All interviews should be followed up with a thank you note, no matter how well—or badly—it went. If the interviewer was the long-lost fraternity brother of your dreams, he gets a thank you note. If he was the stone-faced gatekeeper of your worst case scenario, he gets a thank you note. It’s just good form, as Emily Post would surely agree.
Why do it? Even if you don’t get the job, a little formal graciousness goes a long way. It could keep you on the “good” list for future openings. Also, doing it as an automatic routine after every interview means you don’t have to think too much about it.
Here are 6 steps to writing a great thank you note:
1. Know the players.
If you met with just one person, this is easy-peasy. If you met with a group, or you were handed off to multiple people like a well-dressed baton, it can be trickier. Try to get a business card from each person you talk to. If you forget, or that doesn’t work out for whatever reason, make sure you have at least one person’s contact info, or HR’s contact info.
2. Decide how you want to send the note.
Pretty much every part of the hiring process has gone digital, so in the interest of quickness and ease, it’s fine to email the person(s). Plus, it’s “green” and shows you know how to use resources efficiently, so…bonus!
3. If necessary, reach out to get all the interviewers’ contact info.
If you have gaps, it’s totally fine to reach out to your initial contact at the company. In the thank you letter to that person, you can add a brief note to say, “I’d love to reach out to Martha as well to say thank you, but I don’t have her email address. Could you please send that to me?”
Note: if you’re doing this old school and sending paper letters instead of email, this step isn’t really necessary…You can address the envelope right to the person at the company’s mailing address.
4. Hit all the necessary points.
There are a number of elements that the thank you note should include:
- The thanks: “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me this morning.”
- Brief reference to any small talk you had: “It’s always a pleasure to meet a fellow Cubs fan!”
- 1-2 sentences that reiterate how awesome you are for this job: “Based on our conversation, I think this company has some interesting goals, and my sales acumen and leadership skills can really help you achieve them.”
- Leave the door open: “Please don’t hesitate to let me know if I can provide more information that will help you make your decision. I look forward to hearing from you.”
- A closing that is formal, but not stiffly so” (Think “Best,” “Regards,” or “Thanks again.” Nothing flowery and Victorian like “Ever so humbly yours.”)
5. Check everything.
For the love of all that is good and chocolate, proofread every element: email address, name spellings, body text.
6. Send it now.
Seriously, same day. If you put it off, it could signal to the interviewer that hmm, maybe this isn’t your top priority. And it’s easy to get bogged down in daily stuff and say you’ll do it tomorrow. Spoiler alert: you’ll probably forget or put it off tomorrow too, because human nature. Besides, you want to do it before the interview starts getting fuzzy around the edges in your memory.
And then you’re done. Just a few minutes, taken right after the interview, can help establish you as the so-on-the-ball candidate. Plus, even if you don’t get the job, you’ve left a good impression, and you never know when that will come in handy.