Guide for Interview
In this article you learn the proper techniques for writing interview thank-you notes and the best strategies to communicate your strengths through the thank-you letter.
Thank-you letters are not to be overlooked; they are an important and effective part of your interview presentation. The thank-you letter tells the potential employer that you are enthusiastic about the prospect of working for the organization and demonstrates your follow-through, initiative, and professional courtesy.
When to Write a Thank-You Note
A thank-you letter must be written after each formal job interview, regardless of whether the interview is long or short, conducted in person or over the telephone (except for quick HR screening interviews), or whether it is likely to result in a job offer. The letter should be sent no later than two to three business days after the interview is completed.
Do not wait. There are no legitimate reasons to postpone the sending of a thank-you letter, even if you think you will be made a job offer before the company could possibly receive it.
A well-written thank-you note can only work in your favor and can do you no harm. Of course, a thank-you note must never be poorly written nor contain grammatical and spelling errors.
Who should be Sent a Thank-You Letter?
The thank-you letter should be sent to everyone who was formally involved in the interview process. This includes not only the primary interviewer (the person who initiated the interview) but also any other people who may have sat in on a portion of the interview or with whom you engaged in significant discussion. A thank-you note does not need to be sent to the receptionist, secretaries, or people whom you met only 0 briefly, unless the interaction was outstanding in some way and warrants special attention.
Be careful to spell all names correctly, and to use proper job titles. Calling someone a product manager when his or her actual title is Product Management Director can be a costly mistake.
Be sure not to send an exact duplicate to each person. Each letter should be unique and should address the unique interaction you had with that individual.
The Proper Style for a Thank-You Letter
A thank-you letter should remain professional in style, although it does not have to be cold or impersonal. It should be written on fine-quality white or cream bond paper of standard size, 8 1/2 x 11". A matching, professional-size envelope looks nice, with a typed address and return address. Do not hand write your letter. A typewritten letter makes a much more professional presentation.
The letter should be kept short. Do not extend beyond one page. A concise letter is much more enjoyable to read than a sprawling epic.
What to Include in Your Thank-You Letter
The thank-you letter is more than a simple "thank-you for your time" note. Use the letter to highlight your interest and strengths and to renew the personal contact.
A good thank-you note opens with the reason for sending the letter. It gets right to the point:
"Dear Mr. Smith: I am sending you this note to thank you for the intriguing meeting we had on Wednesday."
"Dear Jim: I enjoyed meeting you on Monday to discuss the operations management position. Your description of the position piqued my interest, especially in the direct services area."
The Body of the Letter
The body of the thank-you note can contain several important sections:
1. The Personal Touch: Each thank-you note should be uniquely written to mention specific aspects of the interview.
For example: "You mentioned that the Product Division will be launching a new line early next year."
Or: "You mentioned that an important aspect of the position would be keeping firm control of incoming product orders, as you have just updated to a new, unfamiliar computerized tracking system."
Referring to specific statements that the interviewer made and keying in on the things that the interviewer considers important aspects of the position shows that you were paying attention in the interview and that you are savvy enough to recognize the needs of the organization.
2. The Skills Reinforcement: Once you have mentioned the key aspects of your potential new position, reinforce your strengths by emphasizing how your strengths fit the company's needs.
For example: "In my 12 years at XYZ Inc., I oversaw the launching of five successful new product lines and became familiar with all aspects of a new product campaign."
Or: "While at Dresner, I managed the transition from an outdated, manual tracking system to an automated, computerized system that was used by over 15 customer service professionals. I initiated training programs that reduced error rate and established policies to ensure quick and accurate product turnaround."
This section expresses an understanding of the organization's needs and confidence in your ability to fill those needs.
3. Enthusiasm for the Position: It is important to state your interest in the position, if you do indeed have any. Make your letter stand out because of your excitement over the possibilities.
4. Clear-up of Misconceptions: If you felt that there may have been some misunderstanding that occurred during the interview—perhaps you answered a question in a way that you later thought was presenting your skills in an unflattering light—now is the time to right the wrong.
