Well-written thank-you letters remind prospective employers that you're the
best candidate of the bunch.
Phew! The job interview is over and it went great.
So, is it time to relax, grab a cold slush and wait for the phone to ring
with a job offer? No. There is still work to do to transform
an excellent interview into a paying job. It won't take long, but
you must act fast.
Sending a thank-you card or letter is an easy way to
keep your name on top of an employer's short list. Saying thanks
for the interview is so simple most people don't do it.
The website of the York Technical Institute of Pennsylvania
says only four percent of people send thank-you letters following
a job interview.
"You should send it because most people don't. And
that sets you apart," says Dorothy Leeds. Leeds is a
keynote speaker, workshop leader and author of The 7 Powers of Questions:
Secrets to Successful Communication in Life and at Work, and Marketing
"I think it's always welcome. I don't think there's
anyone in the world who does not appreciate a sincere thank you," she says.
Do It Fast
Cindy Sheppard is director of employment services at a
YMCA. She says when it comes to thank-you letters, it's important
to be fast and to know the purpose for your letter.
Some employers fill jobs within days of the interview,
so there's no time to waste.
"A thank-you letter is written post interview and is done
immediately. It can be sent the same day or the next day,"
Sheppard says if more than one person conducted the interview,
you should either address the thank you to everyone or send each person
a thank-you letter.
But Not Too Fast
But don't respond so fast that you forget to think.
Take time to decide what you want to say. If you forgot to
tell the interviewer about your school leadership experience, then this
is the time.
Sheppard says the only time not to send a thank you is
when the interviewer says don't send one. It's a good idea to
send a thank you even if someone else gets the job.
"A young lady was interviewed for a position with a large
firm. She sent a thank-you note but did not get the position," Sheppard
"About one year later, the individual who was in the position
left, that young lady was called and offered the position because [in addition
to her interview and skills] they remembered her from the card she sent."
Leeds adds that not saying thank you puts applicants behind
"You miss an opportunity for people to think of you as
a kind, considerate, thoughtful person. The risk is other people
will be sending thank yous and you didn't," Leeds says.
Know What to Write
"The thank-you letter should be short and to the point.
Two or three sentences," Sheppard says. "It can be in the form of
a card, letter or e-mail.
"It should simply say, 'Thank you for the interview for
the position of … I look forward to hearing from you.' It can add a line
or two about something specific about the interview if appropriate such
as, 'I really enjoyed the tour of your facility.'"
And remember to proofread for proper grammar and spelling.
Leeds says a creative touch helps too. The letter
should get you noticed, tell the employer you want the job and let the
interviewer know you've read up on the company.
"Send something different than saying, 'I had a nice time
at this interview,'" Leeds says.
Leeds suggests using formal titles instead of first names
even if an interviewer says it's OK to call him Bob. The letter itself
can include statements such as, "It was wonderful to meet you and put a
real face to the company I read about on your website."
This is your chance to do more than say thanks. Say
how the company impressed you and you'd like to work for them.
"You have to give the impression you want the job, but
don't need the job," Leeds says.
How to Send It
"This is a debate among people," Leeds says. "Probably
the right thing to do is write it out and post it. It shows more thought,
more caring. However, if a person is going on a lot of job interviews,
it's not bad to e-mail."
Sheppard says electronic and traditional deliveries are both acceptable.
"Thank-you letters can be sent by e-mail. If you
choose a card alternative, you can send it through the mail or simply drop
it off if possible," she says.
Get It In the Right Hands
So how do you know what name and address to put on a thank-you
card or letter? You only need to ask.
"At the end of each interview, you are generally asked
if you have any questions," Sheppard says.
"You can take that opportunity to ask for the required
information, or you can ask the receptionist on the way out. Names and
titles are all that you need. The address can easily be gotten through
a phone call, business cards, a conversation with the receptionist, a website or a brochure of the company."
Leeds says applicants can get information while waiting
for the interview to begin. Ask the receptionist for a business card. You
can also call the company and explain you'd like the proper spelling, title
and address for a thank-you note. And when someone spells out a name
or title, always repeat what you hear to make sure it's right.
Here's a poor example of a thank-you letter:
Dear Human Resources Officer,
Thanks for meeting me last
week. I enjoyed sharing my expertise with you. I want to take this opportunity
to remind you I am the best person for the technical vacancy at your company.
I believe I demonstrated that during my interview when I pointed out various
ways to improve the way you do business.
If you need more information, please call me at the numbers listed on my resume.
I'll be speaking with you soon.
Contrast the above sample with the proper thank-you letter
below. How are the letters different?
Dear Mr. Jones:
Thank you for taking time to meet with me yesterday.
Your company's commitment to providing clients fast, reliable computer
service made a positive impact on me.
After the interview, I reflected
on the skills and company values you spoke about. I share Jones Consulting's
commitment to lifelong learning and teamwork. My experience as a
team leader in the National High School Electronics Challenge taught me
the value of keeping up with new technology and sharing that knowledge
with my team. Together we won first place in our school category.
I am convinced that the
technical support intern position would be a good move for me and that
I would contribute to the success of Jones Consulting. I look
forward to hearing from you.
So send a thank-you letter. But be quick, respect
your reader and don't be shy about including specific qualities you offer
the company. The extra effort will get noticed. It could
launch you into a rewarding career.