How To Write an Interview Followup Thank You Letter

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Thank You in the SandThe courting process doesn’t end with the conclusion of an interview, first round or on-site. After an interview, it’s a good idea to write a follow up or thank you letter so that you can thank the interviewer and maintain an open channel of communication. Not every interviewee will do this, so by writing a letter you stand out.

In most cases, the purpose of a thank you letter isn’t to help you land the job. The point is to make you stand out since many people won’t write thank you letters. In many organizations, a hiring decision is made very soon after the conclusion of an interview. At one of my former employers, the interviewers of a candidate met minutes after the last interview to discuss whether or not to make a hiring decision. It’s quick by design because you want people to make decisions before their memories have had a chance to fade. So when you write the thank you letter, chances are the decision has already been made.

This article is part of Bargaineering Career Week 2009, a week-long series focused on your career – how to find a job, how to tailor your resume, how to find the job opportunities and how to nail the interview. This article is the third article of day four – the interview process.

So why should you write a thank you letter? If you stand out in the interview but aren’t necessarily the best fit for the open job, an interviewer might remember you for another opening when it comes up. If the interview was just the first round and someone drops out of the second round interview, they might call you to jump in because you stood out. Thank you letters won’t land you the job but could give you a small edge.

Writing a Follow Up Thank You Letter

Follow up thank you letters are very simple to write and you should send them within two business days of the interview. Follow the same business letter format you would use for a cover letter, it will be the same for this thank you letter. In the letter itself, be sure name the interviewer by name, thank them for their time and the opportunity, express your excitement for both the position and their organization, and include anything you may have missed in the interview. You can find some sample thank you letters online but that’s the general gist of the letter. Most importantly stay positive and don’t be pushy, the goal is to thank them and show good manners, not sell them on anything.

There’s a little debate over whether you should email the letter or send one through postal mail. In general, you should do whatever feel comfortable to you and the situation. Postal mail will take a few days to get there so you need to take that into account for your timing. There’s also debate as to whether you should type or handwrite it, I think that typing is usually the best approach because it’s more professional.

Finally, all the same warnings I had in the article on cover letters also apply here. Use professional language, avoid typos, misspellings, and incorrect grammar. Have someone look it over if you’re unsure.

Do you have any tips for writing a proper interview follow up or thank you letter?

(Photo: gi)

{ 9 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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9 Responses to “How To Write an Interview Followup Thank You Letter”

  1. eric says:

    I’ve heard conflicting advice too over email/snail mail and handwritten/typed. I like typed letters and don’t really have a hard rule for how to send them. Depends on what vibe I get from the interview.

  2. zapeta says:

    I send a typed letter. If I was able to submit the application online or via email, then I usually email the thank you letter but if I had to use regular mail or an in person application, I mail the thank you.

  3. redivelli says:

    I have always done mine typed as well, but that is mainly because my handwriting is terrible and auto spell check is my friend.

    I think the thank you notes are important to the interviewer. Even if you don’t get the job it is always good to be courteous. That whole karma thing…

  4. JP says:

    I send one the same way I applied. If by email, then email. if in person, I hand deliver. 🙂

  5. Martha says:

    I received a thank you note addressed to “Martha …, PhD” it made my day! 🙂

  6. SavingEverything says:

    I’ve read that even if you thought the interview did not go well, or you learnt the position is not a good match, that it’s still good practice to send a “thank you” letter for the interview. Here’s a question: would you send a follow up email after a phone interview?!??

    • Chris says:

      I would send a follow up email even for a phone interview. For onsite interviews I have stayed after to write a thank you note and left it with the secretary.

  7. Izalot says:

    I’ve never given a follow up thank you letter to an interviewee and have landed the jobs I wanted. Like Jim mentions the interviewer makes a decision on hiring in the first impressions of you and while I don’t think its harmful it seems fairly useless. My 2 1/2 cents worth!

  8. Johnuk72 says:

    How do you write a thankyou letter to a company after your interview. When you only have their first name and cant find out their last name on google?

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