Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Thank You Notes
If I had to give you three rules for modern-day post-interview thank you note etiquette, here’s what I’d say:
- Send one. Always.
- Send it fast.
- Make an impact.
Let me explain. First, writing a thank-you note isn’t just about being polite. Nearly a third of hiring managers surveyed by CareerBuilder say they would think less of a job candidate who didn’t send a thank you note, and almost 15% say they flat out wouldn’t hire someone if they didn’t receive them. So, even if you knocked the interview out of the park—in fact, especially if you knocked the interview out of the park—you should send one if you care about the job. Why take the chance that the hiring manager falls in that 15%?
Now that we’ve established that you should write and send a thank you note, let’s talk about how and when. Do you send a thank you email or an actual thank you card? Maybe you’re supposed to send both?
Plot twist! The most important aspect of the thank you note isn’t actually the form it takes, but how quickly you can get it out. Think of it this way: Your interview isn’t over until you send a thank you note. You want to move the hiring managers from interview mindset to decision mindset as quickly as possible, so don’t drag it out.
With speed in mind, this usually means sending an email. That said, sending a handwritten thank you note can be a really nice gesture that helps you differentiate yourself from other candidates. If you have a few minutes after your interview wraps up, you can jot a few quick thank you notes in the lobby or your car and leave them with the receptionist at the front desk for your interviewers. Alternatively, you can try Alexandra Franzen’s method of sending a short email thank you with a heads up that a card is en route.
But the most important advice I can give you? Don’t just say thanks—make sure your thank you note works for you. That doesn’t mean rehashing your qualifications based on the job description or your great interest in the company, though—instead, show that you really understand what the needs of the position are based on the conversation you had. Is the company revamping its social media strategy? Or maybe you got a sense that the team really looking for someone who can handle international clients. Whatever it is, make sure you show you understand and that you’re excited to tackle the challenge. Try using Alex Cavoulacos’ thank you note template to get started.
Whether you decide to go with email or snail mail, sending a thank you note and sending it soon can only help your chances. Show the hiring team that you get it—that you understand what they’re working on and how you can help. Keep it short and sweet, and hopefully you’ll be responding to a job offer next.
Photo of thank you note courtesy of Shutterstock.
Lily Zhang serves as a Career Development Specialist at MIT where she works with a range of students from undergraduates to PhDs on how to reach their career aspirations. When she's not indulging in a new book or video game, she's thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.More from this Author