The Art of the Follow-Up Note

As many of you know, our goal is to continue to provide candidates with expert career advice AND job search tips so you feel well-equipped to take on the job market and make smart career moves. This month, we decided to highlight the importance of the interview follow-up note.

After an interview, the follow-up note is not a formality—it’s an opportunity.

In the interview, you don’t get to edit yourself. There’s no backspace key to hit when you say something you wish you hadn’t and there’s no time-out in the interview for you to think about all the things you SHOULD have said so that you can come back to the hiring manager with words of brilliance. But there’s always the follow-up note! The follow-up note allows you to continue the conversation you began in the interview, and with edits!

So how do you make this communication accomplish those goals?

Let’s start with the basics:

  1. Send an email. The good ole days of handwritten snail-mail thank you notes are gone. The reason? It takes way too long for them to arrive! Plus, business communications are conducted almost entirely via email—it’s the standard.
  2. Send the message in the body of the email, not as an attachment.
  3. Send the email within 24 hours of your meeting. Take enough time to get it right, edit it, and show it to someone whose opinion you trust! If that means you send it in the 23rd hour, no problem. It’s better to get it right than to rush it.
  4. Send it from a computer, not an iPhone.
  5. Avoid stock language.

And for the content:

  1. Show the hiring manager you learned something: if you could have written the email before the interview, it conveys that you didn’t care enough to invest the time in writing a personal note and you didn’t take away anything from the conversation (which is virtually impossible). Even if a hiring manager were to ask you three questions and then read the job description word for word before ending the interview, you still learned something from the interview. You learned what the office atmosphere is like. You learned what the manager clearly feels is most important for this role. You assessed personality and a bit about management style. You always learn something.
  2. After a thorough and positive interview, you can reinforce those positives—how your values align with the company’s goals, how impressed you are by last month’s product innovation the company released, etc.. Be specific.
  3. Use this opportunity to address any concerns or potential objections which may have come up in the interview, reiterating or expanding upon points you made (or wish you had). If the hiring manager was worried about your past client base as a fit for this new product, you might reiterate how your experience selling into financial executives well prepares you to sell to a highly professional executive client base.
  4. Reiterate the positives—the points that seemed to resonate with the hiring manager and/or are strong selling points for you. (e.g. “You described the travel required in this position—as I mentioned, I’m a seasoned road warrior with a love of hopping on planes!”) Be specific.
  5. Build Rapport! Professional content coupled with expert relationship-building is the recipe for a perfect note. If you talked about the Yankees recent win or the new restaurant you discovered on the Lower East Side or even (if all else fails) the weather, mention it! Make a joke or a clever comment or just an acknowledging comment that shows you were paying attention to the relationship-building when you were in the interview. (e.g. I hope it doesn’t rain on your son’s baseball game this weekend! or Thanks for the wine tip—next time I’m in Napa, Grant Family Wines tasting room will be my first stop!)

Once you’ve crafted your perfect follow-up note, read it aloud and be sure it flows well, and then be sure to run it by at least one, preferably two people. Typos are ill-advised.

Last step: click Send!

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