|  April 25, 2017

How to write the best post-interview thank you note

A post-interview thank you note is something that will never go out of style in the job search. If you’re reading this and you think thank you notes are pointless, let me just say that they still matter… a lot.

Writing a thank you note is not an outdated practice. As much as you leave an interview wondering if the team liked you, they are also wondering if you liked them.

A well-executed post-interview thank you note isn’t just a “thanks” — it’s a way to:

  • Reiterate you’re the right person for the job, now with the benefit of having additional context on who the “right” person actually is
  • Express your genuine interest in the role and the company, especially in light of meeting more people and learning more about both of those things
  • Show strong communication and relationship-building skills — if you were in sales, you would NEVER not follow up after a pitch meeting, so if you want this job, why would you walk out the door and never follow up?

Not to be alarmist about this but at every single recruiting job I’ve held in my career, I’ve seen hiring managers held up on the fact that someone didn’t send a thank you note. 

On their end, they’re thinking, “This takes no more than five minutes, so how little does the candidate care if they can’t make that simple gesture?”

Assuming you’re sold on the first part (must write thank you notes) here are a few ways to take it from bland to compelling, and a few creative ideas I’ve seen work really well.


The basics

In terms of the basics, thank you notes should be written to individuals vs. to everyone at once. The exception to this is if you were interviewed by two people at the same time.

If you don’t know someone’s email, ask the person who coordinated the interviews or guess. If you have the email of any person within the company, you probably know the formula. 

Last but not least is the timing. Your thank you note should ideally be sent on the same day as the interview, or the morning following at the latest.


The content

The content of your thank you note (more on this here) should always touch on your interest in the job, your interest in the company, and your excitement about working with the people you met with. Beyond that, if you can draw on specific aspects of your conversation, that’s great.

This should NOT be an exercise in BS-ing. If the job was actually right for you, you’d have no problem writing all of the above in a super genuine way.


Standing out

I truly believe you can stand out with a simple thank you email, as long as it hits on all of the criteria above. 

However, if you’re looking to take things above and beyond, here are a few ideas:

  • Include a tangible follow-up that’s related to something from your conversation: For example, if you talked about trends in social media, you can pass along a recent article you read (and of course found insightful) on the topic. If your interviewer seemed really curious about a certain project or piece of work, send along more information or a work sample. Make sure anything you send excludes confidential company data.
  • Do a small project that helps the team or the company: This works especially well with startups or smaller companies. If your interviewer mentioned a certain business challenge or struggle, send ideas or a game plan. The more polished and thought-out your ideas are, the more impressive this will be. 
  • Hand write and drop off thank you notes: The reason why I say drop them off is because you don’t want the gesture of a handwritten note overshadowed by the fact that it doesn’t arrive for a few days (by the way, this is good if there is a receptionist or someone who can deliver – you don’t want to be bugging the people you just interviewed with).
  • Add or send some sort of small gift: If you do the drop-off method, you also have the option to add a small token of appreciation. First of all, let me just say this is NOT necessary or required. Additionally, there is a very fine line between “nice touch” and totally over the top so if you take this route make sure it’s something small like cookies from a great local bakery for example.


A thank you template to start from

While the customization is what separates the good from the great, here’s a template you can use at your starting point.

Dear [interviewer], 

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me about the [job title] role [today/yesterday]. I really enjoyed our conversation and [hearing about/learning about] [something that you discussed]. 

I am very excited about this opportunity and feel that my background in [share relevant aspects of your background] would make me a great fit for the job. [share something about why you’re also excited about joining the company and/or team]. 

Thank you again and I hope to speak to you soon, [you]

Alright, that’s the scoop! Now go write your amazing thank you notes 🙂

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