If cover letters are about first impressions, then thank you letters can be described as last impressions. A well worded note to an employer to thank them for the opportunity to interview and reaffirm your interest in the job can be an effective way of reminding the employer of your candidacy just at that moment when they are preparing to make a decision.
I returned home, exhausted from a two-hour interview with a panel of three hiring managers, for a position as a Social Service Worker at a local non-profit organization. The group did ask me for my references, which I understand is a good sign!
But, I am still unsure as to whether or not to send a follow-up thank you email as I have been advised in the interview skills workshop at JVS Toronto. If I do follow-up, should I call the interviewers? After all, they gave me their business card. Should I write an email with a thank you note in an attachment? Should I just leave it alone and wait for the hiring people to get back to me? Perhaps I should shoot off a little thank you message in the body of the email?
Please let me know what the protocol is.
Thanks so much.
According to the Employment Counsellors here at JVS, as soon as possible after the interview you should write down the questions that were asked and make any notes that may help you prepare for another interview.
The best practice is to write a thank-you letter within 24 hours of the interview and hand-deliver or email it. I usually recommend to include it in the body of the email, though some of my colleagues suggest you write a letter and attach it, so it can be printed/saved and added to your resume and cover letter on their record. Most importantly, this is a chance for you to tell the interviewer any additional information that might increase your chance of being selected for the position — something you may have omitted during the stress of the actual interview.
If you do not hear from the employer at the time stated for a decision, call to find out if a decision has been made. If no time was given, call about a week or ten days later. This will demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm.
If you are turned down for a position, ask for feedback about the interview or how you might increase your chances for a similar position. Write a note letting the employer know of your continued interest, and asking if you may keep in touch.
The interviewer may know of openings elsewhere, and is now in a position to refer you to assist a colleague who needs a good candidate.
Remember — you did your best, and any mistakes are good lessons for subsequent interviews!
Cynthia Shapiro is adamant in “What Does Somebody Have to Do to Get a Job Around Here?: 44 Insider Secrets That Will Get You Hired” that calling to follow-up will cost you the job. Once the interview process is over, and the thank-you notes have been sent, “the dreaded waiting game begins, punctuated by long bouts of nerve-wracking silence” (2010, p. 135). Shapiro believes that you need to wait and any call you make after the interview is over will make you appear needy and desperate, and you can lower your chances. She demonstrates that if they want you, they will call you. If they don’t want you, no amount of follow-up will change their minds. Shapiro posits, contrary to popular opinion, that nothing influences the decisions of the interviewers or hiring managers after the interviews are over.
Contrary to her opinion, I have had feedback from employers who were impressed with a follow-up thank you email notes from candidates whom I have referred to for an interview; those candidates who did not send a note were duly noted by the employer too! He noticed this effort, time and dedication of the job seeker. To go one step further, this email definitely made a difference in their hiring decision.
Hope this helps your decision and I really hope you get that job offer! If you would like samples of thank you notes, we have some here at JVS Toronto.
To submit your questions for this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If cover letters are about first impressions, then Thank-you Letters can be described as last impressions. Writing to potential employers after an interview or any other kind of positive interaction can be a powerful way of leaving a memorable mark, which can help when time comes for final hiring decisions to be made.
WHAT are Thank-you Letters?
During the job search process, Thank–you Letters are a type of formal correspondence which aims to express gratitude to someone who assisted you. Letters are preferable to voice messages – employers are able to keep the letters for future reference, and share them with others, if they want.
WHY send Thank-you Letters?
Besides obvious good manners, it’s important to remember that employers generally expect to hear from you after an interview, and that they will be receiving such correspondence from other interviewees, as well.
More importantly, such letters are an excellent way to confirm your interest in the position and to remind employers about the reasons you are a strong match for the position.
WHEN to send Thank-you Letters?
The sooner you send your Thank-you Letters, the better — preferably within 24 hours. If, however, this is not possible, send it whenever you can, even if it is long after. Better late than never.
In those rare occasions when you leave an interview already knowing that you will not be hired, a good letter can still be very effective. A brief note, thanking the interviewer for their time, could be a reminder that you are still a strong candidate to be considered for future openings, or in case the person that they have hired does not work out.
To WHOM should Thank-you Letters be sent?
Most commonly, Thank-you Letters are sent by a job searcher to an employer, after an interview.There are, however, many other opportunities to send Thank-you Letters, including thanking a person for referral to a job, introduction to a network contact, an information interview, an internship, a reference or any other help offered, or time spent to help you promote your career.
If you were interviewed by more than one person, make sure to send the letter to each interviewer separately, and address it to them specifically.
HOW to best write and send Thank-you Letters?
To start, make sure you have the correct spelling, email and address of your interviewer; for this purpose, it’s a good idea to pick up business cards from your interviewer(s) upon completing the interview.
- Use the same font and format of your cover letter, which means the letter should be typed (in most cases, a hand written card is considered too casual).
- Write a simple, clear and short letter (3-4 paragraphs will do).
- You can include in the letter:
- An expression of gratitude for the opportunity to be interviewed
- A mention of something you enjoyed/learned in the interview (e.g. something you didn’t know about the company or position)
- A brief summary of the reasons you believe you are a strong candidate for this position
- A reminder of your enthusiasm for the job
- Letters can be dropped off or attached to an email; it’s preferable not to use traditional mail, as it will take too long to arrive on the employer’s desk. Faxes are not a good idea, as they appear untidy and are more likely to get lost. Also – if using email, make sure to attach a document, rather than writing in the body of the email, that way they are more likely to be printed and/or saved, rather than just deleted.
Use a tone which matches that of the employers. For example, a creative job would allow for a more relaxed tone, whereas a banking job might require a more serious and formal approach. Samples of letters can be found here.
To sum up, for Thank-you Letters to be effective, they should:
- Be written and sent at any opportunity, to anyone who offered time and resources to help your job search
- Be sent as soon as possible after the meeting or interview (same day, if possible)
- Written in a professional manner
- Be brief and error free
- Convey enthusiasm for, and interest in the position
- Be emailed or dropped off
After interviewing a number of candidates, an undecided employer who receives a Thank-you Letter soon after the interview — which is well written, enthusiastic and professional — might just have an easier time making that critical final decision about which candidate to hire.