done.

Make it brief and to the point so that the interviewer can see that you appreciate their time, but don’t make it look like an afterthought that you scribbled and sent. It needs to have proper salutation and sign off.

You should also proofread and make sure that it has no typos, grammatical errors or formatting issues. It might be a simple thank you note, but that doesn’t mean that your prospective employer won’t use it to evaluate your writing and communication skills.

Be Timely

For best results, you should send your thank you letter within 24 hours from the time you finished the interview. Ideally, you should do it on the same day you did the interview. You should not take more than 2 days to send this letter.

The longer you wait, the higher the chances of finding that the decision has already been made hence your letter won’t have any significant advantage to your application.

Show Your Excitement

In your thank you letter, let your employer know that you are very interested and excited about the possibility of filling the position. Show your passion for the industry and admiration for the company. This would be a good time to talk about something positive about the company that you discovered during the interview.

For example, “I was happy to learn that ABC is so determined to take part in environmental conservation by minimizing on the use of paper. I find that admirable and something that everyone should be doing.”

Highlight Your Key Selling Points

The main reason why the interview was done is to ensure that the company finds a good fit for the position. Your thank you letter needs to show that you will be a good fit. The best way to do this is by mentioning some of your selling points and how they relate to this job.

You should be very careful not to overdo this because it will make you sound salesy. It’s very important that you only mention a few selling points in a relevant manner. Ideally, you should talk about new information that you got from the interview.

Here’s an example about how you can mention your selling points: “It was interesting to learn that ABC is currently going through a leadership transition. Having participated in the transition process in my current company when our Marketing Director left, I have skills that could help make the process faster and easier.”

Be Confident

Like we mentioned above, don’t your thank you letter sound like an apology letter. It should reinforce the fact that you are the right person for the job.

So be passionate and confident in the letter and inject some personality. However, don’t exaggerate your abilities just to sound good.

SAMPLE

Let’s finish by looking at a sample.

 

John Doe,

34 Railway Street,

Pasadena, CA 53454.

[Phone Number]

[Date]

 

Ms. Ashley Williams,

Marketing Manager,

ABC Inc.

543 Main Street,

Pasadena, CA 34345.

Dear Ms. Williams,

I would like to thank you and your staff for taking the time to meet with me and discuss the Graphic Designer position at ABC Inc. I particularly enjoyed hearing about your own experience at ABC and how it has impacted your career path.

I was very excited to hear about the new graphical email campaigns that you are planning to switch to and as I mentioned, I believe that they will have a big positive impact on your conversion rates. I must admit, when we moved to media-rich emails at XYZ, some members of the marketing team were a bit skeptical about the move. However, the results spoke for themselves and we all wished we had started earlier. I’m confident that the experience will help me deliver in this position.

I’ve been thinking about the move and I’ll be happy to talk to you about some ideas that I have for the campaigns when we speak.

Thanks again for your time. Don’t hesitate to let me know if there is anything else I can forward to make your hiring decision easier.

Best Regards,

 

John Doe.

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