career, interviewing, job search, recruiting

The thank you note: One of the most important–and underutilized–job search tools

How often do you say ‘thank you’ in your daily life?

What about when someone makes the time (note the intentional use of the word, ‘makes’) to interview you for a job? And what do you say when you do write a thank you note?

Let’s be honest here. A post-interview thank you note is not just to express gratitude for the interview making time to interview you. This is a business transaction. It demonstrates your ability to follow up, to close the interviewer with additional relevant points/examples, to reiterate your interest/enthusiasm for working with them and their team/company.

What can it do for us in the interview process?

  • Believe it or not, few candidates take the time to thank interviewers after a face to face interview. This is an opportunity to stand out through your follow-up.
  • The thank you is a fantastic additional touch point to bring the interviewer’s focus back to you–especially if they haven’t gotten around to writing up their feedback yet.
  • It’s a great opportunity to close them again. “I came away from our conversation with a thorough understanding of the opportunities and challenges this role presents, and if I were hired, this is what I’d do to tackle them in the first 90 days. . .”
  • If you screwed up an answer, this is your opportunity to redeem yourself. “As I reviewed our conversation after I left, I realized I had a much better example for your question regarding constructive feedback–I’d like to share it with you now. . .”

Thank you note DO’s:

  • Take notes during the interview about things you want to follow up with each interviewer.
  • Always get the name, title, and email of everyone on the interview loop. You want to thank each one of them personally. 
  • Follow up quickly. Within 48 hours of the interview whenever possible.
  • Send it by email. I don’t check my snail mail inbox at work more than twice a week. But I’m on email at least 15 hours a day. Which am I going to read and think about/respond to first?
  • Let the interviewer know that you listened. Reiterate points they touched on in the interview.
  • Act like you already have the job by demonstrating how you might solve a problem or offer a potential solution to an issue you discussed in that interview.

Thank you note DON’Ts:

  • Treat it as a perfunctory exercise. If you write it only because you think you must? It’s inbox spam. 
  • Write it before you go to the interview. If you don’t relate anything back to the dialogue you had during the interview with that interviewer? Yep–inbox spam.
  • Send it by snail mail. It loses all relevancy if the interviewer doesn’t pick it up out of their mailbox at work (which is usually tucked away in an obscure location nowhere near their desk) until after they make a hire/no hire decision. Speed matters here.
  • Get their name right. My name is spelled “Jon”. Yes, that’s slightly unusual. It’s written on my business card that way. Care to guess how many follow-up emails I get that begin, “Dear John . . .”?
  • Mix up two people that have the same first name. Yep–seen this happen. It’s a minor mistake, but if the other finalist candidate doesn’t do it–who will be remembered?
  • Send a thank you gift. This is overreaching and will come across as such. Also, many organizations have rules against accepting these type of gifts.



  1. Pingback: YOU are in charge of your career. Don’t ever think otherwise. | The Right Candidate - June 19, 2013

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