One of the biggest mistakes job seekers make following an interview is not sending a thank you note – regardless of how the interview went. Whether it was the best interview of your life and you’re confident you landed the job or you couldn’t wait to leave and know you don’t want the position, you should always follow up with a thank you. You want to leave a positive impression because you never know when you might come across the person or organization again.
Before heading out of the interview, ask each person you interviewed with for a business card, or confirm that you have each person’s name. This way, when you go to write your thank you notes, you have the information you need and don’t have to worry about leaving anyone out or butchering their name. It’s a great idea to jot down notes during the interview, but if you didn’t, stop as soon as you can to write down what you remember. This will provide talking points.
Tips for Composing a Thank You Note
- Send thank you notes within 24 hours of an interview and to each person you met with – don’t write one note to the entire group.
- Incorporate information from your discussion and anything that stood out to you about the company or position. (“I am excited to hear that you’re using the latest widget technology …” or “You mentioned that XYZ, and this is something that I have experience with from my last position.”)
- Highlight a key skill or accomplishment that aligns with the position that you may have left out previously or can further elaborate on.
- Re-emphasize why you feel you’re a great fit for the position.
- Personalize each thank you note rather than sending a generic response to everyone. It’s likely that the team will pass them around, so you don’t want it to appear as though you put no thought or effort into it.
- Keep it short and to the point. The person or team already met with you, so no use in belaboring the point, but hit on key aspects to keep yourself top of mind and make a positive connection.
In today’s technology-centric world, sending a thank you by email is usually acceptable. However, for more conservative or formal companies (such as law firms), a hand-written note may be preferred. This makes timeliness even more crucial.
But what if the interview went poorly or you’ve decided you don’t want the job after all? Still send a thank you note! Thank the employer for taking the time to meet with you but let them know that upon learning more about the position, you don’t feel that it is a good for you but wish them the best of luck in filling the role. You may decide to apply for a different position later and want to leave them with a positive impression. This also helps them by removing you from contention instead of taking the time to extend a job offer only to have you turn it down.
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