Do's and Don'ts of Thank You Notes
DO thank the interviewer genuinely for the interview. Be creative and personal in your approach. Your first sentence sets the tone for your thank you, so make it count!
DO reflect on specific comments that were brought up in the interview. You want to show that you were listening and participating in the conversation. Talk about why certain comments or topics stood out to you—what did they mean to you? What did you learn?
DO take this opportunity to reiterate why you think you would be a great fit for the job! You already went over your qualifications in the interview, so the follow up should be concise, yet powerful. What are their needs, and how do you meet (and exceed) those needs? Be the solution to their problem.
DO use this as an opportunity to address anything that you think did NOT go well in the interview. When we are responding in the moment, we don’t always find the right words or communicate as effectively as we’d like. If this happens during the interview, rather than sweeping it under the rug, use the follow-up as a chance to address any mistakes you made directly and clarify what you meant. When you can edit and finesse your response, you can turn a potential negative (a poor or misconstrued answer during the interview) into a positive (aware of how others respond, ability to recognize and address problems, effective communication skills)!
DO get (appropriately) personal. If something not work-related came up about your interviewer during your interview, tap into that. The interviewer is a person too! Congratulate them on their favorite team’s recent win (Go Knicks!), or comment on the trip they mentioned they were taking the following weekend. Whatever the connection, it’s good to relate back to the interviewer on a personal level. After all, you’re going to be spending a lot of time with this person, and part of what they’re assessing is whether you are someone they want to work closely with 40+ hours a week!
DO write a unique note that is personalized for every interview you go on. While the concept behind each note is similar (everything we just went over!), the content of each letter should always be distinct!
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DON’T make this your first sentence: “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me and tell me about X company/position.”
DON’T write the following sentence to express how much you learned: “You provided great insight into the company, and I learned so much from our conversation.” You need to provide details! WHAT did you learn? WHAT did they say that stuck out to you? WHY or HOW did that impact you?
DON’T just list your qualifications, and DON’T be too generic in expressing why you are the right candidate. Show that you are attuned to the company’s needs. Again—be the solution to their problem.
DON’T get defensive. If your interview didn’t go as well as you had hoped, getting defensive about it in your follow up won’t do you any favors. There’s a big difference between constructively addressing any missteps that occurred during the interview (or hesitations/concerns they voiced about you as a candidate), and arguing with them about why their opinion is wrong. Ultimately, they make the decision. Regardless of whether you get the job, you want to leave people with a positive feeling about you—you never know who you may cross paths with in the future!
DON’T use a stock letter. No matter how well it’s written, it is obvious if you are sending out a form letter, and it does not leave a positive, lasting impression. The thank you note is an opportunity for you to continue the conversation you had in the interview. Show them that you truly engaged, that you are passionate about working there, and that you offer something that nobody else does. If you send them a stock letter, you are missing an opportunity. If you could have written your thank you note prior to the interview, throw it away and start over!!!
DON’T forget to have someone proofread your thank you before you send it. We are happy to be that someone for you—we see lots of thank you notes every day!