The thank-you letter is an important part of the job interviewing process, and should always be sent as soon as possible after the interview. Remember those thank you notes you had to write as a kid for the flowered footie PJs you wouldn’t be caught dead in that your ditzy aunt sent for your birthday? Well, it’s a little like that. Except you don’t want to use notepaper with baby seals on it.
Here are a few other thank you letter don’ts (sample letters in a later post):
- Don’t handwrite the letter. You’re not, in fact, writing a thank you note to the aforementioned ditzy aunt. You may hear conflicting views on this point, but all the employers I’ve talked with say they would view a handwritten thank you letter as unprofessional, in addition to being hard to read. And if you think you have the neatest handwriting in the world, you’re probably in denial. The exception to this is if you interview with an extremely touchy-feely, older mom-and-pop company, in which case they might actually appreciate your sending a more traditional and personal type of thank you note. Otherwise, don’t.
- If you interview on Friday and the employer plans to make a decision by Monday or Tuesday, don’t snail mail the letter. Snail mail is okay, though usually email is preferable (especially if the interviewers are under 30 or so). If a decision is going to be made quickly, though, you want to make sure they get it before they make their choice. if you write a strong letter expressing your enthusiasm about the job and highlighting a point or two discussed during the interview that clearly illustrates how you can slay the company’s dragons, the employer may more likely hire You the Dragon Slayer than Marty the Nose Picker who was interviewed the day before.
- Don’t just send the letter to one person if 5 people interviewed you. Make sure you get the name and contact info for everyone who participated in the interview and send them each a letter, emphasizing each interviewer’s priority and focusing on what you talked about with that person. In other words, if you interviewed with the CEO and the IT Manager for an IT position, your letter to the CEO would be more focused on the “big picture” stuff, and the one to the IT Manager more specific to the tech problems the department wants you to help them fix. If you have a group interview with the director and their staff, you can email the director and “cc” the staff (by individual name), and start the letter with, “Thank you and your staff for talking with me about the blah blah position yesterday.”
- Don’t send the letter to the wrong person, or misspell the name. Get the right name and spelling before sending anything. Besides making a really bad impression, the person who gets your letter who never met you might think they’re having blackouts or something.
- Don’t say bad stuff. Be positive. You want to focus on your strengths that will allow you to help the company solve their problems and are a good match with what they’re looking for. You want to talk about one or two bits of info you learned in the interview that you liked about the company. You don’t want to say, “Although I don’t have experience in blah blah blah and essentially have no clue what I’m doing, I hope you give me a chance anyway.”
- Don’t wait too long to send the letter. If you don’t send a thank you letter for a month, even if the employer hasn’t yet hired anyone for the position, if they still remember you it won’t be fondly.
- Don’t make it too long. You’re not Tolstoy, and the employer doesn’t want to read War & Peace. One or two non-rambling paragraphs are enough.