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Writing Thank You Notes

If you’re questioning whether or not you need to send a thank you note to your interviewer, let’s end the debate right now. I’ve watched too many great candidates lose valuable points in the eyes of their interviewer by not sending a thank you. Make no mistake about it, thank you notes are alive and well. They are to the interview process what swing states are to a tight election. Don’t write another thank you note until you understand what’s really at stake!

Your interest level in the position will be judged by your thank you note.

Imagine your interviewer is on the fence about you as a candidate. Imagine how not receiving a thank you note impacts their perception of you under these circumstances. Now let’s assume you’re a standout candidate and don’t send a thank you note. You leave the interviewer in a position to wonder if the meeting didn’t go as well as they thought. It may be subtle, but mental shifts around candidates happen all the time. A thank you note can have a very powerful impact on the way you and your interest level in the role are perceived.

It’s just good manners.

Always present yourself as someone who conducts themselves in accordance with the universally accepted rules of etiquette. Never show up to someone’s house without something in hand, serve your guests before serving yourself and always send a personalized thank you note for gifts and interviews. When you’re interviewing for a job, the general assumption is that you actually want it. If you’re someone who doesn’t send a thank you note in a situation where you actually want the job, then how are you going to correspond with clients whose business you may be trying to win for your firm? Put yourself in the employer’s shoes and you’ll have a much better understanding of the fact that your thank you note (or lack there of) is conveying something to the interviewer whether you realized it or not.

Generic thank you notes are the kiss of death.

By now you realize that not sending a thank you note is pretty bad. But hopefully you’ll realize that sending a generic one can be even worse. Why? Because if you’re going to take the time to write one, it better be good. A generic thank you note will be about as effective as an overused pickup line. Do you take anyone who says “Hey babe, what’s your sign” seriously? Of course you don’t. That’s why it’s hard to believe that anyone sending a generic thank you note to a potential employer has a real deep interest in working for the company.

Before you write another thank you note, ask yourself these questions…

1. Does it convey my excitement for the role and the company?

Hiring managers aren’t simply looking for someone who can be successful in the role and would also happen to accept an offer. They want to hire people who are excited to work for the company and to be part of the organization. Find something you connect with regarding the company or the team you’d be working for and be sure to mention it in your note.

2. Am I leveraging the opportunity to create a stronger connection with the interviewer?

Thank you notes are a great vehicle for you to create a deeper connection with the interviewer, don’t throw it away. You want them to read your note and be reminded of the positive feelings that were present at the time of your interview. One way to do this is by referring to something specific you enjoyed learning about in your meeting.

3. Is it brief but also personal?

Personalizing your thank you notes doesn’t mean they have to be long letters of adulation. You don’t want the reader to roll their eyes at the length before they even start reading. Keep it simple. Thank them for their time, show your excitement for the role, reinforce your connection, leave them with an idea of what you think you can accomplish for the company if applicable, and graciously end the note.

Don’t forget, your thank you note is a great way to show off your writing skills, and yes, those will be judged as well.