To all of you whose mothers quoted Emily Post at you and demanded written thank you notes to aunties who sent birthday cards, people who showed up to your event, and anyone else who ever did something nice for you: sorry in advance, but your mom had a point.
Well-written (and sincere) notes of gratitude for someone investing time and energy in you is almost never a bad plan, and it can differentiate you in a seriously positive way. Job interviewers are no exception. Don’t worry: you’re not going to have to invest in bespoke handmade paper and a pen with a fancy nib. Email is great for this.
Do I have to send a thank you letter after an interview?
Yes. That is: yes, if you want to stand out, demonstrate that you care about the job, and impress the people you’re presumably trying to get an offer out of. The act of writing that note conveys sincerity, attention to detail, a grasp of etiquette (in other words, people skills) and confirmed interest that will make them take you more seriously.
The thank you note also reiterates that you’re serious about the position (so one use case for skipping this step would be “I left the interview horrified by what I saw and heard and I would never work for this company.” But even in that case, manners are never a bad idea.
What should I avoid saying in a thank you letter?
Let’s start with what you shouldn’t say.
Please do not write the following thank you note:
Dear [Interviewer's Name],
I wanted to express my gratitude for the opportunity to interview for the [Job Title] position. It was a pleasure speaking with you and learning more about the [Company Name] team and the role's responsibilities. During our discussion, I was particularly excited to hear about [specific aspect of the job or company] and how my experience in [your relevant experience] could contribute to the team's success. I am confident that my skills and passion make me a strong fit for the position, and I am eager to bring my [specific relevant skill or experience] to your team. Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any additional questions or need further information. I am looking forward to the possibility of joining [Company Name] and contributing to the continued success of the team.
Thank you once again for your time and consideration. Warm regards, [Your Name]
It is the worst thing you could do next to not sending a note, for the simple reason that you will bore them to tears. You are a fascinating candidate. You’re a unique, one of a kind find. So why would you make yourself sound like the world’s most uninteresting human being?
How should you write a post-interview thank you?
You should say something that aligns with your gifts. Your personality. Your talents and skills. Something you picked up during the interview. An observation. An insight.
Here are a few examples of amazing thank you emails that some of my clients have written.
Candidate: Product marketing leader
RE: Research + Thanks
After our conversation, I dug into the product and found this article [attached] that mentioned exactly what you had shared. Excitement about the product. Yet, a challenge to launch in APAC and EMEA. Familiar feelings as we experienced this at GoTripster when we launched GoTiming, growing our subscription 300%. I’d love to continue our conversations. Please send my thanks to the team for their time. It was exciting and inspiring!
Candidate: Non-technical project manager at a nonprofit
RE: National Recognition in Reach
I left the conversation even more excited about the role. The Delta Stand program is making a big impact throughout disenfranchised communities. I’d love to be part of the team to take the program to the next level and get the organization the national recognition it deserves. I’m bullish it can be done quickly in time for the 2024 national awards!
Candidate: New graduate first job out of trade school
RE: Opened Eyes to Exciting Innovations, Thank You
I count myself lucky that I learned of your company! There are many roads I could take my electrician skills, and I am very drawn to what you and your company are doing to leverage AI in the electrical services space. The Zoombot product that allows machines to replicate timely manual dexterity tasks has captured my curiosity, and whether I am offered a job or not, (of course, I’d love to get the job) I am a fan. Thank you for all of the time you spent with me to share about what your team is doing.
Note a few things: first off, they’re totally different from one another. They reflect the specific personalities of the authors and address the specifics of some very different roles. But they all acknowledge the target company’s goal (e.g., national recognition), the candidate (e.g., AS degree electrician), and conversation (e.g., product you shared with me).
Also note the clever use of the Subject line to alert the hiring manager that this is not your ordinary thank you email.
What if I need to write a thank you note after an informational interview?
Informational interviews aren’t job interviews. You’re asking for advice or gathering data rather than auditioning for a job. It could be about a specific role, industry, or company. It could even be about that person’s career journey in general. The purpose of the informational interview is twofold: to make a connection, and to learn. Informational interviews can provide you with an insider view; tip you off to how the sausage is made. Your goal is not to impress the other person—although that might happen during the conversation, it isn’t the objective.
The rules for a perfect thank you email after an informational interview remain the same. Make it completely unique to the conversation and definitely communicate gratitude. Here’s an example:
Situation: Wondering if working at a consulting firm would be a great fit; chatted with someone at Boston Consulting Group
RE: Hi Janis
Many thanks for meeting with me, Janis. You’re an incredible wealth of information and I appreciate the good, the bad, and the ugly view of management consulting. I’ve thought about pivoting into the field for many years and you’ve provided many points to ponder. I’m particularly pondering your statement that management consultants often leave an engagement well before outcomes are realized.