Remember your parents telling you to “mind your manners – say thank you?” or something to that effect? Good advice, especially when it comes to interview follow-up in the form of a thank-you letter.
Considering you were probably one of many candidates interviewed, this opportunity to stand out and stay fresh in the interviewer’s mind can be a key advantage. Think about it, if a person interviews three applicants who seemed to be equally qualified, but only one sends a thank-you letter that again emphasizes that person’s interest and ability to do the job. Who do you think will be the last person the interviewer remembers? In conversations with employers over the years, I’ve been told that a well written thank you letter has actually influenced some hiring decisions!
Sections of the Thank You Letter
Your Address/Date provides the employer with your return address and the date that you prepared the letter.
Company Information includes the name of the recipient for which the letter is intended, followed by his position and the full address of the company. Address your letter to the person who interviewed you. If you were interviewed by more than one person, each person should get a separate thank-you letter.
The Salutation or Greeting formally greets the reader. It’s important to use the correct term when referring to the individual’s gender and marital status.
The Main Body is divided into three sections – each being a paragraph in length. The sections include; 1.) Introduction, 2.) Restating Interest/Ability, and 3.)Closing.
1. Introduction: Although you recently met the interviewer, it is important to identify yourself and establish the purpose of your letter by referencing when the interview took place and the position you interviewed for. This approach will quickly remind the interviewer of the event and who you are. Remember, the interviewer may have talked to many people for many different positions, so it’s important to identify yourself, the event, when it occurred, and the job opening. For example, “I enjoyed meeting with you last Thursday to interview for the position of Medical Assistant.”
2. Restating Interest/Ability: Next, in one or two sentences restate your interest level and something about your accomplishments, skills, background or ability that make you a good fit for the job. For example, “The position sounds exciting and challenging and I feel that my Medical Assistant training and clerical background provides me with the skills necessary to excel in that capacity.”
3. Closing (main body): Finally, close or end the letter with a direct “thank you” and with a statement that shows you’re anticipating future contact. For example, “Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon”
An interviewer might ask you to contact him or her after a certain amount of time. If this happens, change your closing to include a restatement of when you expect to make the contact. For example, “Thank you for your time. As we discussed, I will contact you on Thursday of next week.”
When and How do you send it?
You should send the letter within 24 hours after the interview. Send both, a hand-written letter via postal mail and email version. However, don’t react too quickly. Let some time pass after the interview before sending the email letter. Also DO NOT send an email or text message from a cell phone or Black Berry. Beyond lacking the professional appearance, it shows you didn’t care enough to take the time to send a formal letter through the appropriate accepted business email protocol.
It is preferred by many employers to receive a hand-written thank-you letter instead of one through email. A hand written letter adds a personalized touch and sends the message that you care enough to take the time to personally write it. So, if you decide you want to send one or the other, chose the hand-written approach. Keep in mind however, only the thank-you letter may be handwritten. All other business correspondence must be printed.
You Can’t Under Estimate
You really can’t under estimate the importance of the thank-you letter in the overall interview process and need to remember that it can even influence a hiring decision. Be sure to send one after each interview and if you were interviewed by more than one person, send each individual a separate thank-you letter. The letters should not be exactly the same. Even varying slightly, the letters will seem more personalized if the interviewers meet to discuss you as a candidate. Also, check that each name is spelled correctly and each title is accurate.