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Should you send a thank-you note after your interview?

Most people don’t send thank-you notes, but HR managers say it’s an important part of the interview process if you want to get the job.

Should you send a thank-you note after your interview?

Sending a thank-you note after an interview should be an important part of any job-hunting strategy. Whether or not you send a thank-you note could actually determine if you get the job.

Too bad 3 out of 4 job seekers don’t even bother sending a thank-you note after an interview, according to a recent Accountemps survey of human resources (HR) managers. The survey found that only 24% of HR managers receive thank-you notes from applicants. However, 80% of HR managers say thank-you notes are helpful when reviewing candidates.

“Sending a well-crafted and timely thank-you note can add a positive impression to an already positive connection,” says Jennifer McClure, president of Unbridled Talent, a Cincinnati firm specializing in talent acquisition, recruiting, and staff development.

So, should you send your post-interview letter by email or snail mail, handwritten or typed? In today's fast-paced, technology-driven world, these questions baffle even the most sophisticated job hunters. These guidelines can tell you how to write a thank-you note after your interview.

Email thank-you notes

Email is the most popular—and accepted—way to send a thank-you note after an interview. The Accountemps survey found that 94% of HR managers say it’s appropriate to send a thank-you note via email, as most (65%) of the thank-yous they receive are sent by email.

Now, before you rush to hit “send,” you’ll need to determine if this is the best vehicle for your thank-you note by asking yourself how the company initially contacted you. If you have always corresponded with the company via email for setting up the interview, answering certain questions, and so on, then, by all means, send an email thank-you note as soon as you return from an interview, typically within 24 hours after the interview. Email thank-you notes have one clear advantage over their snail mail counterpart: It’s the quickest way to put your name back in front of the interviewer.

However, you should also follow it up with a note in the mail to show that you aren’t Mr. or Ms. Casual.

Snail mail

If the company you interviewed with is formal and traditional, use snail mail to send your thank-you note.

Should it be handwritten or typed? Typed is the standard reply. This will demonstrate your ability to communicate professionally by proving that you know how to address, format, and sign a letter. Especially for some positions, such as administrative assistant, hiring managers would want to know that you’re a good communicator since writing letters could be a big part of your job.

The extra effort on the part of one candidate made a difference to Carol Galle, president and CEO of Special D Events, an event-planning firm in Royal Oak, Michigan. “I recently filled an open position for which I had two highly qualified candidates, but it was a thank-you note that made the difference,” she says. “[One candidate] took the time to create a custom two-dimensional note card with our company's logo and a sincere, handwritten message of thanks. I want to hire people who genuinely want to work for my company, and it was clear from her effort that was the case.”

Handwritten notes are appropriate if you'd like to extend your thanks to others in the office who helped you out. For example, if a receptionist, assistant, office manager, or another person involved with the interviewing process was especially helpful—say they took you to lunch or guided you from office to office during the interviewing process—then a handwritten note is a nice gesture to show your appreciation. The Accountemps survey found that 86% of HR managers like handwritten thank-you notes, yet handwritten notes account for only 21% of the letters they receive.

What to say in your thank-you note

What you say and how you say it are even more important than the manner in which you send it. A standard thank-you note should accomplish several things:

  • Thank the person for the opportunity to interview with the company.
  • Plug your skills: "The job is a good fit for me because of XYZ and my past experience in XYZ."
  •  Finally, recap some of the conversational highlights.

Interviewers have short memories. A thank-you letter is your final chance to make yourself stand apart from all of the others who want the same position.


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