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5 Steps for the Perfect Thank You Note After an Interview

Did you know applicants who write a thank you note after an interview almost always jump to the top of the pile? Click through for 5 steps on writing the perfect thank you note to improve your chances of landing the job.

Job-hunting is an extremely stressful task. Many millennials dedicate hours of their post-grad time combing through online job boards and networking with internship sites to find the perfect professional connection. There’s a struggle young professionals endure: the amount of time passing between the day college graduation came and went, and the post-grad reality that sets in thereafter.

Twenty-somethings are caught in a state of immobility as the realization that school is over and the urgency to obtain a career settles in. It can feel paralyzing, not knowing what steps to take to navigate through adulthood and secure that dream job. What do you want to do for the rest of your life? What companies are hiring that reflect your professional goals and values? Are you qualified for the open positions in your community?

These questions can go on and on. Don’t fret too much about the details so quickly, but rather focus your attention instead on securing interviews and taking the next steps. Apply for any job that seems like a good fit. Even if the required number of years of applicable experience seem off, apply. Push your resume out there and interviews are sure to follow. Interview as much as you can and be sure to follow-up on job prospects.

It’s what comes after the interview that’s most important: the thank you note.

After interviewing for a job of any sort, even one that you might not be overly enthusiastic about, you must write a thank you note to your interviewer. It absolutely doesn’t matter if it was your best interview ever or your worst — you need to write a thank you note.

It’s a simple formality that many applicants fail to follow through with, which can negatively impact their chances of earning a position. According to a HR consultant, a mere 20 percent of candidates send a thank you note post-interview and it brings the resumes of those job applicants to the top of the pile. This one simple gesture puts you way ahead of other applicants vying for the same position. So easy, right?

Sending a thank you note or email to a potential employer demonstrates your appreciation of their time, your attention to detail, and your manners. It’s a simple way to show the company why they should choose you over the competition.

If you’re going to write a thank you note post-interview, as you should, there are several tips to keep in mind. Your thank you note needs to be more than a mere “thank you.” Rather, this note should assert yourself as the prime candidate in the mix and restate your interest in the position.

On that note, here are five simple steps to follow so you can write the perfect thank you note after an interview:

1. Cover all of your bases.

A great way to tailor your thank you note to digital natives and digital immigrants is to send an email and a physical note. The language can be similar, but the variety of delivery will leave a lasting impression.

Why an email? The email will get to the employer’s inbox quickly, which is ideal if the company is interested in making a decision relatively soon.

Why snail mail? The physical thank you card will take a bit longer through snail mail, but will ultimately leave a stronger, lasting impression if it’s handwritten neatly and personally. Plus, receiving a note in the mail several days after your interview will bring your name fresh back into your employers mind.

Ideally, send both if you can to really demonstrate your interest in the job. An email could get lost in an over-flowing inbox, while a physical note can take longer to arrive. Cover your bases by doing both.

Pro-tip: Make sure you ask for your interviewer’s business card before you leave the interview. That way you won’t have to hunt for an address later! Plus, it shows that you intend to be in touch later — look at you, already setting yourself up for the follow-through.

2. Personalize your thank you note.

Be unique! Instead, write a personalized thank you note.

This could be something to the effect of, “I really enjoyed our conversation about work-life balance. I appreciate your willingness to keep work at work and only take projects home on occasion, as needed. I’m looking for an employer like you, one who values his/her employees.” 

Remind them of something you discussed during your interview will demonstrate you paid attention during the interview and valued your meeting. Speaking to important topics discussed, business goals, etc. will ultimately make the thank you note more meaningful.

The key here is to remain authentic, keeping the same vibe and tone you had during your interview.

6 free templates to personalize:

3. Include your resume.

Consider attaching your cover letter, resume, and/or CV, as appropriate, to your thank you note. It’s a fantastic way to reintroduce yourself to the company. Your potential employer likely interviewed dozens of qualified applicants. By including your resume, you are apt to jog their memory and bring meaning to your thank you note.

If appropriate, this could also be a good time for you to show off anything you may have discussed in your interview. Whether it was a past project or an element of the new position that you think you’re really good at — bring it up again and provide an example or two if you have them.

4. Explain your position — and use it to your advantage.

If you’re sending a thank you note to a company you don’t want to work, for use this as an opportunity to soften the rejection. Explain to the interview committee that while you appreciate their time and consideration, you must decline the job because of XYZ (e.g. it’s not a good fit, you are looking for something different, you need to be at a certain starting salary, etc.). If you’re declining, be honest so they can remedy anything they should alter for the next candidate.

Conversely, if you’re still interested in the job and want to be considered, use this as an opportunity to follow-up. Let the company know why you’re interested, how your qualifications and skills will help their team thrive, and that you would like to be notified of the status of the position moving forward.

5. Keep it short, concise, and genuine.

Your thank you note is not an opportunity for you to supplement your interview with added experiences, qualifications, and skills you neglected to mention during your meeting. Instead, this is a form of appreciation that you must utilize as a selling point.

Keep the length relatively short — a paragraph or two — and be sure to be concise in the points you are making.

Finally, be genuine in your approach. You don’t want to appear needy, desperate, or demanding in your tone or language. Aim for confidence and authenticity in your writing. Your potential employer is bound to see the raw interest you have for the job and will consider you in the final pool of candidates.

Twenty-somethings, job-hunting is a competitive obstacle of adulthood and is a phase that never really ends. If you’re an aggressive young professional with big career goals you’ll likely be interviewing often for promotions, better jobs, and higher wages down the road so it’s crucial that you learn to master the thank you note early on.

Need to figure out exactly what to say? Get 6 free templates here:

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About the Author

Rachael Warren (Tulipano)

Rachael is a University of Southern Maine graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a minor in Sociology. She remotely works full-time as a Senior Content Marketing Specialist for Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. In her leisure time, Rachael enjoys traveling with her husband, finding the next Netflix series to binge, and taking too many photos of her dogs Jax and Kai. Rachael is obsessed with chapstick, favors the Oxford comma, and is a proud Mainer. You'll likely find her exploring New England + beyond.