Writing a thank you letter after a job interview may not be the norm in most industries, but it can certainly help a job seeker stand out from a group of other qualified job candidates at the finishing line. While form is usually not the most decisive factor in recruitment, most recruiters and prospective employers will appreciate a candidate with a good grasp on business etiquette, and this may occasionally be the thing that tips the scales in your favour. Here are some general tips for writing a thank you letter after a job interview:
Format and style
While the tone and content of the thank you letter will vary from one situation to the next, there are a few loose guidelines to follow when it comes to format and style.
Thank you letters typically consist of three short paragraphs. The length of the letter will generally depend on how the interview went, but the letter should not be too long or crammed with information that is already available to the recruiter in your resume. It should never be longer than a page. Needless to say, as a rule, it should not contain any personal details either.
In the first paragraph, you will usually thank the recruiter or hiring manager for his or her time and for giving you an opportunity to discuss the job at hand. If the interview went particularly well and left you convinced that you would be the perfect fit for the position, you can mention this, too, and briefly explain why. The trick is to do it without coming off as too pushy. The main reason why you are sending the letter is to make the hiring manager feel appreciated for giving you a chance to interview for the job and for providing you with information about the position for which you have applied.
In the second paragraph, you can explain how you benefitted from the job interview itself and what you have learned from it. If the manager has given you any kind of insight into the company's operations, you can explain how this information was useful to you. If there was anything that you forgot to bring up during the interview that you feel would increase your chances of getting the job, you can mention that too in the middle section. You can also express appreciation for any information that made you feel excited about the job and especially the work that it entails. Anything that illustrates your expertise and good work ethic is a plus. If the interview went particularly well and you are genuinely excited about the idea of joining the company, you should always mention this in the letter. It may be obvious to you, but the recruiter won't know just how strongly motivated you are to join the company unless you say so.
In the third paragraph, you can just reiterate the sentiment from the first one, thank the recruiter for considering you for the job, and say you look forward to hearing from him or her. If the interview was brief or you do not feel that it covered enough ground, you can also say that you are available for any further discussions.
When it comes to tone, unless the interview was fairly informal and you quickly established a good rapport with the recruiter or employer, the style of the thank you letter should be formal, brief and to the point. Even if the interview was not particularly formal, you should never get too familiar with the recruiter or prospective employer, in written communication or in person. Always be professional, especially when you have not yet landed the job.
While the thank you letter is a good opportunity to bring up any career highlights and successes that you did not get to mention at the interview, its main purpose should never be to push for the job, but to simply say thank you, show good manners, and reiterate your interest in joining the company. More often than not, a recruiter has already learned everything he or she needs to know about your skills, experience and ambitions at the job interview and in your resume. You are writing the thank you letter not to show off your competence, but your professionalism.
Letter, e-mail or SMS?
How you send the thank you letter will largely depend on the contact information the recruiter has provided you with. These days, this will usually be the e-mail address. Letters might seem outdated to some employers, especially because the delivery is not as speedy as e-mail, while text messages might come across as unprofessional, so you should not opt for them unless they are the recruiter's preferred method of communication. While e-mail is the safest option in most situations, you should definitely use your own judgement from one situation to the next.
Timeframe: When to send the thank you note?
You should not wait too long to send a thank you letter. One to two business days is the norm. If the prospective employer has met with several candidates on the same day, there is a good chance that he or she already knows who the frontrunner for the job is, or has at least narrowed down the list of candidates to two or three. You only have a small window to make a difference.
If you are sending the note by regular mail, you should be extra speedy to make sure that it does not reach the employer after he or she has made the decision.
If you have been interviewed by several people, you can send a general thank you note to all of them. If, however, you talked to each of them separately, if the topics you discussed were different, or if they had different concerns, it might be a better idea to send several letters instead and thank each interviewer personally. The letter is your last opportunity to make an impression, so you should definitely take the time to acknowledge each person separately and address their concerns, if any.
In business situations, writing thank you letters should become a habit, whether you are thanking a contact for doing you a favour, or a recruiter for taking the time to meet with you to discuss a job. In some professions, an employer might even think less of a job candidate for not following up with a thank you note. Even when the interview is done over phone or in situations when you don't get the job, a thank you note leaves a good impression on the recruiter and this can come in handy if you apply at the same company in the future. Sometimes, a recruiter can even refer you to another prospective employer if you do not get the job.
While writing a thank you letter after a job interview is not an absolute must in most situations, it is always recommended. At the very least it leaves the communication line open between you and the recruiter, and you never know who you might impress.
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