Saying "thank you" is sadly becoming a lost art. The days of handwritten cards or notes of appreciation sent after receiving a gift are dwindling. What about a thank you note after a job interview? This is often overlooked or entirely forgotten. However, a thank you email following an interview could be just the thing to cause an employer to take a closer and more serious look at you as a hiring candidate.
While many remark these days about the job market being "tough," the truth is that most employers are in desperate need of qualified candidates that are skilled and willing to work hard. If you are such a candidate, then how do you make yourself stand out from the rest? I have an easy answer for you: by sending a thank you email after your interview.
You might be surprised how few people actually do this. They are either a) so confident in how the interview went that they don't see it as necessary, b) so busy preparing for the interview that they forget to prepare anything to send afterward, or c) simply don't think it's important.
Here's a wake-up call for you: It is that important! A follow-up thank you could literally mean the difference in you getting a job offer or not. Imagine for a moment that you are on the other side: You are a hiring manager who has just conducted a round of interviews. You have narrowed it down to your final two candidates. You enjoyed your meetings with each of them, and on paper, their qualifications are both a match for what you are looking for. You are feeling stuck on which one to go with.
Then, you receive an email from one of the candidates thanking you for your time in the interview, and restating their interest in the position and why they believe they are the best fit. At this point, like most hiring managers, receiving an email like this will seal the deal for you. It gives the one candidate just enough of an edge to help you finalize your decision and feel confident about your choice.
You can be that one candidate -- the last one standing, with a job offer in hand. And that's just one example of the benefit of sending a thank you. It is also a benefit when an employer isn't sure about you. They might be hesitant after interviewing you for one reason or another. Or, they simply could be very busy or not in a rush to move forward in filling the position. Receiving a thank you email from you could be just the thing to get them off the fence.Here's how to craft the perfect letter:
- As you are preparing for your interview, identify the key points that make you the best candidate for the position. What do you bring to the table, and why should they hire you? Preparing these key points is important because not only will you talk about them in your interview, but you will include them in your thank you email.
- Write your first draft before the interview. Have it ready to go so that you don't have to spend time after the interview thinking of what to write.
- Before leaving the interview, ask the hiring manager for their business card, so that you will have their email address and direct contact information.
- Within no more than 24 hours of the interview, write your final draft and send the email.
- Every thank you email should include the following:
- An opening that says "thank you" and expresses gratitude for the hiring manager's time. This shows that you appreciate and value their time and insight, as well as respect their authority.
- A few remarks stating your interest and enthusiasm for the position. Once the interview is over, you should know even more about the position and be able to sincerely express your excitement about the opportunity.
- A few reasons or key points why -- based on the interview discussion -- you are the best fit. This is so important. Don't just write something generic. Instead, tailor your points to the conversation you had with the hiring manager. Hopefully in the interview, you asked them what they are looking for in the perfect candidate, or what qualities they believe are necessary to excel in the position (hint, hint). You can now take the information they gave you in their response, and point out those qualities you have that they specifically said they are looking for. To take it a step further, you can give examples of how you have demonstrated these key skills in a previous position.
- If there are any key accomplishments that you didn't get an opportunity to highlight during the interview, then the thank you email is your final opportunity to do so. It's OK to brag about yourself!
- Close the letter by thanking them again and letting them know that you look forward to hearing from them.
In the past, it was really only acceptable to send a hand-written thank you letter following an interview. However, it is now perfectly fine to send an email. In fact, email is preferred because it's faster and you can ensure it goes directly to the right person.
By following these tips for sending a professional thank you email, you are sure to accelerate a job offer. I can't wait to hear your results! Post them in the comments below.