For example: "Because of the challenges involved in the position as you described it, I'd like to reiterate my strengths to emphasize my ability to meet those challenges." Then reword the answer to the question you flubbed to put your skills in a more positive light, one that reflects the needs of the company.
5. The "I should have saids..." : The body of the thank-you note is a good place to bring up any information that you may have forgotten to bring up in the interview. This gives you a chance to answer that nagging feeling that you left out vital information, the absence of which may cost you the job. Again, the new information should be added in terms so as to address company needs, when possible.
For example: "As you mentioned your company's important new international connections, I was reminded of my role as manufacturing coordinator with ABC Corp. There I dealt with manufacturers in 11 non-English-speaking countries where customs and traditions are very different from those in the U.S. I found the position both challenging and enlightening, and I feel I could draw on my background with international manufacturing to make a smooth transition into your company as international liaison for operations."
The closing paragraph of the thank-you note should include a mention of your interest in the position, if you haven't already done this. It should also explicitly refer to the next steps in the process. For example,
"I'll look forward to your call on Friday afternoon, as you mentioned during the interview."
Or, if no further action was indicated in the interview, you might say, "I will call you late next week to touch base if I have not heard from you by that time."
This is also a good place to make reference to lighter topics that emerged in the interview, such as,
"Meanwhile, I'll keep you posted on that annual conference we discussed. If I should receive any information on it, I'll send it along."
It is perfectly fine to follow up by telephone with the interviewer after a certain amount of time has passed, especially if it is past the agreed-upon date that you expected to hear from him or her. Use this opportunity to express your continued interest in the position, but do not jeopardize your chances by taking up the person's time with extended questions on the status of the position.
Director, Marketing Division
7266 Wyehill Rd.
Thompsonville, CA 90341
I enjoyed meeting with you yesterday to discuss the marketing manager position you have available in the Brokerton office.
In our meeting, you discussed the importance of a new vision for the regional offices and a possible restructuring of the field organization. While at Memix, I successfully restructured our field divisions from 12 to 9 regions while increasing the capabilities of our service delivery.
You also mentioned the importance of maintaining strong customer relationships. I agree that the ability to maintain and enhance customer connections is a vital part of any marketing program. While at Memix, I have written and facilitated several workshops to train our marketing professionals in building customer relationships. And while I am no longer in the field, I maintain close associations with the top management level of over 10 major accounts.
I was very enthusiastic about Blee's vision and direction, and I was very impressed with the friendly, professional atmosphere at Blee.
I look forward to hearing from you in regard to the management position. If I have not heard from you by the middle of the month, I will call to check on the progress of your decision. In the meantime, enjoy your trip to beautiful Hawaii!
Ms. Taylor Schuren
Vice President, Financial Services
H.R. Daniels and Sons
165 West 4th Street
Morristown, NJ 07201
Dear Ms. Schuren:
Thank you for meeting with me on Thursday. I enjoyed learning about the administrative assistant position you have available in the Financial Services office.
In our meeting you highlighted the need for an administrative assistant who can work independently to ensure a smooth work flow in your busy office. My three years of experience assisting in the administrative operations of a 12-person high-volume procurement office has taught me to organize and prioritize my work assignments so that I can accomplish them independently and efficiently.
You also emphasized a need for a responsive and cheerful attitude in dealing with your many clients. I have had much direct client contact in several of my past positions, and I find dealing with customers to be one of the most rewarding and energizing aspects of my career.
I believe that I can be a valuable member of your office team and am enthusiastic about the prospect of working in the team-oriented, goal-directed atmosphere I observed while visiting with you.
I look forward to hearing from you soon. I will follow up with you late next week if I have not heard from you by then.
In this article, you learned how to write a thank-you letter that will work to your advantage in being offered the position in interview.
The Eight Personal Qualities Interviewers Look for Most in Job Interviews