By: Pio DiBenedetto , Lead Recruiter– El Segundo, CA
Chances are if you are a working professional in the United States somebody has at one point or another advised you to follow-up a job interview with a thank you note. It is a tradition that is unspoken between candidates and hiring managers but many times can be a deciding factor to push one candidate over the edge versus another.
The difference between sending a sincere and specific thank you note after an interview as opposed to not sending one can mean the difference between landing a second interview/offer versus radio silence from the company. When a manager receives a thank you note from a candidate it automatically reconfirms a candidate’s interest level, shows that they understand professional etiquette, and can give them a better idea of what the candidate likes about the company, position, or manager.
When writing a thank you note a few things need to be kept in mind to guarantee the note has the most impact. It should be relatively brief (a few paragraphs at most) to ensure that a manager will actually have the time to read it and so that it is professionally appropriate. Beyond that the note should contain specifics from the interview that describe what aspects of the job/company/manager the candidate enjoyed the most or found most interesting. This detail is critical; writing a note that has specifics from the interview will show that the candidate went out of their way to write a note from scratch and is not using a boiler-plate template for every interview they go on.
Another thing to be kept in mind when writing a thank you note is to include some humble self-promotion (but not too much). If in the interview there was a particular function of the job or company that the candidate feels they would excel at or are well-suited for, the thank you note should make mention of that with specifics. This can be treated as an extension of the interview as well as a written reminder for a busy hiring manager that may be conducting a number of interviews or may be pressed for time.
Many candidates that go through the job interview process will have so many interviews that they feel as though it would be too time-consuming to write a specific thank you note for each and every company they interview with or that the impact of a thank you note is negligible. Though submitting a general thank you note that does not include specifics from an interview is better than nothing, if a candidate wants to go the extra mile and truly leave a lasting impression with the person they interviewed with it is necessary to put a little thought into the note.
As a recruiter working in a very competitive market here in Los Angeles, I’ve seen hundreds of positions open and close, and thousands of interviews take place over the course of the past few years. With a sample size so large one starts to notice what works and what does not when it comes to interview strategy and process. There have been several instances where a hiring manager has been on the fence on whether or not they should bring a candidate back in for a second interview or furthermore whether they should extend the candidate an offer and a well-written thank you note actually pushes that manager to move the candidate to the next phase or to straight-up offer them the job.
Thank you notes are a tradition that has withstood the test of time as well as the advent of technology and do not look to be going anywhere any time soon. If a candidate is looking to stand out to a hiring manager and gain an edge when interviewing for a job then a thank you note is a sure-fire way to put a cherry on top of a good interview. Though writing a thank you note might seem to be a negligible or common practice, the impact should never be underestimated.