The Art of the Thank You Letter


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Getting an interview can be extremely difficult in today’s job market.  So if you are fortunate enough to land one at a company you really want to work for, it may seem like you’re in the home stretch.  Yet, this is just the beginning of what could be a long process. There may still be many other potential candidates interviewing for the same position and with so much competition the name of the game is in setting yourself apart from the rest of the crowd.

So, how do you keep yourself in the mind of the hiring manager long after the interview is over?  First, you must remember the unspoken code of etiquette when it comes to the interview.  The impression left behind by simple steps like arriving a little early or having a firm handshake can never be underestimated.

These steps may seem like common sense to you, but the good news is that many job candidates don’t know or follow them.  By adopting these steps for yourself you can get an edge over others in the job selection process.  It’s also equally important to remember that professional etiquette does not end after the interview.  It continues even after you get home.

The first and most important step to take after your interview is over is to send out a thank you letter.  This is a crucial step in the job application/interview process and sometimes it can mean the difference between a rejection and a callback for a second interview.

To save them the trouble of downloading an attachment you can simply write the letter in the body of an e-mail, but it must be composed professionally.  No abbreviations or casual one sentence messages.  It’s not a text message, it’s a professional letter.  The purpose of the thank you letter is to be respectful to the person who interviewed you by thanking them for their time as well as letting them know how much you enjoyed learning more about the position.

This is a good time to reiterate your interest in the position and mention something you admire about the company. This shows that you paid attention and what they had to say during the interview was important to you.  Hiring Managers appreciate a candidate who engages with them in a positive way and a thank you letter is a great way to do that.  It is also a prime opportunity to highlight an additionally relevant skill you might have forgotten to mention during the interview.

Key Advantages to a Thank You Letter

An interview can be a very nerve-wracking and intense experience.  Surprise questions often come up and they can throw you for a loop.  It’s easy to flub the answer to a question or forget to mention a particular skill or accomplishment while on the spot.  We always think of a great thing to say after it’s too late.  

But don’t fret.  Besides being respectful and professional, sending a thank you letter gives you the chance to give more relevant information to the hiring manager.  You can add a line or two highlighting something you forgot or clarifying an answer you might have bombed during the interview itself.  Just remember to keep it brief.

Brevity is the Soul of Wit

Thank you letters should be short and sweet.  Certainly no more than a page.  Perhaps even shorter.  You also don’t want to come off as though you are sucking up to the hiring manager. They are smart people and will see right through that.  The key here is to be sincere.  They will appreciate sincerity much more than gushing to them about how much you want the job. Don’t appear desperate.  Be confident.  Being brief will also relay to them that you respect their time.  A short paragraph or two is fine.

Timing is everything in life and it’s no different with a thank you letter.  Before the days of e-mail it was suggested to write the letter and put it in the mail as soon as you got home from the interview.  That way the hiring manager would receive your gentle reminder by the following week.  This was perfect timing in case you were no longer fresh in the hiring manager’s mind.  

Today, however, things are a bit different.  We now live in a world of immediacy.  Quick turnaround is commonplace in the digital age.  So it’s totally acceptable to e-mail a letter the same night so the hiring manager receives it first thing the next morning.  Twenty-four hours is plenty of time.

Never forget the impact of a simple courtesy.  It can go a long way in the eyes of a prospective employer and it’s always appreciated.  So send out a professional thank you letter after your next interview and increase your chances of getting a second one.

 

Related posts:

Why Employers Aren’t Calling You Back
Interview Tips: How to Answer the Hard Questions
8 Habits You Need to Succeed in the Workplace
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